Technology is our Aladdin’s lamp, here to fulfill our wishes, but the future of our planet, powered by ever increasing AI, is in the moral hands of the one making the wish
AI, this new creature that is galloping on the horizon of humanity, as we are extending ourselves outside of the biological existence, is here to reinvent us again and forever. We started this trajectory of offloading the memory at first into a stone, a sculpture, a drawing full of meanings and then gradually it made its way to the paper, eventually to turn into a screen, that became ubiquitous.
This journey was first driven by a magical, fantastic and imaginary through different cave drawings then religious objects later to be transformed into a practical transfer of data, that further even turned into big data, manipulated by big companies and eventually we all seem to fear the latest arrival, the AI. Not only because it will revolutionize the landscape of the economy, the relationship between the working members of society, making the old fashioned jobs even more obsolete but also the experience of life itself.
We will be able to optimize the environment to an even greater degree, tedious tasks, from manual, and administrative and even coding and design will soon be a question of offloading to the app that knows how to fulfill the wish upon a voice or otherwise a command. It is a little bit like Aladdin’s lamp, our technium (term coined by Kevin Kelly of kk.org) is making most of our wishes reality, we just turn on our phones, initiate Siri, and make our request, at the moment Siri responds by completing the most mundane tasks, but very soon, I predict that Siri will be able to construct a website, do a complete marketing and promotion, even strategy, as it will have access to big or at least bigger data and metrics and build a business. We will have a surplus of usefulness and optimization.
The question is who will be at the receiving end of those offers, will it be humans or will Siri also fulfill a wish of creating thousands of bots so that the business can develop faster in the eyes of the audience?
In recent years, in this non physical space, called the internet, we have seen the rise of numerous apps, individuals developing their business model in such a way, by creating a false image of success within the attention economy parameters, it made them “worthwhile” or good on paper for journalists and investors alike to take an interest and an old famous “fake it until you make it” actually happening. My question is, as we progress further, start offloading universally more and more complex tasks to our contemporary Aladdin’s lamp, will we start abusing this technology with ever increasing power while ourselves lacking the awareness or even sense of moral and ethical values, because we are so blinded by this concept of “success”.
I think that we will go into two directions, like it almost always happens, one side will cling on to the old ways while the other will want to change things, it is like a clash between two opposites, past, and future, but unfortunately for us, we can’t choose between the two we can only ever go in one direction, the future. Humanity has to put much more emphasis on the definition of being human, the capacity for reinforcing the righteousness, recognizing merit and fallacy, but the question is how? If only we had an Aladdin lamp that could materialize a supreme being that can direct, decide, create an ultimate Lady Iustitia that judges everything that is happening on this third Rock from the Sun.
Alas we can’t do that, we have to self correct through trial and tribulations, like we did for so many centuries throughout history, sometimes we learnt sometimes we had to repeat until we learnt, but today, in the age of Heros with emphasize on (entrepreneurial Heros who started from nothing as the narrative often goes), are we making a somewhat unhealthy pressure upon younger generations to make it all on their own, and thus, them having to resort to hacks and tricks and inflating the whatever it is that is required for success “faking until making method”?
I think that this is a big problem of our society that is self-correcting and evolving in a sense, according to the model of the animal kingdom with the difference that no animal has a tool, for example, an AI-powered app, a modern day Aladdin lamp, that can think for itself and create a global impact from a single device. Will we end up divided like what Jaron Lanier proposes for the future, where one side has a control over Siren servers and the other is in the state of ultimate submission without even knowing, because after all, life is much better compared to say, the 19th century, it is optimized for comfort, but at the expanse of many other aspects.
I think that our economy for one would have to drastically change, transform into something much less dependent on the working class or even middle class, the concept of work, I think will have to transform into the concept of merit. The concept of merit will have to get disconnected from all institutions, where merit is hacked/tricked for so many years or even decades now. Academia with several exceptions has proven very much in stasis, especially in the recent years as it is facing the power of individual empowered by all the knowledge available at the fingerprint of the Aladdin’s lamp called smartphone, or even Siri if you want the similarity to be vivid.
Who will be the ultimate judge of the economy that transforms from the attention economy to the merit recognition economy, would it be possibly that we may entrust the judge to be our Civilization’s baby called AI. As we overcome, outgrow the era of entrepreneurial heroes, and start building ourselves into responsible and benevolent human beings, how will we instill these same values into AI unless there is a sufficient percentage believing in these values? I think that this period is one of the most important in the history because at one end we are facing global warming, one side chooses to ignore, the other is advocating ways to get out of it, while the time is tick-tacking. There are so many fake news and fake facts that people need nano filters in order to recognize the emotional manipulation that goes on behind each.
Our global soup called civilization may easily start boiling, not so much about the external influences (although that seems imminent too) but because the core value is too narrow, too focused on an entrepreneurial hero. It is in desperate need for UBI so that the hero is shifted from one throne to another, possibly less destructive for the planet because it would also cause a domino effect on the ecological reparation, the moment we slow down the hyperproduction, become minimalists, shed the burdens of ownership of things not needed, we will observe the shift because the throne of power will be dethroned into something else, we will start to experience a much more sustainable future. The core of the problem will heavily depend on the wishes that we place upon Aladdin’s lamp, and we will place them on the bases of hero that is presented to us. It is the never-ending circle of power pendulums.
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