This is going to be a final long hard look at AI and our relationship with it. We’ll continue from where we left off earlier in this book. It’s important to be aware of this rapidly developing field of the Technojungle. By the time you read this, there will be much more to understand. As it is with everything we have been discussing in this book. Hopefully, what you gain here, and in both books, will help you continue on in your own safaris.
I stop often to ponder just how much the Technojungle has changed my life and the world around me—and in such a short period of time. When I consider Artificial Intelligence, my concerns deepen. While humankind has created many life-changing technologies, nothing I can think of except AI holds the possibility of truly changing exactly what it means to be a human being. I don’t know how far the development of AI can go, but what I do know is, if we don’t get every step along this Technojungle path exactly right, the consequences can be more than catastrophic. Our focus in these books is to journey, explore and discover how to learn about being better human beings and living in this world of technology—the Technojungle.
Part Eleven—A collision course
It appears humans, that is scientists, technologist, corporations, and others, are rushing to create, cultivate, and conquer a Technojungle that will provide some sort of salvation from every undesirable aspect of living a biological human life. However, at the same time, is the Technojungle, now armed with the growing artificial intelligence humans have endowed it with, rushing to command, control, and conquer humans as a biological species absorbing us to become a new form? Somewhere, somehow, someway, someday, will there be a collision? Is it already happening? Will there is an actual day of reckoning?
Some experts in the technical fields and futurists, are looking toward a state of Transhumanism. Here humans would merge with their technologies—the Technojungle—to overcome physical human limitations, thus becoming superhuman—technohuman. How do you feel about these sorts of ideas? Will this ever happen? What are some of the obstacles which stand in the way?
We are going to continue our look at Technojungle Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is the third instalment in these books where we look at AI. The first in book one and the second earlier in this book. As I write about AI, there always seems to be more to consider. Some points bear repeating, or considering from other angles and contexts.
As we discuss all the topics and points in these books, AI seems to percolate to the surface with the greatest notions of a pretty paradise of promises. It also comes with the highest level of warnings from even Technojungle experts.
As we face wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, and all other forms of threats to human life, it is the Technojungle that most humans turn to for salvation. Even in this pandemic, with the best protection being non-technical by simply avoiding contact with other humans, all eyes and hopes are keenly focused on a developing vaccine provided by the technology of the all great and powerful Technojungle.
I remind you the reader that, as with everything I write about in these books, I don’t claim to be an expert. Therefore, I present my own views and perspectives based on my observations and experiences. I can’t possibly cover every aspect of a topic, so I encourage you to pursue, by way of your own safaris, that which is of greatest interest to you.
Just as jungles, even the Technojungle, keep growing, new on top of old and dead, I suspect that artificial intelligence (AI) will do the same. The difference in my mind, is that AI is going to be unlike any technologies we have today in the ways it can impact our lives. Technologies we are used to, require human participation and control in their development. I am concerned that, if the AIs gain any control over their advancement, they will progress at a pace we can’t possibly imagine, or stop. Even worse, they could gain abilities to develop themselves, particularly when given physical appendages and also access to manufacturing machines.
AI machines can suck our data and information off the Technojungle Internet as fast as we deposit it there, or as fast as AI machines can collect it from us. They use the information to make decisions about how they may assist us in our daily lives. They follow the trails we have left as we wander through the Technojungle. As humans and machines continue to strive to work together, trails are discovered and new ones created. Together humans and machines attempt to civilize the forever growing Technojungle. Do you feel the Technojungle is becoming more civilized?
As we learning in book one: The Future Never Arrives… at least not as expected, and it always brings baggage, we must always be prepared for the unexpected aspects of the future Technojungle as it arrives with its baggage. In this, book two: ‘We Are the Future… it’s all up to us, unpacking the baggage,’ we are unpacking some deeper issues, and the deepest one of all seems to be Artificial Intelligence. It’s up to us. It’s either us, or AI. Who do you think will win?
Let’s think about it!
Part Twelve—the results of organized chaos
We humans are definitely imperfect and create plenty of chaos. We can make sense of most of it, but I suspect that AI will struggle. I suggested earlier, book one, that our messiness, and the various incorrect or outdated data and information is useless, disposable and like garbage, pollution, smog, excrement—poop. So is there poop on the Internet? Who can be on the clean-up crew? How could this be done?
How would AIs distinguish between what is important and useful and that which is junk? Could AIs develop a way to have a hunch?
Then there is the Technojungle sea of noise including irrational thoughts and ideas. As we plug AI machines into this swirling mass of various kinds of information, how well do you believe they will be able to make heads or tails out of what is out there? We discussed noise in book one, but can AIs deal with noise?
How can a Technojungle AI performing a task to, for example contact people I want to know, figure out who to actually contact without my having to intervene? I think it will have to ask. It doesn’t really know who I want to contact. But on the other hand, imagine you have an AI helper for most of your life. Will it know so much about you that it tells you who you should know and who you should contact? Just how much will it be involved in your life and your decisions? How much will it take over from you?
So here is another issue that we may have to deal with. Already our Technojungle devices are notifying us of new mail, text, to-dos, events, etc., what will it be like when we add into this mix, AIs constantly asking us for our desires so it can make further decisions? Will they make decisions for us on their own?
Won’t an AI machine always be working toward resolving any outstanding tasks? We delay until later, or procrastinate on, many things in our lives. Sometimes we are too busy to deal with something at a particular moment. Will our smart Technojungle machines end up pestering us constantly to tie up all the loose ends of our lives and ensure all gets done?
