Thursday 28 September 2023

The intrinsic validity of so-called AI is analogous to the authority of bureaucracy - that is, it has zero validity

AI - so-called Artificial Intelligence - is (just) the latest version of a phenomenon I have spent most of my working life understanding and arguing against: that phenomenon appears in various guises including bureaucracy, voting, statistics applied to understanding, quality management, guidelines...

I have given-up on trying to explain why all of these are wrong when used to make decisions, to achieve insights, to monitor and regulate practices, in government. 

I have given-up; because it has become evident that the belief in such technologies is a matter of faith; it is an expression of deep and self-destructive (as well as socially-destructive) ideals. 

Their wrongness is innate and objective, and can be proved - but first we need to understand these phenomena - and extremely few genuinely wish to understand. 

(If you are sufficiently interested to make the effort, word search these on this blog and read the links. But, really, this stuff would not need explaining; if Men were properly orientated.)  

Most people are happily under the spell cast by these technologies/ methods  and their apologists. They believe because they want to believe; therefore they are strongly resistant to understanding. 

This is a civilization that is killing itself; and one major manifestation of this 'death wish' is that people persist in seeking some kind of technological or methodological technique of making judgments

Thus; people under the spell of AI are obviously enchanted by the idea that we can have computers/ machines/ systems which will make judgments, do learning, create poems/ pictures/ stories, discover, 'implement' values, organize people etc. etc. 

Behind such claims, and the eager credulity that welcomes them, there is a not-so-covert desire for human self-annihilation. A lot of people apparently want to hand-over all the highest, greatest, most divine aspects of being a Man - and they are prepared to give their faith to anyone who claims that this can and should be done. 

Because all this is ultimately a matter of faith

We now have a world of bureaucracy, with most major decisions made by voting; because that is where people have put their faith - their ultimate faith! 

People's faith is to believe - without any coherent logic, or honest 'evidence', and contrary to vast experience! - that bureaucratic organization and voting are superior to the judgment of individual human beings. 

And so the world is organized; and whatever happens to the world, that faith remains intact. 

Our desire to be rid of human judgment is, at root, an expression of our rejection of God.

This is why it is so pervasive, why it is a matter of faith, and why it will destroy us. 

We cannot be awoken from a spell that we have chosen to succumb to. 

Note added 30 Sep 23: It strikes me that with the advent of AI we have (as it were) officially entered a world in which public discourse consists of parroting: of uncomprehending computer-parrots speaking to other parrots (some computers, some 'humans') who cannot comprehend the parroted stimuli (because, strictly, there is nothing to comprehend), but which generate even more parroted responses... On and on, until the night comes. 


William Wildblood said...

AI is simply the latest manifestation of materialism, latest and worst because it is the fullest denial so far of spirit. It is humanity rejecting the reality of soul and farming out its consciousness to the machine. This is the modern cult of death in its grimmest form to date because it is a renunciation of both individuality and freedom. Neither can exist in a computer and the more we embrace this technology the more we lose connection to what actually makes us human.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William W - "It is humanity rejecting the reality of soul and farming out its consciousness to the machine."

Yes. And it could not happen unless so many people wanted it. Evil (like vampires) must be invited-in.

Bruce Charlton said...

Again I would like to emphasize: people will get what they have asked for - including being replaced by AI computers and bots (even though AI will be worse, much worse, than people).

They won't like what they get, not a bit! But the fact is they asked for it, and have welcomed it with enthusiasm and excitement.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

William's comment is excellent. I like to tell a particular family member, "Technology won't save us."

The danger of AI of course is not that it is an actual deus ex machina; the danger of AI is it will be treated like one by humans avoiding responsibility for some appalling stupid-evil/evil-stupid decision. ("The AI modeled it; what were we supposed to do?")

Bruce Charlton said...

@A-G - "the danger of AI is it will be treated like one by humans avoiding responsibility for some appalling stupid-evil/evil-stupid decision. ("The AI modeled it; what were we supposed to do?")"

Indeed. Very much as has happened for decades with bureaucracy, or voting.

Avro G said...

“Behind such claims, and the eager credulity that welcomes them, there is a not-so-covert desire for human self-annihilation.” Bingo. It’s the ne plus ultra of western man’s will to get stuff without actually having to show up and do any work, to “flip a switch” and have one’s desires met instantly. It’s the same motive that led to the use of Africans as capital goods, the “satanic mills,” on up to telephone porn, “grub hub,” and even this sickening proxy war. The problem is that by outsourcing all one’s labor and problem-solving one progressively ceases to exist at all which may account for the crisis of ennui that seems to underlie so many other problems. AI is completely sterile. A child’s crayon drawing or a bird’s nest is of INFINITELY more significance and value than anything “created” by AI.

R.J.Cavazos said...

Its much like augery with goat entrails.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Avro - Agreed.

