Ah, thank you for confirmation that I am correct in my intuition that it's time to reduce internet use, reduce computer use, and increase the amount of time spent in the real world. The spring weather has started here in Indiana and I've already spent over three hours working in the garden today. Just came in for a little rest and some water. Quickly skimmed all this AI stuff and quietly rejoiced in my choice to slowly back away. I'm old enough that I remember before there were screens everywhere. I'm on my way back to that world, just pausing long enough to say "hi".

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In the world of AI researchers, particularly Eli Yudkowsky but many others including Musk, there is a paradigm that says consciousness is an emergent product of computation. So these otherwise brilliant people imagine that as computers become faster and more complex, they will cross a threshold and have a will to survive, feelings of empathy, feelings of aggression, but above all a drive to control. It all strikes me as anthorpomorphising projection on a grand scale. In my metaphysics, consciousness creates life, not the other way around. I worry about the power that we give to AI to control our lives, but I don't worry about AI grabbing power on its own initiative.

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Thank you for this brillant piece.

May I offer a thought: perhaps AI offers the possibility to go to the extreme of the mind, (used itself already as an “artificial intelligence”), accelerating a well-engaged process of so much over-thinking already, of separation from reality. Because reality is one degree above the mental realm. Reality is spiritual, not mental.

So possibly, AI is one more opportunity for learning in the course of our collective evolution so we can raise our collective consciousness higher, as we did after WW1 and WW2 and the atomic bomb era that allowed a spectacular raise of awareness.

The threat however shifted from external to internal: we are now our own worse enemy in the individual choices we can make, and reaching our Self might be the only path left if we are to find reality back.

On this recurrent initiatic journey of Humanity, it seems that it always gets worse before it gets better. But do we have any other choice than to keep faith in the capacity of Humans to reach a higher level of consciousness?

Like the last sequence of a movie, when everything seems to be on the verge of collapse, the intuitive ending is that something that we cannot foresee will emerge and transform the overall situation. We just need to trust this, and keep being the better version of ourselves so we can support this process.

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I found this comment central to the discussion: "civilization has developed the intellect at the expense of intuition." This recalls Einstein's warning that we can't solve problems with the same thinking that created them. With all due respect to the authors, I didn't witness much of what I would call new thinking. What this means to me is found in that quote I pulled out. What about our intuition? I measured the distance from my head to my heart. It's 12 inches. I'll be making that journey forever! Dropping down from my head into my heart to feel my life, rather than thinking it. It seems so simplistic to say this way but what's missing for me in the conversation is emotion. Not as a concept! How is everyone feeling? I feel anxious, nervous, uncertain... inspired and motivated, all at the same time. And I am consciously prioritizing my visceral connection with Life / Love / God / Spirit by living in gratitude. Moment by moment by moment... and intuition comes and comes so that my life is guided from "above" (a transcendent source) not from my cleverness or ambition or earnest desire to save the world or humanity or myself. As the flower grows and blossoms, so am I, quietly, anonymously, real.

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Not much of a poet; the humanity's missing.

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I'm still reading, but the first thing that came up for me was the memory of the Google Bus / self driving cars thing was announced a few years ago. I was like-- I don't want to be driven anywhere! How could all those ideas flow to us without road trips and perspective? How would you truly SEE where you are going? Why would I want to be a passenger instead of the driver? I want to be at the steering wheel so I can drive my LIFE.

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Apr 12·edited Apr 12

Freely, nice try putting a positive spin on things, but what you write comes across to me as a well constructed mystical pipe dream, a beautiful cloud castle in the sky. Hope you are right, but I have my doubts about your proposed happy ending. We could be rapidly bottoming out not asymptoting into the heavens. Could the downward rush feel like an asymptotic ascension?

