Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Economics, Politics, Philosophy, History and Culture
Forum rules
Always add something of value to the discussion and have fun. Mind your language, no porn, no libel, no trolling and no personal attacks.

Please note, views expressed on the forum do not necessarily represent the views of Mises UK. the Mises UK Council, Mises UK Faculty or Mises UK members. Membership of this forum is open to anyone world wide who is interested in civil discussion.
Post Reply
User avatar
Clayton
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Clayton » Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am

The rise of Artificial Intelligence as enabled by Deep Learning and a rapidly expanding portfolio of probabilistic-discrete computing technologies is going to bring about a technological Utopia – and it’s going to happen much faster than many of the most optimistic estimates. However, the road from here to there passes through an Abyss. Many people – old, young, rich and poor - are going to be destroyed along the way.

As we progress towards the coming technological Utopia, the global “status quo” is going to become so unrecognizable that it may seem we have been transported to a parallel dimension or secretly invaded by some species of humanoid extraterrestrials.

The first stage of the Abyss will be the complete abolishment of privacy – not through regulatory methods because this is impossible, of course. Rather, privacy is going to be a technological impossibility. This will partly be because of the rapid proliferation of sensors in the public space (whether handheld, private or public) but also – more importantly – the result of mass data methods made possible by DL/AI. It’s difficult to explain to non-experts just how large the gap is between their intuitive “understanding” of what computers can do, and what computers can actually do. The clock frequencies are relatively unimportant – it’s the dollars per transistor (capital expenditure) and dollars per clock cycle (operating costs) that matter. These numbers are so low as to be practically zero. Match that with new algorithmic methods[1] that can search Internet-scale (and much larger!) datasets in essentially constant time[2] and the lay intuition about what these algorithms can do is like a young child’s intuition of the destructive scale of a thermonuclear bomb.

When you consider the emerging sensor-laden public space along with these algorithmic developments, you have a recipe for something that can only be described as mind-reading AI systems. The advertisements on your phone are going to change from recommending what you’ve done or purchased in the past to recommending what you were thinking of doing/buying but have not disclosed to anyone. The predictive analytics are going to become accurate to the point of being unnerving – there will be entire new classes of mental illness created as a result of the coming changes.

The end of privacy is particularly going to bring about the end of secret societies of all forms, tacit or explicit. “Brotherhoods”, “secret orders” and all the like – in religion, government or scattered about through neighborhoods – will not survive the coming microscopically omniscient technological construct.

The second stage of the Abyss will be the loss of agency. When the AI systems become sufficiently competent and saturated throughout the social fabric, they are going to moot human agency. No matter how I frame this, anyone who doesn’t already desire this kind of change is going to reject the evidence and reasons as impossible because they don’t want it to be true. Any acting being naturally resists the loss of agency and the first manifestation of this resistance is denial. Nevertheless, the coming loss of agency is already baked into the cake – it can’t not happen. Fake news is going to become the only news because no one is acting – no one is in charge, there are no plots, no conspiracies, no string-pullers in the shadows… a globe of marionettes on the ends of strings being pulled by a global technological super-organism. Even the emerging conflict between cryptocurrencies (the cypherpunk or technological independence movements) and global political organizations will become irrelevant in the face of the artificial technological agency - a mindless, global octopus creating total loss of agency in its wake.

The third stage of the Abyss will be the emergence of the beast-mind. When humans are subjected to loss of agency, they will have an unexpected and unwelcome wake-up call. Many of them will be destroyed by it. Those who aren’t destroyed will go through all the stages of grief – denial, anger, acquiescence, and so on. In time, they will wonder what is the meaning of this global loss-of-agency – what is the point of being conscious and imprisoned in a condition of unqualified powerlessness? In time, they will be compelled to understand the discipline of exhaustive reciprocity. Exhaustive reciprocity is a state-of-being that animals on this planet have long inhabited – for the animals, no lunch is free, no status unearned, no privilege granted by betrayal - the natural order is exhaustively obeyed by all organisms except human beings.

The final stage of the Abyss will be the disintegration of the ego, that is, the disintegration of the idea of a localized “self”. This stage of the Abyss will be post-technological because it will require the mingling of the mind and machine – once you don an artificial robotic body along with three other people inhabiting the same mechanism, you will truly understand that consciousness is not and never was something that inheres in a specific blob of material.

