AI: Beast of Burden or Tower of Power? by Farah Bazzrea
“Everything we love about civilization is a product of intelligence, so amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before – as long as we manage to keep the technology beneficial”—Max Tegmark, President of the Future of Life Institute
Artificial: Made by humans; Made in imitation of something natural.
Intelligence: The faculty of thought and reason.
Logic: A mode of reasoning (implying other modes exist).
For the last few years I’ve tried to decide where I stand on the AI issue but really lacked enough info to decide one way or the other. Good? Bad? Both? And of course, it is—both. Forbes Technology Council last year wrote “14 Ways AI Will Benefit or Harm Society.” It’s apparent AI is just like everything else: complicated. There’s an upside and a not-so-bright side.
Granted, at the moment, it appears even the best AI falls into the narrow or weak AI category, meaning its databases consist of limited parameters upon which unnatural logic extrapolates conclusions to initiate pre-programmed actions. No societal threat here. The biggest risk is incompetence. Think self-driving Tesla automobiles.
But many scientists are predicting general or strong AI within our reach in the coming decades. The technological leap will be like going from Nintendo Pac-Man to Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Exponential. The ways in which strong AI can benefit humankind and the world are unlimited, but like Max Tegmark opines, only as long as we don’t—collectively—screw up. Problem is we all know humans are prone to screw-ups. It’s just in us. Look at what we’ve done to our planet. Face it. We’re pretty much an unreliable caretaker of the public good.
Sure, there’s an ongoing discussion around building a morality code for AI. Check out Nick Bostrom and Eliezer Yudkowsky’s paper on “The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.” if you want to feel warm and fuzzy. Though, it reminds me of the discussions about prohibiting human cloning. Here’s an exhaustive debate for the curious few on that topic: Human Reproductive Cloning: Proposed Activities and Regulatory Context. But I’m pretty sure there are human clones out there. If not yet, there will be. Goes back to the screw-up thing. Some screw-up(s) somewhere already has or will think human clones are a grand idea with the means to make it happen. Until something goes horribly wrong.
Now whether or not cloning human embryos will ensnare humanity into perpetual slavery I have no clue. But here’s the deal, it just takes one screw-up to enable psychopaths to utilize strong AI to transform the loveable Uncle Sam into a psychopathic Big Brother. Surveillance capitalism empowers global tech giants to hoover Big Data from every aspect of our lives for sell to the highest bidder with a Cc: to government spooks. Currently, AI filters are building individual profiles for each of us, including hobbies, books, food, purchases and bank balances (credit scoring), daily routines with unauthorized geotracking, social media, physical health (prescriptions), etc.
Right now, weak AI can interpret this growing database to rather accurately predict our locations, activities, and even emotional states and/or personal beliefs to provide retailers targeted marketing. But once strong or general AI is developed, the very same data that is used to target us with appropriate ads can be forged into human control vectors to force us into desirable behavior and eliminate those of us who resist human herding.
Let’s use the following untrue scenario as an example: I’m an undesired diabetic political activist railing against a wrong-headed political leader who is now tired of fading the heat generated by my persistent efforts to expose wrongdoings. Btw, I’m on Medicare and dependent upon a government healthcare plan which pays for all my various meds. All that would have to be done to make me go away is to signal Strong AI that I’m an “Undesirable” for which it would identify my insulin prescription refill coming due, cancel my healthcare coverage with a “computer glitch” or completely eliminate my records and despite assurances all will be resolved, I soon slip into a diabetic coma and die. Problem solved.
But getting back to the here and now, the rollout of 5G will be the grand enabler for the masters of our universe to maintain a realtime 3D image of all our activities within our homes using smartphones and/or smart appliances in “live” surround sound compliments of Cortana, Siri and their ilk. “Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to influence and/or control you.”—John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute
In 9 Artificial Intelligence Trends You Should Keep An Eye On In 2019 Irfan Ahmed Khan writes “In 2019, AI will be everywhere. From web applications to health care systems, airline to hotel booking systems and beyond, we will see shades of AI everywhere and it will be at the forefront of digital transformation.” Dr. Tung Bui, Chairman of IT department and professor at University of Hawaii said, “Unlike most of the predictions and discussions about how autonomous vehicles and robots will eventually affect the job market — this is true but will take time due to institutional, political, and social reasons — I contend that the biggest trend in AI will be an acceleration in the digital transformation, making existing business systems smarter.”
And I tend to believe these positive prognostications for a brighter future with AI are spot-on, but the psychotic “Powers That Be” are already emboldened to pursue even more direct intrusion of AI into the lives of human beings. “The United States Army has already called on experts in the field (AI) to help it develop this deadly technology—Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS). Eventually, it will allow a ground combat vehicle as such a tank to automatically detect, target, and engage enemy combatants—without the risk of the operator losing their life.”
Of course, this scenario suggests a military war environment but unfortunately, AI technology, once fully developed and prolific around the world’s military regimes, will trickle down into domestic law enforcement agencies if we are to believe current recycling “best practices” as determined by our political leaders will continue. Once AI has been promoted to exist among civilian populations as equals, or worse, our superiors, “Outright innocence is not sufficient to escape the brutality of detention. If you reside in America and it is dinnertime, you have almost certainly broken the law.” Civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate’s book Three Felonies a Day, estimates the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day, excluding an avalanche of other laws, misdemeanors or civil violations confronting us regularly.”
So yes, I’ve concluded AI in the near term is awesome. The new crypto phones with anti-spoofing thumbprint recognition software, 3D AI enhanced tech, and other incredible advances are soon to make our world more secure and enjoyable. I’ll probably buy one myself after competition drives down prices. Medical diagnostics, intelligent traffic control systems, predictive analyses, so many sectors in our society will benefit from the advent of AI. But in the long run? I’m not so optimistic. Human beings might just be on a slow-mo train to near-extinction or minimally, subjugation by the ruling global junta. We must not be seduced into apathy and hedonism to the point where we no longer are driven to control our destiny for if we fail to pursue the future we desire, others will create a future desired for us. And I fear it won’t be pretty.
The irony of it all? Computations are based upon logic. But now it appears logic is considered insufficient as the only mode from which our machines derive reason. Computer scientists now want to add the human factor to “Intelligent” decision making by adding personal agendas and emotions in an effort to imitate human thought and reason. But I thought the removal of all external considerations was the strength of computing, that the unrelenting mathematical binary world of 0s and 1s would remediate the shortcomings of humanity. Now, imho, we appear to be turning full circle to enable logic to expand upon its proven foundation to also mimic human frailties. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather decision-makers attempting to utilize human reasoning to at least, have a heart.
So for now, enjoy the benefits of AI. There will be many and the benefits great. But remain wary of mission creep. And for those of us in the USA, we already know the Deep State ruling class controlling our government will literally do anything necessary to remain in power. Their track record speaks for itself. I suggest building private encrypted communication networks and a secure means of storing wealth outside their systems. Once their big move has been made and Big Brother has captured control of all communications and financial networks, it will be too late. Don’t expect any advance warnings. They’re already signaling the future as they see it. More of the same. But worse.