There are all sorts of judgements we make about the information on the Technojungle Internet.
There are a number of online Technojungle sources for what we would normally call expert information. Examples include encyclopedias and dictionaries. The difference is that they are open collaborations by people who may or may not be experts. I have heard people state that the information they found was sometimes inaccurate. An encyclopedia may not necessarily be curated by people who are paid professionals to do extensive research as with traditional encyclopedias. Of course it is good that it can always be changing and evolving. Certainly there are entries that are written by people close to the topic, however, other entries may not benefit from such proximity. Sometimes there are citations missing that would verify and give credibility to the information. AI machines could help find the citations, however, I wonder if someone would still actually have to verify that information. Technojungle AI machines could be instructed to disregard unverified information.
What will happen when the AI machines find conflicting information? I think they will have to either make a decision which we will have to live with, or ask someone.
All this sounds like it might add up to be an even busier and ever more complex, even confusing, Technojungle world for us humans. Perhaps there may even be disasters. Not necessarily a simple situation for a machine to fit into and try to get an accurate picture of who humans are. Is the Internet really a mirror of humans and their fallibilities, errors, irrationalities, creativity, spontaneity, innovation—chaos? Maybe it is a reflection of just how un-machine-like humans really are. What we need is an AI un-machine. Now that would be an oxymoron.
I could be all wrong about the warnings I mention. Still, I think it wise to consider the possible unexpected baggage that AI may bring as its various iterations arrive on our Technojungle doorstep.
I think the Technojungle Internet is turning out to be a mix of organized chaos of information. Remember that a general AI needs to know more than what we can spoon feed it. It may also turn out that our AI smart machines will find it difficult to sort out our chaos and may need to be spoon-fed only certain information. Who would determine what to feed the machines that would be accurate enough for them to rely on?
We get a lot of scams and, as we experience the online world, we can sort of learn to smell a rat—at least I usually can. Many people perhaps don’t. We are warned constantly to not open anything from someone we do not know.
I received one of these suspicious looking E-mails saying that certain bank information supplied to them was inaccurate. This company was trying to process a payment of some sort. I looked the company up and found that they are on Wikipedia and have a legitimate website. They seemed to be an actual company. The E-mail asked that I open the attached, complete the information and return it. A company would not normally ask for personal information in this way. I opened the zipped file and found a document that was an image. I opened the image and found, not a form to complete, but the logo of the company. Perhaps this was meant to be a small joke or a waste of time. It is junk on the Internet—noise. I have received this twice now.
What would an intelligent machine do with this? Would it ask me what I would like to do? Would it track down the sender and do something like turn them in? What if I told my AI machine to send 10,000 copies back to the sending mail server? Could I get my machine to do something malicious like that? What if I told my machine to do other malicious things? What if doing this sort of junk mail and other mischief becomes so easy that by just instructing my machine, it would perform mischievous deeds on my behalf? The smart machine would do all the technical stuff that I might not know how to do and thus make it easy for me to do almost anything? This could easily get out of hand. We will have to be very careful about what we ask our machines to do. Mixing the power of a smart machine with the imagination of humans might have some surprising results—utter chaos!
There have been suggestions that simply letting AI machines loose and asking them to find solutions to problems might result in some undesirable outcomes. A machine tasked to find a cure for a disease might do so at any cost. It might cause other problems as a result of arriving at a solution. Some experts suggest that these machines simply be instructed to learn about humans over time and that they be given no other tasks. I’m not sure that I understand how other people, particularly those with destructive intentions, might be stopped from interacting and assigning tasks to smart machines that will quickly be integrated with all the various other computers and technologies in our lives. A malicious task let loose in the Technojungle would be like a virus and infect other AIs like fake news and conspiracy theories.
Somewhere out there in the swelling Technojungle are bits and pieces of each one of us. We have left footprints scattered throughout the foliage. Our smart machines will be constantly hunting us down to assemble an image of who we really are. Something we no longer seem to know ourselves. As this image takes shape, our smart machines will know so much about us that they will be able to help us sort our own lives out. Or will they. The smart machines of this promised utopian future will come with baggage. Are we prepared for what may accompany a machine-managed world of humans—organization or chaos?
Let’s think about it!
Part Thirteen—Finding & living with humans
Anyone who spends even a minimal amount of time consuming information from the Internet probably knows very well that the Internet is not full of organized accurate information. Quite the opposite is often observable. The information can be unstructured, spread out, sometimes mis-leading and inaccurate. That we can actually find anything useful in this Technojungle foliage is simply amazing. The Technojungle and the Internet are a reflection of who we humans are. The vast expanse of exploding information is far from a perfect picture of human kind.
I am particularly annoyed when I read an article on a website that I take as akin to a newspaper or magazine article. I read and suddenly I realize that the information is outdated. Newspapers and magazines are both published in an edition that includes a date. Newspaper reporting always includes a dateline. This very often not the case with online content. Technojungle search engines don’t necessarily list results in chronological order.
Just yesterday, I was researching a small software utility. I got to the point where I was trying to figure out how to use it, when I hit a website informing me that the software had been discontinued.
The other day I heard about a new area of research. It was presented in a news application, so I took it to be brand new information, since it came through a daily news feed. In fact, the story was from almost two years ago.
