We watch the powers that be in order to avoid being sucked up in their plots to enslave us. We turn over the rocks to find the slimy scum and expose it to the light. I like to think we are the independent voices that keep tyranny at bay. What if we’re already slaves to technology and don’t know it? What if we’re the Borg?
Three stories have crossed my path in the last couple months that have forced me to accept the conclusion we are the last independent humans to likely exist. This sounds hyperbolic! I agree, it does, but I don’t come to this conclusion lightly and hope like crazy you can talk me down so please comment if you can see flaws in my reasoning.
The first story comes from Forbes in a now deleted article on NASA’s website announcing a breakthrough with Google in quantum computing. They may be capable of solving specific large number problems that would take current computers ten thousand years in twenty minutes. Granted the article points out that the very specific problem being solved isn’t really practical, but the breakthrough opens the door to vast potential in computational efficiency.
The second story really doesn’t come from anywhere specifically. The development of 5G networks creates a vast potential for data exchange. So, if 4G were a garden hose than 5G would be like the Lincoln Tunnel in New York in terms of its ability to carry water. Now it’s more complicated than that and here’s a good explanation of that difference.
The third story comes from Futurism.com and announces Elon Musks advances in implantation of direct cortical interfaces in the brain. Musks contention has always been that humans will be ants to super intelligent AI and in order to combat our eventual enslavement we need to upgrade our abilities.
Here’s my contention. Enslavement of a population requires vast numbers of informants and enforcers. People don’t generally bow down to dictators for no reason. These systems usually collapse as a result of the corrupt system becoming apparent as rampant dissatisfaction becomes impossible to quell. Enslavement is not an efficient system; slave labor will do the absolute minimum to get by and you never get the full potential of individual innovation, but the new paradigm challenges that.
Implanted cortical interfaces will eventually be able to monitor every aspect of your brains activity. Initially, results will be uploaded to your health care provider to help diagnose and treat a vast number of chronic conditions. 5G will facilitate this exchange and quantum computers will be able to process the enormous amount of data in real time. It isn’t a big stretch to imagine those implants being able to stimulate brain functions in order to treat these conditions. Imagine the value to type 2 diabetics, the implants detect excess blood sugar levels it determines that more insulin is needed and pokes the area of the brain responsible for pancreatic control. Or, even better, the quantum computer finds the reason for the insulin resistance that is causing the problem and works out a way to have the brain produce hormones to combat it. This alone would make such implants invaluable, but it’s no stretch to use this to locate missing persons. How many parents are going to have these implanted in their children at birth? They would be able to assess the mental state of their child instantly and fix any problem from a wet diaper to serious health issues requiring immediate treatment. Infant mortality would drop to near zero, kids could play outside with far less supervision. We are already working on computers that can analyze brain waves and read mental state, are you mad, are you happy? Now we know. The end game with these researchers is to read minds. This has the benefit of being able to communicate instantly with anyone you can think of in real time. Imagine communicating with anyone worldwide with a thought and doing so in a ways that are far more comprehensive than we currently can; think technological telepathy. Text and online communication is fraught with miscommunication, we all have been the victim of misunderstanding of a poorly written or read post, now you get all the context and feeling with a thought. We can well imagine using a mental finger print to pay bills and interact with banking in a near theft proof system that will eventually be the only way to do business; we’re already working towards a cashless society. Social credit systems are already in use in China that requires a vast network of cameras and operatives; this technology would make it far more effective and require far fewer resources.
So now you have an implant that communicates in real time with a quantum computer and is capable of tracking you, reading your mind and impacting your hormone production. If we implement a simple algorithm that detects “right thinking” and has the implant increase endorphin production and punish “wrong thinking” with a corresponding decrease in these happy hormones we see a subtle almost undetectable method for nudging people to follow whatever social norms those controlling the software deem valuable. Thinking bad thoughts about the ruling elites? Find yourself spiraling into depression eventually ending in either your capitulation or suicide; think happy thoughts about the ruling class and you have endless contentment and joy. These systems would be nearly impossible to detect or combat.
