Is anyone prepared for artificial intelligence?
Funny guy and Crazy Rich Asian star Ronny Chiung reveals the future for us on his Netflix comedy special. He talks about Amazon Prime next day delivery.
“Next day?” he scowls. “I could die by then. Same day delivery, two-hour wait? You’re making barf! Nobody will stand for that; we want everything now! Push the purchase button and the stuff you bought goes in your hand. NOW!
“But I’m entitled to MORE! I demand even faster! Why should I have to think about what I want? They have artificial intelligence; so connect with my intelligence. Deliver to me BEFORE I think of it? I’m not their slave doing all the thinking/deciding work for them!”
My wife and I laugh and agree that Ronny’s correct. We’re not Neanderthal farmers digging for roots in the ground. We first got animals and then tractors and then finally combines to relieve us of muscle-based farm labor. Nobody uses muscles to duplicate the work of a bulldozer. But when it gets personal, when thinking machines make our own decisions for us, that’s different. My wife tells me, “I never want machines making decisions for me or telling me what to do.”
But she’s not quite telling the truth. Machines relieve us of mental work today when they memorize phone numbers, drive our cars, and even edit the grammar we write. If my wife doesn’t want artificial intelligence telling her what to do, why does she allow Waze to choose her driving routes? She wouldn’t make picnic plans without weather satellites and computers telling her what to do. But why should we stop there? Why take any muscle or mental jobs away from machines? Shouldn’t artificial intelligence perform all thinking effort as well as do all the calculating, planning, and evaluating for us? It no longer makes sense for us to physically drag a plow over a field. So why are we wasting our brains doing jobs AI machines can perform?
Once we agree AI can do jobs better than we can, what will that look like? How much mental effort should we outsource? If Waze gives the fastest or most scenic driving route, what could AI accomplish collaborating with your brain? Choose your wardrobe, chose your hobbies, a place to live, college to attend, or employers to work for? If you are willing to go that far, how about going to the next step?
Are you OK with an all-knowing artificial intelligence machine, joined with your intelligence, deciding your political candidate, or religious affiliation? If AI said so, could you go with the Moonie church or some cult of doom? Who knows, you might be happier joining the Mami Wata faith? How about decisions regarding household pets, friends to associate with or a spouse to marry? What if AI determined your perfect soul-mate was someone who’s dog ugly, obese and the wrong gender? If machines consistently gave statistically superior, better-informed decisions, how could you argue? Unassisted marriage choices succeed half the time but AI may deliver a 90% success rate. In that case, are you going to marry that heavy, wrong gender candidate?
What’s the endpoint of all this automation and artificial intelligence trend we experience? When all physical and mental effort is outsourced, will we just sit on the couch all day or revert to a condition of prenatal effortless stupor? Or maybe we will ascend to a higher plane of existence characterized by poetry, music, or spiritual awakening? Consider the freedom this advancement will do for your spiritually. It will be a quantum leap forward for your inner Zen monk. You could enter the Zen-do with a pure, thoughtless mind and become one with pure bliss. You could meditate, contemplate, levitate and never leave your seat. Come to think of it, such a state of bliss might resemble the first alternative vision of a prenatal stupor. But then don’t knock it till you try it.
As long as they don’t tell me the prudent choice is to get rid of my lovable Golden Retriever and replace her with a snake or pet tarantella? That could lead to undreamed of complexities with a far greater impact than Amazon Prime or Baidu delivering toothpaste before I know I want it.