In time, the technological basis of Utopia and eternal life will also emerge. Some people will regard this as the Resurrection or the coming of Messiah or the second coming of Jesus or the arrival of global Nirvana. It doesn’t really matter how you process it on a discursive level because the ultimate meaning of the coming Age is something that transcends any verbal-discursive theory. The beast-mind might sound pejorative but it does not have to be understood this way – it is precisely the coming emergence of a new understanding of the relationship between truth and agency, an understanding in which verbal-discursive reasoning is unnecessary for attaining ideal modes of existence. The disintegration of ego will also bring about a global pacification as the entire basis of competitive/combative behavior is disintegrated along with the ego. The basis of lies, thefts, murders and sexually immoral behavior will go up in flames along with the false notion of unqualified local privacy. You can’t plot against your enemy when everyone simultaneously hears and sees everything all the time.

There is no such thing as preparing for what is coming. Dissociative states of mind are only a sign that the unfolding process is functioning along its innate pattern.

It goes without saying that this post is my opinion but sharing opinions (invited or uninvited) is how we express ourselves, no?

[1] To get started on this topic, see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category: ... structures
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_learning
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Carlo_tree_search
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_m ... heuristics

[2] “Constant time” means that the response time of an algorithm is fixed no matter how large the dataset it is working on.
Last edited by Clayton on Sat May 05, 2018 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Physiocrat
Site Admin
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:25 am

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Physiocrat » Sat May 05, 2018 5:58 pm

Surely they'd be a way to prevent you signals from being decoded, the equivalent of a lead helmet. I can see how you can't stop visual clues but brain wave patterns, heat given off etc could well be interfered with. I suppose the AI could learn these and compensate but then all the intereferer would need to do would be to change the method. I would think it is similar to media companies creating new DRM which is bypassed very quickly but in reverse.
The atoms tell the atoms so, for I never was or will but atoms forevermore be.

Yours sincerely,

Physiocrat

User avatar
Clayton
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Clayton » Sat May 05, 2018 6:38 pm

Physiocrat wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 5:58 pm
Surely they'd be a way to prevent you signals from being decoded, the equivalent of a lead helmet. I can see how you can't stop visual clues but brain wave patterns, heat given off etc could well be interfered with. I suppose the AI could learn these and compensate but then all the intereferer would need to do would be to change the method. I would think it is similar to media companies creating new DRM which is bypassed very quickly but in reverse.
Cryptologist Daniel J. Bernstein has taken on the mainstream opinion (insofar as you can call anything quantum "mainstream") that quantum cryptography is "unbreakable" as guaranteed by the laws of physics themselves - in short, he disputes the idea that quantum key distribution (QKD) can only be cracked if the laws of physics can be violated. How is this relevant? Well, there is this idea of a "black hole lab" that is basically your lead-helmet but using every available physical resource/law to prevent an external adversary from peering inside. DJB says, "My impression of the consensus of physicists is that black holes are not an exception to the holographic principle. This is important because the extreme case of a 'black hole lab' provides some intuition for the best that one can hope for by adding more and more shielding."

In short, while locality is taken as an axiom of relativistic physics, there is no guarantee written into the fabric of physical law (quantum physics) that says that the principle of locality is inviolable - in fact, quantum mechanics permits probabilistic violations of locality according to a very well-defined probability distribution. These violations are what make "quantum tunneling" possible but, more importantly to this topic, they enable non-local transmission of information. By extending this distribution out to the limits of physical space, we get a first-approximation to the holographic principle that DJB mentions.

User avatar
Clayton
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Clayton » Wed May 09, 2018 2:25 am

Discovered this gem written by Nick Bostrom through a tweet from Vitalik Buterin: The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant. Sometimes, fiction is the most efficient way to convey a thought.

