Gods have a habit of dying: they usually do once a civilization ends. Case in point: does anyone still worship Poseidon or Zeus? But humans need something to worship, and as human revolution has given away to technological evolution, it is obvious that the machines are taking over.
Yuval Noah Harrari talks of the gods of the technological era. These are (or yet to be) our new masters. We know about how the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is leading to the loss of jobs, but maybe some cannot be replaced at all.
But why is AI becoming a big deal today? For one reason, we have a huge level of computational power today. We also have oceans full of data and that’s not going to stop. Another reason is the level of complex algorithms that we have. Plus the accuracy and benefits offered by AI means that businesses and governments are investing in AI, and it is becoming an economy in itself.
John McCarthy first coined this term in 1956. He defined AI as the science and engineering of making intelligent machines. Artificial Narrow Intelligence, which is known as Weak AI, like Siri is what we have today. Then there is Artificial General Intelligence, which is known as Strong AI, can be a reference to something like AlphaGo. Lastly, Artificial Super Intelligence, which is a hypothetical situation, is where computers will surpass humans when it comes to capability.
The writing of this particular blog post is heavily influenced by Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harrari. We hear of how we humans are living longer now, and how violence and famines are on the decline. It’s clear that the future of humans is one where we elevate ourselves to becoming gods. This is clearly happening with the marrying of tech and biometrics. The desire to live forever is fast becoming a serious expectation, and the evolution of technology could probably lead to its reality.
But can humans survive an AI apocalypse? Nick Bostrom argues that a computer with near human-level general intellectual ability could initiate an intelligence explosion on a digital time scale with the resultant rapid creation of something so powerful that it might deliberately or accidentally destroy human kind. We are someways away with such morbid and despondent predictions. Present-day AI fatalities are more to do with faulty car sensors.
Or, alternatively humans in the near future might become a class known as the ‘useless class’ since tech is evolving at such a fast rate and we are being made redundant. We see this happening in the job market already. Even in the armed forces, drones and cyber worms have taken over the jobs of soldiers.
Despite the ideas being portrayed that the future looks bleak, I suppose, one could trust human nature and its ability to feel a sense of connection. This excellent interview with Yuval Noah Harrari shows how technology can be an issue and lead to a dictatorship, but that can also be a blessing in disguise. Technology in one form or the other is a blessing. It is true to state that the machines are taking over, but the question remains as to what checks and balances should be put in place to ensure that humanity isn’t at the wrong end of this transition.