Battle for Insight, consciousness and AI

Posted: 24/06/2016 in Insight, Struggle

I’ve got behind on Brad blogs. One a while back discussed computer simulations “So whether or not we are living in an Xbox owned by some teenager in the year 4956 who programed it to perfectly simulate the most hipsterfied section of LA circa 2016 is ultimately irrelevant.” I look at what happens around me, and I see what is what. If “what is what” is created by a simulation that is beyond my capability of seeing I am never going to know so as Brad said it “is ultimately irrelevant”. I think it was Bishop Berkeley who philosophically discussed something similar, and again I thought why does what he say matter. It does not surprise me that potheads are discussing this simulation thing – see Brad’s blog.

Brad raised the 5 khandas – form, feeling, perceptions, impulses and consciousness. I am never sure what aspects of Theravada is part of Zen but for me the 5 khandas are very important in line with Buddhadasa’s maxim that all Buddhisms are about “removing I and mine from the 5 khandas”. [A Theravada definition of sankara is “Volition or Mental Formation (Pali, sankara) (Skr, samskara) – habitual action, i.e., a conditioned response to the object of experience, whether it is good or evil, you like or dislike”; why is this “impulses”? Impulse means conditioned response?] He looked at consciousness saying that it is inherent in all things, and therefore there is consciousness in computers. I have thought about Artificial Intelligence (AI) before – can’t find a blog, and this is connected. When is consciousness intelligent? And should we fear AI?

I have always drawn a distinction between humans and AI over insight. I claim it is not possible for machines to have insight, insight being what distinguishes humanity from other lifeforms (on earth?). Using Buddhadasa’s maxim insight would be what remains when the I and mine have been removed from 5 khandas. I am therefore drawing a distinction between consciousness and insight, and making such a distinction cannot properly be described in language. I have in the past used a similar distinction between intelligence and intellect. I have no problem with describing computers as having artificial intellect as they can be programmed with reason but what is intelligence or insight I would claim is beyond reason and therefore cannot be programmed.

The fear I have of AI is not that computers can have intelligence but that humans will relinquish control. At present society does little to promote insight. Our miseducation model focuses on the promotion of reason, and the dominant ethos of the 1%-system, profit-making, eschews insight because those with insight do not see the value in such a dangerous approach to life. With the 1% in charge they promote the use of automation and computers because that increases their profit-making, this is what I fear about control being relinquished. Profits before people means that computers controlling society for the benefit of the profits of these few is a real danger. This is not the danger of machines taking over but man allowing machines to take over.

In the end this scenario is a discussion that might best be described as the battle for insight. With increasing control by computers as encouraged by the 1% insight means less and less, creativity and intelligent decision-making are being relegated to computer decisions based on programmed reasoning. For me this is dehumanising because it lacks insight. Promoting insight is so important, and yet because it is difficult to define it is hard to promote in our rationally-oriented miseducated culture. Yet it is essential to battle for this insight.

From a different tack this morning I came across a definition of critical thinking from Global Digital Citizenship (GDC) (); critical thinking is apparently being promoted in education. “Critical thinking aims to make an overall or holistic judgment about the data/information which is free from false premises or bias as much as possible.” I would love for education to be genuinely about this. One of the key manipulators in education concerning this is Bill Gates, but his 1%-interests are not satisfied by genuine critical thinking. Anyone who uses judgement that is free from bias has to fear the direction the 1% is taking with their increasing profits at the expense of people. Why the 1% are interested in pushing critical thinking is that they know our education system dumbs down, and they would like to produce executives who had greater powers of critical thinking. Yet it is a tightrope, the more these executives think the more they have to question what they are doing. Critical thinking has to be self-defeating for the 1%, their interests are best served by increasing use of computers and selling it as AI. The 1% want critical thinking that does not have insight, and that is almost a contradiction in terms. If “as much as possible” means subject to 1%-profiteering there is going to be very little critical thinking.

To return to the connection with Brad’s blog consciousness as vinnana being in computers is not an issue, the issue is whether we can focus on insight or whether the dominating dehumanising force represented by the profits-before-people 1%-system will try to eschew insight from our daily lives.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.


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