Humans like to ascribe some credence to their endeavours and discoveries as going some way to proving that they are intelligent beings, but is it fair to judge the achievements of a few as the sum of progress for the whole?
As many attempt to move ever closer to the holy grail of Artificial General Intelligence I cannot help but wonder if we humans are even qualified to determine if something else is ‘intelligent’ when we could scarcely prove our own intelligence, let alone that of an inanimate object. Are we just kidding ourselves into believing we are a truly intelligent species or are we intelligent but with caveats perhaps?
Would a truly intelligent being display such belligerence to its life support machine? An author, polymath and widely regarded knowledgeable person that I have found myself paying particular attention to of late is Noam Chomsky. Mr Chomsky puts forward a very interesting question in a number of his publicly available talks on YouTube. He raises the question, is it better to be smart or stupid?
If we look at the evidence available so far it would appear that being the most ‘aware’ mammal on the planet has done us very few favours. The ‘so called’ lower forms of life, do not seem to exhibit our self-destructive tendencies. In fact there is much evidence to suggest other forms of life have learned (now there’s an interesting word!) to work together to serve a common and unifying purpose. One has to wonder if this world might be a better place without us altogether.
Has this alleged increase in intelligence (or is it just awareness) over the course of our evolution brought with it unparalleled arrogance? Without any recent tangible evidence of Gods existence in the modern world have some now decided that through technology they can now assume the role for themselves? I note with considerable alarm the comments of certain influential members of society who identify as ‘trans-humanists’ that are eagerly wanting to upgrade their particularly limited human bodies so that they can live for hundreds of years through technological advancements.
I will come back to this particular topic in another post as I find the whole subject of how to attempt to cheat death in this way quite narcissistic, but for now I will simply pose the following question: did the trans-humanists ever stop to consider that they are actually meant to die to satisfy their right to live? Our technological developments have brought many wonders to the world, few would dispute this, but for every ground breaking way we find to save lives we cannot help ourselves from inventing (or discovering) ways to end them – is this the behaviour of intelligent beings? The ego in some of us still seems to be rigidly stuck with the ‘I’ worldview rather than the ‘We’ and for those egoists that cannot accept their mortality I struggle to understand why they are not putting all of their effort into making the future a more desirable place to be before trying to reach it before anyone else?
Despite the wishes of the transhumanists I am of the opinion that nature is and always has been one step ahead of us. We are learning all the time, more and more people are starting to wake up from this slumber and realise that we are all in this together, to do nothing is to wait for the end credits. I would like to put the idea forward that right now, as I write this, human consciousness is still evolving and perhaps much more than we realise.
Are we starting to regain an awareness that has faded into obscurity since the days of our early ancestors, the recognition that all life is joined together like the strands of a spider’s web? Upset the balance at our peril. We are yet to prove our true claim to the lofty realms of intelligent beings but what we can probably start to claim with some confidence is our ever increasing awareness that we are both the problem and the solution to most of the threats to our existence.