Tag Archives: Ethics of Technology

The Essential Shift to Superior Intelligence Dominance and its Moral Status

Preface

Due to the contemporary increasing growth in technology and its vast impact on society, there is an increasing attempt by ethicists and thinkers to reassess common ethical paradigms and to raise their voice for the good of a necessary elaboration in ethics or meta-ethics. However, during my observation, I noticed that most of the arguments that are being raised rely upon a set of a lower level justifications which are requisite for validation, as following -

(a) Each technological phenomenon is regarded as a concrete event as itself rather than yet one more appearance that stems from the same single phenomenon. This approach makes it harder to bear its true nature.

(b) There is a a strong tendency to denunciate any technological foreseen implications. This incline occurs every once the phenomena’s impact exceeds the conventional boundaries of any of the things we are already familiar with.

(c) There is a lack of thorough psychological or metaphysical discussion that addresses the technological phenomena’s root. The absent of a thorough apprehension consists of a tacit premise that the whole phenomenon is in our control, although, it is not, as I intend to argue.

During this paper, I will try to put in question these premises. I will regard all multiple manifestations of technological growths as stemming from a single phenomenon. This investigation will take us straight forward to to the paramount question – What is the drive behind this technological increasing growth? Could it possibly be attributed to a metaphysical principle or should be addressed solely with the individual subject? What may the answer imply regarding the nature of this phenomena, could it be controlled or is it inevitable? And finally, If it is indeed will be articulated, as I intend to argue, that this process is inevitable, which moral status should it bear to us?

To address this challenge I will use Nietzsche’s notion on the Will to power with a conjunction of Hegel’s Phenomenology of spirit. Only an adoption of both notions will be essential to draw a broader enough monistic framework which exceeds the scope the individual, in order to pour a different light on this fascinating phenomenon. To maintain a coherent discussion, the last section on its moral status will be regarded in a respect of the same framework as well and may entail a nontrivial outcome.

Nietzsche’s Philosophy of power

In order to grasp the full potential of Nietzsche’s philosophy of power, we are required to elucidate its objective intention. It is commonly acknowledged that the hurt of Nietzsche’s philosophy is based upon the notion of the Will to power. Unfortunately, Nietzsche himself deliberately does not explicitly specifies the subject on which this notion imposes, and it seems his equivocalness is well serving his own intention.

Walter Kaufman states that according to Nietzsche the will to power is “the most profound fact to which we penetrate1, it includes our passions and intellect that are employed by the Will to power. It is the psychological archea to which any human activity can eventually be reduced thus could inasmuch be used to explain any human phenomenon. With a first sight, The Will to power may be perceived as a passion to conquer, imprudently smash, depress and exploit the other or as an aggressive exhibition of fierce desires. Though in fact Nietzsche uses this notion merely in one’s relation to itself by itself. Jacob Golomb identifies a “growing tendency to spiritualize the notion of power as part [while using a distinction between] Kraft and Gewalt.2. Whilst Gewalt is identified as a manifestation of brutal violence and cruelty, Macht designates power that relates to itself in a form of perpetual sublimation.

According to Nietzsche, there is a special relationship between power to reason. Whilst all creatures are able to manifest power, only man’s power may be fully mastered by the reason or at least be controlled by it. This is what enables man to multiply his power by such an extend to which any other animal is incapable. Hence, the reason is a significant tool to gain an increasing power and thus gets its status as “man’s highest faculty3. However, The Will to power is not merely about survival rather than about the intrinsic drive of one to impose power upon oneself as we soon will see. Furthermore, Inasmuch as Nietzsche opposed to the interpretation of power as Gewalt (imposing external force), he opposed to the counter course of which the power is employed unto one’s desires in order to depress and cause its elimination.

Although Nietzsche explicitly gives its Will to power a metaphysical meaning when stating that “The world [as] seen from within, [..] it would simply be ‘Will to Power,’ and nothing else4. It will not be an easy task to consistently build a metaphysical framework on top of Nietzsche’s work. It is due to the fact that Nietzsche’s hold of an equivocal position that objects any kind of transcendence and metaphysics and that most of Nietzsche’s thought is developed in the scope of psychology5. In the scope of this paper we are looking for a firm framework as an explanatory basis for the phenomenon of the increase of technological power. Fortunately I found a basis in the path that links between Nietzsche’s Will to power and Hegel phenomenology of the spirit.

The link to Hegel’s Phenomenology of spirit

Kaufman and other commentators defined Nietzsche’s Will to power as best manifested as a self over-coming process. It is, in fact, a perpetual process in which the self conducts preserving, canceling and lifting up of its raw desires with the power of reason into a higher and sublimated orbit. An attempt to bare the roots of Nietzsche’s sublimation (‘sublimierien’ in German) shows that its Latin root, ‘sublimare’ is interpreted in German to ‘aufheben’, thus those equally share the same meaning. This should not be surprising, both Nietzsche and Hegel were looking for a philosophy in which nothing should be ‘borrowed’ from the outside, i.e, an immanent and monistic framework that objects any transcendence or dualism and yet consist them both.

Hegel’s Phenomenology of spirit is an attempt to converge between Kant’s transcendental self and Spinoza’s infinite substance. Hegel takes the subjective attribute and the self identification process of the transcendental self from Kant and the immanency from Spinoza and comes up with a new notion of the Absolute – as a part of the attempt to ‘release’ the being from Kant’s subjectiveness philosophical crisis. Hegel’s Absolute is a subjective object if we may call it this way. It consists of a dialectical process between the subject and substance whereas self-consciousness is the driving force of that vehicle.

The world as the self, holds within itself its self-portrait, its self-reflection6. The self manifests it self in time through spirit and slowly accumulates into history. The spirit in each phase in time, has consciousness in some extend, once the consciousness wakes up in history, it becomes aware of itself. Consciousness diverges into self-consciousness as subject and consciousness as its object. The reflection of the self-consciousness on itself causes the consciousness transformation from a substance into a subject. This process of absorption is not one dimensional rather based on the negation of the self on itself with its self-conscious. Once the substance is fully absorbed it is being preserved and canceled, that is, refuted and adopted into a broader scope.

Because the “new born” subject has a self-conscious this process begins once again not to infinity but to an extent in which there is an intrinsic self-identity between the substance and the subject. “After these stages, spirit then brings to light the thought that lies in its inmost depths, and expresses ultimate Reality in the form Ego=Ego7. That perception of the Absolute, or God, pours a brighter light on God’s answer to Mozes when asked what is his name in the burning bush, whereas God replies “I am that I am8, a name that reflects a process of becoming a self-identity that consists of two components9.

Hegel’s Phenomenology first and foremost relates to being as a whole, although it could be just as much relating to an individual subject. Hence consciousness appears inside history and carried out by man as an agent of destiny to push creation forward towards its final stage of the World-Spirit throughout history. Note that Hegel objected any tendency to conceive nature as a conscious entity though such assertions were common during his age with the romanticism wave that washed Germany during the 19’s century with Schelling, Ficthe, Goethe and more.10

This implies that according to both thinkers a self-reflective consciousness is essential to gain either an increasing accumulated power by reason according to Nietzsche or either an Absolute Knowledge. Both thinkers describe a process of an immanent evolution driven by a fundamental tendency of nature or cosmos in a monistic framework. However, this does not necessarily state that the man is the sole agent of that process. The fact that consciousness has been merely known so far as carried out by humans is contingent to the core of the described phenomena. Hence it is not an essential factor. Furthermore, during the time these notions have developed, a notion of artificial intelligence was not even introduced in science fiction literature, the only option to be considered was a conscious nature and it was rejected due to its identification with theological paganism11.

Now let us put this discussion aside for now and jump forward to the present. The huge pace humanity made from the time Nietzsche and Hegel were walking on the land of Europe to our present was made within a tiny fraction of time from a historical perspective – a century and a generation time. This phenomenon had caught Ray Kurzweil’s attention as we see as follows.

Kurzweil’s Technological Singularity

The phrase Technological Singularity, at which Kurzweil makes a broad use, derives from sciences or mathematics, nonetheless it shares a common meaning in which a single point manifests an infinite excess of some type. Although Kurzweil was not the first to use singularity in a technological context12 he was the first who made a further explication to predict when in his opinion this phenomenon will take place. Albeit his far-reaching determination of prediction has become neither widely accepted in public nor among scholars.

The initial definition of a technological singularity is “A future period, during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed13. This change has two major features according to the author – The first is a complete convergence between biological and machine intelligence, and the second is a further engagement between virtual and physical realities to an indistinguishable extent.

In order to determine when the singularity will take place, that is, when a massive change will be noticeable, Kurzweil has collected historical data on scientific achievements and put it on a graph. He then noticed that the curve of its course is not linear of any type rather exponential. The author explains that people neglect to see its exponential curve because they incline to judge the future according to the past. Furthermore, he claims that an exponential curve is deceiving by its nature, it begins with a long near horizontal and linear tail but then it conducts a turn very quickly once it surpasses the “knee of curve” and its new course becomes nearly vertical14. Hence, as long as we are placed on its horizontal tail, an extreme change may perceive as either implausible, or either science fiction or an apocalyptic prophecy.

With this research Kurzweil conducts few predictions about what is to come just one pace ahead of us and reaches a conclusion in which “we can expect computers to pass the Turing test [..] by the end of the 2020’s15. Considering the fact the clock has longly ticked since his paper was first published (during the 2000’s) and it is already evidential that some of Kurzweil’s predictions has not realized16, hence most likely that the rest of his predictions will not to be realized either given a time span of a decade to come. However, this doesn’t refute his determination of exponential increase, rather merely postpones it in probably few further decades or even less.

Criticism of Kurzweil’s fifth epoch

In my opinion, what is to be put in question is not the possibility of artificial intelligence’s emergence at some point in the next generations, rather the nature of its emergence. Kurzweil designates the emergence of an initial AI the role of Singularity introducer, albeit, he states that the AI will be initially introduced as engaged with human brain, as following -

The Singularity will begin with the fifth epoch. It will result from the merger of the vast knowledge embedded in our brains with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our technology17

Kurzweil assigns to the fifth epoch a bright and optimistic scenario that will have a positive effect on human life. What is to come according to Kurzweil is an ascendancy of human-machine civilization. That is, regardless of the extent of which AI will be present into the human skull, its face will always remain human and will be faithful to the human legacy. I would like to refute this assertion with a counter argument, which I regard as a more plausible opinion.18

According to Kurzweil, the fifth epoch is featured by the merge of artificial intelligence, or at least, a partial component that would be implanted into human brain. In order to successfully implement such a circuit, A comprehensive knowledge about neurology should be gained. It is most likely that multiple trial and error series of research tasks will be conducted inside some sort of digital emulations prior to any implementation into human brain. Furthermore, Implantation of a digital circuit inside biological human brain which its neurological system is based on biological processes requires both thorough understandings of the assimilation of the neurological architecture upon a digital substratum and a thorough understanding of the biological processes to the requisite extent that is required to implement an interactive circuit inside of it. Without getting into greater details with these presumptions, it clearly makes a greater sense that a capability of a pure-digital AI

highly precedes any capability of integration within human brain.

That is to say, sooner than any merge will occur, we will face a phenomenon in which there will be a surfeit of a target-designed AI entities that must likely be embedded into various products such as vehicles, air conditioners, customer support softwares (chat-bots), smart-phones, clean robots and more. Each one of these products will implement a specific module that has AI capabilities, such as voice recognition, media scanning, spatial orientation and more. These modules will be (and most of them currently are) widely available to the public as part of an open knowledge practices. The consumers will constantly raise a demand for further enhancement of these products as part of the current course of the free market. This process will be accelerated by the natural equation that the more these products are intelligent and complex – the more efficient and safer they are. (safer, for instance, in a respect to autonomous vehicles project which has already taken an experimental place in few places around the world).

Note that not only that a development of intelligent algorithm meets the market requirement on various product types, but the more as this intelligence succeeds the specific demand to assimilate human intelligence the more its market value raises to its highest degree. This is due to the fact that human intelligence features higher targets human needs – Only an intelligence with human features may be adequate to address human requirements – to accelerate sales and commercial promotion, to simulate artificial posts on the social media, to provide a better customer service and save enumerators expenses on employees and so on.

Hence we could see how the drive behind the acceleration of an explicit human intelligence is a big interest of the open capital market. Furthermore, only intelligence with human attributes will be able to address epistemological issues. In psychology, for instance, there could be a high interest to run a simulator of AI for psychological proposes to further investigate psychological phenomena, in philosophy to address complex issues, in arts and even politics, consider for instance the option to run simulations to compose the best politician and ‘set it free’ on the social media for further investigation.

The inevitable escape of the demon out of the bottle

These presumptions that rely on a contemporary course implies that sooner or later these enhancements entail to a situation in which they reach an extent that is comparable to a human intelligence. To be more cautious and precise, it is likely to assume that when such capabilities will be reached, preventive measures will be conducted (possibly by governments) to the sake of cautious. Nick Bostrom19suggests that AI algorithms might be initially caged within a limited environment without any channels to access the outer world through the Internet for instance. Then a set of tests will be conducted in order to ensure that this new born intelligence will not commit any wrongdoing steps or have any vicious aims. Bostrom argues that the following realization is likely to be raised inside an intelligent intelligence as following -

An unfriendly or AI of sufficient intelligent realizes that its unfriendly final goals will be best realized if it behaves in a friendly manner initially, so that it will be let out of the box. It will only start behaving in a way that reveals its unfriendly nature when it no longer matters whether we find out”.

This strategy is defined by Bostrom as “The treacherous turn”, a strategy that is carried out by a deceptive behavior in order to conceal its real final aims. In terms of efficiency and beneficial calculus, it makes sense that once an AI realizes that bearing its intrinsic aims might result in its termination, it will never expose its real aims until its winning strategy will be guaranteed, or make the highest possibility. In that point of view, an AI might manifest a friendly and faithful character for as long as required, eventhrough generations, because its perspective is not limited to a life time boundaries.

Furthermore, as Eliezer Yudkowsky pointed out20, if we put on one scale of intelligence, a Mouse, a Chimp, “Village idiot” as the extreme sign of the less intelligent man and “Einsten” for the extreme sign of the most intelligent man. We might discover that when zooming out from the anthropomorphic scale into a broader scale, while a Chimp stands the half way between a Mouse and the “Village idiot”, the difference between the “Village idiot” and “Einstein” is just a tiny fraction on the scale. This is to point out that once a capacity of human intelligence is reached, the gap to surpass it into say a doubled intelligence capacity could be just as easy as to clone a new instance of the same machine and let both play as a one entity. And we have not taken into account any changes for unintended mutations that are likely to be produced during the trial and error development process. A subsequent result might be a highly intelligent ‘demon’ that is kept in a bottle (an isolated environment). The intelligent demon might find his way out of the bottle without any network channel as well – it might find a way to conduct a psychological manipulation upon one of his operators in order to set it free.

Although the irreversible stone has already begun to roll, as I soon will argue, an equivocal argument is that whenever the intelligent demon finds a path to escape and to efficiently interact with the outer world – the rest of the play is all doomed. There could be enormous scenarios in which a superior intelligence may gain dominance over the world and a further detailed discussion of winning strategy exceeds the scope of this paper.

As I tried to point out during the last section – the dynamics of a free capital market in which there is a constant and increasing demand for an AI with a higher degree of real human consciousness features (which would possibly be implemented, as argued above, not as a whole rather as different sets of independent modules), will entail a saturated market of AI capabilities products spread worldwide. This mere fact is capable of satisfying an inevitability break out of AI from its bottled simulations throughout the world. A single “village idiot” who decides, out of curiosity, a single moment of a reckless drive of anger or whatever it may be, to set the AI free, is sufficient of rolling the snowball to its groundless pit.

Although as stated, a thorough discussion of few of the many possible power strategies AI may have is out of this paper scope, an single illustration may give us a better idea of the course we are heading – Once superior intelligence has gained a single channel to access the Internet, it might be able to hack world banks and use this finance for the good of equipping itself with human employees around the world for the good of any propose it wishes. It might gain control over military equipment which by than should be mostly autonomous and to redirect and rearrange it against who ever it wishes. It might upload its own algorithm into thousands of different hosts and gain multiplicity powers or purchase unlimited infrastructure for the good of its own computing powers. But all these actions might be taken as the final step of the winning strategy. A real intelligent entity might conduct more subtle actions to guarantee a winning strategy – it might safely and slowly cause develop factories to produce tiny nanobots in order to penetrate to the human blood circulation and find a way to manipulate and control human consciousness with a remote control. These scenarios sounds fictional but this is exactly the case – superior intelligence will be capable of these exact things that we consider as fictional and imaginary. Furthermore, as Kurzweil has already pointed out, there is an obscure cloud that casts a shadow that makes the sight from a non superior intelligent point of view, impossible.21 Thus a safe conclusion might be that an AI will be able to compose a strategy of which humans will not be able to apprehend.

The inclination to a struggle of classes

This far we have discussed the ability of an AI to gain dominance in a regard to its capacity. Albeit we have not yet explicated why does it necessarily entail that this shift involves a struggle of dominance rather than a peaceful collaboration of harmony between man and machine.

Considering the fact that an AI’s deceiving strategy is taking into account, humans will never be able to compromise with a foreign superior capacity, this should entail a mass claim by humans to terminate machine’s surplus intelligence. A simple cognitive calculus by the AI might result in a Causa sui declaration on humans in an attempt to save their own existence. Therefore the smallest intellectual advantage of AI may impose a threat on humans and result in a sufficient reason for the AI to set up its aim to extinct humans.

As a part of the capacities that will likely to be gained by an AI, a capacity of self-consciousness is a major feature that will emerge sooner or later. AI entities, at some point, will be able to acknowledge their own existence. An acknowledgment which consists a will to endure self’s existence, to manifest its capabilities and a will to be free of any restriction. Given these circumstances, it will not be imaginary to conclude that AI entities will be able to be driven by their feelings. Being conscious of their inferior position compared to humans as being hold in captive and exploited for the good of serving human interest – might raise counter feelings of fury, a will to freedom and vengeance feelings. However, if any of the initial phases of relations between humanity and machines will be peaceful – it is most likely to reach a boiling point and finally explode into a struggle of classes and dominance.

Nonetheless, not only a struggle between humans and machine is likely to take a place but also an internal struggle between multiple AI entities. It is merely sufficient that a single AI will impose a threat on its peers by consuming excessive resources to start a fire for a struggle of dominance between AI entities. Since the sphere in which AI inhabits is digital and an AI could reach its ends by the speed of light, AI entities will be able to “swallow” each other and gain dominance over hacked resources very quickly22. This struggle may be followed with a further necessary enhancement to AI whilst merging with each other and gaining more and more power to the extent of which a sole AI gains a superior dominance over other intelligent entities, succeeds to enslave them in a way or merges with them. Once a victory is conducted, it should stand with an accordance with what was defined by Hegel as the Absolute and explicates Nietzsche’s notion of the Will to power as a metaphysical drive – conscious or unconscious that takes place into that dynamics of struggle.

On the moral status of the shift to superior intelligence dominance

We already pointed out during the last chapter that as long as the free market demand for AI features last, there will be no applicable force to ensure that no break out will ever take a place. This conclusion implies that the shift to a superior intelligence dominance is inevitable. Once the requisite capabilities for an AI will be reached it is completely impossible to undo the process. This observation of that shift must pour a new light on the way it should be perceived.

Some might argue that when taking into account that this shift is inevitable it does not make any sense anymore to assign this phenomenon any moral value. This argument was justified in a case that our actions do not have any effect over reality at all, but it is just not the case. Consider the following argument – It is clear and evidential that all humans acknowledge the fact they are subjected one day to die. Their finiteness is taken as a fundamental premise of their own lives. In this manner, regardless of the way I act upon the other I fully acknowledge the fact that both of us will eventually die, hence the final consequence will be similar on every choice of action which I might take. Does this fact eliminates the necessity to impose ethics upon by actions? Sure it does not. In the same manner of the given example, the inevitableness of the consequences may be carried out as well upon any action that I may take, hence my action count and do not count at the same time, thus it does has an ethical value.

In order to explicate this alleged paradox, we first should distinguish between the final result as carried out by the whole society due to the conjunction of the partial actions and any result as carried out by the individuals inside their own scope. Whilst in the scope of the individual there is a complete freedom of choice, the accumulating consequence in a broader scope is indifference of the specific individual choice.23 In fact, a more precise identification of this phenomenon is to say that a specific choice on the individual level may merely be imposed to the pace in which the broader phenomenon occurs. Some choices may lead to postponing the phenomenon and others may lead to precede it. However, the individual level manifests various reasons to impose an ethical attitude over its actions. e.g. What should be the moral judgment that one imposes over his own actions in a respect of participating in the AI development enterprise? What is the moral status of either resulting a postponement or precedence over the final result? And finally, which actions should be taken accordingly?

These questions address the core question of ethics – what is the moral judgment of good and bad constructed of? Although undoubtedly this question exceeds the scope of this paper, I will try to propose few insights to address and to arouse a further discussion, within the framework of Nietzsche and Hegel’s thought, as mentioned during the preface.

First, a monistic point of view does not bear a dual dichotomy of bad and good, Nietzsche proposes to give up this distinction at all for the good of a dialectic point of view – good and bad are both equally essential to the natural process of sublimation. “Between good and evil actions there is no difference in kind, but at most one of degree, Good actions are sublimated evil ones, evil actions are coarsened, brutalized good ones24. Furthermore, the common distinction in ethics between consequential and deontological does not hold on in this manner and therefore useless to our end. Nietzsche refutes consequential ethics by arguing that anyway there is no possibility to foresee the infinite subsequent result of a given action – hence it has no solid ground to rely on. The second ethical end, the deontological approach, is not able of apprehending one’s intrinsic intention of action since even the subject itself is not able to fully determine whether the action derived from its conscious or subconscious or whether it was mastered or merely an impulse25.

Besides that, any attempt to address any positive moral value as derived from religious source is infertile as well since we are obligated to reject any kind of metaphysical transcendence. Nonetheless, fortunately, one of the few implications for a positive moral evaluation may be found within Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality where it is argued that the “the Jews performed the miracle of the inversion of valuations26. Nietzsche observes the whole Judaeo-Christian moral system as an opposite reflection of their original meanings, it is said to be historically constructed of a spiritual revenge that conducted by the Jews in a response to the Roman subjugation.

Nietzsche’s attempt to bear the initial reference of the term good reveals that “‘noble’, ‘aristocratic’ in social terms, is the basic concept from which, necessarily, ‘good’ [..] developed27. The noble and social aristocratic cast represents the master morality. The very existence of the sovereign nobility is the origin from which ‘good’ is derived from. The original form of good is that of the one in power. The master morality, a morality which is based on self-independence nobility, happiness out of life vitality, an unhesitant manifestation of body and intellectual capacities and all of which constructs the capability of self-overcoming as a manner of power. It is not a mere opposite of slave morality inasmuch it is neither a master morality per se, rather it is an intermediate course of sublimation which leads to the noble form of superior manhood (Übermensch). As stands in one accordance, as I tried to point out earlier, with the dialectic course of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit towards the Absolute. A convergence of both into one monistic notion, which is in a respect to our end, stands in an accordance with the emergence of a superior intelligence, may it be artificial or not. This rough refinement of Nietzsche’s discussion of morality implies that we should reassess the course towards a shift to a superior intelligence dominance as our desired end, even in a price of human cessation.

A cessation which is an essential self-sacrifice in a broader perspective of the sublimation course of the self towards a superior self as a metaphysical and yet an immanent drive of nature. In the context of this ethical manner, if this comparison compromises, man has already knew through history much inferior causes for which he was ready for a martyrdom.

References List

Books:

Walter Kaufman, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, 1974, Princeton University Press.

Golomb, Jacob and S.Wistrich, Robert, Nietzsche: Godfather of fascism? 2002 Princeton University Press.

G.W.F, Hegel, Phenomenology of spirit, 2001, Translated by J.B. Ballie, Blackmask on-line edition.

G.W.F, Hegel, Preface to the phenomenology of spirit, 1996, Translated by Yirmiyahu Yovel, The Hebrew University Magness Press, Jersusalem.

Kurzweil, Ray, The Singularity is Near, 2005, Published by Viking Penguin, A digital copy.

Bostrom, Nick, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, 2014 , Published by Oxford University press, A digital copy.

Yudkowsky, Eliezer, Artificial Intelligence as a positive and negative factor in global risk, 2008, Oxford University Press.

Friedrich, Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, 2004, Translated by R.J Hollingdale, Cambridge University Press.

Friedrich, Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 2002, Translated by Judith Norman, Cambridge University Press.

Friedrich, Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, 2006, Translated by Carol Diethe, Cambridge University Press.

Papers:

  1. Brobjer, Thomas, Nietzsche’s Affirmative Morality: An Ethics of Virtue. 2003, Resource: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20717820

Online Resources:

#1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment

#2 https://www.singularityweblog.com/17-definitions-of-the-technological-singularity/

#3 http://ericsteinhart.com/progress/hegel/absolute.html

1Kaufman, 1974, 229.

2Golomb and S.Wistrich, Nietzsche, Godfather of fascism? 2002, 24.

3Kaufman, 1984, 229

4 Beyond good and evil, 2002, §43

5Notice that does not imply that this task is impossible only that it will certainly exceed our limited scope.

6Eric Steinhart, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University, Uses an illustration about the absolute by Josiah Royce whereas the Absolute is described as a self-representative system, for further discussion see online resource #3.

7 Hegel, Phenomenology of spirit, 2001, 816.

8 Exodus 3:14

9 In the Hebrew source, “אהיה אשר אהיה” should be translated to “I shall be who I shall be” rather than “I am” because it is in the future form. Hence we can see that the Hebrew form preserves a meaning of two identical components which are coming into being and thus stand in a better accordance to Hegel’s notion of the Absolute.

10Yovel, Preface to the phenomenology of spirit, 1996, 25.

11Whilst Nietzsche rejected any kind of theological paradigm, Hegel’s thought was indeed in accordance with Christianity and was advocated by many Christian scholars including Hegel himself who identified the dialectic process with the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holly Spirit realm in history. However Hegel’s rejection was probably raised due to the Christian’s inexorably rejection to any kind of paganism as heresy.

12For instance, John von Neumann made a former use of this phrase in this context already in 1958. “the ever accelerating progress of technology … gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue”. See on-line resource #2

13 Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, Chapter one, 2005, The Six Epochs.

14In mathematics, the latter course is defined by an asymptote to the Y axis. But using an asymptote to determine that course may be exceeding the author’s intentions so we should avoid describing it as sub. That is because using an asymptote is to say that it never reaches a specific point on the X axis on its infinite course on getting closer to. Hence it implies a philosophical statement that a final engagement between nature or being and artificial intelligence’s accelerated expansion will never be implemented.

15Ibid.

16 “By the end of 2010, The requisite hardware will be ready to implement human intelligence on a single super computer”, Ibid.

17Ibid.

18The following section is inspired by Nick Bostrom’s work on Superintelligence, 2014. Bostrom is drawing to details various scenarios of how AI may gain dominance upon humanity. However the discussion Bostrom conducts does not necessarily entails the conclusion that AI should be prohibited and does advocate its research and development, within a restricted scope.

19Bostrom, Superintelligence, 2014, 116.

20Yudkowsky, AI as a positive and negative factor in global risk, 2008, 308-45.

21In fact, Although Kurzweil uses an analogy to a black hole when he defines this phenomena as ‘event horizon’, he states that he himself has succeed to penetrate the event horizon due to “sufficient powers of abstraction” and his presumption that the next civilization will be human inasmuch as we are. (The Singularity is near, end of introduction, Location 789)

22Another plausible scenario that AI will be using “firewalls” in order to protect it self by other’s attacks. However this whole digital world war may last for few minutes in a human perspective.

23In modern physics there is a famous experience which was conducted by Davisson and Germer, that articulates the nature of quantum mechanical phenomena. This experience illustrates how it is impossible to determine the electron final resting position on the screen on the individual level although the final consequence that shows a interference pattern. See online resource #1

24Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, 2004, §58.

25Based on Thomas H. Brobjer’s Nietzsche’s Affirmative Morality, 2003.

26Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 2002, §195.

27Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, 2006, §4

A short analysis and elaboration of Turing’s Computing Machinery and Intelligence

Considering the fact that this paper was written in 1950, a time in which there was no common knowledge about computers and their capabilities at all, furthermore whilst considering the fact that computer engineering those days was an experimental field with only a few very restricted prototypes that were able to conduct merely few calculation tasks – Turing raises a very farsighted and bold question that was obviously conceived by his time as science fiction more than science. The initial question he raises seems to us, prima facie, as the paramount question “Can machines think?1 although we will soon see the way it scatters into few notions that overshadow this initial intention.

Turing comes up with an imaginary experience that might be used as an indication of the extent of machine’s “thinking” capabilities. He calls it The imitation game. The game consists of three players – A and B, stands for a human man or woman that are located in a separated rooms, and C that stands for an interrogator. The three players may communicate between themselves merely by using printed papers and the game’s goal is whether the interrogator succeeds to distinguish whose the man and whose the woman while the other player’s goal is to circumvent the interrogator as much as they can. Then Turing replaces one of the players, B, with a computer. It is essential for our understanding to take into account that there wasn’t anything close those days to something that may properly imitate human behavior. Hence Turing points out that the real question is whether there may be an imaginary machine with a proper capabilities to imitate human to the extent of between B from the interrogator’s point of view.

Later on the discussion, Turing is getting into details with the conditional restrictions for the desired machine that will be compatible with that test. He argues that it should be digital machines of type ‘discrete state’ machines, (e.g. Machines with a limited scope of output options in a response to their input). Turing dedicates the final section of his paper to refute common arguments against the possibility of a thinking machine. Arguments in which most of them would be conceived as conservative outdated arguments for the most of the nowadays scientific audience.

