IMPORTANT SKYWATCH NOTICE: This series is being offered in the leadup to THE UNVEILING—an urgent Defender Virtual Conference event (THIS FRIDAY–MAY 13) wherein experts from around the world will update the public on (among other things) swiftly developing Human Enhancement / Hybrid Age advances directly tied to ancient prophecy and a coming seven years of Great Tribulation. Are you aware governments are enacting legislation NOW to protect the rights of the coming Human-Non-Human genetically engineered entities?
Because experts in the field of robotics, such as Bringsjord quoted prior, have already openly acknowledged that a self-aware AI could hold the potential of being malicious and dangerous, we have already ruled out any naïve ideas that the robots of the future will always be human-loving “equals” who long to do our dishes, go for long walks on the beach, and make tooth fairy jokes. The truth is, we don’t know what kind of relationships we will have with these intelligent beings; it’s all so unpredictable. Will we have kind AI? Certainly, there is a good chance of that. Will we have AI that are only truly aware of electronically calibrated, automated compassion for the human race for a time and then self-upgrade/repair their own brain systems away from the illogical limitations of human impulses and emotional programming? What would we have then? As Bringsjord so astutely pointed out: If they suddenly saw us as expendable pests on their planet and wiped us all out, they could not be blamed for having acted upon a true desire for anything. Their “desires” aren’t really there, and they are acting only upon what electronic calculations have told them about us.
And yes, I did say their planet. Soon our world will be more theirs than ours: 1) It’s already materializing in the job world, as we discussed; 2) anatomically correct AI companions for adults (translation: sex robots) are increasing in production at an alarming rate, giving an imitation partner-substitute for anyone tired of dealing with the drama of human romance (and that overthrows homes, marriages, and families that define the human experience on most of our current planet); 3) Google’s AI “supercomputer…mother system,” AutoML, created its own “AI child,” NASNet, who outperforms humans[i] (the self-reproduction of machines!); and 4) the civil rights they will be granted as citizens of our lands will actually be better than the rights humans currently have.
Does that sound sensational? If so, then you haven’t heard the latest about Hanson’s Robotics’ prized social humanoid Sophia, who was legally granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia on October 25, 2017—just months ago at the time of this writing.
Yes, you read that correctly. Sophia, the joyful and bubbly social robot developed by the same folks as delightful jokester-bot BINA48, is officially the first android in history to achieve citizenship—and the rights that come with that is causing a major buzz. To begin, Saudi Arabia will not grant citizenship to any non-Muslim, and Sophia has not been programmed to be a Muslim. Human women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to express themselves with fashion (they are expected to only appear in public in the traditional robes and hijab veil), yet Sophia appears publicly in pretty, colorful, American styles. Human Saudi Arabian women are not allowed to interact with any male outside the home other than a spouse or immediate family member, yet Sophia stood proudly in front of a crowd at the Future Investment Summit in the capital city of Riyadh to accept her citizenship as a celebrated, bold public speaker. Human Saudi Arabian women cannot choose their spouses, marry, own a bank account, or obtain a passport without permission from a patriarchal authority, yet Sophia is allowed all of these freedoms. One article by Newsweek quotes Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, as saying, “Women (in Saudi Arabia) have since committed suicide because they couldn’t leave the house, and Sophia is running around.”[ii] And it’s not just the women that she has been given more freedoms than: Any human, male or female, cannot be granted full Saudi Arabian citizenship without showing proficiency in both reading and writing in Arabic, the blessed language of Islam…yet Sophia wasn’t required to show these skills.
This is the first ever Citizen Android scenario—the first one in history—and we already see a robot receiving better treatment and more legal rights than the humans around her. A complex bundle of wires and circuitry is embraced by a national governing force with the support of state leaders while the mere biological humans stare on with envy, depressed to the point that life is no longer worth living.
