Sunday, March 18, 2018

Losing Our Life Narratives To A Microchip

            In my last article, I discussed how computers were being taught to cooperate and compromise with humans using morality algorithms.  Of course, as I explained, computers with artificial intelligence can’t really cooperate and compromise, because they don’t have an organic sense of self from which cooperation and compromise can radiate.

            The present article discusses an advance in computer technology that focuses on what computers do best: computing.  Now we have the creation of super microchips that are faster and more efficient in their processes than the human brain.  All the power of a human brain can be put into a small neuromorphic chip (so called because it supposedly imitates a neuron) that can, in turn, be put into a hand-held device.  In effect, all cognitive tasks, both large and small, can be put into a small microchip that can be controlled by an average person.

            These chips go beyond binary digital systems. They use binary analog processes.  In analog technology, the focus is on using a signal that is a wave and using it in a direct manner to produce a stimulus, whereas in digital technology, the wave is sampled thousands of times and then these samples are converted into numbers that are stored and then treated as data.  These data are reconverted back into another kind of wave which produces the stimulus.  So digital processes are based on defined discrete stimuli, which are the triggers and signals of most modern machine processes. