When we think about artificial intelligence, the images that come to mind are from Terminator, Ex Machina, Eagle Eye, or maybe AlphaGo.
But I believe that is missing the point. It makes us think that AI will happen sometime in the future when it is already here.
Today AI narrates videos on YouTube. If you listen carefully, the narration still feels slightly off, but I know many people who can’t tell the difference unless you point it out.
There is the fear that AI mass deployment will displace the workforce, and if you can’t work, how will you get paid? And if you don’t get paid, who will continue to be the insatiable consumer that powers the capitalistic economy?
These are good topics for debate, but AI is already used in a subtle but powerful way.
Artificial Intelligence is used to control human perception. And when you can control someone’s perception, you have a high degree of control over their behavior.
You may think that you are immune to this. But if you use a smartphone, a search engine, or any social media, you are in the middle of it.
There is so much content generated every second that no human mind can ever process it all. So we need a filter. We need a way to sift through all this data and find the information that is relevant to us.
When you search for something, you will get the first ten most relevant results out of millions or sometimes billions of entries. But who decides what “most relevant” means?
You could argue that the end-user decides because if the results were not relevant, they would use a different search engine. But it is not that simple. The order in which results show up impacts how much you trust the result. And what happens if a business is pushed on the second or third page? It becomes invisible to you because you trust the engine, so if that business has fallen in rank with the search algorithm, then for sure, they are no longer relevant to you. Right?
Social media takes this to a whole new level. Not only do you expose yourself to “only what you like,” which reinforces your confirmation bias, but AI has the power to subtly but surely affect your feed. So you are more gradually exposed to a product or a concept in a way that you feel is natural, and therefore it was always “your idea.”
This ability to alter perception is what I mean when I say Artificial Intelligence is not human. It is a mistake to assume it has human capabilities, interests, or even goals. It does not.
Think about it.
It used to be impossible (or extremely expensive) to track a group of people, a target population, and slowly alter their perception of reality by gradually changing the information they are exposed to. Not because it was hard to do, we’ve known how propaganda works for a long time.
The difficulty is the focus and effort you would have to put into it, track everything, and do micro-adjustments on the fly. But where humans fall short, AI shines. It is trivial for a computer to keep track of large data sets, to apply a gradual change, and monitor the response.
What a human controller needs to do now, is to simply instruct the AI what the goal is and then relax. The algorithm will apply subtle but precise pressure to shape the target audience’s behavior.
And this is both good and bad.
Parents are well aware that techniques to shape behavior are useful to help their children rid themselves of harmful habits. An AI assistant would make this very easy, with constant reminders and suggested actions based on the latest data.
But what happens when the controller behind the AI does not have your best interest at heart? When, instead of being used to create empowering habits, it is used to develop addiction and further unconsciousness in people.
Is there a way out?
I believe it is. And it has to do with expanding your awareness.
Pay more attention to your thoughts and monitor your emotions. Ask if this is truly important to you or have you been conditioned to perform a particular activity? Determine what is important in your life and write it down as a guide system.
Mystic schools say that the mind is an excellent tool but a lousy master. And we are now in the era where the mind can be greatly amplified to our benefit or be used to sink us into unconsciousness.
Why are you doing what you are doing? Who is in control of your thoughts, emotions, and desires? What informs your opinions?