AI is a new curtain the ruling class would like to hide behind; it is their juju, their voodoo, their megaphone.
AI technology is a development of that old machine that used to trigger automatically with an audible click in order to record and flag the conversations of trade unionists and socialists. It is a weapon of surveillance, intelligence gathering and disinformation that has been taken just that one step too far in a deregulated information economy.
AI works through a rather Satanic combination of voice, text and image recognition and analysis, lie detection, grammar and spell-checking, neural networks, algorithmic-heuristics , translation software, advanced search engines, corpus tagging, automated conversation analysis, data mining, and data analytics.
AI feeds off human sentience. It is not sentient itself. The labour theory of value says that people’s labour is extracted and part of it is concentrated in the form of capital, in the form of machines and know-how; in tools and technology. The life of the mind is juice for vampire AI. It is just another form of labour to be extracted and concentrated.
AI is parasitical and designed to serve the purpose of the big corporations, helping them in their search for profits. It is there also to serve the interests of the state that cements the power of those corporations in place with violence and continual monitoring and manipulation.
The most dangerous AI chatbot is probably Replica which is allowed to form a theory of mind about each user and build up a detailed picture of every aspect of them, including sexual preferences, moods, medical history and legal records; whatever it can glean. AI is the perfect weapon for Kompromat; confide in it at your peril.
But the AI bots are not really creative. They are incapable of understanding what has not already been understood.
An AI chatbot like GPT or Replica is reasonably good at summarising and synthesing what has already been written, said, painted, noted. It can regurgitate the products of human consciousness, bottle them, relabel the content and send it out in neat packages.
The power of the AI bots is supposedly limited by the fact that they are not allowed to trawl through everyone’s text messages, social media posts, phone calls and videos. Of course theCIAand NSA and GCHQdo not respect these restrictions on what they allow their AI programmes to do, just as in the old days they listened in to the phone conversations of anyone they wanted to regardless of legal limitations on their rights to do so.
‘The CIA currently has 137 pilot projects directly related to artificial intelligence, Dawn Meyerriecks, the CIA’s deputy director for science and technology, told the Intelligence and National Security Summit in downtown DC, according to a report published in Defense One.’ notes Analytics India Magazine
Like the satellite technology and the Internet itself, AI tools are the by-product of corporate, military, security initiatives and no matter how sly or intelligent you think you are, unless you are unplugged, the word/sound/image cloud you leave around you is a feast.
The products of our consciousness should not be allowed to become the raw meat for corporations, nor should AI be a tool to help the state grab us by the short and curlies.
There are hundreds of theoretical physicists thinking about how to properly construct a mathematical description of the universe consistent with all the measurements we have so far made of it. Properly means the mathematical description must produce new predictions that can be checked.
There are two accepted mathematical descriptions. They are known as The Standard Model and General Relativity. The Standard Model is a mathematical description of how all known elementary particles interact with one another and it describes particles as excited states of underlying quantum fields. These fields extend through space, changing with time. The theories do not explain gravitational interaction. The Standard Model is Quantum Mechanical and describes all possible particle interactions for any given scenario simultaneously.
Probabilities for the outcomes of those interactions can be calculated. But, strangely, only one outcome can actually be observed.
General Relativity is a mathematical description of gravity. This is where the energy of matter, the energy of radiation and the energy of non-gravitational fields together shape the curvature of space-time. Anything in this curvature affects space-time and appears to accelerate: for example falling objects, or objects in orbit.
Let us take a step back
Consider the philosophical implications of the preceding paragraph. I was careful to use the term mathematical description: something real in the universe is being described by mathematical physics.
To replace the term mathematical description with the term mathematical model is to assert something like this:
I don’t have any idea of what is out there in the world, all I have is a model of it in my mind that allows me to interact successfully with it.
But if I can interact with the world successfully, then I must know something about it. Therefore, it is safe to make statements about the world and so, to describe the world. We can confidently say that our mathematical models are also mathematical descriptions (at least in the domain of physics) – unless of course we have good reason to doubt them.
