Todays mini-blog is about a topic that caught Bristling Brock's eye. It's not the stuff of mainstream politics or world goings on just yet - but it could be. And it got this old dog thinking...
There has been some debate going on for a while about the advancement of AI and where this may lead toward in terms of the continuance of the ideology of democracy. It's an intriguing subject and Brexit seems to be a part of that dynamic conversation.
This last week, Elon Musk has been talking about his latest project, Neuralink - in short, a linkage between super-smart computer algorithms and the human brain. Some have described it as 'brain-hacking', a process by which the neural capacity of human cognitive thinking can be replicated by a computer. This is the stuff of Dan Dare's world is it not ! It's a big subject but the aspect that caught Bristling Brock's attention inevitably had a political angle to it.
The argument goes that if we, as humans, cease to need our brains to process data and create choices and decisions (because a future computer would do all this tedious work for us), we would actually cease to have any social cohesion, any political bias or indeed, any need for the notion of democracy - the computer would enable us to exist in a world where all choices suited everyone and there was no variance in ideology. Utopia, eh ? That's a frightening scenario to BB - it may work in Hollywood but the human species must surely be a more complex entity than can be entrusted to a computer - big and beastly as it may be. The issue being debated is that if we allow technology to usurp the human capacity to manage and control itself - imperfectly as that may be - then at some point we reach some Orwellian stage where humanity becomes subservient to technology. At that point there is no capability (or even need) for humankind to develop social structures, societies, laws, political groupings and the concept of national boundaries and cultural influences. It would be like The Stepford Wives vision imposed upon us all....
The ongoing debate essentially must be about not whether we can reach this state of technical superiority but whether we should. Progress and development clearly are natural, ongoing processes in themselves and we should not reject that as a model for trying to improve the world, but we must surely also take account of exactly what being human means. A topical example of that is the Brexit process (though BB cringes at the notion that this has actually been a process rather than a super-botched piece of political inanity) is cited as being a popular rejection of becoming integrated into a supra-national, federal entity of Europe - a conscious human decision exercising a democratic opportunity to reject a political drift towards that state. It can be described as nationalism, a desire to be managed by those who share our values and believe in the (limited) democracy that we broadly uphold. These are choices made by individuals about our society, our way of life, our independence from authoritarianism and they partly characterise the human spirit. And the cognitive force behind that choice was created by individuals rather than by an algorithmic technology. That we have others in our society who oppose this dynamic is also part of the fundamental bedrock of a democratic grouping of people - dissent is healthy to a degree but societal norms tend to prevent it becoming overly destructive. We are left with majority decisions (within our concept and grasp of existing democratic workings) which represent the substance of the human condition. Choice !
Let's hang on to being human. Once we're not, we're extinct !
Back to more political stuff next time.