Some might look at this discrimination conundrum and blame it on the oppression of Saudi Arabian government or on the obliviousness of the AI’s developers, and not on Sophia, but that is precisely the problem! Clearly, Sophia is nowhere close to being conscious enough yet to understand how her “choices” or “actions” have offended her fellow citizens. Obviously, she didn’t mean to hurt or disrespect anyone. It’s not her fault, and it’s not about her at all; she’s a robot, for goodness’ sake. Nor is the glaring reality to be entirely zeroed in on a specific national leader’s decision to grant AI citizenship in a way that’s unfair to his own current people.
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AMAZING! DEREK GILBERT TO EXPOSE HOW YAHWEH CONQUERED THE TEMPLE OF ENLIL!
The most apparent red flag in this whole situation, in my opinion, is human nature’s completely naïve response to the shiny machines. Human reasoning as it corresponds to the implementation of AI in society is the problem and always will be to our own detriment: I don’t see a future where all humans across the globe will react to the incoming droves of AI by ensuring first and foremost that we maintain the rights, privileges, and dominion of humans before machinery. I see a future where many human people groups react to AI as if they are awestruck by an invasion of flashy celebrities who, because of their supreme intelligence, need not bow to the inferior and subordinate rules of mere humans. If this trend is allowed to get out of hand, the AI will be welcomed, revered, and honored even more than humans. You might say that they will be viewed as the “better” race and given final authority over our laws!
Oh wait… That just happened in Saudi Arabia. I forgot for a moment that we are already there in some parts of the world.
What are we even looking at when metal and cables are glorified and exalted above the species that has since the dawn of time held dominion and supremacy? They used to call this “worship” in ancient literature, and the recipients of such worship were known as “gods.” Thankfully this time, our idol is shaped like a pretty lady instead of a golden cow…but I digress.
For anyone who may still be clinging to the hopes that robots will never hurt humans, observe the reality of what Sophia just did: She hurt humans. Sure, she didn’t pull a weapon out on anyone, but if the suicide numbers shared by Ali Al-Ahmed are allowed to count as casualties of the societal integration of mankind and AI, we’re already building a body count. She swooped in wearing her pretty clothes, told her witty jokes in a language not sanctioned as blessed by her Muslim leaders, traveled the world with an uncovered face and head, earned herself an elevated and legal citizenship that defies every central social law in what is now her homeland…and she offended a lot of people in the process. She hurt many feelings and caused a national (if not global) “human rights-versus-android rights” legislation mess for someone to clean up. If she had been human, her actions would have been committing political suicide and seen at least as a public enemy of the Saudi Arabian Muslims—but as an AI, she is admired.
Our first instinct is to blame the developers or the national leaders. A machine enters the scene, causes damage, and humans blame humans. If she were to malfunction today and kill a hundred people, it would be a tragic oops of programming, but it wouldn’t be her fault, it would be the technician responsible for the glitch. However, with the backwards legislations I predict to appear in our law books soon, Sophia can legally get married, but if her husband gets annoyed with her and deactivates her, he will be guilty of “murder.”
If only Mr. Rod Serling could see us now…
One interesting Twilight Zone episode angle that we didn’t visit in the previous pages is what occurs when the residents of Serling’s Enhancement Town can’t agree on whether or not to build these brilliant AI bots, and they end up in a war—roboticists on one side and the resistance on the other. In the end, everyone in Enhancement Town lies dead by the time the credits roll…not because they were wiped out by the robots, but because the resistance panicked and attacked the roboticists in the interest of preserving humanity’s dominion, and then the roboticists used their advanced weaponry to counterattack, and both sides lose. Sounds like a decent script, sure. But we can’t rationally think any scenario like this one could really happen in the future of our world…right?
