network generated art)
An Unholy Invasion.
Colonizing Our Minds.
cultural barriers now,
before we're overwhelmed...
The steady increase of artificial minds in our collective psyche is akin to mass immigration - barely noticed and easily overlooked, until it's too late.
Our cultural landscape is
being colonized by bots, and as with illegal aliens, much of our
population welcomes this as "progress."
E-learning institutions regularly deploy AI teachers. Chatbot companions are seducing lonesome souls by the millions, including religious chatbots who function as spiritual guides.
At the end of the road, various start-ups are developing cyber-shrines where families can commune with their departed loved ones and find comfort in the digital undead.
In the minds of tech enthusiasts, AI chatbots of all sorts will be our soulless companions on the trek toward the Future™.
"friends" are key psychological components of what many describe as
human-AI symbiosis. They will be like artificial guardian angels in
our palms - and by extension, in our heads - answering questions and
These bots are crafted to push our cognitive buttons, giving the illusion of personhood.
Before long, they will come to be widely trusted - even loved. Among early adopters, they already are. Our emotional minds are being hardwired for control.
The recent roll-out of ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, has been heralded as the second coming of the Google God.
previous GPT programs, the user types in a question and the bot
onscreen spits out a reasonably coherent, if occasionally inaccurate
Like the slanted Google God before it, ChatGPT may not be entirely truthful, but at least it's loyal to political allies.
In that sense, it's quite human.
If you can't trust a chatbot,
who can you trust?
Speaking at "The History of Civil Liberties in Canada Series" on December 13, the weepy maker-of-men, Dr. Jordan Peterson, warned his fellow canucks about ChatGPT's godlike powers:
You hear that, human?
Prepare to kneel before your digital overlords.
For all the
crying Peterson has done, he didn't shed a single tear about
humanity's displacement by AI. Maybe he believes the Machine will
devour all his trolls first.
What's odd is that the comparative mythology professor failed to note the archetypal significance of the Baphomet armor Musk still sports in his Twitter profile.
Anyone urging people to trust the world's wealthiest transhumanist is either fooling himself, or he's trying to fool you.
This is not to say Musk and Peterson are entirely wrong about the increasing power of artificial intelligence, even if they're far too eager to to see us bend the knee.
In the unlikely event that progress stalls for decades, leaving us with the tech we have right now, the social and psychological impact of the ongoing AI invasion is still a grave concern.
At the moment, the intellectual prowess of machine intelligence is way over-hyped. If humanity is lucky, that will continue to be the case.
But the real advances are impressive nonetheless.
A large language model (aka, a chatbot) is like a human brain grown in a jar, with a limited selection of sensors plugged into it.
The heavier the programmer's hand, the more bias the system will exhibit.
In the case of ChatGPT, the datasets consist of a massive selection of digitized books, all of Wikipedia, and most of the Internet, plus the secondary training of repeated conversations with users.
The AI is motivated to learn by Pavlovian "reward models," like a neural blob receiving hits of dopamine every time it gets the right answer.
As with most commercial chatbots, the programmers put up guardrails to keep the AI from saying anything racist, sexist, or homophobic.
When "AI ethicists" talk about "aligning AI with human values," they mostly mean creating bots that are politically correct.
Once ChatGPT is downloaded to a device, it develops its own flavor.
The more interactions an individual user has, the more the bot personalizes its answers for that user. It can produce sentences or whole essays that are somewhat original, even if they're just a remix of previous human thought.
This semi-originality, along with the learned personalization, is what gives the illusion of a unique personality - minus any locker room humor.
Across the board, the answers these AIs provide are getting more accurate and increasingly complex.
Another example is Google's LaMDA, still unreleased, which rocketed to fame last year when an "AI ethicist" informed the public that the bot is "sentient," claiming it expresses sadness and yearning.
Ray Kurzweil predicted this psychological development back in 1999, in his book The Age of Spiritual Machines:
This says as much about the humans involved as it does about the machines.
However, projecting this improvement into the future - at an exponential rate - Kurzweil foresees a coming Singularity in which even the most intelligent humans are truly overtaken by artificial intelligence.
That would be the point of no return.
Our destiny would be out of our hands...
My first ever image request
to OpenAI's art generator
In 2021, the tech entrepreneur Sam Altman - who co-founded OpenAI with Musk in 2015 - hinted at something like a Singularity in his essay "Moore's Law of Everything."
Similar to Kurzweil, he promises artificial intelligence will transform every aspect of society, from law and medicine to work and socialization.
Assuming that automation will yield radical abundance - even as it produces widespread unemployment - he argues for taxation of the super rich and an "equity fund" for the rest of us.
While I believe such a future would be disastrous, creating vast playgrounds for the elite and algorithmic pod-hives for the rest of us, I think Altman is correct about the coming impact:
This technological revolution is unstoppable...
These superbots would undoubtedly be wonky and inhuman, but at the current pace of improvement, something like Altman's prediction appears to be happening.
Beyond the technical possibilities and limitations, a growing belief in 'AI personhood' is reshaping our culture from the top down - and at an exponential rate.
Our shared vision of who we are, as a species, is being transformed.
"Johnny 5 is alive! More input, MORE INPUT!!"
Bots are invading our minds through,
...and through a growing variety of physical robots meant to accompany us 'from cradle to grave':
Past generations ignored mass immigration and environmental destruction, both fueled by tech innovations, until it was too late to turn back the tide.
Right now, we have a "narrow window of opportunity" to erect cultural and legal barriers:
If this social experiment is "inevitable," we must insist on being part of the control group...
Ridiculous as it may seem, techno-skeptics are already being labeled as "speciesist" - i.e.,
We'd better be prepared to wear that as a badge of honor.
As our tech oligarchs and their mouthpieces proclaim the rise of digital deities, it should be clear that we're not the supremacists in this equation...