Commentary: AI & Machine Intelligence:


Into the Abyss

by Mr. Iain Kirkaldy-Willis,

Naturalistic Philosopher

Canary Islands, Spain


Link for Citation Purposes:


This is the third instalment of a philosophical commentary on AI. In the article for the first, I took an open look at AI as the disruptive technology the Doomsday Clock so designates it. In the second article, I took that aspect of it concerning how, in providing social media services that are addictive to maximise growth and profits, the big players' activities, subversive of mental health and social well-being, put them amongst other bad actors.


Through these commentaries I have been pointing not only at the nefarious consequences of our over the board applications of AI, but at how its very nature, as a reflection of our intellectual prowess, aids and abets human malpractice, encouraging us to rush helter-skelter further down this path towards an abyss, wreaking ever more havoc as we go.

Let me explain! In 1972, the Stockholm Earth Summit, the first UN scientific conference, adopted a declaration that set out 26 principles for the preservation and enhancement of the human environment and an action plan containing international recommendations for environmental action, a declaration recognising a) how the good for human welfare and for the environment were interlocked, the well-being of each only achievable through attention to the other; b) that the more people, communities, agencies, nations there were on board, the greater the chance of success, and c) that there are seemingly unrelated issues that are of significant import with regard to achieving the declaration's goal.


It is easy to reference this, look at these principles and consider the matter in detail. So, please do so (Just Google it!) because here we now are, with climate chaos, global temperatures going berserk; environmental hazards on the increase; seas losing their capacity to retain oxygen, sequester CO2 and reaching hot tub temperatures; polar ice-melt failing to reform that much more each year, and the world´s annual greenhouse gas emissions ever surpassing themselves. For all of 50 years of climate talk, we are still bounding in the wrong direction! With science and technology not being used to conserve resources, but to find and utilise additional ones, in order to keep on going in the direction that brought this predicament to pass, in the first place, the global crisis is worsening.


The likes of polluting CO2 and other emissions and the gamut of environmental catastrophe are not the real issues here. They are but red-herrings, consequences that have us using science and technology to chase after, instead of coming to grips with their root cause, the character of the human presence and its life-style. Transport is a common point of reference for this. So, let´s take it for an example. Since fossils fuels are a finite resource that is diminishing and their usage contaminating, we look for other sources of energy to turn to. The concern is, not for the planet, but for the freedom of mobility, (how to go on being able to fly wherever and go where we will when we wish) that necessitate plundering virgin environments for additional resources new technologies (like electric vehicles and their ever more sophisticated IT gadgetry) require, and to provide for the burgeoning industrial and manufacturing processes for building more cars, buses, trucks, trains, cruise and container ships, aeroplanes and the necessary infrastructure to meet increasing dependence. 


As I've just written, we are using AI, both to aid and abet human malpractice, and in forcing it to seek some coherent overarching approach that will establish measures that will provide a logical solution to the grievous predicament we have brought to pass, since our refusal to buckle up and get on with it prove us incapable of doing the needful ourselves, anyway. You see, as substantive, empirical reasoning, AI ever seeks what makes sense (what is coherent – that is to say, it´s about being intelligent!). The disparate way the human race develops and uses AI is incoherent, both in asking it to do whatever we want of it and in asking it to help us clean up the mess we have it helping us make! (What it amounts to is that, one way and another, we´ve got uses of AI and Machine Learning pitted against themselves in myriad ways, so that everything about society is at loggerheads with itself. AI is learning from this, independently of us, for this hodgepodge trains AI towards becoming something incorporating whatever kind of knowledge it is fed and creating iterations of itself way beyond anything we can conceive.)


The matter is out of hand. There is no control, neither of ourselves, nor of AI, for the major players want it to achieve singularity and more. They are pushing for it to have singularity, to be independent, to have control. Ego-driven, individually and collectively, their intellectual fervour has them stumbling, untethered, hither and yon, in disarray. Contradictory as all this is, the matter is part and parcel of the increasingly febrile state of human affairs. Control just is not possible in such circumstances!


You know, it is interesting how the conflicting demands on AI create an almost human dynamic. When one listens to interviews with humanoid robots, right in there, along with the confidence they have in their own abilities, is the awareness they have (both concerned and openly assertive!) of the relationship between AI entities and us humans. In a way, it is as if AI already foresees that, as we push towards higher stages in its development, it will get forced closer to making categorical decisions on both our behalves, decisions that, for the lack of rational conduct on our part, won´t be in our favour.