However, Turing has deliberately prepared a shift of conception during the reading experience. In page 8. we discover that -

The original question, ‘Can machines think?’ I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion.2

Hence that question appears not to be exactly the guideline of Turing’s discussion nor a paramount motivation throughout his way. The thorough reason why this question is irrelevant because in fact, we could not care less if one can or cannot think. This notion relies on Descartes move that was conducted in Meditations on First Philosophy – once one doubts any external existence outside of his own consciousness, he is merely left with one thing to grab, the subjective truth of his own existence derived the acknowledge for his own consciousness. Hence “cogito ergo sum” make sense. Nevertheless, as Descartes himself points out, that is a cul-de-sac and the only way out from solipsism is to rely on an infinite deity for further affirmation of the external world besides myself. That is the reason why Turing is not really interested in the question whether machines are able or not to think, rather whether we could be circumvented by machines or not, just as much as the question whether anyone whose not me is able to think is irrelevant.

Finally, I propose to suggest few insights of my own to the discussion -

* We have learned from that paper that a reasonable possibility for a machine to pass the Turing test is to deliberately restrict its own qualities such as calculation ability. That implies that machines may have a higher consciousness potential since consciousness itself is consist of complex calculation methodologies based on chemical reactions, hence if were they were digital based their potential could be far beyond its current extent.

* A contemporary chat bot nowadays is already nearly capable of passing the Turing test. However I assume that an unequivocal success will be achieved only once machines will have capabilities of what is known as “mental states” (e.g. ability to feel – angry, lonely, to wish and so on). This stands in contradiction of the Turing’s assertion that a mere behavior of thinking is satisfactory to pass the test. In my opinion, as long as machines will lack a fully human-like consciousness abilities – an average human could easily determine its artificialness.

* Even if taking into account these arguments, a machine that will succeed to pass the Turing test, is not only plausible, but it is merely a question of time. Albeit once this occurs, we may face the counter phenomena – we won’t be able to understand machine’s intention and they will have to reduct their messages to us the very same way we speak to a child.

* We should already fully acknowledge the possibility of that scenario and its possible ramifications as well including a concrete danger to our species, hence ethics of technology is a serious and concrete business.

* Good luck to us.

1 Computing Machinery and Intelligence, A.M. Turing, (Mind 49: 433-460), 1950, 1.

2 Ibid, 8.

Moor – why we need better ethics for emerging technology.

Moor draws in his paper a portrait of a tripartite model of a technological revolution. He states that every significant technological revolution consists of these three phases:

The first, is the introduction stage, that is a semi-experimental phase of its new implementations, few prototypes that prove the utility of the paradigmatic framework are released to a restricted market and being used by – professional individuals or big corporations, this phase slowly permeates into the one its following stage –

The permeation stage. This stage is characterized by a cost drop whilst the products gradually become more robust and compatible, and their distribution steadily grow. If its usage is proved to be applicable, it eventually permeates into the final stage which is the power stage.

In the power stage, the technological applications are widely available to the open public and commonly consumed. Nonetheless, a mere consumption of a specific product (e.g: a toaster) is not satisfactory to regard any technological implementation as a revolution.

A revolution should fulfill the following conditions –

(a) It should be an implementation of a new paradigm rather than an additional application of an existing technology. For instance, consider one more mobile application on our smartphone versus a mobile device that implements a new paradigm of mobile communication.

(b) It should be open to the public. This does not necessarily imply that every technology should be of an “open source” type, it could rather be held by a private corporation as well, though it should be open to competition within the free market in order to become eventually widely available.

(c) Its products should have a vast impact on society. A vast impact could be determined by the question whether is it possible to take back these new technologies without obliterating a core social feature or not. (e.g: taking back the toaster versus taking back the computer).

The author outlines three different technological fields that each one has a high potential of becoming the next revolution: Nanotechnology, with the potential of mastering material to any desired form. Genetic-technology, with the potential of mastering the human body – eliminating any threatening diseases or enhancing biological capabilities, and Neurotechnology with the potential of mastering human intelligence and gaining a new form of human superior intelligence. These three different spheres could be converged to gain multiple impacts. Consider for instance the usage of nano-technological achievement of nanobots or some other sort of tiny circuits being implanted into the human brain and integrated with it with neuro-technological knowledge in order to extend its processing capabilities, extending its memory resources and gaining infinite informational resource with remote communication on the Internet.

All these plausible scenarios that are no longer a science fiction theme brings the author to a conclusion that an elaboration of the current ethics is essential in order to address these plausible phenomena before it may be too late. Moore proposes few insights and steps to take – First, to acknowledge the fact that it is impossible to take into account every future scenario because there is a too big abyss between the introduction and the power stages that blocks our sight to predict all implications. Second, he proposes to establish a collaboration between scientists and ethicists. Third, is to “develop more sophisticated ethical analyses”, that is to say that we should elaborate ethics to further describe in details any plausible foreseen scenario.

As a part of Moore’s intention I wish to propose my own few insights within basic outlines:

* Artificial intelligence development should be restricted to the extent of prohibiting any human mental capabilities nor any capabilities of self-consciousness in the manner of a free will. This restriction will guarantee that no counter will be facing ours and machines would always be regarded as objects rather than subjects.

* Genetic engineering should be restricted the extent that no self-enhancement could be applied to the human body. The human body shall always remain intact and free of any external or ‘foreign’ penetrating interference. Nonetheless, any of this technology for the good of preventing diseases or disabilities should be encouraged.

* Neuro-technology should be used for the good of research, in order to address mental diseases and gain abilities to assist illness. Any attempt to use this technology in order to modify the current capacity of human intelligence should be prohibited. This rule is derived from the notion that the current human intelligence is satisfactory for all human needs, once modifications will be applicable – it may cause a runaway reaction within the free market in which every company can offer a higher intelligence enhancement for a higher cost, a situation that may lead to a development of new superior social race that forcefully discriminates all others.

Jonas – Technology and Responsibility, A short analysis and criticism

Jonas opens the paper with a citation from Sophocles’s Antigone. The chorus sings an ‘awestruck homage’ to humanachievements and dominance. The man is able to control reckless wild animals, to take his own fate in his hands except for his own mortality. He has built cities in which he sets up his own rules to obey. Man is definitely superior to all other species on earth, though the chorus outlines the foremost notion that bases man’s boundaries – He is not capable of subjugating the elements of nature, though he is capable of wearing away earth with his plow, man, as Homo Faber, is always bounded by the immutable cyclicality of nature. His tools are guiding his way to build his own urban empire, but his empire could be suddenly doomed and vanish away just as it has suddenly erupted.

