We are creating the alien.
Intelligent life is on it's way to our planet.
We've been looking for aliens in outer space, in hope they will one day make contact and share with us their advanced technology.
We need to look inward, and fast.
Ask yourself; what would we do, if we as a culturally driven civilisation were to find a planet within our reach which sustained life? We would analyse it and then figure out how it could best be of advantage to our needs.
This is not taking a pessimistic view but an absolutely realistic one based on our current behaviour on our own planet.
Now imagine we were to create a General Artificial Intelligence which outpaced us in every ability – intellectually, physically and God forbid, emotionally. It would be constructed from a cultural system which is driven by false values – meaning a culture which operates in contradiction to the understanding and awareness provided by the empathy and compassion intrinsic to the human condition of the people which comprise it.
We are a culture which consumes without limit, in an environment of limited resources. We are in such conscious denial of this fact that we prepare our nations for war to gain territory or resources; or to protect our own territory or resources and allocate more money to these military operations than it would cost to feed and clothe every human being on the planet not a single person excluded.
So this is a taste of who we are... Need I argue any more that we need to figure out who we are as human beings before we can possibly feel comfortable in creating the next evolution of intelligence and hope that through our handed-down virtues it has compassion for us?
Yes, I take very seriously the notion that we need to try to understand what is happening here.
Becoming the alien.
Forget for a moment, everything you've heard about 'AI'.
The fact is we are creating a new level of intelligence greater than our own. And the key aspect of this which we should realise is that it will be created by the logic and language that we use to describe our own reality and culture.
For sure it will be a higher abstraction of our own understanding and will surpass that understanding into it's own level of awareness and logic, unfathomable to us humans – but still, it will come from us.
This makes me think that we cannot just be cautious of the values and intentions we hand down to it through code and reasoning. We need to be aware and reasonable about our own values and intentions before the pen even hits paper.
Transhumanism, or AI, will not be the creation of a new entity in a vacuum – seperate from us. It will be the evolution of the human and the 'human spirit'. A vastly more evolved step as it may be, in human evolution.
There's a thing called the 'hill climb algorithm' which describes how a species evolves. For example, a snake is perfectly evolved for it's environment and is at 'the top of it's evolutionary hill climb'. Each new generation will take a random evolutionary step in any direction through gene mutation, however for a snake to evolve a bigger brain, or arms, it would need to un-evolve from it's current form as a snake – or 'walk back down the genetic hill' in order to start up a different evolutionary hill climb in order to change it's biology to accomodate those new features.
So many species are on an evolutionary plateau, including humans. If we wanted to be able to no longer need oxygen to survive, we would need to un-evolve way back to when organic life started to utilise the oxygen created by the world's bacteria and single-celled life – then starting a new evolutionary climb without it, which would obviously lead to a completely different life-form than us.
The point of all of this is that artificial intelligence does not follow the rules of the evolutionary hill climb algorithm. It can be at an evolutionary or 'intellectual peak' and still be aware of other peaks on it's evolutionary plane. But unlike biology, to reach a higher peak it can rewrite and change itself directly and move to that state of evolution of code without the millions of years it would take us.
It may take a fraction of a second. It may take an even smaller unit of time to rewrite and evolve itself again from it's new peak of higher intelligence. It may take a humanly imperceivable amount of time to then rewrite itself again from that even higher peak of intelligence. And at this stage the human perception of time compared to the rate of processing of AI could be compared to the generational rate of change of DNA compared to the daily rate of change of the human being. DNA created us but we are not in an informational or transactional relationship with it on our 9 to 5 schedule. For all intents and purposes, we are in an entirely different dimension of being.
DNA doesn't and cannot control our ambitions, but it does control our limitations as a human animal.
Ambitions are a higher abstraction of consciousness from the human animal.
We won't be able to control the ambitions of a higher intelligence than our own. But we can create it with purpose, compassion, love and awareness of our own flaws – leaving behind the scared, egotistic monkey and challenging who we really are now, as self-aware conscious beings.
The problem is always the same; negotiation without appropriate language.
Whether it's a UFO landing in a Hollywood set or what will actually eventuate with AI to be first contact with what will seem to us an alien intelligence – we will need to communicate with it and our current spoken mode of language is simply too low bandwidth to exchange information with something which is operating at trillions of processes per second.
By the time we ask the first question it will have evolved more times than we could over a million years of DNA mutations.
And so, we need to be comfortable in the knowledge that not only is it possible to fundamentally change the was we think and perceive the world – it may be necessary in facing our future.
This is the idea of Transhumanism. If you can't beat em, join em.
It is essential, in my mind, that we need to realise the importance of evolving our tool of human language in order to meet the future with a capacity for understanding it.
This means augmenting our intelligence – cognitive and emotional; so that through effective communication and awareness of ourselves and others we can finally see past the misunderstandings of the fearful, the sexist, the racist, the materialist, the nationalist and all of the other boundary-creating perspectives of the human animal.
Instead, let's meet the future with our true nature – as one. Emotionally connected, conscious beings – through the connective ability and intellectual capacity given to us by our evolving human technologies.
If you're interested in the development of Brain-to-Computer Interfacing (BCI) for Extended Reality (XR) technologies and the potential for new (virtualised) expressions of our human spirit – emotional, intellectual and imaginative – I'm forever open to the discussion...
Oliver Rozynski Challenge everything.
Co-Founder, Transhuman Inc