"Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways---air, and water, and land---because of ungovernable science.” --Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
I'll be honest. I've a conflicted relationship with technology. A lot of times I'm excited, but then sometimes I'm overwhelmed and anxious about what sort of long term effect a particular trend will have. Human beings aren't exactly long-term thinkers these days. Largely, I blame the use of capitalism as a panacea for everything, including science. <sarcasm font>Because the 'Free Market' solves all ills. Am I right?</sarcasm font> I had a wonderful discussion with Ken Liu about this yesterday. I expressed a lack of faith in the current model. And he had a great point in that the patronage model was extremely problematic as well. (I love talking to Ken about this shit.) I said that I feel we need science research to be supported/funded by whole communities (such as governments) so that whole communities can benefit--not corporations. Science for profit lacks ethics, and if there's one place where we need ethics, it's in science. Ultimately, we don't have a system that works, and I feel we need to find one. He agreed. Hey, it might be idealistic, but I think humanity is capable of rising to the challenge.
Anyway, the whole thing started with a link to an article on Artificial Intelligence and creativity. Frankly, I do not understand the drive to automate creativity. I'll be honest. I find it disingenuous, and it disturbs me to the point of anger. Mind you, I've been traumatized by working with engineers for most of my pre-writing creative career. (I was a graphic designer in the tech industry.) I'm thrilled to be out of the tech industry. They don't treat creatives well in my experience. Engineers do not seem to value what they cannot quantify. That's why it upsets me when I see this or that article declaring AIs can be creative. Because YAY! We've now found a way to steal the ability to create art--not just the end result! Yay! Yes. Again, I'm aware that this would be my issues around not being valued as a worker in that environment speaking. At the same time, I seriously don't get the point of having an AI paint, or make a movie trailer, or write a story. We have people for that. There's no shortage of creativity. There are plenty of other things that can be automated--even dangerous jobs that should be automated in order to save lives. So, why? Where's the need other than to give corporations access to yet another chunk of free labor? And this is the point where people tell me that it's actually all about studying the human brain. Right. Sure. That explains everything.
Only it doesn't.
Your brain does not process information, and it is not a computer. Read the whole article. Yes, it's long, but it's information dense and provides an excellent perspective on the matter. From the article: "...humans were formed from clay or dirt, which an intelligent god then infused with its spirit. That spirit ‘explained’ our intelligence – grammatically, at least.
The invention of hydraulic engineering in the 3rd century BCE led to the popularity of a hydraulic model of human intelligence, the idea that the flow of different fluids in the body – the ‘humours’ – accounted for both our physical and mental functioning. The hydraulic metaphor persisted for more than 1,600 years, handicapping medical practice all the while.
By the 1500s, automata powered by springs and gears had been devised, eventually inspiring leading thinkers such as René Descartes to assert that humans are complex machines. In the 1600s, the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes suggested that thinking arose from small mechanical motions in the brain. By the 1700s, discoveries about electricity and chemistry led to new theories of human intelligence – again, largely metaphorical in nature. In the mid-1800s, inspired by recent advances in communications, the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared the brain to a telegraph."
And now, when I see things like this I can't help thinking of automatons from the 1500s.
Only it's worse that that. Automatons were harmless because they weren't advanced enough. Even great minds like Stephen Hawking are reconsidering the path AI has taken.
So, what's really going on? It is just that Hawking, the other scientists who feel the same, and people like myself are merely Luddites?
Here's the deal... I can't help thinking that the main drive for creating human-like robots is really about making sex slaves. Hang on. Let me explain. Let's think about this. Why are all the robots being created and displayed in reality and in film always women these days? Why are they always being created by white cis men? And why are they specifically being designed to take over jobs predominately performed by minority groups? Listen closely. The interview specifically mentions teaching, nursing, customer service, art, and being a mother/wife.... Above all, why are they inevitably displayed and described as "sexy"? Hey, we all know that the porn industry is a strong motivating factor for many advancements in tech. Just ask the folks who backed Beta format in the video industry. (Also, see the whole frigging internet.) As women and other minority groups are becoming more vocal about systemic oppression and acquiring more and more rights as a result, are white cis men looking for a replacement on some level? It's a question that should be asked. We're already aware that computer algorithms are only as bias-free as their creators, and their creators are predominately white cis males. Think.
 Only if you're a white cis dude who wasn't born into poverty. But hey, they're the only people who count, right? Because Default Setting. Right? [eye roll]
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.