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.
Neurons, atoms, chemicals that’s what makes up the earth, the universe, the sun, the stars but do they make up us? The idea of a soul or some kind of ghost like self within our physical body of mass, is not a new one, nor is it dismissed as insane. But I just can’t believe it. I mean looking from a realism perspective I must assume that everything in existence is observable, in some sense. Now I don’t mean that everything that exists can be seen by the naked eye, in fact I am not discriminating against the other senses at all. As smell and touch are equally as ‘true’ as site. What I mean is what is deemed true in existence is what has sensory observability, e.g planes, birds, stars and pasta. Arguably various scientific theories such as the multiple universe theory suggest that our finite senses don’t allow us access to observation of everything, I mean I can’t ‘see’ numerous universes, but if enough substantial evidence was posed in favour of such a theory then I would consider it potentially correct.
So back to the original preposition, do we have a soul? When looking at ourselves in a materialist sense, I.e a bundle of biology, it proves no more ludicrous to assert ourselves to obtaining a ‘soul’ than to conclude that my radiator has a soul since both objects are no more than a combination of atoms functioning in a specific way. Of course our brains are far more complex than a radiator but does that really progress to the resultant conclusion of a soul? Of course not, where is the evidence that complexity evokes the need for a soul? Well I guess our ‘conscience’ our dillusioned sense of free will and ‘spirit’ I shan’t discuss free will, as I have in a previous post. But the concept of a soul, to me, comes under the same category as the sense of free will that is that they are both ‘illusions’ our conscience or moreover just ‘conscience’ is as a result of billions of neurons and the atoms they are made up of creating a persistent illusion of ‘self’ I am no more a being than a radiator. Infact ‘I’ do not exist. No one does. We are all just complex constructions.
That may sound somber but surprisingly it isn’t all doom and gloom, it means we can never die because there is no ‘we’ and any sense of ‘death’ is just a break down in the atoms and neurons that have created the embodiment of a highly complex structure. It also means that the possibility of existence is almost infinite as it relies on no more than a collection of substances. For example if programmed correctly, with the right atoms and components it would be possible to make a fully functioning ‘human’ with just as much rights as any other natural biological person. To conclude we are no more advanced than artificial intelligence, and we have no say, in anything, even the perception of a ‘self’ is formed from biology. We are not. But conscience is.