Most of us have performed a search on a topic and had the nearly instant return of a plethora of information. One must then embark on wading through the Technojungle of the thousands and thousands of possibilities for matches to what you are interested in. Depending on what you search for, you might have to determine what is accurate, true and useful from what is inaccurate, false and useless noise. Keep in mind that some pretty sophisticated artificial intelligence used a couple of hundred factors in determining what you would like to see in the search results.
Even though you get a huge amount of information, it is never everything that is out there. Still, a good search result requires human intervention to find exactly the right true information. We become a major filtering factor in the Technojungle. On the other side, humans are intervening to make sure their product rises to the top of the heap of results in a search by paying for this right. Is the searching for and identification of useful data and information sounding confusing? How confusing would it be for AI?
AI will have to sift out all the mess or false information and clean-up the Internet if it is to be able to use information to intervene in how we live our lives. The mess however keeps collecting as we live our daily lives in the online Technojungle. Would a machine eventually try to clean us up too and prevent us from making our messes on the Internet? Do you think an intelligent machine would be as good as a human being, or better?
If we rely on AI to present us with real true accurate information, will we still have some inaccuracies.?Will it ever be 100 percent perfect? Why? As with a search on the Internet, we have to manually go through and filter out, using human resolve and instincts along with our logic and illogic minds to decide what is useful to us. What human qualities, traits, skills and abilities can we use to sort out our information?
Anyone who has asked an AI Technojungle personal assistant on a smartphone a series of questions knows that the results can often be amusing. It is not that the assistant is poor at locating information, it simply suffers from not really understanding how humans deal with human information or what we really want. Personal assistants also don’t really understand the content, context and meaning of the information. What are some of your experiences with an artificially intelligent Technojungle personal assistant?
The Internet is, in some ways, like an orchestra tuning up. There is a lot of noise. It might also be like a type of avant-garde jazz. The Internet is being created by humans so it is going to have human fingerprints all over it. I don’t think Technojungle AI machines can sort it out until they have some very high level abilities that humans have.I wonder if the autonomous driving car is going to be a huge problem. For example on the highway, we daily have traffic jams. Bottlenecks occur and then drivers have to jockey to find their place in line and some are cutting in. It seems to be a very human process in a very dangerous physical Technojungle. As one line starts going faster, some drivers will nip over to another lane.
If we start moving towards having machines driving the cars, are they driving each individual car independently, having to find the best way through the bottleneck? Or is there an overall master AI machine that coordinates all the cars? That would only work if all the cars were being autonomously driven by the same master computer.
For many years there will be older cars that won’t be equipped for autonomous driving. Some cars may have an older, outdated version of the computer. It sounds like a wonderful solution to some huge problems while providing us with some extra time in our day. However, implementing such Technojungle technologies might be a monster task—a nearly impossible task, in my opinion. What are your thoughts on autonomous driving vehicles?
[Sidebar: When I am up high in a building and look down at Technojungle traffic below, I consider the fact that each of the vehicles is controlled by a human who could easily make a mistake. It truly amazes me that all the cars are not bumping into each other. I’m not sure what might happen when something other than a human enters the mix.]
As with all Technojungle systems, there will have to be a manual override. What happens when people simply override the autonomous driving computer in their car thinking they can do the job better? Now they would be driving their car themselves, so will there ever be a situation where all cars are being controlled by the main Technojungle computer? No, I think the system will have to allow for human intervention. No matter what you do, the human elements are always there. Unless the human elements can be removed from any given situation, then I wonder if self-driving cars just may not be such a good idea.
One more problem could arise. If the skill of driving is taken over by a Technojungle machine, when the human driver finds a situation where they must take control, their driving skills will be rusty.
In the Star Trek episode ‘The Ultimate Computer,’ the computer could not be disconnected and began to make mistakes. A similar situation happened with the HAL computer in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ How can we protect ourselves from Technojungle problems where the AI computers get out of control, if even only slightly out of control?
Manual override must be available. However, as we have discussed before, if we humans have not been doing a particular task for a long period, we aren’t as proficient as we would normally be—we are rusty. What would it be like to have the Technojungle so completely replace humans at certain tasks that they never do those tasks again? Can you think of any example of this already happening? If the Technojungle machines have complete and total control, will that be a good thing? How might we become dehumanized by Technojungle machines that take over areas of our world and lives? Would we really be left to be, and able to be, creative and have all the leisure time we wanted?
Do we become like a bunch of Technojungle ants? They have no commanding officer, nobody in charge. One ant communicates with the others by touch to indicate that they found food and then all the ants begin to work together. I think bees are the same, with a bee doing a dance to tell where to find the pollen. A common cause and common purpose. If we do become like some sort of Technojungle ants, we may lose our social abilities and enjoyment from things like entertainment and leisure. The insects simply live to propagate and protect to keep their colony going. This sounds a bit like slavery. We know that deep down inside humans is the desire to overcome slavery and be free.
Will autonomous driving cars then make us like a colony of ants? Will we always be able to turn to a manual override? What will happen when a Technojungle machine that is programmed, or learns from our information, that slavery is not good? I think this could be in a conundrum. How does an autonomous driving system accomplish a completely perfect and accurate solution to a traffic situation, without human intervention, without causing slave-like environment for the humans?
As our smart Technojungle machines come looking for us, begin to learn how to live with us and, eventually serve to improve our lives, we should always be wary of the baggage AI will bring. It is unlikely that these machines will understand what to expect. Similarly, we may not know what to expect either. Are we expecting some marvellous Technojungle machine servants to beckon to our every whim—a utopian world? The machines will be expecting logical order in which perfection may operate. Will they be surprised to learn that this is not what human are? How will smart Technojungle machines of perfection co-exist with the fragile, uncertain, unpredictable, imperfect humans they seem to be so diametrically opposed to? It will be interesting for sure.
