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The AI Problem

(And the Human Solution)

Play with matches, and the fire will spread...

I feel it is a duty and privilege to strongly caution my fellow human beings about the transhumanism movement that is growing more and more as we speak. This goes far beyond wondering about whether to buy the newest iPhone model. (When in doubt, go without.) We stand at a crossroads about what it means to be human, and we all have the responsibility to add our unique perspectives on this matter.

I am 30 years old at the time of writing this article. I vaguely remember a time when I didn't have a personal computer in my home. When my mother sat me in front of our rickety old Apple at the age of six, I was immediately transfixed. I started playing simple games that helped me learn math which seemed to actually give me a bit of an edge when it came to the development of early skills in elementary school.

Fast forward a few years and I am happily learning grammar, typing skills, and more advanced math in between bouts of playing noneducational and infinitely more entertaining video games.

By the time I reached 14, I was a self-confessed techno-addict. It took acts of sheer willpower to pull myself from the screen to go to bed most nights of the week. I found myself compulsively checking social media sites over and over again, as well as allowing my adolescent curiosity to help me fill in the gaps of a grossly incomplete high school sex ed curriculum. This more taboo topic will be explored at a later time, as it certainly deserves a closer look.

This early indoctrination to technology in general is what I have come to identify as a main precursor to a full-blown AI-based society. Just as sparks and smoke appear before a fire, we now have many minds fervently working to fan the flames and create the necessary infrastructure to support the emergence of ever more technology that can support ever more sophisticated artificial intelligence.

Where is this all going? Why do we need a new phone so often? Our consumer-oriented market place will of course pressure everyone to buy new things as a matter of course. When it comes to the transhumanist movement, we see some more specific patterns start to take shape as well.

Initially, we had clunky desktop computers; monitors were heavy enough to warrant needing two people to carry them. I remember feeling more of a "distance" from these early computers as there was a certain foreign novelty about them.

Cellphones and laptops allowed for a more intimate feeling when interacting with technology. Indeed, having the device on one's lap begins to give the sense that the device is more an extension of the body rather than a separate tool. Laps were once reserved for young children or TV dinners, but now increasingly portable computers find their resting place there as well.

The next step towards the merging of humans and machines involve things like wearable devices that one can all but forget they have on, such as an earpiece or "smart" watch. Where many people begin to draw the ethical line is when we are encouraged to have technological devices put directly into our bodies.

This article suggests that over time the stigma and fear around being implanted with microchips will diminish to the point where it is as acceptable as paying taxes every year. There is an air of inevitability in many peoples' minds about the momentum of transhumanism. It is all simply a matter of "when." As a counselor I rarely like to give advice, but in this case I feel compelled to draw my line in the sand as well. Say no to the chip. This is the gateway drug leading to the final step of transhumanism, merging the human mind with AI.

What I want to offer is the idea that we ought to be counterbalancing the momentum of technology with a rediscovery of basic humanity. More nature, creativity, music, meditation, gardening — whatever we did before we got involved with any sort of advanced technology will serve us well in present and future times as well. On that note, I am going to log off and take a much needed walk in the park. Artificial intelligence will always pale in comparison to the natural intelligence of our Earth and the innate wisdom of the human spirit.

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