debate

Technological dystopia – AI

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I have a fear of artificial intelligence or, perhaps more specifically, I have a fear in the rise of artificial intelligence. I strongly promote the idea of progression and exploration and understand that curiosity is basic human nature and has undoubtedly aided us greatly in the past. Curiosity has made discoveries, solutions, progression but curiosity killed the cat and it’s likely it’ll kill us too.
Charlie Brooker has made an excellent UK thriller series of a technological dystopia that delves into the dark realms of a possible humanitarian apocalypse. It’s called Black Mirror and is one of the most beautiful, yet heart numbingly eery series I have ever seen. Isn’t it scary how so much of our personality, and so many of our thoughts can be stored in a mass sphere of information called the internet – the web. Mine and your Skype calls, text messages, tweets, Facebook status’, Facebook messages and blog entries can be logged and stored in an online filing cabinet with the name ‘Sarah Snow’ printed in times new Roman; and there we go an infinite virtual store of my memories and of my thoughts.
Accessing these memories and thoughts is always going to be second best to actual face to face communication, or at least current communication . But what happens when a tie is cut, when the person is no longer available to talk to, to communicate with, but we still want them, we still need them. We often forget the importance of natural order when we live in a world where almost anything and everything can be made easier. In times of grief and desperation our inclination is to do anything to ease the pain. We would seek an immediate outlet for our suffering and if accessing thoughts and feelings of the person we are grieving is an option, it’s sure to be a popular one. If we could in anyway recreate the person we so long for how could we say no? Ignoring what they left behind would be so close to impossible especially if only a tap of a few buttons away.
Latching onto our vulnerability is what temporary inhumane solutions thrive at. What offers a moments comfort takes away from our recovery and steps in the way of a natural process causing a chaotic spiral we do not know how to solve, Artificial intelligence could take us to an unknown scenario and give us no solution. Artificial intelligence could strip humanity of what humanity is and leave us as shells seeking momentary satisfaction again and again until we are nothing more than robots ourselves. I’d rather knowingly have an imperfect life with bumps along the way because every bump is a human struggle and every struggle dealt with adds to my character. Artificial intelligence would instead chip away, slowly and painlessly at our soul and we’d let it because by the time we realised we’d be too hooked.

Do serial killers deserve punishment?

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In a previous post I’ve discussed my view on personhood, I believe we’re purely a bundle of biology (not that that’s a bad thing..) I also believe in determinism, a combination that gives my life very little meaning or hope, but anyway.

Today I watched a documentary on the serial killer Arthur shawcross and not only did it illuminate the absence of any remorse, empathy or guilt Arthur lacked but suggested that he had an ‘abnormality’ in the brain, common in serial killers, or even killers for that matter. Identifying this it was argued that Arthur couldn’t be held responsible because he couldn’t help act in the way he did due to his innate programming, he didn’t chose to have this biological abnormality. Well of course he didn’t because he IS this biological abnormality and therefor he is fully to blame.

But similarly then, caring people, charitable people, loving people, cannot be praised for good deeds because they are programmed that way inclined. I couldn’t commit a murder, so by not I’m no better than Arthur why should I be praised for something I cannot possibly be do anyway?

Ok ok ok contradictions all over the place! I’m saying we are not responsible for anything we do, and therefore punishment and praise are irrelevant.. But really we are fully responsible for everything we do because what we are IS what we do. For example I am a person who happens to obtain a sympathetic mind, Arthur is a person who happens to contain an abnormality in the brain. He is the abnormality and I am the caring brain. There is no ‘me’ or ‘him’ seperate to the entities within my brain. I and my brain, and all contained within my brain are not distinguishable. All are one. So yes, I can fully blaim Arthur.

Does the future exist?

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It’s not a question I’ve pondered on a lot, that is until recently, I’m not sure what triggered me to even consider such a question I guess maybe the way in which we use our language to label almost everything. Everything including things we don’t understand or can’t claim to be ‘true’ I.e. God, love, pain etc. We can’t define these things and they are certainly subjective.. Are these traits applicable to the idea of a ‘future’?

If one doesn’t believe in any form of divinity or destiny then surely one must accept that the future doesn’t exist, for to exist it would be predetermined. For example one might claim that the future is say in two minutes time from now, the present. But to say with certainty that the future exists would rely on the concept of a greater being that had already put it in place. Something that had determined that there is going to be a ‘in two minutes time’. But surely if ‘in two minutes’ time is already determined it isn’t the future at all, because it is already ‘there’, it is currently, presently existing. Therefor it is ‘present’ but just not present in our current time.

Another argument is that we never experience the future, only the present. It is impossible for anything or anyone to ever exist in the future, because the present is inescapable, therefor the ‘future’ is unobservable by any of the senses, it is also, as expressed earlier unexplainable by definition. Or is it? A way of defining the future could indeed be ‘things still to come’. Although things still to come are in my opinion a continuous set of ‘presents’. However the ambiguity of the ‘future’ surely allows for interpretation, although ‘events yet to come’ are unanimously almost entirely ‘unknown’ why not label it with a word ‘future’ allowing future to vaguely assert a more conclusive concept. Although the future is arguably ‘nothing’ and never will be this doesn’t mean it can’t have a word to it. A meaningless word but nonetheless a quicker more efficient way of expressing ourselves.

Determinism vs free will

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Do I really have free will? Did I choose to write this or did billions of previous ‘choices’ I’ve made determine it inevitable that I would? But then my previous choices of course weren’t choices, I mean I wouldn’t have made a blog if I didn’t like writing and I wouldn’t like writing if I hadn’t enjoyed English classes, hmm. Or would i?

The deterministic approach assumes that behaviour is learnt, and our present behaviour is dependent on our previous behaviour, like a domino effect that’s out of your control. ┬áBut let’s explore those ideas a little. Before, during and after any action there are almost infinite connections being made by neurons and chemicals within my brain it is the communication paths and patterns that these neurons make that determines the signal sent to my muscles that determines my ‘conscious’ action I make, that I either truthly or wrongly assume to be my free will. Are we really going to simplify such an immensely complex process down to a few previous behaviours? I mean did neuron B send a signal to neuron x after recieving a signal from neuron T All because I previously sat on my bed? It does seem immensely oversimplified.

At best I’d accept that off course previous actions have an effect on future actions but to not such an extent of innevitability. Due to the infinite actions possible to make but the finite amount of actions previously made it would allow for no progression. A finite number can only ever be a percentage of an infinite number, reducing the chances down to something finite out of something infinite creates an inevitability possibility of minuscule proportions and nothing more than a preference or persuasion to an action but never a determination. Off course I could be wrong, I may change my mind, but as long as I continue to perceive I have free will whether I am dillusional or not, I don’t mind because it makes no difference.