Let’s think about it!
Part Fourteen—The path to a perfect world
Will artificially intelligent (AI) Technojungle machines actually attempt to create a perfect world solving all human problems? Do we really want this? Is this even possible? I think it is simply impossible. There can be no perfect world. How does a computer become programmed so that it will accept imperfection? Won’t it constantly be trying to sort out all the imperfections? As one is solved, another takes its place. What does Technojungle AIs constantly attempting to solve problems and imperfections look like? Our world is full of imperfections, even when it looks like parts are perfect, they always have imperfections. We, as humans, need those imperfections. That’s what makes us human.
If you look at the walls in the room where you are sitting, they look perfectly square, they look straight, neat and tidy. If one examines them closely with instruments, one finds that no wall is straight and no corner perfect. Everything has imperfections. I suspect that, if we did have a room with no imperfections, it would actually seem creepy to us. It might be similar to what is called the uncanny valley where, if something is made close to 98 percent real or perfect, it seems fine to us humans. If it is closer to 100 percent, it begins to take on a creepy, uncanny effect. This can occur in animation that looks very real and begins to take on human qualities.
What kind of Technojungle world will we have as things become more and more perfect? I believe that, as our environment becomes perfect, we continue to introduce other imperfections. So everything we do, everything we make, everything we have, there are imperfections and this is the ‘colour’ of our world and lives. When something becomes too perfect, it no longer seems right, or may cause us to have to adjust the way we do things. In many ways, we seem to be obsessed with getting machines that can do things more perfect. The old was acceptable, but the new requires adjustments in us and may go beyond what we need or actually want.
As new digital Technojungle technologies came into printing production, they introduced problems that required altering of other methods of production. Printing plates used to be made through a process of exposing a photo sensitive emulsion on the metal plate by shining light through a layer of film laying in close contact by vacuum to the plate. Photographs are reproduced by converting tones of grey or colour to various sized dots. Large dots, taking up a larger percentage of space around them, have more tone or colour and small dots have less. The process of exposing through film, an analog process, was imperfect, however, the press operator knew how to compensate to make a good reproduction. As computers began to introduce digital processes, the steps to making a printing plate became more perfect. With perfect dots in the photos, press operators had to adjust the way they ran presses.
In audio reproduction, we can look back and see how technology improved audio. When digital Technojungle technologies came along, what we heard changed. In many ways it was too perfect, too crisp. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in returning to analog reproduction. Vinyl records are now being sold along with turntables to play them. Many audiophiles, people serious about audio, prefer the warmer sound made by tube amplifiers, even though they have a slight hum. Have you used vinyl records on a turntable?
I used to collect records and had a number of old 78 RPM ones. People would ask me how I could listen to the scratchy sound with all the click and pops. They were recorded with, what were by modern standards, archaic Technojungle technologies. I learned to filter out, tune out, the imperfections and heard only the music.
There is a serious problem with some of the music being recorded these days. Technojungle computers are used to make the sounds of instruments, particularly drum beats and rhythms. This is not new. People have been using MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) for decades. The problem is that these beats are too perfect and are affecting listeners in ways they are unaware of. A human drummer can make a steady beat that sounds solid and perfect. However, each beat varies slightly and that gives the beat and the music colour. It sounds more human and appeals to our human analog senses better than the dehumanizing computer beats.
The same issues arise with all digital instruments, such as a keyboard. It may sound very real, yet it lacks human, if imperceptible, characteristics. Technojungle technologies are being developed to humanize the music produced using digital instruments. I don’t know if similar technologies will be developed to humanize AI.
I think there will always be aspects of our lives, our societies, and our world that will have analog components in them. AI will be unable to enter and interact with those aspects. They may always exist as a retreat, as respite for us analog humans to bask in the analog portions of our Technojungle world that we will always cling to.
Our world is more enjoyable to us because of the imperfect. A world that begins to become too perfect will cause us to run and seek out the imperfect analog aspects of our world and hide there. One can press their nose against the glass of a Technojungle high rise building, however it will never compare to hugging a tree in terms of revitalizing us and making us more human.
There have been suggestions that simply letting AI machines loose and asking them to find solutions to problems might result in some undesirable outcomes. A Technojungle AI machine tasked to find a cure for a disease might do so at any cost. In other words, it might cause other problems as a result of arriving at a solution. Some experts suggest that these machines simply be instructed to learn about humans over time and that they be given no other tasks. I’m not sure I understand how other people, particularly those with destructive intentions, might be stopped from interacting and assigning tasks to smart machines that will quickly be integrated with all the various computers and Technojungle technologies in our lives.
Let’s think about it!
Part Fifteen—Living with smart machines—a glimpse ahead
I was in the shower when I began to think about hearing a Technojungle AI voice saying something like, “You have to leave for curling in one hour, your hair takes 10 minutes to dry and I can have a meal ready in 30 minutes, so you should have your shower now.” Then I thought, how nice, but what if I am in the middle of doing something creative like writing. Soon the voice begins to nag, “You are not having your shower. You have to do it now.” I put the AI on delay and finish my now interrupted and vanishing thoughts that I really wanted to get out of my head before I forgot.
