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July 16, 2017

10:46 PM

Which is the biggest danger, artificial intelligence or natural stupidity?

Francisco Miraval

The growing omnipresence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on every aspect of our life and of our future has generated all kinds of speculations, from assuming that AI means the end of humanity to asserting that, quite the contrary, AI means the beginning of a time when humans will become transhumans and finally reach their true potential.

Regardless of the alternative selected, many people still see AI as a great danger for human, be it because they see as the self-destruction of biological humans or because the see it as necessary step in the evolution of our species so we can enter a time without any point of historical comparison so we, mere biological humans, will never understand it.

Be it as it may, two scientists, British Kevin Warwick and Spaniard Ramón López de Mántaras, say in their book The Next Step: The Exponential Life, the imminent connection between human brains and AI will create “a new race” of “more evolved people, with greater potential than normal people”.

Speaking recently at a convention in Spain, Warwick explained we already possess the technology to connect brains with computers and, in doing so, we can connect brains with brains. Brain interconnectivity at a distance is already real, according to Warwick. So, in the near future it could be possible for a person’s brain to be in one city and all the different parts of his/her body (biological and robotic) could be anywhere else in the planet, all interconnected.

And at the same time scientists work to improve the human brain abilities, the also work to improve artificial brains capabilities, hoping they will soon fusion both brains.

But it seems artificial intelligence faces a great challenge: natural stupidity. This is not a joke. According to an article published by Psychology Today in June 2014, writer Isaac Asimov once warned about the “cult of ignorance” in the United States, defined by Asimov as “the false notion that my ignorance is as good as your knowledge”.

Also, Professor Catherine Liu, of the University of California (and also quoted in the above-mentioned article) said one of the best expressions of the current anti-intellectualism in the United States is the fact that “the very mission of universities has changed”, so, “we don’t educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs.”

So, how real is that “anti-education”? According to statistics quoted in the article by Psychology Today, 40 years ago more than eight in ten adults read several books a year for pleasure or self-enrichment. Twenty years ago, it was six in ten. Currently, merely half of adults read books for pleasure and four in ten never read a single book in a year.

Thinking and dialogue have been replaced by fashions, entertainment, shows, trivia contests, and consumerism.

So, what’s the biggest danger for us human, a transhuman AI which will replace humanity as the dominant species on this planet or our profoundly natural stupidity which prevent us from even recognizing us in ourselves? We will soon know. 

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