Fear and AI

I saw today a post from Tom and Dean at Fluxx, ‘You won’t lose your job to AI. You will lose your job to someone who is using AI,’ and read this excellent (quite long) post on NWSH which talks about what our attitude to AI should be.

As David Mattin says, we have a habit of being terrified of change. I can’t think of a major technological advance in my lifetime that hasn’t led someone to proclaim the monkey apocalypse is coming or whatever – mobile phones, social media, instant coffee: all could have led to the fall of civilisation.

Clearly, this time round, the fear is elevated, perhaps closer to DNA manipulation than video games. Why? Well probably because we know instinctively that messing with the fabric of living stuff is actually dangerous. And, the AI can feel existential, we cannot help but anthropomorphise it.

Mattin makes a much more fundamental point: why?

Why is it always the case that technology should do more? Why is the pull so seemingly irresistible? Why do we always assume that if we can, we should, we will? Why is growth a Good Thing?

I think these are much harder questions. They are assumptions that seem to be baked into western culture.

But really this is the real choice: worship growth and tech, or worship and protect humanity.

Personally I don’t think AI is as scary, yet, as some are saying. And yet, I fear we aren’t scared enough of other tech such as social media.

But it doesn’t matter, because AI is not the end of it. After AI, there will be more developments in computer ‘consciousness‘, in interconnectivity, in regulation, in ownership. And until we change our viewpoint on what we want, it will continue.