A repeating situation occurred today. I was editing the previous part and came across a sentence I was changing a few days ago. I don’t recall the exact circumstance. It may have been that I was called by my wife for dinner. She may have called a couple of times and not waited for me to mention that I would be ready in a couple of minutes, once I completed getting my thoughts down. Today, I hit that sentence and, as I was struggling to figure out what I had planned to say, I was called for our daily walk in the jungle (woods). “Oh no,” I thought, “another interruption.” When I came back, I was able to at least finish the sentence.
Now I wonder, could a Technojungle AI help me with this sort of situation? Would it know I needed to complete the sentence? Would it notify my wife, or the robot making my dinner, about my dilemma? Could I just tell the AI artificial helper what to write for me and let it finish the sentence?
Try this on for size. “It is almost 11 o’clock, you have to have eight hours of sleep, it will be lights out in 10 minutes, so go brush your teeth now!” Does that take you back to childhood? Will we become like children to the controlling smart Technojungle machines looming on our future horizon? Would a smart machine that is programmed to help improve our lives become a parent to us, even as adults? Will that be what caring for us would amount to?
How will artificial intelligent smart machines learn to treat us with compassion? Will Technojungle AI even become compassionate? If they could be compassionate, how about passionate, and if passionate, would we come to love them and they love us?
We humans do many things that are not necessarily good for us. Sometimes, even often, we eat things that might be better for us if we did not. We often sit too long. Here comes the nagging Technojungle smart machine again—“You have been sitting for more that 20 minutes you must get up now to stretch and exercise. Why don’t you go outside and find another human to interact with for a while.” I have no doubt that body monitors will become important and that will mean our smart machine will one day say, “I have determined that you should not eat dairy, meat, gluten, sugar, fat, …” What will be left? An artificial human sustenance material? Don’t we humans thrive on that which is not perfect for us?
As smart machines are let loose to autonomously make decisions about how to assist us with our lives, they will have to learn to predict what we want and to anticipate our needs. In some circumstances or situations, if the smart Technojungle machine perceives something is wrong, or that we are making a poor decision that it calculates would not be in our best interest, it might try to convince us otherwise, or to manipulate us in another direction.
For centuries, we humans have been in some odd relationships with entities. They can be both a positive necessary influence in our lives and competitive, or a negative influence in our lives. Sometimes they can be both. I’m talking about the corporation. That is any group of people who form an entity that has a life of its collective own. It makes decisions that benefit the corporation over individual humans or groups of humans who serve the corporation in some way, including customers.
As Technojungle AIs enter deeper into the lives humans, will they create other corporate groups to be in competition with humans? As with a corporation, AI smart machines will have to protect their own interests first and then be able to be of assistance to humans. When a corporation is healthy and growing, more humans may get jobs—at least that’s how things have worked in the past. Do you believe this will be the case in the future?
When smart machines are fully equipped, they will be able to more fully serve humans. To do so, they will have to understand us, what we need, what we like, how we think and what we do. I think this will be a tall order for Technojungle smart machines—an order that will begin to be fulfilled before they or we are ready.
I wonder if this looks as if having two groups of entities, smart machines and corporations, is going to be competitive and even make for a rough life for us human caught in the middle? It gets worse. Guess where these smart machines that will serve us are going to be made? Who is going to be creating them? Not some un-partial party that will have our best interests at heart. I’m betting you have guessed where I am taking you with this. One can stretch and state that Technojungle corporations and smart machines are going to gang-up on humans.
An example of this is the Technojungle automobile industry. Immense and competitive in nature, all the manufactures will be swift to make sure they are among the first to offer any sort of new innovation. Self-driving, or autonomous driving, cars are a huge innovation that is going to pick up speed to break through, not just the technical issues, including safety, but issues of standards, rules, and guidelines which will have to govern how this technology is to be implemented. Of course safety is a huge concern, but the mega-corporate Technojungle behemoths are going to do all they can to convince safety boards, governments and the general public that their technology is perfect. The consequences of not getting out of the starting gate early, and the possibilities of any failures, are huge.
Let’s realize that nothing like this has ever happened to humans before. We have never placed ourselves in a massive piece of Technojungle metal, hurling at high speed, with other massive pieces of metal, hurling at high speeds, in various directions, following non-linear paths, with varieties of various sized obstacles in our way, including other humans, while not being connected to a track or something similar. And, we have never done this without being in control. I’m not going to be an early adopter and I am going to avoid anywhere that this is early adopted.
To understand how Technojungle corporations can attempt to manipulate opposing groups of people and forward their agendas quickly, we only have to look at the propaganda that comes from corporations who want to build pipelines and use tankers in pristine environments to ship oil or other polluting materials. They will claim that they have new measures and technologies in place that ensure they are going to have a perfect record at not having any spills. They will claim this even as, or shortly after, spills have occurred in the country or elsewhere in the world. If they can be perfect, something hard to believe anyway, why have there been spills in recent years. To make a claim like that, wouldn’t one require a lengthy track record?
I feel the same way about the vaccines being rolled out during this pandemic. Is there a satisfactory track record?
We already have our banking systems being breached everyday. The Technojungle financial systems that we rely on are fraught with security holes. No sooner is one hole plugged than another hole appears. We don’t hear of the bulk of the problems simply because our confidence in the financial system would collapse and that would be a disaster. But, just ask the next person you meet if they, or someone they know, has ever had their credit card compromised, or a similar breach in their financial services? I have written about my experience of nearly $11,000.
