The End is Always Near
Autumn – Wk 11: Artificial Intelligence is an "Alien Mind" | James Poulos Declares War on the Digital Swarm | The Specter of Transhumanism | Ameca
Latest review: “Artificial Intelligence is an ‘Alien Mind’ Transforming The Human Race” — in Salvo
Two new books offer a single choice: merge with machines or be left behind
Artificial intelligence operates on a different plane than human reason. As described by various futurists and technologists, AI is literally an “alien mind.” In advanced artificial neural networks, the modes of cognition—the logical steps behind any given conclusion—are completely incomprehensible, even to their creators.
The craziest part? It’s oftentimes correct.
In the coming years, this nonhuman intelligence will change everything about our personal lives, our social organization, and how we think. That’s the premise of two books published back-to-back this year—one from the West, the other from the East.
The Age of AI: And Our Human Future is a primer on technetronic civilization for Western policy makers.
The former argues that artificial intelligence already displays unearthly powers of perception. It will soon determine the fate of nations. The latter envisions algorithms becoming quasi-spiritual entities who cradle a new humanity. These beings are “inevitable,” the authors maintain, and the risks to our freedom are profound.
As legacy humans, our choice is to either reject this alien intelligence and fall behind, or to forge a “human-AI symbiosis”—to let ethereal tentacles probe us, analyze us, and guide our evolution.
Normal people are horrified by either prospect, but that’s irrelevant. The future doesn’t care about your feelings, nor do the people creating and directing it.
The American AI Bill
The central thesis of The Age of AI is that artificial intelligence will soon be ubiquitous in our lives, including government. Going forward, AI’s unique breed of cognition will expand our view of reality. Nothing will be the same.
This claim rests on the authority of Eric Schmidt, the man who turned Google into God; Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State (1973-77) and global strategist; and Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of MIT’s College of Computing.
The authors promise (and warn) that AI will fundamentally alter “scientific research, education, manufacturing, logistics, transportation, defense, law enforcement, advertising, art, [and] culture”:
"The characteristics of AI—including its capacities to learn, evolve, and surprise—will disrupt and transform them all. The outcome will be the alteration of human identity and human experience of reality not experienced since the dawn of the modern age."
Already, algorithms influence our decisions about food, travel routes, cultural enjoyments, information flow, political alignment, and hiring. In the aggregate, the human race is being sifted through a subtle digital filter. When we arrive at the other end, every aspect of our existence will be reorganized.
Wisely, The Age of AI ignores biological evolution. But algorithms are also reshuffling our mating patterns through dating apps—including a few explicitly based on our genetic compatibility. In essence, future generations will be digital test tube babies, with or without direct gene-editing.
Ultimately, the greatest impact will be spiritual:
"AI promises to transform all realms of human experience. And the core of its transformations will ultimately occur at the philosophical level, transforming how humans understand reality and our role in it. ... To the two traditional ways by which people have known the world, faith and reason, AI adds a third."
Read the whole thing THERE
My review: “In ‘Human Forever,’ James Poulos Declares War On The Digital Swarm” — in The Federalist
The editor of The American Mind has declared war. If his new book doesn’t shake you awake, you were meant to be a machine.
The world has already ended. The “cyborg age” arrived so quietly, few people noticed. Each person now carries a permanent digital device in his palm. In the blink of an eye, all of us—from the developed world to the farthest backwaters—were turned into cyborgs.
The year 2021 will be remembered as Year Zero. The children born into this “digital catastrophe” will be known as the First Generation. Our only recourse is to teach them how to survive or help them discover means of survival under the “digital swarm” unleashed upon us.
This is the argument laid out in Human Forever: The Digital Politics of Spiritual War, the latest book by James Poulos. If the premise sounds like science fiction, you haven’t been paying attention. As the powerful struggle for dominance, and the rest power through their lives, technology has seduced all our souls with little need of direct force.
Human Forever is a work of profound scholarship, conveyed with Straussian subtlety. Poulos’s narrative weaves together the finest minds to wrestle with technology’s impact: Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, Lewis Mumford, and David Deutsch, among others—including a superb confrontation with the posthuman mutant Benjamin Bratton.
In an effort to recover from the digital catastrophe, Poulos steadies himself on the Western tradition—Greek, Christian, and American—as a spiritual bulwark against electronic oblivion. “Until further notice, we must live—recognizably as we were created,” he writes. “Our task is not to ascend infinitely toward heaven or bring it ever closer down to earth, not to escape into the Creator or into creation, but to remain ourselves indefinitely.”
As executive editor of The American Mind and a fellow at The Center for the Study of Digital Life, Poulos had enormous momentum behind his manifesto, written in a single season. He skillfully channels the wisdom of the intellectual Right, while grasping the technical details of our greatest threat: digital dissolution.
How do we preserve humanity in the face of this rapid transformation? Poulos urges guarded “inwardness” in the maelstrom. Looking ahead, he emphasizes the rites of passage that turn young boys into men, elevating them to become “guardians of civilization.” Facing an uncertain future, they must be prepared to forge new paths we could never predict. They must be ready for spiritual war.
After the Digital Catastrophe
Human Forever delivers an alarming report from the enemy lines. One has only to observe children, or any person, stare blankly into their screens to predict the dead zone ahead. “The most arresting vision of the digital swarm acquiring a life of its own, a life over us, is the one aroused by the harsh comparison to human beings that, unlike us, the digital swarm does not need to be alive.” At once obvious and invisible, these lifeless automata wield unprecedented power over our minds and behavior.
Poulos describes this process as mental terraforming. Our social landscape is reconfigured according to the influence of digital devices and those who control them. By extracting our data and mining our private moments for profit and power, Silicon Valley titans, shadowy third-parties, and intelligence agencies are creating detailed models of our personalities—one by one—manipulating us to conform to their ideal simulation. In the aggregate, this process is creating a new type of human being: experimental subjects in a “cyborg vivarium.”
The electric phantasms that enshroud our minds, Poulos argues, stoke the imagination while eroding our memory. This lost memory is not limited to mere recall, which has certainly been outsourced to our devices. Rather, the delusional state sustained by digital culture has separated us from our own biographies and deep cultural lineage. This digital culture, dead and soulless, freezes our development in a perpetual present, with vapid fantasies of the future flickering on the edge of our screens.
Read the whole thing THERE
War Room: “The Specter of Transhumanism”
Steve Bannon and I discuss the topic for an hour. A few days after the show aired, it was announced that the Swedish bio-implants we discussed are being used to track vaccine status. That was fast.
Topics: Biometric Tyranny | The Singularity | The Metaverse | The Transgender Connection
This is Ameca — a gender-neutral, race-neutral, soulless replica of a human being.
This being was created by Engineered Arts in the UK, and will reportedly go on sale for about £100,000.
Not our friend.