Life Coach

Dr Peter L Nelson


AI's roots in human attention and knowing.
I’ve always found it amusing that the acronym for “artificial intelligence” and “artificial insemination” are one and the same. After reflecting on that twin usage for a moment, I realized that there is, after all, a relationship between the two. Any so-called intelligent, self-evolving system that we conceive and build is always “seeded” by our psychophysiology. In other words, the imprint of our biology (neurophysiology) and psychology (cognitive and overt behaviour) will always be embedded and remain present in what we develop.

This suggests that there is no system generated by human beings that is non-human. It can be argued that all of our knowledge is, ipso facto, human knowledge and to suggest otherwise implies that its creation was beyond our human systems and functioning—made by a non-human. However, the fact that it came from us or is known by us makes it human knowledge and not an object we found left behind by aliens. Transcendental knowledge is, after all, a human idea arising from human knowing and carried by it. We live in a human world no matter how we choose to conceive it.

What follows from this inextricable situation is that any “artificial intelligence” created by us is going to carry this imprint into its future evolution. That’s probably why so many people fear the future of robotics. The appetitively driven cognitive functioning of the human species is truly dangerous—not only to non-humans, but to each other. We evolved a pre-frontal cortex in our brains because it made the aggression and appetitive functioning of our limbic systems more capable. We could not only satisfy our biological needs now, but strategize how to make sure they will be met in the future and thereby eliminate competition for food, sex and territory.

It occurs to me that someone might even generate a proof one day—a kind of evolutionary Göedel’s Proof—that any human designed intelligent system will always fall back to the default position of a human-like competitive and aggressive relationship between “self” and “other.” For an autonomous AI system that will always be any force or entity that is known as “not self” and seen as a potential threat—of course, that will be us, too, even if we once were called its mommy or daddy.

Recently, I read an interesting article entitled, “In Proof We Trust,” published in Aeon. It hailed the use of “block chain” technology in creating a whole new security for not only monetary transactions but for maintaining control over our identities against fraud as well. Nice. But can we trust it? If it’s “stamped” with our neuro-biological functioning—as it must be as I’ve suggested above—I’d say no. [Flaw 1 for those following my post of this article on FB]

In addition, the whole system has depended on (and will continue to do so) independent developers (hackers) who are building the software in the “open source” domain. These engineers of our brave new world are prefrontal lobes driven by limbic systems and may be impelled to place backdoors in their work in order to provide themselves or their tribe with a future competitive advantage. [Flaw 2]

What I suggest we take away from this brief discussion is that we are human beings living a human life driven by our human attention and knowing. Our creations we call artificial intelligence are in one sense artificial, but in a deeper way they are seeded by us and therefore remain functionally related to us. Any imagined worlds we project into the future that appear to transcend or come from outside our humanness and what we do as human beings is just a human fantasy.