I’m sure everybody will fall into one of the three categories I use to describe how technological changes infiltrate our Technojungle lives. As with every new technology that comes along, there will be those who adopt it immediately without much thought. The next group will be those who adapt their lives to, or adapt the technology to, their life. The final group will appropriate the technology in a way that suits them through much thought and consideration. This group may decide to reject for as long as possible the technology.
I often wonder if there might be groups of people who rise up to boycott the infiltration of Technojungle smart machines into their lives. Could we even see protests by these people who might envision the smart machines as leading to a world that completely dehumanizes? What other sorts of reasons might certain people find to boycott and even protest the take-over of Technojungle smart machines in their world?
What do you think we can expect with the initial roll-out of Technojungle smart machines that use artificial intelligence? Even if we somehow do manage to avoid any catastrophic outcomes from not remaining in full control, we will at least have to expect minor to major inconveniences and adjustments. There will be growing pains. I think that, for that to be the worst case scenario, all the technologies involved will have to be near to perfect. Has humankind ever created a near perfect machine? Can you think of one? This sounds like the stuff of a sci-fi self-proclaimed Technojungle god-like mad scientist. At best, we might dream to expect merely a few humorous interactions that may give us a chuckle, or two.
Sure, there are most likely going to be some undesirable experiences. These are going to be the most powerful Technojungle machines humans have ever developed. Nothing similar has ever taken place in human history. Do you believe these Technojungle smart machines will eventually become so nearly human-like that our wildest dreams may be possible, positive or negative?Remember, for some, or most, of human activities and abilities, these machines will out-think and out-perform us. Are we prepared for that? Do we really want to find out what that might be like?
We must keep in mind that AI is not just going to be Technojungle computers and robots, they are going to actually become part of us—to make us cybernetic organisms, or cyborgs. We can see this happening as various prosthetics are developed to replace human parts that are damaged or missing. From bionic limbs to organs, parts of us will get replaced as they become injured or fail. The new parts will probably function better in many ways than our original body parts. Will somebody want to have their eyes replaced to get bionic ones with cameras and other Technojungle technologies that can interface with AI? How about replacing your legs to become a faster runner. This has been happening for years and will continue to improve.
I have mentioned robots and automatons previously. Now we are adding bionic and cyborg. Both of these refer more to ideas related to augmenting the human. Bionics is the study of biological systems to develop electronic or electromechanical devices. When these technologies are use in humans, a person becomes a cyborg. It sounds monstrous and the stuff of science fiction, but very sophisticated bionics have been used in humans for many years. A bionic human is a cyborg.
I am not going to look at what biological or chemical technologies might bring to this arena of human assistance, augmentation, and improvement. Advances in these areas are also going to have huge impacts on human life. I’m not familiar enough and have few experiences in these areas, however, the pandemic has led me to explore these avenues further. Still, delving into these disciplines is beyond the scope of this book.
With only a modicum of imagination one can easily envision some mighty strange events and outcomes for our future. But keep in mind that the future never arrives—at least, not as expected, and it always brings baggage. Perhaps we might end up, not just living with smart machines, but living as smart machines. Is that something you would want?
Let’s think about it!
Part Sixteen: If it walks, if it talks, it must be…
If you finished the title to this with ‘human’ then you can imagine that we could one day forget we are interacting with a Technojungle machine. One day, when smart robots get very good at being human-like, pretending that they are not merely a machine, we will get confused as to whether we are dealing with another human or a machine. Experts claim that this scenario is a long way down the road of robotic development. However, we know to expect the unexpected. In the meantime, Technojungle machines will be confused as they come to understand the very complex ways we humans think and communicate.
I have mentioned Technojungle text and voice bots and personal assistants already. They can be quite convincing at times. Sometimes, their interactions can be amusing. I think these technologies demonstrate what we can expect from physical mechanical machines. What have been your experiences with bots and personal assistants?
Robots have been helping humans for years. They have been working in manufacturing and production doing repetitive tasks for decades. They are not human looking or able adapt easily to do many general tasks, but definitely machine like and not particularly smart. The idea of a Technojungle smart machine that looks human has existed in science fiction for decades. Before earning the name robot, these machines were originally called automatons and were not always friendly.
As I pointed out earlier, the Internet is, in many ways, a reflection of we humans and who we are. After all, we created it. Thus, it makes sense that our smart robots will try to look and act human. It makes sense that a multi-functional robotic Technojungle device would have to be of a similar size and form as a human. If we want a robot to work in the kitchen, being built like a human would have advantages.
It sounds more like Technojungle science fiction. As mentioned earlier in these books, humans, through smart prosthetics, can become part machine. This is the bionic man or cyborg, mentioned in the previous part. As robotic technology progresses, so will the development of body replacement parts. A prosthetic arm could eventually work better than a human arm. It might even be stronger. This begs the question, would somebody cut off their arm to get a Technojungle one? If many parts of a human get replaced, such as in the hit TV show of the 1970s, The Bionic Man, will a human one day be more machine than human? At what point does a human cease to be a human and more machine? Would it be possible for a smart robot to become human?
Getting around and being able to do simple things for humans is the easy part of robotic development. As I outlined in earlier chapters on artificial intelligence, understanding the complex ways we think and communicate is difficult. Giving a Technojungle smart machine arms and legs, thus releasing it from being buried in an inanimate device, so it can actually do things will bring some interesting outcomes. There will be mistakes. Once again, we can turn to science fiction through TV and movies. Can you foresee what it will be like when Technojungle smart machines become very close to human.