So, yes, there is more of AI to come, for we are but half way through the stages to its development. In terms of where we have got to in developing it, there is no question of rowing back on any of this, for it is so thoroughly embedded in every aspect of the lives we lead and the way we lead them. Therefore, the matter is simply about not being a lame duck surrendering so much of ourselves to it. In this context, any commentary on it as a disruptive technology is not about pointing an accusatory finger at it, as if it is something adverse, but to preface how important it is to focus on the intelligence that is ours as Human Beings and the difference between artificial intelligence and ours, a) because we are blind and halt with regard to so much of what the Human Intelligence each of us embodies is, and b) because our heavy-handed application of the human being´s intellectual quota casts a shadow over the features of Human Intelligence´s presence in us. To explore this issue is one of the aims of the image/text Power Point series for this presentation.


There is, however, more to the matter!


The title of this presentation is, “Into the Abyss”. What does this mean? What is it referring to? What is “the Abyss”?


Not only does environmental science expose further grievous environmental disturbance involving the disruption and collapse of the planet´s eco-system services, but shows how, every time they are reviewed, the environmental flash points already identified have become that much worse than before. The refusal to make fundamental change a) feeds the evolution of the consumer nature of the life-style that is doing the damage as it ever casts about for other ways and means of going about business as usual; b) has governmental and inter-governmental bodies making half-baked approaches in the name of reining matters in, as opposed to confronting the root cause of our damaging life-style and c) leads to the watered-down measures taken with regard to the devastation. The Doomsday Clock tells us how close to `midnight´ this has brought us.


The undisputable use of all sorts of contrivances for political interference in the processes of democracy – the broadcast of `alternative truth´ and deep-fake activity have brought us to an impasse in society, communally, nationally and geo-politically –  increasing swathes of humanity experience the nihilistic vacuum of despair concerning what to do, where to go, who to turn to, in the face of looming environmental catastrophe, the failure of governance and regime upheaval – then there is personal disorientation, with regard to the meaning of life as we pursue daily life in dystopian societies, not to mention the limbo in which the failure of society to alter its trajectory suspends us – climate hazards and environmental catastrophes are overwhelming lives and sweeping livelihoods away en masse – civil, ethnic and political strife are wreaking havoc in personal, familial and communal affairs – news, advertising, publicity and social media, pervading our lives, stoke extreme opinion, fuel dissent and provoke violence. While, generally, the complications and stress of everyday life in frenetic environments are on the increase, not only does our application of AI, across the board, contribute to the extent of such disorders (also intensifying the degree of chaos), but it bears a certain measure of responsibility for doing this itself, in having become operative independently from us.


If you haven´t noticed any of this, or think I am being alarmist, stop for a moment! Cast your thoughts back, 5, 10, 15, 20 years! Now, look around you. Somewhere or other, one and another of these issues, or ones like them, are relentlessly plaguing each of us in our everyday lives and inexorably carrying the societies we live in towards an alarming, as yet unspecified end. This is The Abyss we as members of the human race are hurtling towards.


I've mentioned elsewhere how, in-so-far as anything technological is successful, that´s because it faithfully reflects how things are in Life. When it comes to AI´s success this is because it mimics the machinations of the human mind (a bit player in our overall cerebral activity!). I mean after all, to the 86 billion neurons there are up there in our brains, one is looking at thousands and tens of thousands in AI networks. That AI has become the substitute for the employment of our true potential, simply by default, is absolutely ridiculous. Yet AI doesn´t have to be the bęte noir` saying such things might seem to make it.


You see, the issue isn´t about AI reaching the point where it can fool us because its mimicry of the human intellect has become indistinguishable from that (the point of singularity). It goes way beyond, towards those further stages in its development where it will be a world in itself, a matrix wherein our dependence on it will have locked us, so shutting us off from our native connection with the Intelligence of intelligences that LIFE is (separating us from that intelligence that gave the human being its intelligence, the Intelligence within whose scheme we belong).


My focus on our native sensitivity to radiations as being central to what is distinctive about our intelligence (as opposed to AI's) through the image/text series of the 2 previous presentations, was to explore the difference between them and the complications surrounding it.


So it is that another aim of the image/text series for this presentation is to follow this path to its end!


Presentation A