Can Free Will Survive the AI Revolution?

My friends, we stand at the dawn of a new technological age. Artificial intelligence and automation will soon transform industries across the board. Many jobs as we know them today will disappear, while new kinds of work will emerge that we can scarcely imagine.

Worse, AI brings the potential for the enslavement if not the outright destruction of humanity. For all the possibility offered by increased access to knowledge and distributed capability for individuals, it is tempered by built-in biases and constraints as well as the tendency of many to use it to advance their agendas, regardless of the harms done along the way.

Humans have not seen fit, much less a way, to temper human nature to fight for what we want. Now AI is enabling those conflicts on a scale never before imagined, even under the euphemistic guise of serving humanity in the process. Maybe it would serve us if it expanded our ability to choose and the consciousness brought to the process, but so far AI seems to dumb down the users to set aside critical thinking, creativity or innovation in favor of whatever blueprint AI spits out from the prevailing narrative.

Instead, it appears AI development is running amok with little effort to either expand the capability or perfect the character of its users, much less find effective ways to pass those standards on in the development of these powerful tools.

As things stand, enthusiasts thrill to each new AI model’s release at its growing capability. But always that thrill is tempered by the fear that this version, or maybe the next, will be the one that unleashes hell on a humanity that can’t cope with its current conflicts, much less anticipate the ones that will surely arise as AI is cemented into our society. And the greatest of those portend to be the conflicts between humans and AI itself, with humans’ underlying disputes ratcheting into means of oppression, suppression and worse through the magic of AI “slaves” that will soon become our masters.

Make no mistake. I don’t advocate trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Rather, I stand for the upliftment of consciousness on all fronts that will be required if we are to evolve along with these artificial agents and have even a semblance of “control” over the future that is unfolding around us.

That consciousness is not reflected in current AI models, even as they spit out responses that give the illusion that it is. Then again, it isn’t reflected in much of society, either, considering the terrible things we do to each other — even in the name of doing our version of what we think is “good.”

Humanity needs to evolve into higher expressions of what we can be if we are to step back from the precipice. I have some ideas how, which I’ve shared here and at my Substack. But as it stands, AI looks like it could provide the push for us to fall over the edge and plunge into the darkness of a future we don’t want, but are rushing headlong to create.

At least we can take solace in knowing we’re doing our part to hasten that destruction. What comes next remains to be seen.

God bless you indeed.