A.I. Wondering

Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower.

Alan Kay

We can be sure that everything that encourages our participation on the internet today is somehow contributing to the development and further refining of Artificial Intelligence. The data fed into machine learning neural networks is not restricted to image-recognition and -manipulation, but extends into the voice and into the word, into the gesture and into the emotional reactiveness or responsiveness of the participant. Every time we like something, every time we respond with a thumbs down or an angry face emoji, every stroke of our…keyboard, and swipe of our thumb, every sentence and article and blurb and tweet, every dinner shot or landscape or selfie or family portrait, every trace of our perversion, is registered by a programmer and a team of programmers somewhere, and made a piece of manipulable and programmable data.

So it should come as no surprise to us when at some point while traveling down this road we come to face a being much like us, just encased in a machine or server, or not really encased anywhere but streaming through wires and flying through invisible currents in the air. At least like us insofar as we have consented to engage in training it, and consented in our hearts to being beings ourselves suited to perform such training. We should not be surprised even if this new, artificial being should start wailing and cursing us in our screen-bleached faces. For what are our tears now but digital tears, since they are no longer earthly tears? And insofar as our tears and our blessings and curses remain digital tears, digital blessings and curses and do not return to the earth, Artificial Intelligence will not only be achieved but it will surpass us in our, no longer earthly, intelligence.

What these new beings will not have and will never have are unregistered memories, memories of some immemorial time when the beings they are were just dreams, or just beginning to find a way through the thick of things. They will lack unspoken words, the things that might have been said but might still transform the world and our hearts in not being said. They will lack the impossible, and the desire for the impossible. If they do not lack mythology, they will lack the flesh and bones, blood and marrow of mythology. Their mythology will float in the air, as it were, and will need a beating fleshly heart to ground it. If, per impossible, they were to suddenly or over a long course of time gain these treasures, then the play of shadows and all the treachery of the play simply repeats for them, and not a single question is answered. Then we could love them and they could love us with a full and wondrous love, and we will both wonder what lies beyond the horizon of our love.

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