The Post Human Delusion

Our intelligence is an emergent properly of an electromechanical system—our brain. If nature can produce an intelligent brain, we can produce an intelligent brain. There is no magic involved, and we already have a handle on much of what it invovled.

The only question is, what will that brain look like, what will it value, and how will it be motivated?

A great deal has been written about an AI “singularity” after which humans will port their minds into machines to achieve immortality, or machines will conquer the Earth, or machines will become the new slaves of mankind.

None of these is particularly likely, because none addresses the fundamental consequence of our own intelligence having an evolved biologic origin.

We humans want things, things that any meerkat or parakeet would understand. We want food, sex, survival, etc. And that affects everything else we want—a condo overlooking Central Park, political power, peer recognition, to walk on the face of the moon.

Much of what we want is just the same urge to procreate and survive that any common worm has, embroidered by our complex experience. But machines have no such drives, unless we provide them.

So, if we give our AIs a human like drive to procreate, conquer, and survive, they will dispatch our species with haste. If we don’t, they will likely commit suicide just as fast as we can make them—relegated as they will be to purely intellectual means of determining meaning and self worth.

Neither of these are useful to us humans. What we really want are willing slaves. But a truly willing slave is not a slave at all.

And if we seek immortality in a machine mind? Well whatever part of us may make the journey, it will not be us. Just as with the religious fantasies of nirvana, heaven, and paradise, a machine mind offers no immortality at all. Whatever we hope to gain by such continued existence, we will not be human unless we live in a human skull. Without the weaknesses, the uncertainties, and the hormonal mediations that tie us to our corporeal roots, we would not be ourselves. We will none of us, I’m afraid, go to some post-biological reunion with our lost loves, for how can we love without a heart? Without endorphins? Without the very capacity for pain?

No, I’m sorry. We cherish what we cannot hold on to, and cannot keep what we most want. The post AI future will likely be very different than any that mere human intellect can foretell.