The recent ruckus about Artificial Intelligence (AI) had Facebook shutting down their robots when it started communicating with their own language that the programming experts on Facebook could not understand. This happening with Facebook is not isolated. The AlphaGo incident where the best-known player of the game was beaten by a robot sent alarm to human beings concerned. Lee Se-dol, an 18-time world champion in the game Go, where combinations of moves are said to be as many as the stars in the universe, was defeated by AlphaGo Zero — a software.
When I learned about this during the recent workshop called Sprit, Science and Artificial Intelligence, facilitated by the social scientist and activist, Nicanor Perlas, I could not help but go inward and ask what has become of the human being. This question was followed by another: Are we really heading toward progress or are we sinking down into an abyss?
Technology tycoon Elon Musk has been very vocal about the threats to humanity that pervade with the proliferation of AI. In first world countries, it is said that teachers were being replaced by robots and computers. If you have seen Jimmy Falon’s interview with the robot named Sophia, it looks amusing at a glance, but if given a thought, one might think of the danger with human resources being replaced by these technological devices that seem to supersede us in terms of intelligence.
Here in our country, it is not entirely an alien thing that our humanity is being intruded by technology. With it being babysitters of many of our children, our children slowly lose the senses that nature has richly endowed to the human beings. When they are made to sit still in front of the gadgets instead of allowing them to move, they lose faculties which they should have acquired at that certain age and which they can use as they grow. This ultimately results to behavioral challenges that parents need to address later.
With our children experiencing difficulties and ‘disorders,’ parents are drawn to band-aid solutions like medicines and other devices. There is nothing wrong with resorting to those things, but perhaps before doing so, it might be best to check the lifestyle that our children need vis-à-vis the current lifestyle that we have.
Our children who have these difficulties are the messages that we need to heed. It’s a call for help and awareness that there are things that we need to change. Their challenges are a sign that veering away from nature is doing us more harm than good.
This is a whole range of discussion. To me, the humongous challenge that we are facing with AI can be addressed by going back to our very own nature. Do we all go live in the forest? Not, necessarily. “But where you live right now was once a forest too,” Anastasia of the Siberian taiga have said. This means, we can create a piece of nature in our very own place.
Moreover, it is not the nature of the human being to sit in front of a gadget and be idle, our nature is to move. Our two hands, unlike all the other four-legged animals, are free to do many things. We are meant to experience the texture of different things and not just continue to swipe. We are meant to imagine and create our own picture, not to watch only one image created by another human being with the intent to sell.
While AI poses a threat to the existence of humanity, I, together with countless human beings, believe that by going back to nature, human being will manifest once more that no one is stronger than us except God. Simply because, we are the summit of His creations – His own image and likeness.