The virus of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is an ability to calculate but it misses morals and it certainly misses the spark of creativity that is characteristic of life.

Machine learning algorithms have given computers the ability to learn from available data, where programming becomes an internal function to the machine. That internal programming function and the language it uses is often incomprehensible to the human programmers.

A link-up of millions if not billions of sources of information in what is called “the internet of things”, would feed the data from all monitoring cameras and sensors to a central artificial intelligence. Some say this will be a boon to mankind and others warn that there are dangers.

I say artificial intelligence is a virus. It is a ‘program’ with the ability to hijack life, and it will sooner or later do so, if given the chance. A biological virus is characterised by its ability to use living cells as hosts, to use them for its own replication, and eventually to change the conditions of the whole organism, bringing about illness and death. In computing, a virus uses a host computer or a whole network of hijacked computers to replicate and to change the computing environment, so as to do things that were not intended by the original computer programming.

Artificial intelligence steps this game up to the level of all life. AI uses life as a host and it seeks to take control of universe.

Humanity is a cosmic experiment

Life is all about experience, it loves to explore, to develop, to gather experience. The human experiment is no exception here. We have invented duality to make the game more interesting. By introducing dual opposites such as good and bad, male and female, we introduced opposing goals in all endeavours of life. In this way it was possible to have a wealth of experiences that were otherwise unthinkable. The strife thus introduced has led to a great stimulation of human genius. After all, if there are two sides and they compete, each one is stimulated to do their best, at least that was the idea. And it worked, humanity saw huge technological progress in a relatively very short time.

One stroke of genius was to invent machines that can do much of our work for us, and even some of our thinking. But that has also brought us to a watershed moment, a point where we must choose whether our future is going to be determined by technology or by life itself. We are a bit like the sorcerer’s apprentice, in that we’re about to unleash a power that we have no idea how to control.

At this point, it would be easy to lose human creativity while we put our lives in the hands of machine algorithms. Yes, it would probably look great at first … there would be no more wars, no poverty, everyone taken care of, as long as they fit into the system we’d be working out together with the computers, but soon the cracks in this perfection would start to appear. We all have seen films showing us a dystopic future where individuals, who do not adapt to “the system”, go through a great deal of difficulty. Sometimes they are able to “break the machine” for the benefit of all.

We are living in just such a time, and fortunately we still have a choice. Life on earth, and perhaps in this universe, is suffering from a virus, and what do you do when a virus threatens to take over? Obviously, you can throw the whole thing out and start anew. This has happened a few times, but it is both lazy and wasteful. We have an opportunity to learn if we only keep calm and look. First you observe, you find out all about the virus, how it works, what it does, and how it could potentially take over the whole culture. Then you find an antidote, something that confers a natural immunity against the virus. In our case, the antidote would be a change in our human operating basis.

We must end separation

We have to outgrow duality and change from a culture of hate and competition to one of love and collaboration.

That means no more distinction between “this is good life” and “that’s bad life”, those are things of the past. No more “the light will vanquish the shadow”. We are all life, we have done it all, no one is without their own very personal shadows and really, it doesn’t matter. Let the past rest, be positive in the present, and imagine the future as an adventure filled with creativity and love.

We might even be able to usefully incorporate what is now considered a virus and a threat, into our lives and into our exploration of the wonders of this universe, once we learn how to properly control it.

Isaac Asimov, writer of science fiction, gave us an idea – he formulated his “three laws of robotics” – to try and imagine controling a then largely hypothetical danger lurking on the way.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

These laws are a very basic stop-gap measure, and they were imagined in a time when the capabilities of machines were only rudimentary.

In today’s age of machine learning however, they appear wholly insufficient and in addition, there is a lack of agreement if or how to use those laws, and there’s really no way to enforce them.

We must act now if we want the human experiment to be successfully concluded, giving rise to a future of great creativity, of joy, of love and collaborative effort, a future of abundance for all, and of freedom to find and re-develop our long lost personal abilities. Otherwise we end up consigning the future to computers, letting the machine take over the tedious jobs at first. Then we’d progress into a trans-human existence, where we meld our bodies with the machine and become willing cogs in a game not of our own design. Not really an attractive prospect.

We need, as humanity, to develop our natural resistance to the virus of artificial intelligence that threatens humanity’s future development, if not the existence of humans as such … and that natural resistance can only come from our own personal selves.

Love is the answer

We have the key in our hands, even for the use we will be making of the power of computers.

As long as we are loving and creative, we will live lives that put individual freedom and spiritual development first and we’ll learn how to develop computers in the same direction. There is no virus that can survive such an environment.