Another Animal at the Zoo

In an effort to remain sane and to maintain rational emotional feelings, for several weeks mariner has avoided American news programming, tolerating only BBC, CGTN (China), selected CSPAN and, with the aid of the fast forward button, The Eleventh Hour on MSNBC. For years mariner has been saturated by the home and do-it-yourself networks. He tends not to watch fictional programming.

What is left? Science channels (seen all the programs), geological and environmental programming (been everywhere, travelled through time and space, seen all the conditions); mariner knows how to be a junk dealer, bootlegger, hotrod mechanic, gardener, and furniture maker. Scrounging about for anything, mariner uncovered the veterinary shows. There are several series. The theme is that animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish of all kinds are brought to a vet’s clinic having all kinds of maladies.

Mariner suffered a binge watch the other night. He had enlightenment. As he watched the animals, he wondered how they dealt with human creatures while not knowing the intellectual dimensions, knowledge and cause and effect processes that are foisted upon them. In most cases the patients had learned to tolerate humans, even accepting dependence for comfort and care. But intellectually, there had to be an immense gap between patient reality and human reality. When they were healed, did they have a causal awareness between newfound health and the creatures wearing masks and poking with needles?

Then mariner had his burst of insight. In 150 years, when artificial intelligence has been thoroughly ensconced in human culture, humans will have the exact intellectual experience as the animals. There will be no way to link human consciousness with the surreal reasoning of a robot. This insight applies not only to visiting our electronic vets but also our electronic government, our electronic softball game versus robots and (one wonders) our spousal relationships.

We will be no more than a baby opossum experiencing the AI world in complete ignorance; tolerating them and even accepting dependence for comfort and care. There’s always a concern that AI vets will, just as human vets, decide to have us put down.

Ancient Mariner


2 thoughts on “Another Animal at the Zoo

  1. Very interesting insight! Stuart and I watched a documentary recently called “Do You Trust This Computer?” that was about the future of AI and it was interesting, about (among other things) what the role of doctors will be when machines are better at diagnostics and surgeries, and how computers are adept problem solvers without compassion, which is similar to the justice system of the wilderness. I thought it was a bit tantalized by itself, but I recommend it anyway.

  2. Mariner’s great worry is that humanness will lose control of human history and its future as well. Most of us who take time to ponder these things tend to homogenize all humans into a narrow definition of functionality; this is not true. Ninety percent of humans are virtually identical to other members of the primate family – that is, little skill or interest in conceptual values. This sounds hypocritical but it is painfully true. It will be easy for AI to take the upper hand in all manner of human behavior – including its future.

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