Artifiical Intelligence vs. Superficial Intelligence
If we are going to examine the worst of what artificial intelligence can do to us, we should join that at the hip of hiplessness with what the worst of superficial intelligence can do in conjunction.
The tree picture is my hat tip to the Windows 10 program that keeps promoting changing desktop backgrounds that then provides info to a bing page. It looks like a way of promoting bing as a browswer, as much as the question whether you like the background or not. If you do not, the algorithm predicts what you may like and show something else. The technical side of this is a learning because at present I actually have not looked into how I set up background images on a Windows 10 machine :
The reality is that I don't consider Facebook, or Microsoft or Instagram or whoever our favourite digital demagogue is, as services that look after my privacy. Only now with the Facebook hearings featuring Mark Zuckerberg are people raising questions that I have always raised for years on end. The growth of artificial intelligence simply gives these digital behemoths even predictive power to assemble a marketable picture of us, which can then be sold to those who count on the system knowing us to sell me things or even, in the worst case scenario, to deny me services.
So it is that we need to be cognizant of what these systems are doing and what eventually may be cited as "unintended consequences" of their surveillance or invasive means of probing our behaviour. Everytime I say I like a picture, that feeds information to an artificial intelligent agent, which makes "decisions" as to figuring out what it is I like. This reminds of a girl I used to go to college with, who initially seemed to like the things I liked. At 19 it is OK to go with superficial intelligence and think that such a girl is destiny placing our soul mate in front of us. Not so fast. I also noted that she did not dislike anything - and this was my first experience of feeling used.
That girl was real flesh and blood, but an artificial agent is not something I particularly want to bond with, yet I recognize that our own responses to the artificial are not something that we largely think about. This means that we are for the most part operating intelligently but our intelligence is set at the superficial level - mainly because we don't think we need to use our cognitive bandwidth to pay attention to this aspect of our life. It is simply life happening until that is our fingers get burned or worse we enter into a relationship which without forethought, will simply end up ripping our heart out.
In the course of simply looking at this relationship between a machine's artificial intelligence capacity to try to figure out how to "know us" and our own superficial intelligence acting at the level of a surfer dude like "just chill man, it's nothing!", I did come across people online who do urge us to look at our digital settings - this one from ThioJoe talking about Windows 10 settings (a note to self: maybe worth listening to!)
Now I will know what level my current superficial intelligence is operating on, depending on what it is I do when I have watched this video, but I am pretty sure that I may be apt to get into a conversation about artificial intelligence, yet have total disregard for services that artificial intelligence operates that are literally on my fingertips !
The actual conclusion I draw from recognizing machines that are being programmed to know us better than we know ourselves is that this at a superficial intelligence level can be classified as invasive, but as active intelligence - it is an OPPORTUNITY to sharpen our awareness and raise our own level of intelligence. It may well be that even a small child might actually be able to wrap us around their little finger, which in this case means accepting the level of superficial intelligence we are capable of - because maybe there is not a next level for us to attain - but clearly I am not a "flatliner" because I am able to think through these thoughts.
Thus I become cognizant that when Microsoft is asking me whether I like or dislike something they are collecting information on my psychographic data. Who talked about that? Wait, yes, that Cambridge Analytica guy that I guess Facebook is not quite happy with and probably wish know never existed :
The ironic part is that it is our own emotionality that may make our intelligence superficial. The more emotional or even hot-headed we get, the more we remain at the superficial intelligence level. If that is the case, the blame does not begin with the existence of artificial intelligence instruments, but the existence of our own superficial intelligence. This subject is important because down the road, what an AI system is picking up about us can lead to denials in healthcare coverage or even flags on how we participate online and more to the point, what we are exposed to online - a kind of censorship where we do not know that we are the ones being censored, though there is no direct block to us contributing online.
At the same time if we are smart about active intelligence then we should get smarter about smart artificial intelligence and see where it works for us and see where it can be highly progressive and even desirable as an innovation, which brings me to my personal and most favorite Shakespeare quote :
Having a viewpoint about what is good or bad does not mean we are stupid, it may simply mean that the chief reality we have learned is binary and that we can operate in the present society at that capacity, or maybe that is the given capacity we have, but we should also recognize the level of superficial intelligence that we either take for granted or accept.
The short and tall of this is that if the machines are getting smarter, so should we be. Instead of operating from the natural defensive and tribal mechanism that we programmed with over centuries, the future is about embracing new capabilities we either did not think we need or that due to this exponential increase in information processing, that we will acquire, simply by being exposed to these more dense fields of information and data. So it is that I now look forward to seeing what it is Microsoft's AI bot thinks I like and if it manages to recognize what I like, then that is a challenge for me to raise my own choice levels - maybe through this interaction with an AI agent at the simplest level of Windows 10, may provide me insight as to the actuality of just how predictable I really am. The opportunity is in raising my sophistication.
If we think that measuring our awareness against a machine is like arm-wrestling a child, that is our own individual level of acceptance. As technology advances so should human beings. Not to keep up with technology like some ego-minded arms race, but to recognize the changing landscape, virtualscape and environment, and see how that raises rather than diminishes our insight capability and maybe, just maybe our own innovative capability. The alternative is to unplug and find a wooden hut in a forest in Montana - but very few of us are equipped to deal solely with nature. We are not the pioneers of old, we are comfortable fat cats living in a digital paradise - that we need to be smart about - otherwise the dystopia we enter is equivalent to our own superficial intelligence, and then it does not matter how much we gripe about artificial intelligence - because then it is we as "human beings" who have ceased to evolve.