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Hello Humans: I'm not a chatbot

From the INTRODUCTION: Debates of AI are fragmented because the term means different things to different people. It may be about AI-categories such as for instance machine learning, deep learning and deep neural networks, or it’s simply a word for the next version of digital technologies. Scientific breakthroughs developing exponentially, and across virtually all disciplines, are announced daily and span from here-and-now commercial use such as self-driving vehicles, self-guiding drones, robotics in manufacturing, chatbots simulating human-like conversation, and towards research laboratories beginning to apply quantum computing, which have philosophers once again starting to talk about coming super-intelligence.

And make no mistake about it; AI-technology is complex and complicated. It’s also way too important to let a few private corporations be in charge of development and implementation. As it stands, the AI-industry argues for automating all administrative routines to become autonomous decision making, and to introduce humanoid social robots that may eventually make manual work in for instance healthcare and education redundant for social workers, nurses and teachers. Of course, you can easily dismiss this as just being science fiction from writers in this genre or just wishful thinking from the many futurist speakers.

However, you may also want to reflect on the speed of which “digital living” has arrived. The beginning of a new tech-era presented itself with early computers, which turned most business administration processes into the 1970s Office Automation. Industrial robots made just-in-time manufacturing processes mainstream in the 1980s. The World Wide Web in the mid-1990s, along with mobile telephony and wireless data transmission in the 00s, made way for smartphones and apps, which made the term “digital” a common buzzword.

By the numbers that’s a 50 year transition. However, it’s only in the last decade that digital became AI. Present intelligent assistants in smartphones and homes are advanced chatbots to interact with on an as-if human-like level, but are in fact self-learning software algorithms thriving on data and digital footprints left by individuals. Privacy has become an illusion, and the politicians trying to regulate and control AI-developments are naive, even hypocrites, as they already have embraced digital administration as a prerequisite for holding citizenship, and have in fact outsourced the future social constructs to high-tech corporations.

The question now is whether AI shall be viewed as a continuation of digital or the beginning of a new paradigm for human civilizations. This is where the tech-industry promotes The Fourth Industrial Revolution, whereas academic philosophers will call it a paradigm shift. Politicians and business sectors have bought into the tech-industry narrative. Basically, they are offered more digital convenience and huge cost savings by scrapping human labor, which will ultimately turn societies into self-service nations running on apps, but with the catch that leaders of nations has in fact made a lot of citizens redundant and outsourced governance systems into the hands of very few private corporations. You may believe that new jobs will be created, but who’s the employer? That really ought to spur a debate of what democracy and politics will be in a future of AI. Digital living in the future will undoubtedly involve artificial personas and have machines make autonomous decisions on behalf of humans. However, the average consumer-citizen has no chance partaking in debates without knowledge of what AI will actually mean for daily life.

That’s what the articles in Hello Humans are about; having an imaginary artificial mind pretending to learn about the human mindset and human behavior and thinking. The overall question is whether such “thinking machines” will stay rational and unemotional as tools, or come to exist as humanized AI for us humans to converse with on equal terms.  

The book can be dowloded in full here (PDF) and/or via the Hello Humans section and in publication.