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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - If AI can do it for us, do we need to do it for ourselves?

Tech and Innovation

If AI can do it for us, do we need to do it for ourselves?

humanoid

It was at a World Economic Forum event in Washington in 2000 that I first heard about the development of humans as cyborgs.  There, young IT entrepreneurs were waxing lyrically about us merging with machines. The word cyborg was coined by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in 1960.  The concept rose to mass awareness through the film The 6 Million Dollar Man.

History professor Yuval Noah Harari, in his book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, wrote that we will soon engineer our bodies and minds in the same way we now design products.  In truth we already are, with prosthetics and designer babies. Harai predicts that we will, in time, have superhumans who may not even die – they will have their parts replaced.  We can already have chips implanted in our brains which can plug us into the knowledge and thinking capacity of AI.

So why do we need to bother doing anything else than harassing these tools called AI and AGI?

Well, some people will have the financial means and access to those resources that can move us towards being a “superhuman”.  Most of us do not.

And, in truth, I like my human emotions

The irony of it all  

There is an irony in what is happening – computer engineers and scientists are working to make AI more like humans, and humans are considering being more like machines.  Most people do not want to feel messy and often uncomfortable human emotions.  Oh, we like feeling joy, love, happiness, and inner peace, but we can’t be open to just positive emotions.  Emotions come in a job lot, the good and the bad.

Working with leadership teams for several decades, I have found an incredible propensity of global leaders to avoid raising and honestly discussing problems – such as differences in philosophy between divisions, entrenched culture and staffing issues, and even financial challenges.

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth, wrote: “When we avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, we also avoid the growth that problems demand from us. It is for this reason that in chronic mental illness, we stop growing; we become stuck. And without healing, the human spirit begins to shrivel.”

He said:- “..it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom.”

As we become more like machines – turning off our feelings, having chips implanted in our brains, and using our devices as an extension of ourselves, we give up the deliciousness of being human.

Baroness Susan Greenfield, Oxford professor of the neuroscience of consciousness, believes that our addiction to social media and computer games means we are constantly in a state of reaction rather than building our capacity to grow as creative beings, constructing our worldviews and realities. Thus, we deaden our innate humanity.

Greenfield postulates that as we become increasingly connected to screens through having chips and nanocomputers inserted into our beings, we will be more pliable, controllable, and subservient to the powers of those with the algorithms and the money who control the machines.

She argues that over-reliance on screens and constant seeking for cheap thrills infantilize us and undermine our capacity to grow our wisdom and advance to the adult stages of consciousness.  It is our adult stages of consciousness that allow us to weather change, develop full, rich independent lives, and flourish as creative beings.

She can’t understand why people want to be more like machines. It makes more sense to use the skills and advantages of machines while developing that which is innately ours, i.e., our human consciousness. Thus, it is our humanness that is our competitive advantage over machines.  It is the development of this very human consciousness that equates to wisdom in a rapidly changing world.

By seeking to be more like machines (even to become cyborgs), we are choosing to give up the delightful feelings of being in love, of those eureka moments when everything suddenly makes sense, of merging with nature on a walk on the beach or in the forest.  Our humanness is precious. Human wisdom is precious.

Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics 

In his fictional book Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D., Asimov lays out The Three Laws.  They are:

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

With AI being autonomous and self-replicating (i.e., self-procreating and an autonomous learner), it will learn from AI created and programmed by good actors (i.e., wise folk) and bad actors (i.e., dangerous folk – even countries).  Thus, AI can easily move outside our control and disregard Asimov’s Three Laws.

It has been suggested that without Asimov’s Three Laws if asked to eradicate climate change-causing pollution, the simplest solution would be to eliminate mankind (as we are now seen as the leading cause of pollution).

There are so many good reasons to cherish and grow our humanity, our creativity, and our capacity to feel and think autonomously.  And yes, in my experience growing and learning and facing reality as a human can emotionally hurt.  But it might be exactly that pain that protects our species as we evolve alongside the fascinating and miraculous technologies that we are now developing.


Written by Margot Cairnes.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - If AI can do it for us, do we need to do it for ourselves?
Margot Cairnes
Margot Cairnes has been a trusted mentor to CEOs and Boards worldwide, leading multi-billion dollar strategic change programs in collaboration with clients. A World Economic Forum participant and mentor, Margot has written 6 books on leadership in times of rapid and disruptive change. For many years, she founded and managed Zaffyre Pty Ltd, Australia's largest and longest-operating strategic change consultancy. She now resides in Byron Bay and mentors clients over Zoom.


Margot Cairnes is an Executive Council member at the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn, for more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.