Are robots alive? What about the internet? Can computing technology become an organism? Can it have a soul? These are the questions that consume those working on artificial intelligence—diligently working to create life in their image. Usually, these are men, so quite possibly this is the male bid to understand motherhood. But we don’t tend to think of A.I. research like that and probably don’t want to. We want to keep all of the questions philosophical until they can be answered in a lab or foisted upon us as if we’re the lab.
Heck, on October 25th, 2017, Saudi Arabia jumped the shark and became the first country to allot citizenship to a robot, a “female” named “Sophia.” She was created by Hanson Robotics, a company formerly based in the U.S., now based in Hong Kong. Let’s take a look at what the new gods—both human and robotic—look like.
I ask you, is that the hat of a man who should be toying with evolution? And did that one robot just threaten to create a clone army to take over the world and create a singularity? And the stoner dude’s all for it?!
Yeah. I don’t get it either.
Or maybe I do….
Now that we’re all sufficiently creeped out, let’s talk about a deeper reason we’re trying to invent computer consciousness. We may think we’re asking, “Is artificial intelligence alive?” But really, we’re asking, “Are we?”
Numerous religions tell us—and some mystical and hallucinogenic experiences back this up—that we are not real. Reality is an illusion. And in recent times physicists caught up with this, realizing that all of the alleged stuff we’re composed of and interacting with, is a manifestation of one energy. A.I. is like a soothing balm for that scary notion of our unreality. What we’re telling ourselves with A.I. is that if we can create life as us—even if with greater computational power—then we will know that we’re real. We’ll know that intelligence is its own thing, separate and apart from the energy in which all illusion is manifesting.
We’re Pinocchio pretending to be Geppetto. Truly, we’re taking the long way around to saying, “I Am.”
This is a primarily male cry for substance. Women already give birth. Creating life, bringing forth consciousness into the world, is as old as life herself. Singular consciousness gives birth to women who give birth to men who give birth to machines who give birth to a singularity of consciousness. This is how the story goes, if we keep telling it.
But there are innumerable stories to tell within the original Big Mind singular consciousness. In fact, all of them. Why pick one that is a boring patriarchal cry for help masquerading as progress?
Men want to wield the power of their mothers and we all fear death. This Twitter-simple statement may actually explain the last 200 years of science, if not the last 2,000+ years of Western Man. Let us not go quietly into that dark future. Let us understand life and death, not cower in fear. Not invent our way out of fear or commit the world to a suicide pact, just so that we can get the last laugh by pretending to have controlled our fate.
Let’s ask women what life is. Let’s honor their power, not invent artificial versions of it made in our image. If what we are is a group of intelligent, repressed, terrified thieves inventing consciousness in our image, guess what 2.0 is going to look like. Guess what it will do.
The sickest and saddest part is that some of us will feel relief from being relieved of our duties of being alive.