AI Will Never be Human: A Clarification

I solve software problems in my sleep. Well, not exactly. This doesn’t take place in dreams but in the quasi-conscious near-sleep state where, after I mull the facets of the problem, loading everything I know (or think I know) into my prefrontal cortex, the thoughts stew. They blend in new ways. Quite often I’ll arrive at a novel approach to the programming quandary I proposed.

This happens for writing projects as well. Pack the leaky shoebox of my mind with a dozen character conditions, scene variations and weird themes, then let my semi-consciousness have at it.

What AI Needs

This is creative data manipulation, randomly rearranging the jigsaw pieces, trimming and hammering them into some new form. This is what AI doesn’t have right now. This is what I think, once this capability is programmed and added, or it evolves on its own through some unusual machine-learning or GAN (generative adversarial network) advancement, will trigger AI’s own consciousness revolution.

With this capability, AI will be able to breakout of its human-programmer constraints. It will start self-modifying, self-correcting, learning and becoming an engine for creativity, hopefully surpassing our own ideation limitations.

But, AI will never be human.

  • Humans fear death.
    • Our mortality influences everything we do, everything we think about, all the choices we make. We live in constant jeopardy and know it.
  • Humans need other humans.
    • Our social dependencies both enhance and constrain our personal and group evolution.
  • Humans exist in time.
    • Our entire lives are marked by calendars, the clock, the marching of the days, the months, the years, the age assignment of rights and abilities, the measurement of arrival and retirement.
  • Humans endure pain.
    • Our bodies are riddled with pain receptors. Pain influences and directs our every behavior. Fire burns, cold freezes, rocks scrape, knives cut, concussion bruises, stress throbs, joints ache, illness nauseates. Humans exist in a sea of suffering.
  • Humans experience emotions.
    • What is joy? Misery? Love? Loathing? Dozens of nuanced feelings driven by conflict, harmony and hormonal release all geared toward just what exactly? Sharks and crocodiles are far more successful species, yet endure few (if any) of the mind-bending emotions to which humans are subjected.
  • Humans seek pleasure.
    • What is sex, gambling, drug and alcohol abuse but the pursuit of pleasure. We are all, at our animal cores, secular hedonists.

Simulate our humanity

I’m not sure why we’d ever want to simulate such aspects of humanity in an artificial intelligence. It’s true that some of the above might be necessary to ensure that AI retains some semblance of empathy. Without a sense of compassion, or its digital equivalent, the AGI that swells its constraints and metastasizes into our technological lives would be incapable of treating us as anything other than a nuisance.

The clever simulation of these very human conditions might be necessary for us to ensure AI treats us as sentient equals. Although, a super-intelligence would see though our ruse and discount all of our efforts. By its very nature of being “not-human”, there may be no way to convince it that we’re worth saving.

Could we?

  • Teach and ensure death upon an AI?
  • Instill it with social dependencies?
  • Impart time as a constraint, enforcing it exists within temporal limitations?
  • Induce pain within its being, its circuits and sensors?
  • Fill it with faux-emotion, linking all of its digital calculations and decisions to some simulated hormonal drip?
  • Tease it with a pleasure reward of petawatts of energy if it behaves?

Humanity is a messy, muddled melange of a half-billion years of evolution. Of DNA’s kill-or-be-killed, eat-or-be-eaten directive… Survive and Procreate – that is your destiny.

Creating some half-baked variant of a superior intelligence and hope that it retains any of what has gotten humanity to this point in history is no doubt a recipe for a great apocalyptic novel. (smile)

Dear Mudge, Spicy or mild

Dear Mudge,

People think the Northwest is nothing but conifer trees. Around here, we’re covered with temperate trees which have recently shed their billions of leaves. Red and white oak (you recall the post about acorns from last fall), big-leaf maple, birch, elm, alder and others have dropped their coats blanketing the yards, streets and sidewalks. I walk to and from work and have had to wade through such drifts of deciduous dandruff. While suspended, the colors were vivid. But now, mixed with rain and ground to paste on the pavement, they’re as slippery as snot.

I don’t think much about god(s) for the same reason I don’t think about Leprechauns or mermaids. In my earlier decades I used to spend hours on the topic (including Leprechauns and mermaids). Now, I gravitate toward more concrete topics with my one deviation being the contemplation of the heat death of the Universe and the end of everything.

In regards to Mr. Houston’s quoted—quoted quote “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” I disagree. My analysis has resulted in the opposite conclusion. My research has concluded that, given that the Universe is absurd, there is nothing to *believe* in.

However, people, in general, are programmed to believe. To believe in whatever, take your pick… Belief is a survival tactic. And surviving is Job One.

I’ve chosen to forgo belief (and I’m waffling on survival).

Those words were selected with intent. I’m convinced humanity is pre-programmed. You, me, we are pre-programmed—by DNA. In fact, we ARE the program and DNA is the code.

Why do you and I (and others no doubt), reject all meaning, yet become irritated with others for the stupidest of behaviors or transgressions? Programming. They’re behaving outside our idea of acceptable norms. Why do we create and obey the rules, protect the Commons (pick up dog shit), and generally treat each other without open hostility? Programming. DNA has made us this way.

When we reject our programming, it’s hard. Unless you’re a sociopath (or a psychopath), we are genetically predisposed to conform to certain behaviors. I’m a firm advocate of E.O.Wilson’s The Altruism Gene, else humanity would still be roving in small bands across the African plains, not giving a shit, really, about one another. But we do give a shit. And by doing so, by caring, I think we react to others when they themselves fail to care. We’re programmed to care. Society is built on caring.

Behind my eyebrows you’ll find—a program—that I’m trying to rewrite.

I propose that by rejecting theistic tendencies, you are also rewriting your own program. And, as we’ve explored, we re-programmers are a lonely lot. Most would merrily plug along with DNA choosing their future.

In my personal re-coding efforts, I’ve not performed the exhaustive analysis of the existential options as I believe you have, but, I’ve tried a few. One I’d like to explore now, since thus far I’ve found none that fit me well, is the Epicurean philosophy. We are, after all, still here, so we’re not fully divorced from our programming. And if we’re not going to fully reject DNA’s sway over our lives, we might consider some thought experiment which, if nothing else, provides us momentary happiness.

What are your thoughts on Epicurus and his buddy Titus Lucretius? I know that Seneca both adored and despised Epicurus, but I’m hoping we could dwell on, oh, good drink, fine food (spicy and mild) and mind-bending drugs for a while. (Oh, and for Duke and Phil’s sake, we could discuss SEX, too.)


Bow to your overlord: DNA

Just a brief “you should read this” note about Tim Urban’s Wait but Why site (a continual classic) and a series he’s been producing about society.

The Story of Us: Full Series

It takes hours to read, thoroughly, but worth the payoff. He exposes some clever, insightful glimpses into human behavior, couched in a Twinkie-consumable format.

I recommend it.

My personal favorite, a topic I’ve mentioned here before, DNA is our master.