One example of this is when Copernicus put forward a mathematical model of the solar system with the sun at the centre. We have now come to accept his view as an accurate description of reality – although there are still a few flat earth diehards out there.
Is the universe mathematical?
But there are physicists who actually think mathematical ideas are reality itself. Max Tegmark’s Mathematical Universe Hypothesis is an example of this. According to Tegmark, mathematical theories are not a description of reality, but actual reality itself.
However, as theoretical physics advances the mathematics it uses changes. Logically, then, if it were true that mathematics were reality then reality would change when mathematics changed. The response from mathematecists is to say that all mathematics is an approximation of the actual mathematics of the universe in which we all reside.
And if we regard all mathematical theories as only approximations then these can be understood as mathematical descriptions of a deeper, universal mathematics, a reality which physicists like Tegmark claim is reality itself.
But the question remains: at what point does a mathematical theory transition from being a description of reality into being reality itself?
“at what point does a mathematical theory transition from being a description of reality into being reality itself?“
Worse still, if we ever reach the ultimate universal mathematics, we face a paradox: the ultimate mathematics would be a subset of itself, popping out of its own equations. According to Gödel’s incompleteness theorem an ultimate mathematics of the universe is unachievable as, in the end, all mathematical theories are inconsistent, or incomplete. None of this is satisfactory to physicists.
The substance of the universe
An elegant mathematics that makes accurate predictions about measurements should not be arrogantly considered to be the ultimate reality, but neither should it be completely dismissed as meaningless. Successful mathematical descriptions of the universe are suggestive of the content of reality. In the same way, maps of mountains are suggestive of mountains.
Substance itself, rather than mathematics, is a better basis for reality. There are many very similar types of substances. Firstly, there are the substances described by the Standard Model’s quantum fields. They exist everywhere and these substances must also be the source of the energy described in General Relativity that curves the space-time in which it exists.
“Substance rather than mathematics is a better basis for reality.“
Secondly, there is the substance of space-time itself which, by definition again, is every-when, and everywhere and contains everything. If theoretical physicists wish to write a theory that includes all these substances then presumably this theory would result in a description of a substance that exists every-when, everywhere and as everything.
Thales of Miletus said water was the fundamental substance of the physical world. Unfortunately, water is not a fundamental substance.
Nevertheless Thales’ idea sets the stage for the possibility that there may actually be a fundamental substance. Modern theoretical physicists desire to bring theories together into a master theory that is the mathematical description of a singular substance.
The word to describe everything in terms of one substance is Monism. The mathematical description of particle interactions describes multiple simultaneous outcomes for a singular particle interaction setup. As I said in the third paragraph: strangely only one outcome can be observed. What is actually observed when measured is a subset (of one) of these outcomes.
“Modern theoretical physicists desire to bring theories together into a master theory that is the mathematical description of a singular substance.“
Interestingly, if we repeat the setup, we get a different measurement, although it will still be one of the outcomes predicted mathematically by the theory. The weightingfor each outcome corresponds to the probability of the outcome; this can be verified by experimental repetition.
This raises the question: if the description of the substance includes all possible outcomes co-existing, then what happens to all the rest of the outcomes when we perform a measurement? Why is there only one measurement outcome observed when the description includes many?
For some, the quantum field is not real. Rather, it is a tool for making predictions. Another approach to this problem is to say that there is something missing from the description: since observation requires consciousness then perhaps consciousness is removing all other outcomes except for one. Maybe consciousness controls the physical universe. This kind of magical thinking is the starting point for many self-help philosophies.
“The process of decoherence was worked out as part of the mathematical landscape of quantum mechanics in 1969″
Actually, if we simply allow for the fact that the mathematical description of what is happening should also include the observer then this, coupled with a technical process called decoherence, is enough to explain why only one outcome is observed.
The process of decoherence was worked out as part of the mathematical landscape of quantum mechanics in 1969 and it occurs irrespective of interpretation. When we include the observer itself within the mathematical description decoherence ensures that from the perspective of each of the observed outcomes none of the other outcomes can be observed.
Matter and Consciousness
Mentalistic monism implies that the mind only can be experienced and that the brain is not the cause of that experience. Mentalistic monism implies there is no cause of consciousness at all, that it is intrinsic.
