Sunday, January 26, 2020

In the future, we'll all live in the past (Annotating Mind Drips)

We welcome Mind Drips to our blog! In his first post, he talked about AI and a human's sense of the self. I wanted to write a blog post to annotate and react to some of his words and really start a Socratic dialogue. An exchange of ideas, if you will. Ha!

To start, let's look at his introduction, which makes use the concept of the Simulation Hypothesis. It's a thought that we are all living in a computer simulation run by sentient beings many times more intelligent than our current capabilities. Currently, we need an enormous cluster of home computers to even simulate a few moments of protein folding, so imagine just how much computing power is needed to simulate the entire observable universe, down to the interactions of each and every atom. It's a very popular theme in science fiction, with the most famous possibly being The Matrix.

In The Matrix, kung-fu, like almost everything else, is trained in a simulated reality.

The working assumption is that something like the simulation hypothesis holds true. This is the idea that we perhaps are living in some simulacra of some other universe of which the rules of such a universe which were preordained we are not quite privy to. Our attempts at objective truth through science and experimentation could in fact be grasping at straws at what the "creator" had intended for the universe. Though this could in essence be anthropomorphizing  the actions of some AI algorithm beyond any of our puddle-deep consciousnesses, so I do not mean to ascribe some new-age psuedo-religious technobabble to the fore.

I'm not sure if we can ever resolve whether we are or we aren't living in a simulated reality. Occam's razor would say that we aren't, and the Wikipedia article only mentions a "long-shot" proposed experiment based on quantum entanglement. But it is undoubtedly that we are experiencing a computational boom by any measure of the word: storage costs, information generated, computational speed. Moore's Law hasn't failed us so far. 

Source: "Moore's Law", Wikipedia.

In my view, an inevitable consequence of the simulation hypothesis which I rarely see discussed is the idea of selfishness as a byproduct of moving through "levels" of a simulation. It is plausible that humans once replaced with AI will need an outlet for all of our needs : material, sexual, metaphysical, and many more commonplace ones such as a sense of belonging in a community perceive we belong to : such as a shared sense of identity. The advent of AI and the inevitable collapse of capitalism as the prominent paradigm pushing our global economy will eventually diffuse these broad swathes of wealth outward like dye in water.
The idea that AI causing the collapse of capitalism has been an idea ever since humans were seeing productivity gains using machines. The printing process replaced scribbling monks; the train replaced the horse-drawn carriage; the Internet is all but killing paper-based media. With the rise of AI and the idea of "general intelligence," it's not hard to imagine that one day an AI-based machine could plan better than us, work longer than us, and make fewer mistakes than us. At that point, we could all but guarantee that our basic needs like food, shelter, and even sex on the Hierarchy of Needs would have been completely met. General intelligence either provides, or simulates to a very convincing degree.

I've always wondered about a time in the near future (and this is something I'll go much more in-depth on in a separate article), where AI can detect what most fulfills us in a spiritual / mental level, and provides a simulation to us that gives us the most enjoyment. From an optimist's point of view, this would be akin to "Self-Actualization-As-A-Service (SAaaS)," where any desire I want, a brain-linked computer could simulation and provision to me. From a pessimist's point of view, this could indeed be the death of society where we stop interacting with each other. After all, humans are unpredictable, and they don't promise to give you nearly as much dopamine per session than a machine that can scan your brain and determine the most optimal thing to simulate.

While this is universally seen as a good thing in the short term, it is also possible to see other phenomena occur during this upheaval. The first being, the travel industry may be adversely impacted which would lead to people lacking the capital to take vacations and explore different regions of the world, the widespread use of translation could lead to more and more of a monoculture in terms of media/acceptable forms of entertainment. The economic ice age will need to be solved by each government individually, and entertainment will become the locus of control as well as a humanitarian service the government should provide along with healthcare and food.

I would go further and present a "Death of Entertainment" argument. Similar to how we in the '60s and '70s only have a few channels to choose from, now we abandon them in favor of the endless realms of entertainment given by us via the Internet. The Bachelor used to only compete with shows that were on at the same nightly time slot, but now not only does it have to compete with them still, but with Spotify, Youtube videos, video games, other TV shows on-demand, and a million other things. I predict that in the future, an AI that could generate experiences for one to not only see, but to feel, would become the next- and only entertainment hub. 

Indeed, the next few paragraphs are around specific examples of how our tastes could be quantified, gathered, virtualized, refined, and sent back to us for our enjoyment. When we are truly unable to distinguish entertainment from a real experience rather than an artificially generated one, what is the use of interaction? If real-life could not compete with an algorithm in attaining my enjoyment, then I predict the vast majority of users will choose the easier path.

The truth is that the most complicated thing in this universe as I see it is how the arcs blend together , the weight we give each arc in our own lives and how that contributes to a greater meaning. Once the 'tunnel' connects the beginning of one's life to it's end - we will have become extinct. In essence : In the future, we'll all live in the past.
Conjecture based on objective thought is boring . Boo to the business world  - let your mind drip.
 Overall, a fantastic post and dialogue with Mind Drips, I hope this post has provided some more context into my take of his worldview. More will follow!

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