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The Thing About AI

The Thing About AI

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with economic, political and ecological collapse, genocides, grotesquely incompetent ‘leaders’, and nuclear brinkmanship, now we also have to worry about AI.

To some extent, as Indrajit Samarajiva has repeatedly pointed out, we have had AI around for centuries, in the form of corporations — separate entities that make decisions, control politicians, overthrow governments, and even foment and manage wars, and which now even have ‘personhood’ rights without any of the commensurate responsibilities to rein in their inherently psychopathic behaviours.

It is they, not the humans whose job is now merely to do their bidding (or be fired), who have the real power in our civilization, and contrary to claims and assurances, they are now so complex and vast as to be completely beyond human control, and increasingly not even subject to human regulation. We have handed them the reins of managing our crumbling civilization with a shrug, as if some divine force of angels will somehow steer them in the ‘right’ direction. Even our government and military administrations, which work hand-in-hand with large corporations, are incorporated organizations, and, Trumpian fantasies notwithstanding, they are not controlled by any ‘one’. They are machines, operating according to their own immortal, self-perpetuating logic. They are AI. It is not just a metaphor.

But new technologies, and massively increased computing power, are now allowing us to create new forms of AI that can mimic other human behaviours besides the management of resources — such as creating art, literature and music, and acting as friends and even lovers.

I’ve seen this evolving for two decades now — we’ve created imaginary worlds like Second Life and the worlds of MMOs and MMORPGs, which have many seductive AI elements to them, and which are now developing “realistic” AI “characters”…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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