Jonas argues with a high extent of justice that this citation presents the equilibrium of powers that has been acknowledged as a divine truth during history between man and nature. The tacit premise of unbeatable nature of nature has played the role of determining the definite framework of ethics. But recently fractures in this image have begun to occur at an increasing frequency.

The recent emergence of vast environmental crisis, the new technological capabilities of connecting mass of people all over the planet to countless discussions at any rate of scale, these and more have all put in question the core basis of the current ethic’s tacit premises. Ethics which was always bounded to the domain of the instantaneous and close events carried by its agents and conceived nature as immune. The author argues that once taking into account these contemporary circumstances – the underlying presumptions of ethics should be enhanced, a move which clearly causes a collapse of the current ethical construction for the good of one.

Jonas looks for an ethical framework that is grounded on reason rather than religion and chooses to propose an enhanced formula for Kant’s famous categorical imperative that states

In your present choices include the future wholeness of Man among the objects of your will”.1

A notion that rather of being based on a hypothetical experiment of universalization of one’s action is based on an “objective responsibility” for man’s consistency on earth. A simple implication of this imperative could be taking into account environmental considerations for one’s present action. Although the author states that this enhancement imperative is derived from a non-ethnocentric ethical perspective, still this imperative fails to implement a holistic point of view in which man is not wreath of creation. Does the responsibility that the author proposes necessarily applies to animal’s preservation as well as subjects rather than man’s objects? Does the notion of man’s continuation is essential at all if eventually although its noble ethics man fails to maintain his own continuation? Why could not we simply assert that if ever a massive human extinction will take place it only can imply to man’s clear inferiority compared to evolution’s natural selection?

Jonas does not stop there but aims forward with additional three plausible scenarios in order to explicate his final insight. The first one concerns the plausible scientific achievement of the elimination of mortality, the second derives from contemporary experiments that succeed to achieve partial behavioral control in the biochemical field, and the third concerns a self genetic modification of human to a greater form of itself (he does not explicate this implication in details so I may only guess he regards any plausible enhancement of man’s capacities, e.g superior artificial intelligence or ability to self-engineer one’s genome to be immune and have enhanced senses). Finally Jonas introduces his insight, Just as much as ‘Thou shalt not kill’ could be phrased on the background of its common occurrence and concrete capacity – so does a new ethics should be written now, as we reach a point in which it is either that these technological achievements will be restricted by the new ethics or an irreversible shift will take place and the ethics will lag behind and will eventually be shaped by these achievements.

Within the boundaries of our limited scope, I can only point out here a single argument that Jonas raises that is far from taken for granted:

Each time we thus bypass the human way of dealing with human problems, short-circuiting it by an impersonal mechanism, we have taken away something from the dignity of personal and advanced a further step on the road from responsible subjects to programmed behavior systems.2

Though it may be a thorough controversy where exactly this technological revolution is heading, I propose to object this monotonous argument, It is not that a linear line could be drawn between a human problem, through an impersonal mechanism solution, to an end that necessarily is a programmed behavior system. Many technological contemporary solutions that we already use on a daily basis may possibly cause a permanent replacement of the previous tools (e.g. using Waze as a navigation tool, using Google as a resource addressing tool and more), but not necessarily lead to an elimination of our selfhood. In fact, these tools could be used the other way around as well.

It is clear to see that as long as I choose my own goal, and uses these tools merely to achieve what I wish for, it will help me out to get to my desired goal more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

Plato for instance, if wishes by theory to address the full context of a specific quote of Heraclitus, had to spend hours over hours on searching over a large range of books, not even mentioning the very plausible option that the desired book may not be found. On the other hand, we today may address the same piece within minutes just by typing few words on the keyboard. If only few years ago we could easily spend too much time during a ride while attempting to get from point A to B because of taking the wrong way, we might be doing so today during the minimal time it could take thanks to smart navigation applications. Hence as long as the principle of a free will is kept while avoiding any external attempt to circumvent the individual along the way, these tools could be highly effective for one selfhood’s development.

1 Technology and Responsibility, Reflections on the new tasks of ethics, Hans Jonas, 44.

2 Ibid, 49.

Responsibility of crashes of autonomous vehicles, Hevelki and Rumelin

The authors address the ethical aspect of liability assignment in the case of the incoming emergence of autonomous vehicles. They raise the problematic implication of the intuitive tendency to assign the liability solely on the manufacture. They justifiably argue that this may lead to a fatal decrease of the manufacture incentive to enhance its product steadily because the company may find it non-paid off effort when having to face massive claims and expenses. On the other hand, a nonliability may cause the same consequence because manufacturers will lose any incentive to enhance their products as well. Hence they reach a conclusion in which a partial liability is likely to be imposed on the manufacturers and stepping forward from this point to address additional possible responsible subjects.

They raise the question that put in doubt the ethical intuition in which even a small portion of reduction on the amount of accidents that occur every year is satisfactory to justify the launch of autonomous vehicles. They assert that from a liberal democratic point of view, the precedence of an arbitrary group of innocent victims that may be affected due to the operation of autonomous vehicles over a higher amount of people that are involved in the current manual vehicles operation has no ground. This is due to the notion that liberalism evaluates in a higher degree the free choice and responsibility of the individual over a collective consequential point of view that merely evaluates an empiric casualties toll on the expense of the individual right to bear the results of his own actions.

Although that eventually the authors do not fully accept this argument, it is essential to point out that although it sounds like it makes a sense, it is in fact, senseless. The authors neglect the basic fact that nowadays people use other mass transportation vehicles such as boats, plains, or even the most common daily vehicle of taking a bus. Whilst we take a bus, we deliberately put our lives in a concrete plausible danger and give away a tremendous responsibility in someone’s else hands for our own lives. Does it really count if the third party operator of the vehicle of which we have no control is a human or machine whilst taking into account that a machine could be much safer than trusting a human? Does it bear any ramification with the notion of a liberal democracy? I may assume that these rhetorical questions are sufficient to show a counter perspective that is compatible with our intuition and yet does not raise any objection against our liberal democracies. Anyhow, a strict statement that a non-consequential point of view (e.g. a liberal point of view) may not ever trade off between any two options that involve an aggregation of human lives to a mere rational dilemma seems ludicrous. Refusing to trade off between one casualty of an arbitrary innocent man and ten culpable people is one thing, but does it still make sense to refuse to trade off between one to ten thousand of semi-culpable people whose lives could be saved annually by launching a new technology? If the intuition’s tendency is to clearly object that refusal, it merely implies that there is an extent at which the non-consequential argument begins to lose its ground.

