I’m sure that if you haven’t been on another planet you have lately been inundated with reports and opinions on Artificial Intelligence (AI), its opportunities, its transformational potential, its risks, and its threats. It is moving so fast into our public consciousness that it is almost impossible to keep up with the narrative and for me, most of it, particularly the technical aspects, is beyond my comprehension. But I have attempted to keep up as best I can with the various arguments about how we should deal with it–socially, legally, and humanely. And of all the coverage on these points for me, Henry Kissinger and his colleagues have provided the most effective analysis, beginning with his 2018 article, “How the Enlightenment Ends”, in which he makes the case that–philosophically, intellectually, in every way–human society is unprepared for the rise of AI. The bottom line is his most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them?
The most compelling questions for me about the threats he describes are: Who decides? Who is responsible? These questions are about accountability, and for that discussion he suggests a high level presidential commission, which I would liken to the President’s Council on Bioethics under President George W. Bush, with leadership comprised of the best philosophers and other disciplines in the field of the humanities along with religious advisors and advisors in the sciences and relevant technologies to begin to formulate a national vision.
Long-time subscribers will know that I have written several times over the past 23 years about the grand themes that will dominate the 21st century. My own view has consistently been that, despite the specter of radical Islam, the rise of China, and the usual issues of war and peace, there was one issue that would trump them all. It is the looming cultural, philosophical, and religious conflict on the question of the meaning of human nature because of the growing capability for man to transform his very nature due to the advances in the biosciences and neurosciences. But now, after reading Kissinger and others, I’m about ready to add the advancement of AI technology as a close second on my list.
At the recent annual meeting of Berkshire-Hathaway, Chairman Warren Buffet was asked about his thoughts on AI and he said: “It can do all kinds of things, and when something can do all kinds of things, I get a little bit worried because I know we won’t be able to uninvent it”. We should be very, very worried.
Gregory Stachura says
Who decides? Who is responsible?
These questions are indeed paramount, especially the second. Let us also add, responsible to whom? Obviously to the American people, but without an accountability to a higher power this become another populous accounting to a population that has a shaking moral compass at present.
These questions are philosophical and theological as well as political in nature. Too many of us join you in a nascent understanding of AI and what it may do. Brave New World?
Dick Illyes says
I share your concerns. A high level Council would be a worthwhile undertaking. However, the President’s Council on Bioethics didn’t prevent the Fauchi Era or the Scientism craziness of the Pandemic Era. Vaccine injuries may become the new asbestos. I am waiting for the left to find a way to blame Trump and the vaccine injured to become a new leading victim group.
The only solution I can see is a widespread acceptance of the belief that government should be limited to preventing men from injuring one another. This is part of our cultural and political heritage. If government can be restrained humans will work things out. If not we will see a high tech repeat of the Spanish Inquisition.
To have the best possible human society no one should initiate force against another, or deceive them so that they do something they would otherwise not do. The proper role of government is preventing force and fraud. Beyond that government itself becomes the problem.
Today, Jim Jordan’s hearing on the weaponization of the Government should be evidence of the reason for concern over A I.
As Mr. Stachura notes above — Who decides? who is responsible? and I would add, what tools are available if who decides abuses the American people and our foundation of government?
Even without A I in full blossom, my concern in watching the Jordan hearing is that there seems to be great difficulty, if not, inability, on the part of our government to dish out accountability to perpetrators in high office for misconduct that goes to the very heart of our country.
Much more to say on this but frustration is overwhelming at the moment; I suspect it is shared by many followers of the Texas Pilgrim!
Danny Billingsley says
Yes Jim I too am very deficient in understanding AI. And yes Hondo I too am frustrated with the lack of accountability in the federal government. I am also very suspect with the federal government’s ability to address any real and serious problems our country faces. The politicians make up appealing sounding names for acts of legislation and then throw trillions of dollars at their favorite companies and then claim they’ve done great things. They’ll do the same with AI as soon as they decide who gets the money, what hack will be in charge and of course a fancy name.