I, Human

In high school I was one of a small percentage who scored as INTP, which at the time I didn’t think much of. Later, I realized this makes me less human*.

Or does it?

What it is to be human, in a face of rapidly growing machine intelligence?

Values? A balance of feelings and cognition?

Human values are often directly contradictory. Why do we treat a family dog one way, but many (most) kill and eat animals? Or a staunchly pro-life voter outwardly reject amnesty from even children fleeing war?

It is in my nature to go immediately to algorithms.

I was considering buying a beautiful Beneteau sailing boat / yacht on a timeshare, but how would one fairly distribute time on it? Naturally, everyone wants 4th of July weekend – so I immediately starting thinking of a weighted scoring system in which users could build up and bid points (pseudo-currency), or algorithms involving an inverse time-multiplier so that prime dates far in advance require more points…. you get the point.

Yesterday I bet my wife that by the year 2100 a nonhuman will sue to run for president, arguing that being “born” in the USA includes assembly. Will it win? That’s irrelevant: by then machine intelligence will have surpassed us, including careful manipulation of our predictably human foibles – creating a physical mashup of Ronald Reagan, JFK, and Barak Obama who is capable of monitoring the internet in real-time to perfectly calculate not just what to say, but how to say it.

Think I’m joking? Listen to Google’s Deepmind compose and play piano – in real time**:

AI and machine intelligence today is like the computers of the 1960’s. When AI writes it’s own successors, within minutes we’ll have engineered our own obsolence.

Perhaps then to be human then will be to be obsolete.

HBO’s new show Westworld shows the next step: blurring the lines:


I don’t have the answers and welcome yours below.

My best guess is transcending ourselves to some greater cause. In that moment of flow, when we disappear and our mission supersedes our biology we are at our highest and best, and it’s questionable if or when machine intelligence can or will do that. Ultimately, self-transcendence is a choice of mission.

But how many humans operate in that state at any given moment?

Then again, how many humans ever get the chance? The majority of humanity is stuck handling the basics of a comfortable existence.

Perhaps, just maybe, AI / MI will allow us to rise to the challenge.

*  I may be joking. I might live in The Lattice.
** Real time, though apparently it rendered the computations for 9 hours, though this is clearly insignificant in light of Moore’s law for the topic above.