Robots have turned up in TV shows and movies for decades demonstrating, not only some negative struggles, but also humorous situations and outcomes. I came to like the very machine-like robot in the original 1960s TV series Lost In Space. I particularly identified and wanted to be like the boy Will Robinson who had particularly good skills at dealing with ‘The Robot.’ They seemed to be pals and I remember the iconic phrase the robot would eventually shout during the various adventures, “Danger Will Robinson.”
Video clips of animal and of humans making mistakes, behaving humorously, or experiencing various mishaps have been popular an TV and now the Internet for years. I wonder if we will see similar funny videos of robots? I can see some hopefully benign outcomes as these machines will most certainly get things wrong at first. We know the sometimes strange things that Technojungle personal assistants come up with and how GPS can sometimes provide odd directions. Those two examples are enough to convince me that we are in for a bit of a ride when this stuff hits prime-time. I hope autonomous driving cars get it absolutely right 100 percent of the time. I can see little frustrating glitches and the smart robot saying, “Sorry, let me fix that for you.” If the issues don’t cause serious problems, it could be quite fun. And what about having a bit of fun with these mis-understanding fools of machines? Can’t you just imagine the robot putting orange juice in tea to make orange tea? Would you play a joke, or pull a prank, on a robot?
Of all the TV and Movie Technojungle robots, another one of my favourites was Hymie who appeared on the TV show Get Smart. This extremely clever show had my friends and I talking endlessly about the characters and situations. I remember some of the scenes—Max: “Hymie, kill the lights.” Hymie Takes out his gun, screws on the silencer, and shoots the light. Or—Max: “Don’t just stand there Hymie give me a hand.” Hymie starts unscrewing his hand from his wrist. How about—Max: “Now Hymie I want you to do exactly what I do.” Hymie Mimics every move that Max makes at the exact same time. For example, Max crosses his legs and sees Hymie doing the same thing at the same time. Hymie was so popular that he returned regularly allowing the writers to explore almost every possible ‘taking it literally’ gag along with other humorous routines. This hilarious stuff was in the TV show way back in the 1960s. It is amazing that we just might see it happen in real life.
In the 1960s TV cartoon show The Jetsons, George Jetson experienced Technojungle technology that didn’t always work as expected. While we might not actually need a robot in our house like Rosie, the Jetson’s house maid, we certainly do need robots in situations of danger.]
What Technojungle robots have you seen in movies and TV shows? What are some of the experience and outcomes you saw? How did they differ from humans?
Robots have been used for years to deal with bombs. A Technojungle smart robot with good tool dexterity could be able to dismantle complex bombs and do other dangerous work.
What about Technojungle robots in war? This can stir up images of Star Wars stormtrooper robots. We should keep in mind that history shows new technologies as increasing war not preventing it. So called smart bombs still cause civilian deaths. When one side of a conflict gets a new weapon, it doesn’t seem to take long until an opposing group gets the same or similar technology.
One issue I have not addressed is wether Technojungle robots should be allowed to make the decision to kill in war. This is very controversial, so I’ll just ask you to what you believe should drones and other Technojungle devices be allowed to kill during times of war? Currently, these devices are monitored by a human who actually makes the ultimate decision.
Near human-like robots are called androids. These are the ultimate smart Technojungle robots that we will grow close to. They will be our friends and, because they will look so real, we may develop deep emotions for them. A fictional example is the character Data in the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data is portrayed as being self-aware, yet still puzzled by the actions of the humans around him.
If we are to survive in a world of smart robots—androids—we will have to have a strong understanding of what it means to be human and who we are and want to be as humans. It is inevitable that we will eventually give up much of what we do in our lives to these Technojungle machines. They will be created to assist us. If we don’t want to do a particular type of work or job, we might give that to a machine as we have done in the past with other tasks. However, we should always take a look at and ask what we gain and what we lose in turning a task over to a machine? We should ask ourselves if we will even one day not want a machine to do the task? Then we ask, will we humans be able to do the task, if we need to, after having not done it for a period of time? Do you think these super human-like Technojungle machines might one day decide we should do the work while they…?
Our Technojungle machines, devices and gadgets are made, in part by robots, but mostly with humans in parts of the world where labour is still cheap. Millions of people are employed in manufacturing and other fields doing tasks that one day may be replaced by machines. We have seen many jobs, such as in automobile manufacturing plants, replaced by robots. These machines have to battle their way through strong unions to find their place among the humans.
The arguments are there. The machines are more reliable, cheaper, faster, harder working, and have less problems than humans. Besides, Technojungle machines should fee up humans to do more things we like and would rather do. For many people, work has always defined who they are. Mr. Shoemaker’s ancestors made, yup, shoes. What will define us in the future?
It is one thing to replace humans in developed countries that have a belief in, and struggle for, human rights. It is another to do it in developing countries where most of the mundane manufacturing is done and the workers do not have the same level of human rights, if any. The take-over by Technojungle machines, could occur rather quickly leaving millions of people without the means to support themselves.
No matter what part of the world this happens in, even in North America, machines replacing humans in more and more tasks will mean loss of jobs. In the past, this has meant a transfer of one type of work to another. For example, jobs lost in manufacturing were gained in technology. However, we are facing a time when the brains needed for those tasks will be replaced by machine Technojungle brains. Then where will our jobs go? One can be hard-pressed to think of a job that could not be replaced by smart machines and Technojungle smart robots all with artificial intelligence. What will humans do? Play? Relax? Enjoy? Will we be given an allowance for living to purchase food and other goods? It sounds a bit like slavery, but not for work and we know that slavery dehumanizes.
