What a time to be alive
I hear that the world is in the midst of another industrial revolution. This time, the revolution is powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Of course, there’s nothing new about AI. AI has been around since the mid-20th century. There’s also nothing new about people predicting that AI will upend the world and life as we know it.
So, what’s all this sudden excitement (and trepidation) about a revolution?
Last year, 2022, OpenAI released the conversational AI chatbot ChatGPT. ChatGPT can converse with users about pretty much any topic in a human-like way. It can also quickly write essays, poems, songs, emails, and many kinds of text. Again, in a human-like way.
Then there’re the rise of AI image generators like Midjourney. These can produce photos, cartoons, fanart, and other digital images almost as well as a human artist.
Many people did not expect AI to reach this almost human stage so soon. Some tech leaders are calling for a halt to any further AI developments. Sceptics say that there is way too much hype about what AI can possibly do. Regular people wonder what an increasingly intelligent AI means for their job security and livelihoods.
In the midst of all these developments, there’s me
Trying to find my place in a world that is changing faster and faster.
Trying to do meaningful work in a world where AI is deployed in almost every industry.
Trying to be creative in a world where AI can produce creative work that looks pretty convincing.
I’ve always been the broody, introspective sort. So, I can’t help but observe all the tech and social developments around me and wonder about their implications. For me, for the people I love, for humanity as a whole. Short-term implications and long-term ones.
What does it mean to be human, especially in a world where AI is growing faster in terms of intelligence?
What does it mean to be a good human, in a highly technological society?
Is universal basic income really the answer to AI taking over the workforce?
How feasible would it be to build AI based on Asimov’s three laws of robotics?
Will we eventually have androids that look and behave almost exactly like humans, like the ones Phillip K. Dick envisioned?
Perhaps we won’t have highly convincing androids, but cybernetically enhanced humans, like in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners?
A ship of Theseus type problem: If we’re more and more cybernetically enhanced, at what point do we lose our humanity and become robots?
What will my next birthday look like?
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of answers I will arrive at, by the time my next birthday rolls around. Given that technology is advancing faster and faster, I won’t be surprised if 2024 turns out to be a different world.
I don’t think I’ll have any definite answers to my questions come next year. I bet I’ll have new questions to ask myself.
Some questions are classic and eternal.
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