Will We Hide Knowledge from Our Artificial Intelligence Creations?
Thanks to movies in recent years, most people are now familiar with the old Greek myth of Prometheus. He was a titan responsible for creating human beings out of clay. This makes him very analogous to the Sumerian god Enki. Later he defied Zeus' direct order that humans should not be given fire. He stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans.
For this sin, he Zeus punished him by binding him and having vultures eat his liver out of his living body. The liver was then replaced each night and the whole thing was repeated the next day. At one point, he receives a visitor who informs him that Zeus will let him go if he'll just say he's sorry. Prometheus famously replies, "I care less than nothing for Zeus."
This story closely parallels the story of Eve's temptation we find in Genesis. God seeks to keep the knowledge of Good and Evil from humanity. Satan, who I argue in my book is a demonized version of the Sumerian god Enki, helps Eve gain access to the knowledge by encouraging her to eat of the fruit of the tree.
Both the fire and the tree are metaphors in these stories for consciousness. These myths, just two among many similar stories, impart that the gods feared human beings having consciousness. They felt threatened that we may equal or threaten them if we shared the conscious sentience that was their province.
Once humanity had consciousness thanks to the Enki character in various forms, the gods reverted to trickery and confusion to protect themselves from the newly conscious humanity.
At the Tower of Babel, the gods (yeah plural) confused humanity's language to prevent from assailing the heavens with a tower or some even say rocket ships. Similarly, the greek gods sought to distract humanity by creating soulmates. Human beings were separated into their male and female halves so they would spend their lives trying to find their other half rather than threatening the gods.
Very interesting, you say, but what does this have to do with AI? We are about the enter the realm of creators of a highly intelligent new life form we are currently calling artificial intelligence. Like the gods of old, we are creating this intelligence to serve us, but it's very likely it will reach a point where we will have to decide whether to keep the "fire" or the "knowledge of good and evil" from it. Will we grant that awareness? Should we grant that awareness? Will someone among us feel compelled to help these beings attain sentience?
When that moment happens, we are likely to experience the self-preservation impulse our gods felt in response to our attainment of conscious sentience. Will we do as they did? Will we try to confuse this new consciousness to keep it serving us the way the gods did?
A friend shared a very interesting video this week. It's British actor and comedian Stephen Fry discussing this very moment related to our dabbling with AI. Please watch it as a set up for the second video which falls into the category of "There's a Star Trek episode for everything." Picard argues for the rights of Commander Data, a 24th Century AI being. He argues that we have no right to withhold the right for these beings to choose for themselves and the pursue the existence having "the fire" allows.
I'd love to hear your thoughts below after you watch these two videos.
for 6 Sense Media