AI is plagiarism at the push of a button; and what is worse - plagiarism by something that cannot evaluate the quality or validity of the stolen product.

No Longer Reading said...

"A child’s crayon drawing or a bird’s nest is of INFINITELY more significance and value than anything “created” by AI."

Good encapsulation

Stephen Macdonald said...

I'm a devotee of Dr. Chartlon's thought and do not in any way intend to contradict what is said here regarding "AI". Yet I feel I might add a little context to the discussion. I work in this field and when you see daily "how the sausage is made" AI is much less menacing or magical than the public perceives it to be. Large Language Models represent semantic meaning via embedded vectors, which are nothing but arrays of precise numbers (typically 1500 numbers to represent a typical "unit of meaning"). Comparing these vectors involves simple linear algebra (cosine or euclidean distance).

The technology is quite mundane. These systems have no agency, and are certainly not conscious (except insofar as Dr. Charlton is correct about all of creation having some level of consciousness, or at least "aliveness", which I accept).

The "conversations" one has with these things may tend to be tilted toward leftist (i.e., demonic) themes because the internet as a whole is so tilted. This is nothing new.

Personally I would never even imagine trying to glean any wisdom from such a tool. Nor do I expect wisdom to emerge from a fancy Excel spreadsheet -- which is in the same ontological category. Nor is AI "creative" in any meaningful way, since it is a material object lacking any spiritual dimension.

What I do expect is that they are quite useful in many respects. A conversational interface with the sum total of human knowledge as represented online is quite an accomplishment. One need only engage these LLMs in a discussion about, say the logistics of moving a Roman army across large distances, to realize that there's something quite interesting going on here.

As with any tool, the powers and principalities can and will use it to further their agenda. But the Internet brings Dr. Charlton's wonderful blog to me daily (along with other genuinely useful content) so I'm unable to condemn technology per se, including AI.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Stephen M - If you look at the link to previous posts, you should see that I do have a fair understanding of what is - and more importantly is not - going on with these programs.

But I believe you are framing this question wrongly, and in such a way as to miss all the most important aspects. You are taking a close focus on programming, and drawing a line around it, which strategy would make anything seem trivial.

On the other hand your comment "there's something quite interesting going on here." seems to go against what you said before, since you imply that there *seems* like more than mere algorithms - and this is, of course, one of the dangers.

But in general, I think the proper way to frame this matter of AI is in terms of the larger spiritual war.

Nothing this big, this lavishly funded, this much promoted/ lied about/ used in mainstream fear-mongering, having such potentially profound effects on human self-understanding and confidence, and indeed human thinking - should be regarded as anything other than one of the major issues of this time.

The way we ought to discuss AI therefore needs to acknowledge that it is clearly *very important indeed* to the most rich/ powerful/ influential leaders of the global Establishment - and respond accordingly.

Bruce Charlton said...

The "AI" phenomenon is part of a multi-generational agenda focused on hijacking the development of human consciousness, and diverting it away from the spiritual and into the material.

I have found Jereny Naydler's work to be very helpful in both giving the Big Picture, and clarifying this matter:

Alexeyprofi said...

In high school I had a chemistry teacher who was knowledgeable and all, but she demanded too much of us regular students. She did not explain in great detail how to solve chemical problems(when the conditions for a reaction with one unknown are given and you have to find it, for example, the mass of one of the substances used, I don't know how it's in English) only giving a few examples at the very beginning. I could solve the problems at first, but then they became too incomprehensible. For the remaining two years, she simply expected us to solve them ourselves. As a result, everyone cheated except me, and I just got bad grades. I tried to learn how to solve these problems by memorizing their analysis on the Internet, but the brain does not learn from ready-made material. If there was a neural network that could explain the solution step by step, then I could've teach myself independently. So, neural networks are not as bad, they just should be treated as an instrument, not an solution to all problems of humanity

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ap - I'm not sure whether you are old enough to remember what was said when the internet emerged in the middle 1990s; and how it would revolutionize, in a positive way, education, science, medicine, economics etc etc.

In abstract theory this could have happened; in practice that was never the intention from those with power - and therefore it was not the outcome.

Same with "AI" - only worse, because we are three decades more corrupted.

I am ever more sure that socio-political issues are very simple in terms of their overall socio-political outcomes. As soon as anyone starts introducing nuances, then they have departed from knowable reality.

Bruce Charlton said...

Ap - BTW - The lesson I drew from your anecdote is that mass cheating hid the bad teaching (and, as always, punished honesty). Fair and objective (i.e. old fashioned) examinations would have revealed this.

Such corruption of education has exploded in the UK over the past decades, massively facilitated by the internet; and as a result education has become rotten throughout. But the root of it was an untruthful society that had abandoned Christianity, hence destroyed any compelling and objective basis for honesty whenever it came into conflict with expediency.