Will we be able to live with new forms of intelligence without forsaking our own? | SEIDOR
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March 03, 2023

Will we be able to live with new forms of intelligence without forsaking our own?

Humans in the 21st century are used to living among cars. From an early age we know that the pavement is for pedestrians and roads are for faster vehicles. We understand traffic lights and how to interpret their range of colours. We identify the white lines on the road and their meaning.

Our ancestors of a century ago, however, saw these motor vehicles as a real danger and an intrusion on their constitutional rights. In fact, they had to learn to live with these machines for their own safety.

In other words, people, in general, often express their fears and apprehensions that certain technological advances could pose a danger to humanity itself. The most recent case is that of Artificial Intelligence. And although it is true that these technologies are so disruptive that they cause alterations in the economic and social ecosystem, humanity itself, which is responsible for the development of these advances, ends up imposing limits and limits so that the use of these advances is always for the benefit of the majority and does not pose a danger.

And, as with the advent of robots and automation, some jobs are seeing people replaced by machines, but the truth is that technology also has the power to generate many new jobs.

This is due to the fact that AI and humans do not have the same qualities and capabilities. AI-based machines are fast, more accurate and rational, but they are not intuitive, emotional or culturally sensitive. And it is precisely these capabilities that humans possess and that make us effective.

Why we reject technology

Calestous Juma, director of Science, Technology and Globalisation at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, argues in his book “Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies” that society tends to reject new technologies when they replace, rather than augment, our humanity.

On the contrary, we embrace and enthusiastically adopt these advances when they support our desire for inclusion, purpose, challenge, meaning and alignment with nature. We do so even when they are unwieldy, expensive, slow to use and constantly breaking down.

For example, the early days of the introduction of tractors in the United States were not the paragon of agricultural efficiency. Tractors offered few advantages over horses. Some detractors argued that their value could be marginally improved if they could reproduce like horses.

Living with new intelligences

Something similar is happening at the moment with Artificial Intelligence, which is proving to be very useful and cost-effective for many things. Because it is still in the development phase and we humans are still getting used to its power and possibilities, there are many fears surrounding it. The more powerful the AI becomes, the more we ask it to do for us, the more important it is to specify its goals very carefully.

So we need to make sure that powerful AI machines are "human-friendly", i.e. that their goals reliably match our own values. However, this is no easy task, since ethics, law and values are not the same in all countries and cultures. The aim of development and legislation is to prevent the powerful new intelligence from amplifying the dark sides of our own nature.

New forms of coexistence

Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of "Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future", argues that AI and related technologies have already achieved superhuman performance in many areas.

In his view, we are most likely to use this power to make the world a better place. For example, we can virtually eliminate global poverty, massively reduce disease and provide better education to almost everyone on the planet. But he denounces that AI and Machine Learning can be used to concentrate more and more wealth and power, leaving many people behind, and to create even more horrible weapons.

Therefore, in his view, the right question to ask is not "What will happen?", but "What will we decide to do? This approach should give us an answer that leads us to work and fight to make technology live up to our values.

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