Can Consciousness Save Us?

Should we care about artificial intelligence, AI?

As someone pointed out to me, it’s doubtful it will really replace drivers because a computer cannot make the same type of judgments. If a situation occurred in which a driverless car had to choose between avoiding a child and hitting 2 cars or vice versa, it would logically have to choose the child. A one versus two scenario. Logic at its extreme. Therefore, it is a long ways off to driverless cars. There is no morality in IA or AI.

It’s been a long time since I did coding and it was COBOL, Basic, and a smattering of Fortran at that, but I still know something about programming logic. And I was involved with systems analysis for a couple of years, albeit quite a few years back. I have sometimes been accused of being too logical and super organized. But there is a beauty to its logic.

The dilemma of judgment for the driverless car is one of either/or. The same type of logic in coding. In all of our statistics and actuarials having to do with car accidents, I am sure it is easy enough to write code to account for just about every possibility including the either child or 2 cars case. Throw AI and its access to those stats into the mix and I have no doubt driverless cars are around the bend.

I don’t have a problem with driverless cars. I love technology as much as the next person. Since that makes me part of the problem, I like to be mindful of that part.

But they will put a lot of people out of work and labor problems have a tendency to get violent.

 

AI should make us all nervous because those who are involved recognize there is a dilemma, but they declare its inevitability. On its face? A true conundrum. One of our making.

Hawking thinks the moon is a good staging ground for Mars. Gotta reach it by 2020. Elon Musk is all for Space X and Mars and amazon throws itself into the mix with delivering the necessary goods to space travelers (I’m assuming Whole Foods will be delivering ready made organic meals?) Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge admirer of innovation and the thinkers behind it. But I have a couple of questions.

Is it okay to throw our hands in the air and jump planet? Moon as staging platform for Mars? Does that really address the greater human problems? Who gets to go to Mars and who stays on Earth until there is no more space or air or beauty?

And what is the point when all that is beautiful is used up and has perished?

Do we take our philosophy with us? Do we take our deep thinkers or only those who can entertain? Or better yet — our extroverted political types?

Something tells me, many will not take this fast moving change lying down.

For me, I love the beauty of this one Earth. And to be fair, all those innovative thinkers are taking steps towards sustainability and curbing our part in climate change.

But, humans have given much credence to the concept of progress. I believe it was inherent in the cry of manifest destiny. And progress is certainly a part of evolution. But the one thing humans have also been fully capable of is checking their own progress when it goes awry.

After all, what is consciousness? It is something we profess to have. Perhaps, it is our greatest leverage against the excesses of our own progress.

It’s sort of worth hanging around for.

 

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