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AI, Humans, and the Pursuit for Balance

April 30, 2024

Few will argue that Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most fascinating and rapidly developing technologies of the decade. Experts from all walks of life have waded into the debate about the potential effects it could have on society. The recent uptick in curiosity about AI, fuelled by ChatGPT crashing onto the scene in November 22, has opened up a wealth of fresh avenues for cutting edge research that could see use cases grow exponentially.

Although there are many positive aspects to the growth in efficacy of AI, there are a litany of emotional and ethical issues to consider. The potential impact on people’s lives may leave some individuals feeling helpless and marginalised. Tasks that previously defined their work could possibly be distilled into a quick search in a toolbar.

AI enabled tools will not just yield answers but better answers than a human can provide, in a fraction of the time.

Many individuals may find this profoundly unsettling because it could make them feel less relevant or even redundant.

The term “nihilism” comes to mind when considering the impact of AI on society. The term was widely used by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, when he spoke about the impact of the decline of religious and other traditional institutions. He believed it would contribute to an existential crisis, and crisis of meaning, leading people to question their own existence and the purpose of their lives.. Nihilism is a philosophical concept that asserts that life has no inherent meaning, value, or purpose.

According to Nietzsche, the only way to beat nihilism is to give one’s life purpose by working toward one’s own ideals and bettering oneself. In his view, the only way to combat apathy and find meaning in one’s existence was to focus inward and act in accordance with one’s own principles. He defends introspection and self-awareness as a defence against nihilism.

Similarly, it’s possible that AI could contribute to feelings of not being valued in some contexts.

If AI systems are used to perform tasks that were once considered unique to human beings, such as creative or emotional expression, individuals may feel that their abilities and contributions are being devalued.

The potential impact of AI on human value and meaning is complex and multi-dimensional.

AI systems can undoubtedly enhance human abilities and allow individuals to focus on tasks that require uniquely human skills, such as creativity, empathy, and critical thinking. It is also important to bear in mind that AI systems are ultimately determined by human values and priorities. So, the impact of AI on human value and meaning will depend on how these systems are developed, used, and integrated into society.

Ethical Concerns

Despite the fact that advanced AI has the potential to vastly improve many facets of daily life, it also raises significant ethical concerns about the future of work and the role of machines in society.

The GPT-3 generator and ChatGPT, both of which employ the ANI (artificial narrow intelligence) protocol, serve as examples of the widespread adoption of AI. Unlike general purpose Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which can be applied to a wide variety of domains, ANI is designed to perform only a narrow set of tasks. AGI allows a computer to mimic human cognitive abilities, such as problem solving and creativity. This could lead to significant changes in the job market, potentially threatening the livelihoods of workers who perform routine or repetitive tasks that can be easily automated.

With so much at stake, tech giants like Alphabet and OpenAI are racing to perfect AGI. To be pragmatic we have to consider the benefits of AI. It has the potential to revolutionise industries and create new business opportunities in all industries including healthcare, finance, transportation and cybersecurity.

AGI could create major scientific breakthroughs leading to a better understanding of intelligence, consciousness, and the nature of the mind.

This could have significant implications for fields such as neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology. AGI also has the potential to address many of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, such as climate change and poverty. The elimination or reduction of human labour is another way in which AI could be useful to society. It could free up people to devote more time and energy to pursuits that truly matter to them.

The question of how these developments will influence our efforts toward self-actualisation naturally is hotly debated. Taking this into account is crucial because it will force us to re-evaluate our priorities and values in a future where traditional means of finding significance, for example work opportunities may become significantly limited.

Nihilism, in both its neo- and postmodern forms could potentially contribute to a range of social and political issues that may have security implications. For example, if large numbers of individuals begin to feel that their lives lack meaning and purpose, this could lead to a range of social problems, such as increased rates of depression, substance abuse, and social isolation. This could potentially contribute to political instability, social unrest, and other forms of conflict.

One of the biggest obstacles facing AI researchers and developers is the possibility that AI systems will eventually outperform human intelligence in problem-solving and goal-attainment.

Indeed, this poses a serious problem for the study of artificial intelligence. Some people are concerned that as AI develops, creators will feel less in control of the finished product of their work. As a result, this could diminish the significance and value of those efforts. This is becoming more of an issue in the artificial intelligence community as the current state of affairs grants humans considerable control over their creative endeavours.

A subset of society is concerned that the rise of AI will usher in a period of neo-nihilism. This is possible because of the intricate web of factors that shape the human experience. AI’s promise of a future free of all human ills raises the risk that people will have nothing left to work toward. When you’re never put to the test by adversity, it can be difficult to find meaning and purpose in life.

The value of our achievements may decline if AI systems prove to be superior in every task. This is an actual and urgent worry that needs to be addressed as AI projects move forward.

There is a broad spectrum of possible outcomes associated with the development and widespread deployment of artificial intelligence (AI), and particularly AGI. The development of AGI could also have broader economic implications, while it could result in increased efficiency and productivity in many industries, the cost savings may not be passed down to workers leading an enormous amount of Fat Cat industries with poor income equality for its workers, and this could harm society.

The development of AGI has the potential to significantly disrupt the labour market and raise important questions about the role of work in society.

It will be absolutely critical for policymakers and industry leaders to carefully consider the social and economic implications of AGI and to ensure that its benefits are shared fairly and equitably among all members of society. Keeping this in mind and acting accordingly are both necessary to ensure good outcomes from advances in AI system development. Friedrich Nietzsche said “ the journey itself can have greater significance than the final destination ”. It is therefore fundamentally important to strike a balance between using AI to improve our lives and allowing it to take over to the point where we no longer appreciate our past accomplishments and lessons learned. We as a society need to put in a good amount of effort and energy into finding this balance.