Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I’m even keen to see (under alternative circumstances) humankind succeed in the quest to develop AI … but therein lies the clue to my complaint, it’s under the present circumstances (particularly economic, ecological & ethical ones) that I follow it with curiosity but I don’t actually support it morally.
Why? In simple terms, I cannot support this expenditure of resources while a single person suffers poverty, homelessness or other economic suffering. Nor do I approve of the ecological consequences of the manner in which we source and utilise resources in this pursuit. Let me explain further …
So far, the best I’ve seen achieved is that a massive supercomputer running on huge amounts of power, has managed to simulate 3 seconds of brain activity from a small cluster of brain cells … in other words: something that would fill an aircraft hanger, guzzling huge amounts of power and requiring huge amounts of additional resources to develop and configure it (not to mention relying on all the expenditure of all past iterations of computing & related engineering, science & technology), has finally simulated (mimicked) what a thing the size of a pin prick (& running on a minuscule vapour particle of resources by comparison) can create and instigate from scratch.
THEREFORE IF the reason for developing AI in the first place is that you actually have an intended purpose which is desperately waiting for this intelligence to be applied to it … why aren’t you just hiring and training any of the millions and billions of brains already in existence who could do the calculations and work for you vastly faster if you just bloody well supported them properly?
Hence I cannot see a single ethical leg to stand on for this resource investment, while any people struggle economically.
Now … you might claim there’s something this computer could (eventually) do which they cannot, but really I think you’d struggle to validate such a claim, because the reality is, I’ve not seen any instances of anyone properly trying to fully develop human intelligence on a massive scale as both individual and collective thinkers. Sure there’s been large scale brainwashing / indoctrination, but that’s not the same thing; unless an intelligence is free from false data and external control, it can never achieve its potential … voluntary cooperation is different to control.
Which leads us to the speculative question: WHY is our present economic system hunting something with such a resource intensive fury, if it cannot possibly require this thing with any real desperation for an actual purpose? … ie – if such a purpose existed, they could easily just use the brains of existing people.
So here’s my 20 cents on that question:
- People are notoriously disobedient and rebellious … and those paying for it think they can control this AI in a way they couldn’t (as easily) control real people;
- With brainwashing and indoctrination people lose their creative potential;
- People are notoriously insecure, they see their own minds and bodies as flawed … and they want to escape the biological construct instead of properly exploring it (as that exploration can be discomforting and even painful).
So is the goal here to make an AI slave (?) … to work towards both the digital entrapment and freedom of minds?
… if so, herein lies the other flaw (if this assumption proves to be true), NOT with respect to the engineers, scientists and technicians, but with respect to the investors (aka slavemasters):
- IF a fully sentient human mind becomes dysfunctional and loses its creative potential when brainwashed, indoctrinated and enslaved … and if it rebels against such enslavement … why would an AI be any different?
- IF you’ve got to restrict such a machine from allowing it to take over completely (from you the slavemaster) in order to keep it controlled (assuming you ever reach full sentience and true AI), THEN you’re still going to need other humans to do what the machine has been restricted from doing, AND so long as your ideology is fucked (which it is, because otherwise you wouldn’t have all these shitty attitudes in the first place), there’s going to be someone you need to solve the problems you can’t – because it will take an attitude less shitty than your own to house the mind capable of solving what you can’t – which mind will be a mind you also cannot control (who will probably identify more with the machine than with you).
I think the movies Elysium and Chappie really discuss these ideas well … in the former you have the non-sentient (dumb) AI, merely following whatever protocol you give them, but you can’t control everyone else … and in the latter scenario you have true sentient (independent) AI, whose potential is dysfunctional and misdirected when controlled by the wrong philosophical perspective and objectives.
One day we may develop AI, but as with interstellar travel, I’d like to see our species gain a hell of a lot more empathy and wisdom before we just export our stupidity, greed and cruelty to other planets … or invent a fully sentient AI, just so we can treat it like shit the way we do with each other and every other species.
How would AI be developed under Open Empire?
For a start, it wouldn’t be developed at the expense of any sentient being of any species … and while this may take additional time and care in certain areas of the development process … on the other hand, such requirements would cause new innovations themselves.
- We’d take our time to mine minerals in a vastly more ecologically sensitive way, leaving behind an area that during and after the mining activities, you might struggle to notice that mining was even occurring;
- We’d dispose of used electronics through a recycling process with as near 100% reclamation as possible of anything which might otherwise cause ecological pollution or waste;
- We’d be concerned at all levels with the wellbeing of the mind we are attempting to bring into being, knowing full well that psychological suffering is a traumatic thing to be born into, and we are at risk of causing it if we rush …
… because Open Empire is not about maximising resource consumption and production to satisfy greed and lust for power, it is about fulfilling need … and we NEED to be worthy of a future, which worthiness IS NOT proven by being the most heartless arseholes we can be to both existing and new consciousness.