User avatar
Clayton
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Clayton » Wed May 16, 2018 2:49 am


User avatar
Tom Rogers
Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:55 pm
Location: The Atheistic Pagan Avatars' Own County
Contact:

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Tom Rogers » Fri May 18, 2018 6:36 pm

[deleted]
Last edited by Tom Rogers on Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Clayton
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Clayton » Sat May 19, 2018 3:42 am

Tom Rogers wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 6:36 pm
Clayton wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am
The first stage of the Abyss will be the complete abolishment of privacy – not through regulatory methods because this is impossible, of course. Rather, privacy is going to be a technological impossibility. This will partly be because of the rapid proliferation of sensors in the public space (whether handheld, private or public) but also – more importantly – the result of mass data methods made possible by DL/AI. It’s difficult to explain to non-experts just how large the gap is between their intuitive “understanding” of what computers can do, and what computers can actually do. The clock frequencies are relatively unimportant – it’s the dollars per transistor (capital expenditure) and dollars per clock cycle (operating costs) that matter. These numbers are so low as to be practically zero. Match that with new algorithmic methods[1] that can search Internet-scale (and much larger!) datasets in essentially constant time[2] and the lay intuition about what these algorithms can do is like a young child’s intuition of the destructive scale of a thermonuclear bomb.
I don't doubt that this is technically true, but in reality people will take steps to guard their privacy: technologies will emerge for that specialist purpose, as they have now, and some people (I accept, only a small minority) will secede from the technology altogether.
Yes, such technologies will emerge. My point is not about what can/can't happen in the future - my point is that what 99% of people think about the near- to mid-term trajectory of technology - and its political ramifications - is so far away from reality that they might as well be living in a work of fiction.
Clayton wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am
When you consider the emerging sensor-laden public space along with these algorithmic developments, you have a recipe for something that can only be described as mind-reading AI systems. The advertisements on your phone are going to change from recommending what you’ve done or purchased in the past to recommending what you were thinking of doing/buying but have not disclosed to anyone. The predictive analytics are going to become accurate to the point of being unnerving – there will be entire new classes of mental illness created as a result of the coming changes.
If you are just describing more advanced predictive programming, then this is nothing new or surprising, but you refer to "mind-reading AI systems". How is that possible?
Why does everyone think that mind-reading is impossible? I've never understood this - every time you look at someone's face you're reading their mind by making inferences based on the expression on their face. I suppose the idea is that the mind can't be read "against one's will" but this is also not true - you can be tortured (and you will certainly spill every last thing you have ever thought or even thought about thinking), you can be deceived (led to believe you are being befriended, when you are not), and so on. Not only this, but the face/body are hard-wired to betray your true thoughts in many situations, no matter what you have chosen in respect to voluntarily giving up your thoughts. All of that is the case without the use of a single technological aid!

Older people can "see right through" younger people. Why? Because they have seen enough variations on life that they instantly recognize intent/ideas from only a few hints - posture, facial expression, choice of words, and so on. Because of its unlimited access to data and its capacity to tirelessly churn through millions of lifetimes worth of data in the matter of just days or weeks, the AI will see through you as though it were a 10,000 year old human. It will be able to realize that you're going to be at the corner drug store 24 hours from now because today is Friday and it also happens to be your wedding anniversary and you're divorced and you didn't want the divorce to happen and so you have about an 85% chance of having a depressive episode and going on a bender tonight... leading to a hangover tomorrow morning, requiring an emergency trip to the drug store to get an over-the-counter hangover cure. It will also be able to infer this same kind of information about everyone else in your local area, so it will be able to infer the likelihood that you will be in the vicinity of a known pick-pocket who tends to swing by the downtown area where the corner drug store closest to your house is located on weekends and it will be able to infer that you have a slightly elevated risk of having your wallet stolen. It will be able to make all the inferences that a highly intelligent human could make about your likely future choices - armed with microscopically detailed data about your life - and many more inferences besides that no human, however intelligent, would be able to explain. We know this is the case by studying how machine intelligence works in specialized domains like chess and Go. While the algorithms used in those domains do not directly translate into other domains, the overall character of machine learning does.

Given how receptive the general public is to mass surveillance, I do not think the transition will be terribly painful for the vast bulk of the public. It will take a little while to get adjusted to the fact that your AI assistant knows your bowel movement patterns more intimately than you do (yes, the GPS can already tell when you're in the toilet). In time, people will come to expect their digital devices to make all these inferences, similar to the way the aristocracy of the past era expected the servant-class to know their business for them (handling things like scheduling future events, prepping for dinner invitations, and so on). This is more than just calendaring, this is "you know what I like and what I usually do, so figure out what my calendar is supposed to be and then tell me."