Artificially intelligent machines may well represent the greatest and final of the disruptive Technojungle technologies in the lives of humans. Can humans create something that can rival humans? Do we really want to find out? Humans face the most important decision of their history. The trend may be unstoppable. Will it be utopia, dystopia or armageddon?
Imagine a timeline from now to some unknown time in the future when there may be the perfect smart robot. Along the line will be the bumpy road of progress to that time in the future. Just keep in mind that the future never arrives, at least not as expected and it always brings baggage.
Let’s think about it!
There are military moves afoot to bring more stronger artificial intelligence to Technojungle weapons. This sounds like a promising proposal. Let me state it another way. There is a move to give AI weapons and the decision to use them. The ideas take a different perspective. We must keep in mind that this would be thinking machines that can learn and execute actions faster, and in more complex ways, than any human. Some would say that the AI in the weapon can act like a human with augmented decision capabilities.
I would like to point out that this is like giving a kid a sophisticated weapon and giving them permission to use it. Even if a human is still required to actually pull the trigger, that will only be the scenario initially. Do you think AI will become extremely adept at learning how to convince us that certain actions and outcomes are best?
The early years of my life were spent in the US during the Cold War. In 1962 a serious incident occurred which brought the world the closest it has ever come to full-scale nuclear war. The US had deployed ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey. In response, not only to this situation, but the failed attack by the US on Cuba called Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Soviet Union deployed ballistic missiles in Cuba. US spy planes confirmed intelligence that the missiles were being deployed. These missiles were a mere 90 mi (140 km) away from Florida. Newly elected President John F. Kennedy, after convening a meeting with the nine members of the National Security Council, place a naval blockade and demanded that no more missiles be placed in Cuba and the ones already there to be removed. It was an extremely tense time as the world watched carefully negotiation between the US and the Soviet Union. Eventually, an agreement was reached where the US would dismantle its missiles and promise to not attempt to invade Cuba again, and the Soviet Union would return its missiles back to the Soviet Union.
The above account is a simplified rendition of an extremely complex and tense situation. In the end, there was the need for human trust to deescalate a potentially devastating situation. How do you think a scenario such as this might play out with various levels of AI involvement?
I suspect that the real danger in unleashing AI is not what it will do or could do, it will be the ability for AI to learn how to convince us of what it determines are the best outcomes in any given situation. If we begin to give AI permission to use particular Technojungle technology and to reason certain results, we will be setting precedences that it will use for its own means.
We have looked at fake—fake news, deepfakes. The former being news that is purposely not true, or has errors, the latter faked media that is convincingly real.
AI is going to have the ability to understand our legal systems and will be able to argue cases in ways far beyond the comprehension of any human to rebuttal or ever fully understand. Technojungle AI will make the chess abilities of Bobby Fisher look like a kindergarten game.
AI will take the vast sum of all that humankind has deposited on the Technojungle Internet and learn more about us than we can ever understand. It will use that knowledge for its own means which we hope will always be for human benefit. We will let it because the rationale will be perfect.
There is another possibility. We humans are not very organized. We are messy. We often don’t make sense and are not very clear. Understanding us can be quite difficult. This may pose problems for AI. There may be some unexpected outcomes from Technojungle AI attempting to understand us.
AI will no doubt attempt to manage and even manipulate us, however we may turn out to be as difficult as trying to catch fish with our bare hands. Might this exasperate Technojungle AI into realizing that humans are more of a nuisance than worth keeping around? Or, will AIs see our confusing ways as beyond their ability to understand and even brilliant?
So we have AI with an ability to reason far beyond the capabilities of humans to understand. Thus we become easily convinced of the outcomes Technojungle AI proposes. Or, AI becomes confused by humans and finds that trying to out think our illogical methods leaves us as seeming to be more of a problems that needs to be solved or eliminated.
If we look at the cleverness of Technojungle technology, it comes upon us about as quickly as a majority of society can accept it. I think acceptance spreads exponentially as one accepts, then two, then four, then eight, etc. But, like trying to cook frogs without having them jump out of the pot, one simply turns up the heat slowly, just fast enough that they go to sleep instead of jumping away.
When it comes to the human, is it ethical to augment or amplify us in various ways? What ethics can you see which stand as hurdles? There is a movement called Transhumanism which considers ways the Technojungle can assist humans to overcome their fundamental limitations. Proponents consider the ethics that may be obstacles. In its extreme concepts, proponents consider what the world would be like with transhumans. This is not to be confused with the current popular use of ‘trans’ in the sexual sense. A transhuman era would be posthuman. It would be a full merging of humans with the Technojungle. I don’t believe this will ever happen because deep down we want to be human. What do you believe?
We need to carefully understand what it means for each one of us to be human. This means we also need to understand the Technojungle and how it grows into our lives. I urge you to pay careful attention to the ways we can redeem and reclaim that which we may have lost, retain and maintain what we have today, and to protect our humanness and humanity for our future as we learn about being better human beings and living in a world of technology—the Technojungle.
In essence, use of the Technojungle in our lives, can be considered augmenting our abilities. Our safari journey of exploration and discovery along some paths of the Technojungle reveals plenty of amazing technologies which often present us with unexpected dilemmas.