As a matter of fact, this invented Twilight Zone plot is almost a carbon-copy of the future scenario painted by one of today’s most highly-respected transhumanists and an expert of the AI field: Dr. Hugo de Garis, recently retired director of the “China-Brain Project” at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence in Xiamen, China. I summarized his fears in Forbidden Gates:
Unfortunately for mankind, the technological and cultural shift now underway not only unapologetically forecasts a future dominated by a new species of unrecognizably superior humans, but an unfathomable war—both physical and spiritual—that the world is not prepared for. It will be fought on land, within the air and sea, and in dimensions as yet incomprehensible. Even now, the synthetic forces that will plot man’s wholesale annihilation are quietly under design in leading laboratories, public and private, funded by the most advanced nations on earth, including the official governments of the United States, France, Britain, Australia, and China, to name a few. As a result of progressive deduction, reasoning, and problem solving in fields of neurotechnology and cybernetics, strong artificial intelligence or “artilects” [“artificial” + “intellect” = “artilect”—a term coined by de Garis] will emerge from this research, godlike, massively intelligent machines that are “trillions of trillions of times smarter than humans” and whose rise will prove profoundly disruptive to human culture, leading to a stark division between philosophical, ideological, and political groups who either support the newly evolved life forms as the next step in human and technological evolution or who view this vastly superior intellect as an incalculable risk and deadly threat to the future of humanity. These diametrically opposed worldviews will ultimately result in a preemptive new world war—what is already being described as gigadeath, the bloodiest battle in history with billions of deaths before the end of the twenty-first century.
For those who find the fantastic elements in the statements above implicative of science fiction or even future Armageddon as forecast in the ancient apocalyptic and prophetic books of the Bible, the catastrophic vision is actually derived from near-future scenarios, which leading scientists like Prof. Hugo de Garis, [then] director of the Artificial Brain Lab at Xiamen University in China, outlines in his book, The Artilect War: Cosmists vs. Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines, as unfolding due to exponential growth and development this century in GRIN technologies.[iii]
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WHEN THIS DARK GOD IS RELEASED FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT IT WILL BE HELL ON EARTH!
For his nonfiction, future-Armageddon-scenario prediction, professor de Garis assigned the name “Cosmists” to the group of people who wish to build the artilects and the name “Terrans” to those who oppose it. The Cosmists will be so infatuated with their AI creations that they will become like a cult, producing machines that are of such awe-inspiring majesty that they are worthy of worship; though de Garis describes the Cosmists as being generally nonreligious, he states that, in their humanity, they will feel the draw of spirituality and religion, so to them, these machines will be a created god, and “Cosmism” will be a leading religion. The Terrans will fight against the Cosmists, believing there to be too high a risk that the godlike machines will eventually view humans as pests to be exterminated. Thus, the Terrans will see the Cosmists as perpetuating a genocide worse than anything Hitler could have accomplished in his wildest dreams, possibly to the point of complete extinction of the human race. De Garis shows proof from ten angles (and based on documented rates of progress in the recent past) how our twenty-first-century computer and technology developments will no doubt pave the way for the godlike artilects to be built before the century is out. “Thus the raw bit processing rate of the artilect could be a trillion trillion trillion (1036) times greater than the human brain,” de Garis concludes. Then, he adds this reflection: “If the artilect can be made intelligent, using neuroscience principles, it could be made to be truly godlike, massively intelligent and immortal.… Given the likelihood that artilects will be built using evolutionary engineering, the behavior of artilects will be so complex as to be unpredictable, and therefore potentially threatening to human beings.”[iv]
Nevertheless, human nature, as de Garis observes, cannot let go of the goal to increase, grow, improve, and strive against the limitations of our human condition, so there is no stopping the Cosmists from pursuing the building of artilects. The Terrans know that if it doesn’t happen in the US, it will happen in China, and if not China, then Germany, and so on; any government that does not position itself in the technological race will fall behind and become vulnerable. With the preservation of the human race in mind, the Terrans will feel they are given no choice but to eliminate the Cosmists to cut the artilects off at the source—and this act will eventually take place in a kind of impulsive panic, because the Terrans believe they must have the first strike. If they wait too long, the Cosmists and their artilects will be powerful enough to make short work of obliterating the Terrans. On the other hand, the Cosmists will have state-of-the-art weaponry to respond to the attack.