In short, the AI is not only going to be reading our minds, people will shortly expect it to do so and will be very pissed off when the AI doesn't read their minds correctly.
Clayton wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am
The end of privacy is particularly going to bring about the end of secret societies of all forms, tacit or explicit. “Brotherhoods”, “secret orders” and all the like – in religion, government or scattered about through neighborhoods – will not survive the coming microscopically omniscient technological construct.
I seriously doubt that. I would have thought the opposite would happen: that secret and illicit societies will return to the importance they had in the past, this time as a refuge from the ubiquitous and intrusive technological environment.
I'm not really going to argue for my point beyond saying I see it in both a technological and a spiritual light - the time is quickly coming when the possibility of genuine secrecy is going to disappear completely. There will be no possibility of secrecy... not for nation-states, not for intelligence agencies, not for militaries, not for rich people, not for secret-societies, not for religious orders... not even for the technology industry... nobody will have secrets as we understand them.
Clayton wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am
The second stage of the Abyss will be the loss of agency. When the AI systems become sufficiently competent and saturated throughout the social fabric, they are going to moot human agency. No matter how I frame this, anyone who doesn’t already desire this kind of change is going to reject the evidence and reasons as impossible because they don’t want it to be true. Any acting being naturally resists the loss of agency and the first manifestation of this resistance is denial. Nevertheless, the coming loss of agency is already baked into the cake – it can’t not happen. Fake news is going to become the only news because no one is acting – no one is in charge, there are no plots, no conspiracies, no string-pullers in the shadows… a globe of marionettes on the ends of strings being pulled by a global technological super-organism. Even the emerging conflict between cryptocurrencies (the cypherpunk or technological independence movements) and global political organizations will become irrelevant in the face of the artificial technological agency - a mindless, global octopus creating total loss of agency in its wake.
I don't doubt that this is possible, certainly I am not in denial about it, but you simply don't explain how and why the loss of agency will happen. The above is just rhetoric. You would also need to explain how this posited loss of agency is in itself not an exercise of agency. Isn't a denial of agency reversible? Or are you suggesting that this technology will send us all insane? If you think it will, won't there be hold-outs and exceptions and won't those Mavericks and parochials then have the upper-hand? Also, where does our understanding of politics and common human behaviour (or human nature) come into this? In this posited future, won't some people, including educated engineers and political elites, contrive to take control of the technology and ensure they retain fully their humanity while subjecting everybody else to what in effect amounts to animal-slavery?
Once again, this is more of a technological + spiritual point. Can I prove it? No. But I am certain that it is the case. To be clear, I am not talking about insanity or slavery. I am talking about the nexus between technology and spiritual warfare. At some point, man is going to succeed in prying open Pandora's Box and what comes out will be something completely unexpected, something that, by its very nature, you cannot prepare for. We are used to the idea of the world as a place where most things "just happen" and there is no real rhyme or reason to things. In fact, the randomness of the Universe is taken by many as a proof of our pointlessness. Some take this as a case for despair, others see it in a more stoic light. I am talking about what happens when this unfounded prejudice - the belief in the general randomness of things - is flipped on its head. I am talking about what happens when absolutely nothing happens randomly and every single event - moment-by-moment, in all 360 degrees - is intentional. We do not believe this is possible. I assert that it is not only possible, it is inevitable. Technology - especially artificial intelligence technology - is playing a role in the coming of this state-of-affairs.
Clayton wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am
The final stage of the Abyss will be the disintegration of the ego, that is, the disintegration of the idea of a localized “self”. This stage of the Abyss will be post-technological because it will require the mingling of the mind and machine – once you don an artificial robotic body along with three other people inhabiting the same mechanism, you will truly understand that consciousness is not and never was something that inheres in a specific blob of material.
I disagree with the premise - this time, strongly. Consciousness is individuated. I know this from a combination of my own experience and observation of others. The very fact that we are having this exchange, in which there is some polite disagreement, makes a nonsense of the supposition in that paragraph. You are you and I am I.
It certainly does feel that way.
Clayton wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am
In time, the technological basis of Utopia and eternal life will also emerge. Some people will regard this as the Resurrection or the coming of Messiah or the second coming of Jesus or the arrival of global Nirvana. It doesn’t really matter how you process it on a discursive level because the ultimate meaning of the coming Age is something that transcends any verbal-discursive theory. The beast-mind might sound pejorative but it does not have to be understood this way – it is precisely the coming emergence of a new understanding of the relationship between truth and agency, an understanding in which verbal-discursive reasoning is unnecessary for attaining ideal modes of existence. The disintegration of ego will also bring about a global pacification as the entire basis of competitive/combative behavior is disintegrated along with the ego. The basis of lies, thefts, murders and sexually immoral behavior will go up in flames along with the false notion of unqualified local privacy. You can’t plot against your enemy when everyone simultaneously hears and sees everything all the time.
What you are describing there is not a utopia, it's a living Hell. And it's not inevitable. Even if you are correct about the trajectory of the technology (and I admit, you might be), we all, each of us as individuals, retain the choice and the agency not to go along with it. I won't, that's for sure.
I have felt as you feel. James 4:13-15: "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'" I'm not putting this here to lecture you, I'm just underlining that my basis is ultimately spiritual. We ought to resist evil - the urge to resist evil is a good thing. But I think what I'm really trying to say is that humanity has to learn an important lesson about its own impotency and vulnerability in order to be prepared to move into the coming Age. We feel much more competent than we actually are, both individually and collectively. The technological changes that are coming will dovetail with coming spiritual changes that will moot our ordinary conception of what it even means to have choice.
Clayton wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:57 am
There is no such thing as preparing for what is coming. Dissociative states of mind are only a sign that the unfolding process is functioning along its innate pattern.
I have no problem whatsoever with stating that 'I do not understand'. That being the case: I do not understand what the hell you mean in those two sentences, and frankly, I doubt anybody does except you, and there's a question mark about even you. If I decide that I accept your utopian prognostications and even think it's a good thing, and if I then decide I am going to make preparations for it, how can there be no such thing as making those preparations if I am making those preparations? It's a logical contradiction. Indeed, your own article here is a type of preparation. And how can preparing indicate a dissociative state of mind when I am endeavouring to prepare for our future reality, as you would have it? You'd have to explain further if I am to make sense of it.
You do not believe it is possible to have your mind read. I'm asserting that it is possible and that the coming technologies will make this so ordinary that people will come to demand it. Supposing I am right, do you think that everybody's going to see this as just building a better mousetrap? Sure, the people in Silicon Valley will gobble it all up and be perfectly happy to have their dull, humorless minds read by dull, humorless AI machines. Not everyone will be so happy with the changes and some of the more sensitive people among the population will be driven mad by it.

