Social Considerations for Artificial Intelligence
Social Considerations for A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)
According to Dennis Gorelik, a single perceived weakness of an AIS (meaning, an artificial intelligence society, consisting of computers trained to ‘think’) is that it was not born through natural selection as human beings are. But one could view whether this is a disadvantage or an advantage from a couple of sides. Within human natural selection, there are biases based on upbringing, genetic factors and how ultimately one responds to social events. For example, if one came from a violent past/childhood and ended up being a psychopath, this could override any INTELLECTUAL, socially beneficial learning that this person ultimately gets. It can cause them to make decisions based not on logic, but by their own emotional biases.
With strong AI, this factor is at least on paper removed on a grand, world-based scale, with the Machine being the sum of all par7ts, all people connected. In WIRED magazine’s new issue, for example, writer Kevin Kelly describes the internet’s home for AI as being a breeding ground for a single consciousness by billions of people and situations. So, while in a individually controlled AI environment, the AIS might by function – or by purposeful ‘programming’ – take on the biases of an INDIVIDUAL user, within the framework of mass contributions, it becomes a gigantic collector of information. I imagine that the ideal, if AIS is to work for human advantage, is that the emotional side of the Machine would take on so-called ‘normal’ emotional states of the people and systems it serves. People do not wish to be abused or stolen from or killed en masse.
In short, natural selection is a hit-or-miss thing on purely intellectual and emotional basises. “Love is blind,” “there’s no accounting for SOME people,” “There’s a sucker born every minute,” etc. With the large amount of data an AIS civilization would collect, there would in theory be a checks-and-balances library for more and more questionable, dubious, socially detrimental things, regardless of the user. It would become a servant to the population – not to any one particular group, person or thing.
I like to think of the example of open source software development, or mainstream sites like Wikipedia that allow the people at large to update information at will, and seed out vandals. Humans are fallible in emotional/logical ways that a Machine would not be. At the same time, the AIS is fallible by the simple inadequacy of it FULLY capturing the entire range of every mental/emotional/psychological impact of natural occurrences – from a mad girlfriend, to the effects of a tsunami, to why your college roomie likes to play the Black Dragon calypso album five times a day. The Machine, for all its exposure to the world, cannot know what people think – only what we do. So, tweaks in its activity can be monitored and adjusted by a world at large – much better than trusting the maintenance to a possibly megalomaniacal techno-whiz who might want to take out the planet because he hated his daddy. 😉
A possible serious weakness to AIS is its adaptation to a world where it becomes more and more dependent on its use, from medical use to financial markets to solace for lonely, desperate people. In the Great Depression, people so dependent on the old stock exchange during the crash literally killed themselves. When the World Trade Centres were smashed down, the stock exchange similarly was affected.
We all know what possible consequences are if a massive blackout nullified even the back-up systems of hospitals, heat and light, even food and water production. And many people now live out their social lives via the Internet (see the perp who almost succeeded in a mass suicide with lonely female members of his chat group.) In the event of a cataclysmic system crash for a fully-integrated, fully-indispensable worldwide AIS, all of could become instant bedlam. So, the social importance of an AIS in that scenario would have to be very closely monitored by thinking, reactive humans after all. We will still have to use our good ol’ noggins, because you can’t eat or drink silicone chips, and what good is a mechanical AI heart in your chest if it stops working?
One more point about the implications of a fully-functional AIS, and this stretches to religious and spirituality. All of the world’s religious texts were written by the hands of men. Whether the belief in God came through divine revelation (as the religious/spiritualists like me believe), or simply through man’s childlike imagination (as the atheists attest) is a history-long argument between these two groups.
From a philosophical point of view, however, the question takes on a different route. If man indeed invented God, the argument could go, the issue might be how technology affects the understanding of what God is. The point might be made by the philosophers that God was written into the books by human beings, mainly to attempt to understand the meaning of life, of who we are as a species, and to help us just get by life. If systems of thought and technology can be upgraded to higher levels of understanding, why couldn’t there also be a God v.2.0? After all, they may argue, the old model was a Lord who we couldn’t see or touch – it’s a major leap of faith to know that God exists. The old text was written in parchment and dictated morality — today’s dominant medium is multi-bit, encrypted and often imposes morality in internet law, chat room behavior and advice columns on how to be a better spouse or member of a community.
The internet was created by us by through a vision of connecting humans to the universe. So, many people who sit on their butts for hours a day making sure their social and financial prayers are answered, may choose to be on their knees to what they consider an alive-acting, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-seeing, instantly accessible Diety – God for a new millennium. What effect this possible stream of thought will have on our flesh-and-blood world, so connected to a universe-wide savior to so many, remains to be seen.