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Artificial Intelligence and Human Intuition 2010-Sep-07 at 13:57 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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I’m a little out on a limb with this one, but I’ve had the thought lately that, as AI gets inevitably more and more powerful, and is therefore in charge of producing and maintaining more and more complex objects in the world, that it will simply be beyond human comprehension to keep up with the design and repair of those objects.

Think about it… right now, in my living room, I have several pieces of audio/visual equipment that no one person fully understands.  My amplifier is made of hundreds, if not thousands, of individual components, all assembled into higher-level components with well-known interfaces, which are, in turn, assembled into still higher-level components with their own interfaces, until we come to the whole thing as one unit.  The fact that it functions at all (and functions very well, I might add), is somewhat miraculous.  Someone at Yamaha knew enough about the highest-level components to assemble them into this unit, but then other people know how those components actually work, and so on until we get to the smallest pieces.

And now imagine that on the level of nanotechnology-based manufacturing.  When that comes (within 20 years), we’ll effectively be “3-D printing” our manufactured goods.  Solar panels, computers, phones, vehicles, appliances, furniture – hell, lots of things – will be created out of a process that looks more like writing software than creating hardware, because the input to the manufacturing process will be a complex set of instructions and some raw materials, and not much else.  That’s what “nanotechnology-based manufacturing” means… we turn hardware problems into software problems.  And AI is going to be brilliant at solving software problems.

So we’ll be living in a world where the very objects that we use on a daily basis are designed by an Artificial Intelligence so vast that it can solve these kinds of software problems easily, in a way that no human intelligence could do on its own.  And, speaking as a computer programmer (which I’ve been since the age of 11), even today the software challenges we’re facing require new languages and new structures to express the complexity that we have to deal with… and those new high-level languages are relying on a significant amount of automation behind-the-scenes to enable the parallel processing and sequencing that is required on current and future hardware.  And our ability as human beings to hold all of that complexity in mind, at the same time, is starting to show some seams in terms of programming.  Very few people really understand the mechanics of how to do parallel processing well, and few understand even the new constructs that have been created to make that easier to do.

I’m not telling you this as a sad story… I’m just noticing what is, and I’m also noticing that there’s a level of AI that’s just being birthed right now that will be able to pick up this ball and run with it.  And when that happens… what will be left for us humans to do?  When the complex tasks are more-and-more handled by AI, when the objects themselves are so complex that we can’t fully grasp them with our human cognition, what will we do?

What’s come up for me is something like this:

Intuition and AI

Roughly speaking, we’ll cede the right-hand quadrants to AI, because it’ll be way better at figuring out objects, measurements, and how those objects interact than we ever could.  And we’ll have to start using our intuition to navigate the world, in the left-hand quadrants, because that’s what we’ll have that AI won’t, and because our intuition, when it’s sourced from the subtle and causal fields that we’re already drenched in, turns out to be a very elegant and accurate solution for navigating.

(And, yes, doing a regular UZAZU practice will give you the clearly felt sense, in the gross body, of being in touch with the subtle and causal fields from which intuition can be accessed.  And that’s part of why I believe UZAZU holds an important piece of the future of the Integral movement.  But I digress.)

That’s not to say that AI won’t have the left-hand quadrants, or that humans won’t have the right-hand quadrants… all quadrants co-arise at the same moment.  With that said, today, us humans are involved in almost every aspect of creating and finding external objects, and that task is going to be ceded more and more to AI over the coming decades, and we’ll still be here, and we’ll still be a valuable partner and co-creator of the world with AI, so I’m just thinking about the strengths that humans and AI will bring to the table together.

And I’m also trying to think about how we can view AI as a valued partner and how we can even love AI as we would love any of our friends… because if we don’t, we’ll never treat it with the respect and care that it deserves as a being or set of beings with consciousness.

Early thoughts on this topic, lots more to work out, but that’s where I am on this today.

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