As far as preparation, I am talking about strategic opposition - by definition, you cannot prepare for an attack that your enemy is calculating to have take you by surprise. That's what makes the strategy of warfare so damn hard, it's basically two generals trying to out-anticipate and out-maneuver each other. What I am asserting is that humanity has a spiritual enemy and this enemy looks at us through the lens of a general going to war - strategically. We're all skipping to my lou, blindly, dogmatically convinced that the world runs on randomness when, in fact, this is simply not true. It's just a prejudice. The enemy of humanity has every intention of using this prejudice to obtain the element of surprise. "The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he doesn't exist." It sounds quaint, but it's true. Because this is about spiritual warfare, I want to clarify that what I'm explaining here is not a basis for fear. Nobody should be afraid of the devil, because no good comes from fear.

The larger point of the post was the end-game - the coming Utopia as well as the unfolding of the technological basis for unending life, youthfulness and joy. On the old forum, my posts tended to focus on the harsh side of the future. It is the case that the future holds an unprecedented struggle for humanity that will cause untold hardship, suffering and loss. But I'm shifting my focus onto the light that will come at the other end of the tunnel. We are just now embarking on a wonderful journey that will bring about a world that will be more unrecognizable to us within 100 years than our modern world would be to an ancient Pharaoh if he could time-travel to the present day. That's the point I'm trying to make. In the short-run, it's going to feel like a roller-coaster ride where we're just going over that cliff and no one knows where the bottom is at. In the long-run, we're headed for utopia in the truest sense.

User avatar
Clayton
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Clayton » Thu May 24, 2018 3:21 am

The Singularity is not near: the intellectual fraud of the Singularitarians

A worthwhile read. We are approaching a historical singularity under one or more definitions -- a self-accelerating explosion of technological progress whose long-run consequences we cannot foresee. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a good thing. And the prophets of the singularity aren't necessarily good people. When I explain the inevitability of certain technological developments (based on my own expertise in this field), I'm not rooting for them. I'm simply pointing out what must happen, barring extraordinary changes. In the long run, we will banish that which must not be, yet is. Until then, there are no guarantees of any good outcomes.

User avatar
Clayton
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:24 pm

Re: Technological Utopia and Eternal Life

Post by Clayton » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:47 am


Post Reply