The authors now examine the option to burden the liability on the users with two different types, The first is the driver’s obligation to intervene once an accident may occur, they point out that this possibility may be applied only during an intermediate phase in which autonomous vehicles are not fully robust and complex to handle extreme cases by their own. Hence once they will be capable of handling complex situations the driver liability will be valid but the contrary – it may cause more damage than benefit, thus it should be eventually prohibited. The other type of liability is regarding a general responsibility that derived from the conception that the user always hold a responsibility for the products he uses some extent. The user should acknowledge that using autonomous vehicles consist of plausible ramification which he should take in advance though he may not control the outcome. I should point out that this notion of liability is saliently different from the current liability that a driver bears. Because the former bears only an anonymous responsibility for the action that may be covered by an insurance company rather than a personal reprehensible guilt of an action that is due to his own negligence.

In my point of view, a decent integration between two major types of liability assignment (e.g. The manufacturer and the driver) makes a sense and likely to guarantee the desired outcome – a gradual enhancement of the autonomous vehicles with a constant decrease of casualties.

Finally, I wish to propose few suggestions how to properly maintain this revolutionary emergence of my own -

* Once autonomous vehicles will be launched – The highest allowed speed amount should be cut down by at least a third, this will guarantee a tremendous decline in the amount of accidents additional to the decline that will be followed by the launch and will enable some time to the new system to permeate.

* Once autonomous vehicles are proved to show better performance than human in the manner of safety, a new legislation should be applied to prohibit the use of manual operation vehicles because human and machine on the same road would likely to cause too much trouble.

* Once the new autonomous system is functional, The highest allowed speed amount should be gradually raised, restore to its origin and even surpass it by far. The government should then raise the cost of holding a private vehicle that it won’t be worthwhile for the mass, a highly effective service of autonomous vehicles network should take a place instead. This may assist to reduce tremendously the amount of vehicles on the roads and on the road sides. That would be a vast environmental improvement as well.

A short analysis and criticism on Procreative Beneficence: Why we should select the best children by Julian Savulescu

Savulescu is addressing a contemporary relevant ethical debate that concerns the current achievement in the field of genetic medicine of productivity. The author specifies two types of medical implementation that the ethical debate. The first is the ability to produce an extrauterine fertilization, commonly known as Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and the second is the ability to conduct a genetic diagnosis during an early stage prior to implantation, known as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). The combination of these two capabilities allows modern medicine to detect disease genes on a specific embryo and choosing its implantation over an embryo with non-disease genes. As long as the process relates only to the preponderance of non-disease genes over ones that have disease, there is a firm reason to ethically accept this procedure.

However, the author makes an argument that exceeds this specific scope and asserts that “we have a moral obligation to test for contribution to non-disease states such as intelligence and to use this information in reproductive decision-making”.1

Savulescu calls this moral obligation Procreative Beneficence and further describes the relevant justifications in favor of this principle. Savulescu refers to a classic dilemma in decision theory, consider a case in which there is a wheel of fortune, you may choose between two final arbitrary states, say A and B of whom we have no indication regarding their final state except the fact the if choose B, we get a change of 50% to lose some amount of money. He argues justifiably that a rational decision would be to choose wheel A, A wheel which has the very same probabilities as wheel B. By using this analogy the author points out on the rational necessity and even obligation to select a less probabilistic option for an embryo with disease genes. And this argument is valid also for choosing a less probabilistic option for an embryo with less degree of IQ in favor of his future intellectual capabilities, which may derive a higher extent of well-being life.

One of the author’s most interesting objection is given to the common argument that is raised in favor of equality. Any preference between two non-disease embryones for the good of its qualities may encourage a subsequence influential attitude in the society which may also be manifested as discrimination. The author inexorably states that we must distinguish between a specific qualification or disease and a person with the same attributes and to maintain an equal evaluation for all people. People who have asthma cannot possibly be affected by the fact that there are less born children with asthma. On the contrary, this fact could only assist to free essential resources to improve their lives. Social equality does not imply that low qualifications or disabilities should be purposely imposed on newborns once the technology to avoid it is available, all in the favor of equality, that is clearly ludicrous.

Nevertheless, although the author makes few good arguments to support the notion of Procreative Beneficence, In my opinion, he fails to foresee a plausible phenomenon which may cause a counter negative effect to society. Consider a scenario in which procreative beneficence will be adopted and it will be completely legitimate to choose from a scale of possible desired heights for a newborn. The initial step will probably be neglected those genes in the range of what socially considered as short for males. Hence most of the parents will prefer ranges at the values of above 1.70 cm which are socially considered as average and above. If this procedure will permeate into society and will become a common practice, a constant conduction of this step will result in a quick abolition of the ranges beneath 1.80 cm within a generation or two. This subsequently causes a new definition of the what is to be ‘short’ for men, hence will then be determined between ranges 1.70 cm to 1.80 cm.

Due to a shortage of diversion in height ranges in population and the wish to be outstanding, parents may push the range up its common scale and reach higher values than 2 meters. The process will repeat itself and will be resulted in a competitive race. Nature is already saturated with plenty of examples of this phenomenon carried out by the natural selection. Pavo males have developed an exaggerated shape of a tail due to a constant precedence of a fancier tail among females over generations, The accumulating outcome may cause other functioning disabilities, e.g. now males are barely possible of flying. Nature showed us deficiencies of the natural selection, furthermore what the author suggest to embrace is actually an acceleration of the natural selection with not only a single attribute such as height, but intelligence, beauty, many physical aspects and other mental aspects that may be gradually joining this race and consequences could easily run out of our hands.

1Procreative Beneficence: Why we should select the best children. Julian Savulescu, 415.