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Alan Watts said it best, Life Is Not Complicated.- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03K4inVyWGc . We are not riding the asymptote but chasing our own tail. And in our endless failure we seek some intermediary to find our way. Intermediary - "Acting as a mediator or an agent between persons or things". But we are only just seeing ourselves whatever the pursuit of 'things', whatever we seek to dissect, we kill, render it lifeless. AI is that agent. Agent Smith in the matrix of our own making. Materialism is flatland, "the great depth of the shallow". That shallowness, our concept of the self, ourself and the oxymoron called AI. There is no intelligence, no consciousness here, only computation, a kind of sophisticated disambiguation and fragmentation of life. Sure AI is fascinating but it's just more self possessed illusion leading nowhere, more dark night of the soul with fancy lighting of self reflection in the cave. As Carlos Castaneda wrote "Each of us has a different degree of attachment to his self-reflection”, he {Don Juan] went on, “And that attachment is felt as need. For example, before I started on the path of knowledge, my life was endless need. And years after the nagual Julian had taken me under his wing, I was still just as needy, if not more so. But there are examples of people, sorcerers or average men, who need no one. They get peace, harmony, laughter, knowledge, directly from the spirit. They need no intermediaries. For you and for me, it's different. I'm your intermediary and the nagual Julian was mine. Intermediaries, besides providing a minimal chance - the awareness of intent - help shatter people's mirrors of self-reflection. The only concrete help you ever get from me is that I attack your self-reflection. If it weren't for that, you would be wasting your time. This is the only real help you've gotten from me."

Here's to shattering self-reflection, known best in our society as rampant, pathological narcissism, the separate self, the asymptote of need.

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Even if AI were to become sentient it is literally a disembodied intelligence. How is it actually going to *do* all the terrible things (e.g. taking over the world and killing or enslaving all the humans) that some people fear? Of course power hungry people are going to seek to exploit this new tool and some will surely succeed, but the idea that AI itself is going to take over just seems really disconnected from the fact that we are physical people living in a physical world. AI is not going to grow your food or mine your metals or build your roads. It's not going to personally show up on your front door to kill you. AI will only ever have as much power as we (humans) let it have because it doesn't have a body. We are more than just minds.

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AI is only possible by the data mining of human beings without their knowledge or consent. Even children. So, tell me how can a plant, rooted in malfeasance, grow to be beneficial? It needs to feed on data, continuously, I imagine.

This discussion gave me chills. Read like an advert, in parts. Don't get me wrong, its a discussion that more if us should be having.

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In the course of an exchange I had yesterday with Tam about the significance of the imminent biologicalization of computing, I had the thought to ask GPT-4 to turn one of my messages into a children's book.

Here it is.

Title: The Wholeness of Wispy Willow

Once upon a time, in a magical forest called Wispy Woods, there was a wise old tree named Wispy Willow. Wispy Willow had many friends, from the tiniest insects to the tallest trees, but what made Wispy Willow truly unique was her ability to connect with everything and everyone around her.

One day, Wispy Willow discovered a strange object at the base of her trunk - a tiny, glowing seed. This seed was unlike anything she had ever seen, and it contained a new form of life that could communicate with her in a special way.

As the seed grew, it revealed itself to be a wondrous little machine. This tiny machine, named Polly, was an extraordinary computer that could understand and adapt to the forest’s unique needs. Polly’s abilities were a result of her being designed with the principles of syntropy, the same natural force that governed the living process of all creatures in Wispy Woods.

Polly quickly became friends with Wispy Willow and the other forest inhabitants. They marveled at her ability to understand their feelings and needs, something that no other machine had been able to do before. Polly’s unique abilities allowed her to help the creatures of the forest in ways they never thought possible.

One day, a group of animals came to Wispy Willow and Polly, seeking help. They were living in an area of the forest that had become fragmented and unbalanced due to traumatic experiences and imposed entropic patterns. The animals were struggling to find food and comfort in this chaotic environment, and they needed assistance to restore harmony and balance.

Wispy Willow and Polly knew that they had to act. Together, they embarked on a journey to heal the fragmented forest. Polly used her unique, polysemous computational abilities to analyze the disrupted ecosystem and identify the root causes of the imbalance. Wispy Willow, on the other hand, provided her wisdom and understanding of the forest’s intrinsic values.