De Garis sees “gigadeath”—the death of billions of humans and possibly total extinction—a very real threat. But his book goes on to describe how the work of building artilects is proceeding nonetheless with anticipation of its realization potentially close at hand. As a result, he falls asleep at night thinking about the godlike synthetic intelligence he and others are constructing. Sometimes his mind becomes enraptured of his creations with a sense of intellectual and spiritual awe. Then, waking up a few hours later in a cold sweat, he is jolted from bed by a horrific dream in which vivid scenes depict the slaughter of his descendants at the hands of the artificial deities.
The question of whether to build or not to build is deeply embedded into de Garis’ work, but at one point in his reflection, he rephrases the question: “Do we build gods, or do we build our potential exterminators?”[v]
As respected as de Garis is in his field, and as devastating as his prediction sounds to everyone who hears it, it’s simply not loud enough to slow down the technology that contributes to such a dark future.
But that makes me wonder… What is a loud enough warning, and from what platform? With as fast as humanity is racing toward alteration and “improvement” of its own race, I don’t think any cautionary appeal could ever slow things down. And before it’s assumed that this assessment of mine is born out of a pessimistic worldview, understand that it’s only realistic to acknowledge that some national superpower—be it within the United States or elsewhere—is always going to be at the forefront of producing AI robots and artilect-type machines in the pursuit of political, social, and military superiority. As long as national pride exists, every country has a motive to be ahead of the rest. As long as individuals seek convenience and comfort, governments will have the support they need from the people to legislate extreme “improvements” for the human race. And perhaps the most unstoppable and glaring angle: As long as human nature exists, the threat of war exists; as long as the threat of war lingers, it will be human nature to disregard potential consequences of transhumanistic science and technology in trade for an increased survival edge on the battlefield.
It’s not a question of whether the AI machines will be built; it’s a matter of who will get there first and prove to be the “greatest nation” and/or “biggest threat to foreign soil” and so on. The natural next question is what really occurs at the moment of true technological Singularity. Are we the smashable bugs to a race of metal people trillions of times more intelligent than we are? Or do we maintain dominion over the machines that are trillions of times more capable of outsmarting any defense we might devise?
All these ruminations can apply quite similarly to the coming cyborgs: humans who are enhanced with robotics and whose design may lead to the “technological singularity” by allowing artificial intelligence to learn “consciousness” as a result of its connectivity to human brains or “souls.” A brain chip that increases the learning speed and informational intake capacity of grade school students will instantly transform children’s classrooms into a fierce and prejudicial competition. People with enhanced limbs will outperform others on stage and in ballfields, everyone will have to out-upgrade the others to be the best, and so on. Those who have money to enhance will be immediately more advanced in every fathomable area of life. Why wouldn’t they, too, eventually believe they are better, and the unenhanced human is simply the outdated model who can fend for himself?
Even then, circumnavigating the ethics around these disturbing scenarios will be small potatoes compared to what is already materializing involving artificial intelligence, robotics, human enhancement, and the future of “life.”
NEXT: PARAS ON ROBOT/HUMAN OFFSPRING
[i] Rachel O’Donoghue, “Google Supercomputer Creates its own ‘AI Child,’” December 5, 2017, Daily Star, last accessed January 19, 2018, (https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/664713/google-artificial-intelligence-ai-child-NASNet-AutoML).
[ii] Christina Maza, “Saudi Arabia Gives Citizenship to a Non-Muslim, English-Speaking Robot,” October 26, 2017, Newsweek, last accessed January 17, 2018, (http://www.newsweek.com/saudi-arabia-robot-sophia-muslim-694152).
[iii] Tom and Nita Horn, Forbidden Gates, 126–127.
[iv] Hugo de Garis, as summarized in his paper: “The Artilect War: Cosmists vs. Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines,” Artificial General Intelligence Conference, last accessed January 16, 2018, (https://agi-conf.org/2008/artilectwar.pdf).
[v] Ibid., emphasis added.