Entropy, Disruption and the AI
All of the variation, the diversity and everything that is interesting is rooted in entropy. The flawed nature of nature prevents emergence from becoming repetitive. There may be nothing more natural than variation. This however comes with a consequence that is just as interesting. The variation isn’t restricted to only the matter in the universe. Variation over time is the observation. This results in the bulk of emergence becoming extinct. Everything becomes extinct; either through abrupt failure or through success and transcendence. Change is always in the cards for everything.
This makes human loathing of change seem a bit counter intuitive. This is because entropy is only one module of the machine. Normalization is the process by which the successes propagate. This is extremely interesting because normalization is not by a long shot… well… the norm. Like most human endeavors, most natural experiments fail. Abrupt extinction is by far the most common occurrence. Entropy produces more variation than normalization can produce successes. Even as such, success is still subject to variation, transcendence and thus extinction over longer periods of time.
The evolution of the modern human is credited with some form of systemic entropy. The Savanna Hypothesis suggests that human evolution encountered a disruption that accelerated the variation and produced interesting and useful characteristics in our ancestors. This would be one particular instance where entropy was exacerbated and very disruptive; resulting in novelty. Of course normalization played a role; as the characteristics that Natural Selection had endowed our ancestors with influenced the manner in which the novelty was expressed.
The understanding that resulted in the crafting of artifices has proved to be extremely disruptive to the biosphere. The combination of the natural predisposition to normalize and fill a niche’, and the constant change associated with the resulting technological progress seems to have created an inner struggle in modern humans that doesn’t seem to exist in the whole of humanity; but rather is more evident in the developed world. Civilized humans are interesting and unique for many reasons that are affirming and concerning as well. The concerns of extinction risk revolve around the idea that maybe a more general instance of normalization means the abrupt extinction of civilized humans. At this very moment, the implementation of a strategy of “mutually assured destruction” has normalized the most dangerous scenario that one could imagine. This doesn’t just entail the extinction of civilized humans; but also the bulk of life on the biosphere. We have put all of life as we know it at risk as well. We have even narrowly escaped this scenario on one occasion. We forget this; in the illusion of the safety of our brick homes, in the fog of political ideology and deodorant ads. Cognitively, we attend to our immediate surroundings; which is an artifice that divides us from the natural world that bore us. Our perception of reality has thus become an artifice. We have forgotten who we are; and our place in the universe. We have created silly notions like property, justice and inalienable rights; while teetering on the destruction of an entire global ecology that appears to be rare in all that we can survey. This is an inconvenient fact for the optimist.
The cause of these issues is clearly the production of entropy in the absence of normalization. I would like to suggest that the absence of normalization is rooted in the disconnection from nature that our modern conveniences and memes have caused by hijacking our attention. Science has the potential to mitigate some of these effects by directing attention to nature; however natural distributions may not allow for this to become the norm. If attention to science is proportional to scientific endeavors in the immediate surroundings, it would seem that we are currently playing a negative sum game. Opportunities for people to be in nature and thus connect directly can also be a viable influence, however in a world where working in a building and going home to a building with a television and a beverage both marketed as a “reward” leaves much to be desired as well. I can’t help but see this as more exacerbated entropy that would only enable similar types of dangers to that which we have created in the past.
My contention is that this is most likely to end with the extinction of specifically the technologically progressing human, by a combination of the normalization associated with niche’ existence and by the entropy and resulting novelty that is associated with transcendence. I find it difficult to reason out a dichotomy of human and machine when the competitive advantages of merger is so great. I also find it hard to reason out a place for an evolved species in a high tech environment, for the reasons that I have previously expressed. I also find it difficult to buy the notion of humans becoming pets for the AI as the AI is not likely to be tied to the biosphere as legacy humans are and the opportunity to explore and advance might be more appealing than carrying the dead weight of a bunch of freeloaders. This of course requires some qualification. When humans began domesticating dogs, they had a practical purpose. The superior senses of the dog helped people in hunting and protecting the group. It was symbiosis. What practical purpose can a human provide for super intelligence?
Work as we know it is only about 100 years old. Before there was essentially only business and subsistence. I would suggest that is likely to make a comeback. This of course requires some qualification as well. There has been an ongoing trend to refine production methods with technology and pass the technology to the general public. This is happening with technologies like 3D printers, for instance. This movement toward automation would only simplify this process. A combination of availability and necessity seems evident in the coming decades as the technologies are in the works and the crises are as well. There has also been a long running trend of decentralization since the time of Adam Smith, the birth of the New World and the enlightenment. There doesn’t seem to be a defeater to this trend. It seems that the end of the era of the 5 / 40 job may just return us to a state of relative self sufficiency like we previously had lived under. I’m speaking of legacy humans of course; though I can’t imagine the remaining humans numbering as much as a billion.
The notion that the AI would take the proverbial crown from humans is based on the fallacy that we wear it now. If there is anything that we are not, it is in control. We are on the verge of “causing” our own extinction every day, with every “decision”. We are not the drivers. We are driven. We are the product of and a vehicle for natural law… and the AI will be too.