The Homo persona versus the AI world

This entire post intends deliberately to promote a new book: “The Age of AI and our Human Future” by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher, published 2021 by Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9780316273800.

Not that mariner is comfortable with every premise. Indeed, the book clarifies his own resistance to the impact of AI. Nevertheless, the book is written with rational insight and for the ease of an average reader; the language and grammar are helpful instead of being a confrontation.

The authors point out in clear terms that being a human will be different as AI takes over behaviors usually executed by human beings. One insightful example: It is quite likely that an AI program will choose whether you are hired for a job – no human intervention is necessary; perhaps a human robot may interview you. AI programs author public documents – no human intervention is necessary. Economic activities like engaging in the stock market, international trade agreements and salaries will be managed by AI – no human intervention is necessary.

Many of what today are called ‘labor jobs’ that require skills typical of the trades or white collar workers or many specialist jobs in public service and health will not be required. The new labor class will be technicians trained to work with AI. For the Homo species, the social and psychological changes in an individual’s sense of personal worth will be challenged.

The authors point to other significant changes to human worth in history when, for example, the weaving machine was invented which promulgated a national resistance movement called the Luddites; also, the printing press changed individual awareness and political acumen forever, allowing ideas like democracy to grow. But the great double-cross in mariner’s mind is captured on the back cover:

“Recently, a sophisticated language-generating AI named GPT-3 was asked philosophical questions. It replied in part:

Your question is ‘Does GPT-3 have a conscience or any sense of morality?’ No, I do not.

Your next question is ‘Is GPT-3 actually capable of independent thought?’ No, I am not. You may wonder why I give this conflicting answer. The reason is simple. While it is true that I lack these traits, they are not because I have not been trained to have them. Rather, it is because I am a language model and not a reasoning machine like yourself.

The gray line for mariner is, in fact, that AI has no soul. How does one provide insightful charity? How does one know when the exception proves the rule? How does an individual achieve the hero’s path in light of determinism? Further, mariner does not trust the three-way relationship between AI, government and private investment. How will our Congressmen manipulate campaign funds?

As Forrest Gump would say, “Amoral is as amoral does.” How a person may be treated or defined is driven by their table values in massive databases. Mariner remains a Luddite and a member of the silent generation. One day he will buy a pony and a pony cart. Who needs automobiles driven by AI? The pony knows the way.

Nevertheless, read the book. You owe it to yourself to understand your future self-worth.

Ancient Mariner

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