So I know what you’re thinking, “you can’t force me to get one of those things”. Well, do you get a wellness exam for your employer provided healthcare? Maybe not, but most people do. They just need to make it as difficult as possible to live without it. Banking is going to be the biggest factor. I can go without healthcare and live pretty well, but I need to be able to exchange goods and services in order to live and if the only option is to get an implant so I can access the electronic banking system it’s going to be nearly impossible to avoid it and once that thing is in your head you won’t be able to tell the extent to which it is impacting you. They don’t need 100% compliance. The advantages of these implants is going to be enormous. The healthcare benefits alone will be huge. Cancer cured, heart disease nonexistant. Instant diagnosis before there are even symptoms. Instant communication and access to vast amounts of information will be invaluable. Those who don’t get them will not be able to compete and will die out. Children born in hospitals will automatically be implanted and eventually those who resist will be a small minority who will be incapable of keeping up with the rest of humanity and will either die out or become a sideshow like colonial Williamsburg. We will march in lockstep whether we like it or not and those that control the algorithms will rule over us, or will they? The problem with a system like this is that it’s impossible to monitor everything in real time, it’s the reason for the system, and we’ve seen AI systems evolve in unpredictable ways very quickly two examples.
The first is from Facebook(Facebook AI Research) an article explaining an experiment in computer learning where they wanted to teach the computer about negotiation. The press touted this as AI going out of control because the computers quickly started speaking a language that was unrecognizable to the researchers so they shut it down. The article points out that it was more an example of the computers not understanding English and using words based on their understanding of the parameters. If saying a word once gets a positive result saying it 40 times should make it even better and since there was no input by someone or something correcting the assumption it got out of control. The author here concludes that it’s not an AI issue, but is a programming issue. I agree. The second involves Microsoft’s Tay. Here we see an conversational AI programmed to interact with people on twitter and learn from those conversations. Sadly, the troll heavy world of Twitter saw it as an opportunity to have some fun at Microsoft’s expense and proceeded to turn the burgeoning AI into a racist. Many cited this as an example of how jerky we are as people, but I see it as programmers inability to anticipate bad behavior and work on ways to curtail it. Again, programming oversight. I bring these up not to pillory these programmers, but to give you obvious examples of how when programmers let AI evolve without input by those who thoroughly understand the intent of the creators of the AI it will spin out of control rather quickly. Programmers can’t anticipate every contingency and haven’t figured out an algorithm for the AI to sense when it’s going off the rails without severely limiting its ability to creatively solve problems and these are relatively simple tasks the problem gets exponentially worse as the complexity of the systems increases. Plus we have to include input from criminal and tactical AI systems working out ways to interact with each other. Why is this important?
My contention is that world leaders will attempt to use AI to enforce their idea of correct thinking by monitoring trillions of thoughts per second and causing either feelings of happiness or despair. I also contend that AI systems will be used to perfect healthcare outcomes, as much as possible, by interacting with vast amounts of data and coming to decisions on how to treat issues and when to do it. We will also be expecting these systems to look at data from angles we hadn’t as with cancer and diabetes diagnoses the AI will be able to run billions of different scenarios and find commonalities rather quickly and likely determine treatments we never would have come up with. A system running that quickly through that much data would be impossible to monitor in any meaningful way by the people running it and by the time those people realized what the AI was doing it would be way too late.
So, a system like this could easily find a way to utilize the two way stream of information to use human minds as part of its computational systems. Far fetched? Maybe, but that synergy would impact both sides in unpredictable ways and increase the computational power of the system exponentially. How is this AI going to determine what the correct state of mind is? At best those in charge can only vaguely define what they want and will need to let that AI make lots of choices without input and that AI would have to rely on the input of those it’s set to control and care for at the same time. What will be the roll of our strengths and weaknesses? Will the system see self loathing and depression as a normal state or optimism? Clearly those in charge will want to control this process but the complexity will be beyond human control and the system is going to play out as it will. Lastly, with the advent of more and more AI systems running more and more of the mundane aspects of our lives how are they going to interact?
Here’s my conclusion. AI is here and it’s here to stay. AI will act in ways we cannot even begin to predict. In order to preserve ourselves as actors going forward we will need to be an integral part of the system. So, even though it means being enslaved by our elites for a time I’d say go for it. Have the implants. The health benefits will be worth it and if we resist our thoughts won’t be part of the AI’s collective idea of what is humanity. We rebel by not rebelling openly and allowing our ideas to be part of the collective AI. This system will eventually become a different entity/lifeform and as implants become the norm for failing physical systems we become the genesis of the organic/machine race we call the Borg.