Wetware vs. Leviathan




Last week the future very suddenly took shape: IBM, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon announced a partnership to explore the best practices for artificial intelligence – the Partnership on AI to benefit people and society.

Of course organization is sorely needed in light of the ethical questions that arise out of the self-driving car – ethical and moral decisions are taken out of the mind of the human and placed into the mind of the robot. How will these moral choices be formulated into code?

But immediately an even larger fear rises. It is not possible that DARPA – the defense department – will not be a hidden participant. But more importantly, what about oversight?

This question of oversight is of primary importance, given that this mega-corporate entity will de facto control not only the governance of AI, which will over time meld with every aspect of our human lives, human brains and bodies, but between them own the intellectual property, generation and manufacture. This consortium speaks overtly about best practices and involving non-profit organizations as well as academia.

But they must be held to that well-meaning rhetoric.

No single government would be far reaching enough to have oversight over this colossus.   And any governing world committee put in place for oversight would be simply more bureaucracy, and we have all evolved well enough to know this is not the answer.

The only way this entity can be held to task is the good old American way – through competition.

But who or what can compete with this?

One thing springs to mind.

Since the industrial revolution, most of the money and time looking at human improvement has been looking for deus ex machina – the machine advancement that evolves humanity. Of course there is nothing wrong with this. But at the same time our very human machine has been left mostly behind.

The incredible power of the human mind to control the body has been essentially abandoned to hippie theorists. But I ask, what are we capable of? What kind of “wet technology” do we possess in our deeply complex cellular make-up?

Examining the ideas of, for example, the placebo effect, which is often as effective as a drug, or of the exponential advancement of human ability in extreme sports – how does that happen? Or the very underexplored potential we have as quantum beings – all of these elephant-in-the-room questions in the face of “rational science” shows that there is a world of unexplored possibility within us. Looking for evolution outside of us is tantalizing. But if we spent an equal amount of time and money on our inherent abilities – opening the gateways of our minds and bodies – we would no doubt find far broader horizons than we can presently imagine.

IBM’s latest neuromorphic TrueNorth chip has a million computer ‘neurons’ that work in parallel across 256 million inter-neuron connections, which can be thought of as synapses. Each human brain neuron is connected to ~10,000 others, for a total of ~1 quadrillion synapses out of its ~100 billion neurons.

Creating enormous investment in human-based evolution would be the balancing act to the Partnership on AI.

If a similar partnership were to be created on a worldwide scale, then the Partnership could be held in the balance.


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