AI, Art and Life

Eric Wayne has just published a most thought-provoking post entitled AI Won. Human Artists and Humankind are Defeated. It’s well worth reading, particularly if, like me, you’re not aware of the amazing capabilities exhibited by the latest AI programs. As Eric says: “the latest algorithm from Midjourney enables anyone at all to make astounding art without any prior skill, training, understanding, or even exposure to art…” Surely an amazing statement, but Eric is an accomplished artist and I’m sure he’s correct.

So, whatever inspiration the artist puts into his/her work can be simulated by the AI forever more and in great variety. Art would appear to have really gone the way of chess, where computers can now easily beat the best human players. And of course other forms of AI are being developed by the likes of Google to make informed decisions from huge amounts of data that would be beyond the individual human being, potentially revolutionising transport, healthcare, environmental management and other sectors of the economy.

What the AI can never do is copy the inner lived experience of the human being, the pleasure of playing a game of chess with another human, the joy of following one’s own creativity, or appreciating the creativity of another, or the appreciation of the AI work itself. Yes, it can simulate all these things, but AI is all on the surface; there is no depth, no life. It is a massive simulation of what the left brain can do and understand. There is no equivalent of the right brain, other than through simulation.

So we face a world of massive change, through an artifical intelligence that has no inner world, no conscience, no morality, no intuition. In a sense this is the ultimate left brain project whereby, somewhere along the way of our development, morality became replaced by laws, the inspiration of the prophets was superseded by institutionalised religions, and now creativity is replaced by algorithms.

We cannot stop all this development, which is itself wonderfully creative. However, we are approaching a world of some peril. Consider the use of AI in warfare. The AI has no moral sense, no common sense, other than a set of rules that someone may have encoded in them. The challenge, as Isaac Asimov was telling us all those years ago, is how do we keep any sort of control on this stuff? Maybe we can’t and, in the end, good and bad things will happen…

Featured image was generated by AI in a few seconds – see Eric’s post.

Multiple Me’s?

I’m generally a great fan of The Guardian/ The Observer, but they do sometimes publish a load of nonsense, because they have a blindspot, being entirely materialistic and denying the interiority of mind and the spiritual. Here is a recent example that just appeared in my inbox: What happens if your mind lives for ever on the internet?

This article actually takes this question seriously and goes on to examine the implications of multiple versions of ‘you’.

I would suggest that this is nonsense, like much that is written about so-called Artificial Intelligence.

Yes, I accept that at some point it may be possible to understand aspects of my/your brain activity and put it up on the internet as some sort of simulation of me/you. But it will be just that, a simulation. It will be algorithmic, will not be conscious. It will be all ‘outer’ and no ‘inner’. it will not contain the essence of me/you.

And thank God for that!

Featured image is from the article.

 

Can computers ever be conscious?

This question is posed in an interesting paper True Artificial Consciousness – Is It Possible? from Sean Webb on the IONS blog. The paper is quite detailed and worth a read if you’re interested in the subject. My take is somewhat simpler, as follows.

Everything has an ‘inner’ and an ‘outer’. Science and technology deal with the ‘outer’, consciousness is a feature of the ‘inner’. Could the twain ever meet? Explaining consciousness is regarded as a ‘hard problem’ of science – too right – they operate in different domains.

So-called artificial intelligence is basically technology that emulates the real intelligence that flows forth from consciousness. This emulation can increasingly appear to be conscious, and even pass the so-called Turing Test of intelligent behaviour, but I would suggest it is not really conscious – could its ‘inner’ conceivably emerge from the ‘outer’ algorithms?

So, if we let machines control things we finish up with a mechanistic universe that is devoid of the spark of consciousness, indeed could become its persecutor.

Featured illustration of the Turing Test by By Mushii , via Wikimedia Commons