Humanity in AI-future : Humanizing Robots or Robotizing Humans

In CULTURE & SOCIETY, EXPLAINED, FEATURED, TECH, WORLD

People get excited seeing a robot talk or express emotions. Computer scientists jump with joy when machines can simulate anything that is not even that close to what can be considered human intelligence. With advances being made in artificial intelligence (AI) at rapid pace, human beings are moving more and more close to the goal of developing machines that might be capable of thinking like humans do. Whether it will be really possible, there are different opinions to that. Linguists and philosophers like Noam Chomsky think that AI, at the maximum, approximates unanalyzed data and predicts but does not help in shedding light on how human mind works. According to Chomsky, intelligence is something that is internalised and what the data oriented AI does is just compute human behavior in a very sophisticated modern manner so as to come up with commercially viable predictions. However, that, according to Chomsky, is not even close to thought system of human beings and AI will never become intelligent in the sense we, the humans, are. Regardless, those hailing from the industry and especially from the field of computer science, cognitive sciences, neuroscience, deep learning, and even linguistics and philosophy, have expressed that machines will not only achieve human level intelligence but also surpass it. In fact, Stephen Hawking and other, in their 2014 piece in Independent, highlighted that there is no limit in physics that could stop particles organize in a way that performs more advanced computations that the particles in human brains does. The same can be achieved artificially.

The aforementioned scenario highlights that we might, one day, have robots and machines that are more intelligent than us or intelligent in a different way if the definition of intelligence undergoes evolution or the thought system itself comes to be considered as something that it has never been. It does, to some extent, make machines different species if one is hesitant to consider them as ‘human’. It is important to understand that what makes us humans is our consciousness i.e. we are able to perceive us as ourselves among other things. If machines become intelligent enough to think of themselves as whatever they are in the world, would they qualify as ‘intelligent-being’? Whether machines will be afforded same rights and responsibilities as we, the humans, have is yet to be seen. Whether the intelligent machines agree to be subjected to those rights and responsibilities is a different and yet a more relevant question. The whole field of AI makes future unknown and no one knows how things will turn out to be. However, there is one more important and crucial issue than humanizing robots. It is robotizing humans. Why?

Jaron Lanier, the founding father of virtual reality, in his interview with Channel 4,   highlights that not only one is getting addicted to technological platforms operating on dopamine-hit business model system working on constant feedback loops, one is constantly being observed or kept under digital surveillance in the sense that data is collected at a very rapid pace about one’s behavior on social media platform or otherwise and the same is interpreted after analysis and getting subjected to mathematical algorithms to come to conclusions that suggests changes or tweaks in one’s information feed so as to change one’s behavior to a particular end or objective. In other words, behavior in terms of external information exposure is analyzed to change the nature of that information exposure so that, ultimately, human behavior can be changed. The process is so subtle that the subject i.e. the people using such portals or undergoing through such surveillance do not even considered that the data collected in relation to their behavior is used to change their behavior. It manipulates humans at a psychological level. This is though a mild yet an extremely effective form of altering or manipulating human behavior. There are new things being considered that might change the way information is encoded by human brain and ultimately their thought system could be effectively influenced. In such a scenario, would the resultant intelligence system of human beings still entitle them to be called human beings or would they be some hybridized versions of humans and artificial beings? This goes beyond the normative structure of society because the very meaning of things is sought to be changed.

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