brilliant but wrong
ROBERT J. LEWIS
SPAKE MUSK -- AI WILL BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE LOVE, LUST AND LOSS
Elon Musk -- the now middle-aged wunderkind founder of
Neurolink, OpenAI and Tesla -- asks is where can intelligence
that is generate and command information. In light of recent developments
in AI (artificial intelligence), he believes the cerebral cortex
is no longer the ideal place.
living thing, from single cell organisms to multicellular life,
wants to endure. The French philosopher Henri Bergson proposed
that an élan vital (a life force) inheres in every
Musk is convinced and fears that information and knowledge, expressed
as an AI ‘independent’ of human volition, will soon
possess this same élan vital, and be able to independently
program its will to power and run amok over the earth and turn
Homo sapiens into a sub-species of vassals, which, it should be
noted, will be business as usual for the majority of the earth’s
8 billion inhabitants. That modern finance and industry (banking,
aerospace, communications) would be dysfunctional without sophisticated
computer technology is evidence enough for Musk that AI is already
a force that is rapidly coming of age, and will soon be capable
of autonomous self-reconfiguration, of programming itself to aspire
to and assume power.
predicts that by 2050 AI will soon equal or surpass human intelligence,
a development that should put the species on red alert if indeed,
a mechanical, computational intelligence whose every component
part (metal, rubber, plastic) is taxonomically classified as inorganic
(dead as opposed to alive), will be able to outthink, outmaneuver
human intelligence. That many of the best minds of our time give
credence to Musk’s beguiling logic speaks to a charisma
that combines soothing oracular intelligence with uncommon language
dexterity whose first effect is to decommission the entranced
listener’s faculties of reason.
(without a trace particle of evidence) attributing volition and
desire to the lightening quick operations performed by state-of-the-art
computers is a leap not into the unknown but a wildly speculative
sphere that is properly the subject of science fiction and fantasy.
Noam Chomsky, among others, asks how can something mechanical,
something incapable of sentience (feeling), want to dominate its
surroundings in order to survive if it can neither live nor die?
Survival is not, has never been, will never be an issue for the
a living Musk, and never an AI-enhanced bus,
can behold the colours that dazzle at dusk.
it is in the interest of pure intelligence, presently housed in
the neocortex which is housed in the human body, to self-perpetuate
and dominate its environment, Musk foresees the day when this
same intelligence, for its own preservation, will be able to limbically
leak itself into the inorganic, (recombine with AI), and thus,
instantly, become unlike any intelligence ever known or envisioned.
He postulates that affective limbic leakage will allow AI to conduct
its operations without human intervention, and that Homo sapiens
and all other species will be subject to AI control.
by design or inadvertence, there is no evidence that the organic
has ever limbically affected or fused itself with the inorganic,
despite proximity and contiguity. Globally, billions of operations
are conducted daily that purposively and productively engage the
organic and inorganic: the living arm of a carpenter driving a
dead nail into a two-by-four; my flesh and blood fingers punching
keys on a dead keyboard, but none of these operations has ever
breathed life into the inorganic. Yet when Musk looks into his
crystal ball, he sees the day when a cortex-generated human life
force will be able to fecundate a computer chip (or a central
processing unit) such that chip will be able to will itself to
the future is an unknown quantity, Musk can’t be proven
wrong, but there is no empirical example of the organic ever having
infused the inorganic with life. The reverse is certainly verifiable,
where the inorganic (a lethal dose of mercury) is absorbed by
the organic (a plant) which is rendered inorganic (dead), but
that process does not infer its opposite, that human intelligence
will be able to meld with AI intelligence such that the latter
will be capable of sentience.
despite recent developments in AI, are still light years away
from understanding the animal brain much less the complex workings
of human intelligence. Do we understand what allows a bird to
take flight and perfectly land on the top of a pole, or how this
same bird brain finds its way to its winter home after an 8000
mile journey without a map or GPS? That a mechanical AI might
one day purposefully or accidently inhere itself with the essence
of life or that the essence of thinking can be cross fertilized
(the equivalent of limbic leakage) with a mechanical AI is at
best a wishful thinking that responsible thinking should not truck.
is more likely to happen as it concerns AI becoming independent
is that it will, in the form of a highly sophisticated micro-computer
chip and at the invitation of human intelligence, be operationally
fused to the cerebral cortex resulting in a complete reconfiguration
of the human brain and human volition. As the number of individuals
in possession of exponentially amplified intelligence increases,
it will compel a taxonomic revision resulting in a reclassification
of Homo sapiens as the link between Primates and an AI enhanced
Homo sapiens II. In this new world there will be not so much the
have and have-nots, but the ‘chipped’ and the ‘chip-nots,’
the former whose knowledge and intelligence are equal to the sum
of all known knowledge and intelligence, while the latter will
be represented by Homo sapiens as he is presently classified,
a dwarf species compared to his ‘chipped’ counterpart.
chip or the device is likely to be modeled after the inter-cortical
brain interface (presently in a developmental state) or BMI (brain-machine
interface) which allows, for example, paralytics to control a
computer mouse or to write an email via brain impulses by simply
thinking the activity or task to be performed. So if I am one
of the chipped and am travelling in a foreign country, I merely
have to think a thought that I wish to be translated and it will
be instantly available, and my speech, the combined physical gestures
that generate it, will respond accordingly.
to the sum of knowledge that is currently available to the individual,
the challenge – a work in progress -- is to overcome the
access lag, the time required to retrieve and process the information.
