“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
History is rich with tales of inventions that arose as “mistakes,” accidents that just happened when an experiment went awry. What surprises lie in store as AI and IA race for supremacy?
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AI stands for artificial intelligence (computers and robots). IA stands for intelligence augmentation (learning Spanish overnight). A recent essay on the topic advised: “We do not know how to directly upgrade people’s brains yet, but we are already achieving early forms of intelligence augmentation through the exponentially advancing information technology we call education … Eventually we may see intelligence enhancing biotechnology.” 1
The same author muses, “A big question is which field will advance faster? And how big is the lag time between them? I would admit that right now it appears as if AI is leaping ahead of IA and there is reason to be concerned. But this is not necessarily written in stone.” 2
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
There are plenty of science fiction movies depicting dystopian futures where AI has relegated humans to hapless fugitives (Terminator, etc.). But, as noted, this is not written in stone. Our future may turn out to be something fundamentally different than what it is widely feared to be.
While those in the tech biz focus on this great race between AI and IA, and with understandable concern (second place may not be a survivable position), as John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
What researchers fail to factor into their projections is consciousness itself. In fact, the idea that consciousness has an influence is ignored. Interesting, given that probably 99% of all life functions are currently orchestrated by consciousness, without help from our intellects and egos. Absent our interference, consciousness does a great job and I doubt we’d be arrogant enough to venture that we could do better with our technology. Anyone want to volunteer to take over beating their own hearts for a day? How about regenerating liver cells, growing hair and fingernails, and keeping the planet in orbit? Of course, there are those who do believe we can and will do better. That is another story, for another blog.
What might consciousness have in mind for the future? Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil said, “Our intuition about the future is linear. But the reality of information technology is exponential, and that makes a profound difference. If I take 30 steps linearly, I get to 30. If I take 30 steps exponentially, I get to a billion.” 3
Let’s speculate on that ratio, adding in a third intelligence: consciousness itself. 30 linear steps expand to a billion expands to? Immediately, we realize that whatever number we might came up with for consciousness would be astronomical, perhaps beyond math! Speculation is futile. We clearly don’t have the capacity to come anywhere near a perception of what sort of future consciousness is capable of creating.
However, rather than reaching a dead end and quitting the inquiry, let’s assume a contrary position to the drivers running the AI / IA race, those being the desire to improve (be in control) and fear (of not being in control). Our contrary position might be described as appreciation (what exists now is wonderful) and trust (consciousness is in control). The Bible (Job 2:35) warns, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” 4 An inventive translation of the counterpoint might be, “For the thing which I greatly appreciated has flourished, and that which I loved is come unto me.”
When we collapse our concept of consciousness from something that contains us or operates in us into “I am that!” we suddenly find ourselves peering over the edge of now into the mystery of tomorrow with a sense of personal authorship, discovering that the quality of our beingness as consciousness is already shaping what’s to come. Our expression of appreciation and trust (not to mention love) is already crafting the future.
AI or IA, who knows how that race will end, if it ever does? What we do know is that the consciousness that has created both of them (and us, creating ourselves) hasn’t retired and never will. Marvels populate the future and, best of all to know, this is the future that already lives in our hearts and minds as we dream tomorrow today.
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