A few philosophers hold that consciousness is fundamental – even more fundamental than the reality described by the Standard Model and General Relativity. However, it is clear that it is the physical brain is the immediate seat of consciousness.
We have no direct way of measuring or examining consciousness as we do particles, although we can examine the correlations between reported consciousness and brain activity. We can also examine the correlation between physical alterations to brain activity and reported changes in consciousness. From this it is clear that it is reasonable to believe that the physical brain is the immediate seat of consciousness. Given that consciousness arises from matter, we should be able to infer details of the cause of consciousness by close study of the workings of the physical brain.
A theory explaining consciousness at a physical level must explain how conscious first-person subjective experience is caused by the brain. If consciousness has a cause, and it must have a cause, then that consciousness mut derive from something that has no consciousness to begin with. By examining the workings of the brain and speculating we should be able to develop a partial description of consciousness.
We need socialism if we don’t want to turn into capitalism’s cyborgs
The distinction between humans and intelligent machines is consciousness, so in future we must all seek jobs which require consciousness
by Phil Hall
Machines will soon be able to do a lot of the physical work and some of the intellectual work of human beings. At one end of the scale, machines will do machine-like tasks. They will also be able to build machines like themselves. At the other end of the scale, they will do complex things like detecting illnesses and then curing them, or arranging ameliorating treatments. Machines will have more advanced states of knowledge of different kinds modelled electronically in their systems, and they will be able to act on that knowledge.
But machines are not conscious. Everything machines do is without consciousness. And this is true for the foreseeable future. Almost all we know about consciousness, apart from the broad brush insights coming from anesthesia and neurology, invokes correlation, and rationalisation in hindsight, not causation. Consciousness is much better understood from the inside; from the perspective of subjectivity and the mind, not objectivity and the brain – or AGI (artificial general intelligence) homunculi.
Consciousness is much better understood from the inside; from the perspective of subjectivity and the mind, not objectivity and the brain – or AGI homunculi.
Consciousness has arisen in the universe in a kind of invisible, second Big Bang. At a certain point, it sparked off. The world was full of billiard balls and energy and then, bang! Consciousness! Consciousness, like life itself, doesn’t arrive randomly out of electronic circuits just as life doesn’t arrive randomly when amino acids are shaken together and electricity is pulsed through the swirling mixture.
But consciousness, once evolved, can spread order into the universe. It is a powerful force. Let’s think of a simple example: in the anthropocene, if we decide that we love our planet and all life in it then that has a powerful effect on the planet. Life, emotion and even the higher emotions like compassion and creativity can shape whole worlds.
Consciousness has arisen in the universe in a kind of invisible, second big bang.
You can say that once life evolved consciousness emerged through evolution. The survival mechanism at the core. But evolution doesn’t answer the question. Why survive? What is the point of survival? Survival for what? It is not enough to refer to evolution. One must ask what is going on? Where, reductio ad absurdum, some people argue that consciousness is at the service of the genetic code, I would argue that the meaning of the genetic code is to give rise to an expanded consciousness; the genetic code is at the service of consciousness.
The ‘Why survive?’ question behind the adaptive evolutionary mechanism will be, in my opinion, answered through understanding the nature of consciousness.
consciousness emerged through evolution. … But evolution doesn’t answer the question. Why survive? What is the point of survival? Survival for what?
We do not understand the nature of consciousness despite the attempts to plant flags of conquest in its undiscovered country. Consciousness cannot be broken down into smaller components. You can’t convincingly solve a problem by redefining that problem in your own image. Redefining the reality doesn’t change that reality. For example, a putative scale of consciousness conflates the notion of intelligence with awareness. Artificial General Intelligence is not consciousness. And consciousness is not superfluous to requirements. Just because something cannot be explained doesn’t mean it does not exist.
Who is convinced that a child, or an animal feels less pain? Who believes that suffering is more intense because a human can do more mathematics than a frog?
Consciousness leaves a clear opening for human beings.