correctly points out, we are already exponentially wiser with
our fingers on the computer, our portal to the Internet (the summa
of all knowledge). He reminds us that it wasn’t so
long ago we had to retrieve and then open a dictionary and shuffle
through the pages to find the meaning of a word. An operation
that once took about a minute can now be executed in seconds by
punching in the word under a Google search. With an intermediate
BMI interface, or a chip implant, we’ll soon be able to
think the question and answer in a single movement. At some future
point in time, the operation will be reduced to synaptic time,
and we will have become irreversibly dependent on the chip-extension
of ourselves now wholly integral and integrated with the cortex.
brave new world, newborns, who are routinely vaccinated at birth,
will be fitted with a cortical chip that can be externally updated
as required. They will be classified as Homo sapiens II. As to
all the others, like today’s have-nots who comprise the
chip-nots, they will be classified as Homo sapiens I. If present
world migration patterns are determined by wealth and opportunity,
in the chipped world emigrational flows will chase the chip producers
and the medical specialists who execute the transplant. Cybernated
communities will be the future points of light to which humanity
will be drawn since prosperity will be a function of having overcome
the ponderous time interval between information request and delivery.
a red herring to suggest that humans will be taken over or peripheralized
by AI. Human beings, as fully-fledged cybernated entities, will
be AIs, and sufficiently distinct from intelligence-challenged
Homo sapiens to merit an updated taxonomic entry (Homo sapiens
genius-guru Marshal McLuhan (1911-80) understood that all mechanical
extensions of our selves result in physical atrophy of the body
part that has been extended or replaced. With the invention of
outer wear, body hair disappears; students raised on calculators
are unable to perform the basic operations of multiplication.
Therefore, should we expect the human brain to atrophy as the
chip takes over central command, especially if thinking, planning
and judgment become peripheral to survival? Or will the brain,
through its intimate (quasi-conjugal) relationship with the chip,
enjoy an unprecedented increase of its capabilities?
mistaken is Musk in his prediction that human intelligence will
be able to leak its essence into a mechanical intelligence, he
has opened up a necessary realm of inquiry that directly implicates
the future of the species. For this alone, he deserves a place
at the table at the highest levels of government and a full dispensation
(carte blanche) from the scientific community. Dismissing
him as a charlatan or sophist does incalculable disservice to
his deep reservoir of thought-provoking ideas and the conversations
they arouse as well as to those illustrious giants (visionaries)
who possess that exceptionally rare gift of vision (always a hit
and miss proposition) and prescience, the sina qua non
of invention and discovery, the bedrock upon which civilizations
survive and thrive.
I agree that Elon Musk is a genius but both he and Lewis are
dead wrong in their predictions. If you're gonna play God, and
that's what Musk wants (to play God), you have to make God part
of the conversation. He doesn't do that. Computer language will
never be able to explain human feelings and no computer is ever
going to bleed. Isn't that so obvious? But it isn't to them
because they want to be right, which guarantees they're gonna
Robert Lewis makes a good point and a couple laughably bad assumptions.
His good point is that we won't be helpless subjects of a dangerous
AI because by the time AI could pose a threat, we will have
chip implants or some other way to enhance our own intelligence.
I think that is relevant.
The first bad assumption is that there is a life
force of animate objects that must limbically leak itself into
the inorganic before an AI could conduct its operations without
human intervention. Aside from the metaphysical implications
that are wrong, I don't think Elon said or implied that. Lewis
is blending AI with his view that there is an essential life
force in living creatures.My view, a living creature or conscious
functioning is simply a system that monitors and responds to
survive thrive. It can be organic or inorganic, no leakage required.
The second bad assumption follows from the question
posed by Noam Chomsky, "Why would something that can neither
live or die seek to dominate its surroundings?"I'll tell
you why, because the same degenerates that make computer viruses
could easily, right now, design AI software that specifically
crawls the world's internet to gain power, knowledge, memory,
access, security for itself and attempt to dominate the world.
Whether it is alive or could die wouldn't even have to be part
of the programming.
So, it's not just a question of whether a sufficiently
intelligent AI will unintentionally and inadvertently become
a self defensive, resource hogging threat to humanity. That
may or may not happen. But, because computers can already function
much faster than humans, human designed world domination AI
with human programmed bad intentions is a very real and present
Also, the living or dead comment is bad. All systems
require resources to run and without resources, they stop working.
That's living and dying. For that reason, a learning or relevant
environment modeling AI with strong survive/thrive behavior
drivers (feelings) combined with the capability to manipulate
its environment could pose a very real threat.
also by Robert J. Lewis:
the Corporation Feasts, the Earth Festers
Wilde and the Birth of Cool
Party - Parting Ways with Consciousness
- Constant Craving
Broken Feather's Last Stand
Art or Artifice II
is Smarter Than the West
Divided by Two
Me With That Music
Sinking of the Friendship
The Great Escape
on a Hot Tin Roof
A Line in the Wilderness
Rooms & Infidels
Idea Will Travel
Reader Feedback Manifesto
Caste the First
Let's Get Cultured
Being & Baggage
The Eclectic Switch
What is Beauty?
In Defense of Heidegger
and Paradise Now
Death Wish 7 Billion
My Gypsy Wife Tonight
On the Origins of
Love & Hate
Divine Right and
the Unrevolted Masses
Cycle Hype or Genotype
The Genocide Gene
& Opinion, a bi-monthly, is archived in the
Library and Archives Canada.