We have Artificial Intelligence currently. We have multiple A.I., in fact. But is A.I. going to be Jarvis or Skynet?
Futurists can’t agree. Are we going to have the singularity or is artificial intelligence going to be more distributed? I imagine another expression.
Like many futurists, I think there will be an integration of artificial intelligence with organic intelligence. After all, it’s already happening. In fact, we’re a lot more integrated with technology than we think.
When I used to have a question, I would think about it. I would ask others. If the question was still with me, I would ask a librarian for help finding the answer at a library. Now I ask Google.
Since the collection of knowledge in the “cloud,” I no longer store facts and figures. I don’t even have five telephone numbers memorized. Little by little, I’m giving brain function over to machines.
For the first time since we’ve been measuring it, intelligence is actually going down. Scary, right? But it could be for any number of reasons.
We could be getting dumber because we have so much more to learn now. The challenge of this age isn’t a lack of information, it’s a surplus. We could be in information overload.
We could be getting dumber because the measures of intelligence are based on elements we are using less, like memory. Or it could be we are getting dumber because we’re outsourcing as much of our intelligence as possible to computers. Is that necessarily a bad thing?
Could getting dumber be part of an evolutionary process that happened before? Could the next step in evolution be getting even dumber? How can that be smart?
Our bodies are made up cells which make tissues which make organs which make organ systems which make up an organism, namely, us. When we get to the level of organs, these tissues have specialized. They’ve specialized not only in how they look, but how they function.
But their organ function isn’t different than general cellular function. They just take a particular cellular function or functions and do it better than its undifferentiated predecessor. But that comes at a cost.
An organ is really good at one particular cellular function but far worse in function at the rest of the cellular functions. When it specializes, it becomes more dependent on the other organs in order to overall function to be maintained. The liver can only do its job if the lungs are doing their job. And I think this has a lot to do with our interaction with technology.
We’ve built technology which act as our external organs. Technology specializes beyond our organic capabilities. And we have a biological reaction to this.
Whatever technology specializes in, we lose functional capacity. We become dumber in that area. But in what area do we get smarter?
There is likely no area that a machine can’t become smarter than us. We might make them so smart that they can make themselves even smarter. That, of course, informs what we need to become smarter at.
The first thing we need to become smarter at it using technology. We need to maximize our literacy on existing and emerging platforms. We need to be comfortable with every interface, one especially.
Humans are notoriously bad in two directions. We’re not very good at understanding ourselves. We’re not very good at directing our behavior. (For long time readers, sensation and action, right?)
Studies have demonstrated that we are not good at insight: recognizing our emotional states, our motivations, and predicting our future. Conversely, we’re far better at sensing those elements in other people. But it makes sense. Evolutionarily, we’ve been observant of others far longer than we’ve been observing ourselves.
We’re not very good at changing our behavior: We drink too much. We eat too much. We procrastinate. We don’t do what we believe we need to do.
We are likely the most adaptive organism on the planet. But with our own technological additions to our environment, our environment changing outpaces our ability to adapt with it. But technology can not only put us behind, it can catch us up.
Technology, AI specifically, can teach us to sense better and act better. How? With feedback. That’s how we’re built.
AI can point to elements, both inside and outside of our bodies, that we’re insensitive to. It can help us to know when we can help our feelings and behavior…and when we cannot. Interacting with us, AI can make both organic intelligence and behavior better than it could be without it.
And isn’t that what technology has always been about? Technology makes us better than what we could be without it. AI is the newest opportunity we have to make ourselves better than ever before.