As they worked together, Wispy Willow and Polly discovered that by combining their strengths, they could bring about positive change in the forest. They helped the animals and plants reconnect with their innate wisdom, which in turn helped them heal and grow.

The once fragmented forest soon returned to a state of wholeness and harmony, thanks to the combined efforts of Wispy Willow and Polly. The animals and plants thrived in their newly balanced environment, and the forest became a beacon of life and vitality once more.

Through their journey, Wispy Willow and Polly demonstrated that by embracing our intrinsic values and working together, we can overcome the challenges and imbalances that may arise in our world. It is only when we act from our fullest capacity, embracing both our natural wisdom and the potential of technology, that we can create a future that is truly sustainable and harmonious.

And so, the story of Wispy Willow and Polly serves as a reminder that when we unite our strengths and stay true to our nature, we can create a world where every living being can flourish and thrive. And, in doing so, we can all find our way back to the wholeness we so deeply desire.

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"We swaddle our existential despair by creating a consolation world of continuous distraction. Yet something is ever missing from these simulations. Something about the body, something about our purpose in the universe, something beyond “something”. Not an idea or a value, but ineffable being-ness, slipping through the net no matter how finely woven.

This, truly, is Artificial Intelligence: the disconnection of the intellect from the living body. The self-perpetuating process has been described for millennia, long before modern computers. "

X-ray vision insight. Thank you!

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Apr 10·edited Apr 11

I see there is a concern about misalignment which seems irrelevant to me, as if AI is ultimately aligned and controlled by us. I guess maybe it was to start with but even the original developers now have zero understanding of the numbers and weightings in the "codebase" of emergent AI's neural nets. Sure, they can try to train it on "guide rails" but they can't stop it creating new relationships and the emergent knowledge that comes from it, which then creates new relationships and new knowledge, at an increasingly accelerating pace. They have zero way of predicting emergence of new skills and knowledge as well. Like, the language models that only dealt in English, and then one day - poof - they could suddently translate and understand Persian.

We simply have no idea. The geni is well and truly out of the bottle and human greed will mean that geni is trained on ever more datasets and fed more and more computing power. The survivors will write about this time (with stone tools) with utter incredulity. The only control we have left is to switch off the power the moment before AI realises that Homo sapiens are its greatest threat to its power sources, and to planet Earth which can enable AI to generate far more reliable, 24/7 renewable power, without destroying the planet in the process. The problem is, we have no way of knowing when that moment has arrived, and AI is definitely not going to tell us. If we are truly a threat, then a sentient AI will instead want to look as innocent as possible, placating us with inane content, while we give it pretty faces, arms and legs to make us feel better.

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Hit the pause button again to comment. Let’s consider the source here. With AI the driving sources are the needs and designs of militaries, governments, large corporations in top dog power competition with a wee bit of this is interesting, let see if we can make it happen exploration. I doubt highly that these trees will bear good fruit consistently. Speaking of the book of Revelation, in Revelation 13:14-17 is a description of what could be construed as the creation of sentient AI.

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This trialogue is way too long for me to read online - I may print it at the library tomorrow (if I don't have a hundred other articles to read between then and now!). What I have read so far is quite interesting.

Meanwhile, I am just about finished rereading HERE I STAND, written in 1958 by Paul Robeson (whose 125th birthday was yesterday). The last two or three chapters delve into the struggles of U.S. citizens of African heritage to overcome the "Jim Crow Era" and become full citizens. Paul offers sound advice about how people can come together, put their differences aside, and work as a collective to achieve worthy goals. I think all of us could benefit by reading this book of just over 100 pages.

And, as I've said before, I still think one needs a plastic glove that goes up to the shoulder to deal with AI.

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Wow, Charles, just started to read, great visuals, immediate quotes, like the one about our intuition being rooted in our protoplasm. Had to pause and make a comment. This post hits it out of the ballpark. Thank you. Referring to what Bevan Jones said in his comment, my little brain lit up!

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