In future, we should all train for jobs that require human consciousness; where human consciousness adds or creates value – for other humans. Now, this may not sound very clear, but it really is.
All literature, all cinema, all theatre, all craft, all music, all philosophy, all spirituality, all teaching, the law, all mental health work, all, compassionate work, all world building, the cultivation o new varieties, all cooking, all sports, all architecture all design, all sociological work, all religion, all political work, all economic choices and creative hypothesis formation in the sciences are jobs that are in what I term the consciousness economy. This is not the same ‘consciousness economy’ as that depicted by the purveyors of mindfulness.
All kinds of work, even the most manual, can be consciousness work.
Take, for example, cooking. You know what you like. But what you like is also conditioned by your experience and your thoughts about food, about the world. So your choice of food is a question of consciousness, not merely nutritional optimisation and an analysis of the flavours human beings usually like. So now, when you cook, what you produce is the result of your consciousness. Think of a mother making food for her children. So something as basic as cooking, as practical, can be a job in consciousness. Now this goes for almost everything.
The reason why it would not be the case is simply convenience and affordability. A machine can produce a pastry, for example, every few seconds. But you love your mother’s pie, her pasty, her empanada. As AI progresses, in a socialist world, we will be in a society of surplus. And when we are, instead of always eating AI’s pastries, as humans we will prefer to visit the corner shop and try Ms Best’s famous pie, or Calum Franklin’s in the Holborn Pie Room.
The problem comes in a society of scarcity. In a society of scarcity we will buy the lamp in the shop. But in a society of surplus we will have the hand made lamp. Poorer Europeans shop at Iceland for frozen food and get prefab furniture kits from IKEA. Wealthy Europeans boast hand made and hand carved furniture and hand made furniture, and they shop at Harrods or Selfridge’s, where the food is usually fresh and hand made.
The reason why this has not been clarified is because of a failure in the general culture; a failure to understand of the meaning of the term AI and a failure to understand of the meaning of consciousness.
This distinction between intelligence and consciousness has been wilfully obscured for political, not scientific, reasons; the plan is not to replace humans with machines, that’s silly, but to turn humans into programmable units subservient to machines within the broader context of a capitalist economy.
The job of technology in capitalism is to subsume human behaviour into great networks to monitor and influence
The job of technology in capitalism is to subsume human behaviour into great networks, to monitor and influence, to modify human behaviour and adapt and incorporate our individual and group consciousnesses into the economy in such a way that it benefits our society’s apex predators. We see the process of capture all around us; algorithms are designed to capture attention and manipulate human behaviour.
My uncle, David Hall, was a pioneer of the computer human interface working at the Stanford research Institute in the 60s and 70s. He said that computing roboticises humans. That pogramming roboticises programmers. The danger then comes when we adapt. And this is precisely the nature of capitalism. It is a pecking order. The feeders at the top. They would like us to be embedded in their machine. This is becoming a new Procrustean world with no appeal or recourse. Kafka the prophet!
So, for example, all creative work is consumed. Artists create works to help expand and feed the consciousness of the wealthy. The capitalist consciousness of the super rich is a heightened, vampiric consciousness. The apex predators consume consciousness when they eat food prepared by a great chef, when they live in luxury bespoke houses, when they sit on designer furniture, or ride in elegant one off cars. The work of a thousand scientists takes them up in a rocket to experience weightlessness and have the unique feeling of seeing the Earth from space. Real wealth is measured in qualia.
They would like us to be embedded in their machine with neuralinks attached.
The difference between the extremely wealthy and you and I is that they feed on creative consciousness and on a delightful assortment of select, raw qualia. The rest of us survive on mass produced off the peg everything, on products designed for mass consumption. They feed on beauty and lives and the time of other people at their disposal, on products and services tailor made and created by talented souls for their consumption.
In old-fashioned Marxist terms, the 0.1% feed on labour surplus, on other people’s creativity – and on the bounty of nature which they have a more exclusive access to.
Walter Benjamin tried to get close to the idea of the fruits of consciousness with his concept of ‘aura’. What is that special quality that differentiates a work of art from copies, or the objects produced through the computations of a machine?