If you are a true "IT person" i.e. a software developer, code or deep system admin, I think you will resonate with the theme of my essay.
It took me a while to find time to read it and build an educated opinion about it. What i find most interesting is this picture:
while the people at the top of the social hierarchy (for the most part) who could not, or would not, do the “lowly task” to manipulate information to master machines became “CEOs” and “VP of Sales”
Here is a story which relates to this:
The current clinical explanation of "sociopaths" is that their set of "mirror neurons" is not working correctly or not working at all. Humans (and all other primates) have these mirror neurons and what they do is to form an "inner picture" of what is going on outside. A very simple expample of how this works is the fact that yawning is infectuous. But it doesn't stop there: humans actually feel inside themselves what the effect of what they do to others is. This (and not laws) is what makes most of us society-compatible at large: imagine you would be guaranteed to get away with it: would you kill an elder woman to get her money? Most of us answer this with a resounding "no", despite the stipulation that it wouldn't be punished at all. We simply cannot do it because we would feel what it is we are doing to her.
Well: most of us. In some of us this apparatus doesn't work so well (or even not at all) and these people are not always muttering idiots in some asylum but sometimes they are functioning quite well inside our society.
Psychology now has developed a questionnaire of about 100 questions and they claim to be able to find out any sociopathic streaks in people from the answers given. It happened, that someone did an experiment: they compiled a list of about 500 (in the end irrrelevant) questions and mixed into it the 100 questions of the sociopath-questionnaire. Then they sent that to leaders of big companies: CEOs of big national and multinational organisations, trusts and similar.
Guess what: about 80% of these highly regarded managers were outright sociopaths. (and by the way: they did the same test with long-time inmates in jails: these fared significantly better). But it is only logical: these people are able to do things to others that "normal" people wouldn't be able to do. And you don't need to search for these people either: the clever ones under them will do everything to barge out of the way anyone with even a little more respect for or awareness of others and their needs.
If you are ever offered a position of great influence and you wonder if you owe society more than just taxes - don't think any further! While you contemplate this there already sits someone who is not impeded by any such thoughts whatsoever. Someone with an absolutely sharp-edged catalogue of priorities and no restraints to do anything if it helps his goals.
The way big business works: no conscience! There are lawyers, yes, but conscience? Will it raise the stock value? There is your answer...
Location: Asia Pacific, Cyberspace, in the Dark Dystopia
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Yes, I also was "divergent" recently and was studying neuroscience and evolutionary biology as it relates to neuroscience to support some cybersecurity and cyberspace research I'm working on.
What is very interesting about neuroscience (well, there are many interesting aspects but this one sticks out to me of late), is that the human mind is constantly calculating probabilities in our consciousness and the human senses help correlate what the conscious mind expects or guesses.
For example, sit anywhere (or stand) in quiet place and relax and close your eyes and breath slowly through your nose and focus on "what are you conscious of" in a methodical manner.
You will quickly see that your mind is conscious of most everything in the room you are sitting in, even without seeing it at the moment; and you can project that consciousness into just about any situation you can imagine. It's really fascinating to study consciousness and we all have an amazing laboratory "up there".
This also means that, as neuroscientists tell us, the human mind is constructing it's best guess of what is going on around us (when we are awake and alert, especially) even when our senses are basically "off" or "not fully engaged". In other words, consciousness is not some linear "information in" and "consciousness out" based on some Turing process which processes our senses. Consciousness is much more interesting than Turing machines processing!
Evolutionary biology has created this amazing gift of human consciousness and this gift is not something to be taken for granted. Our minds are amazing and it is such a blessing of human existence to possess this product of millions of years of evolutionary biology and evolutionary neuroscience that we call "our human consciousness."
Before, I used to only close my eyes and relax and ask myself, what am I conscious of now; but more often than not, I ask myself the same question when eyes wide open (I still do this everyday with eyes closed too) and it is amazing what our minds are conscious of. I think it is so amazing how our mind creates it own "map" or "situational picture" (or what every you want to call it, let's stick with the term "consciousness" for now) when we are driving our car down the road, for example. Our minds are aware of so much, much more than what are senses tell us; but of course, the senses are helpful to consciousness. In fact, we are conscious of things like "traffic" so much, we plan much of our lives around "traffic" flow even before our senses come in contact with all the vehicles on the road.
All of this recent pop culture "AI will save the world" marketing is just pure nonsense driven by commercial interests, ignorance and egos. To believe in "strong AI" is to debase the wonder of human evolutionary biology which created human consciousness, both individually and socially. We are intelligent because of this human consciousness, a work in progress result of countless years of evolutionary biology, not because of the speed of CPUs, Turing based computing algorithms, memory chips or available quantum spin states, etc.
However, humans seem all to willing to underestimate the power of their own minds and to worship machines. Why? I think it is because as bakunin implied above, that there is a huge market to sell people this concept of "snake oil AI will save us from ourselves"; but it will not. This I can assure each and every reader with high confidence.
Today we read debate after debate about "will AI destroy the world?"; but that is the wrong question to debate. The real question is "will humans become more like the machines they worship and interact with?" and the answer is a surprisingly yes! There is no doubt we will become more and more like the objects we create and interact with.
Neuroscientists tell us, from the fruits of their years of research, that everything we interact with becomes a part of our consciousness; and the more we interact with objects, the more we become like the objects we interact with. Studies show that great footballers develop consciousness of "the ball and the foot" over time, stronger and stronger. They are no longer "the foot" but their minds strong connect the ball and their feet as an object. (Science is so cool, really!)
You can easily see this in the world of smart phones and Facebook and Twitter, where humans are becoming more and more like the machines and media their minds are attached to. This should be frightening to all of us, and each one of us should maintain our awareness of this "strong connection" and attempt (at least) to attach to objects which are good for our consciousness (like unix.com LOL).
Worshiping machines, beauty, sex, strong, powerful objects cause us to distort reality toward something which is to dehumanize us; because the wonder of our conscious minds, the special thing we all possess due to thousands, perhaps millions of years of evolutionary biology, is much better than that.
We are truly lucky to be here on this planet. Evolutionary biologists tell us that if we ran the clock back many years, the random selection process would not have created us as we are today. This life is a gift and human consciousness is the crown jewel of that gift.
Use the blessing and gift of human consciousness wisely my friends!
PS: I am skeptical of the threory of “mirror neurons” ... FYi only.
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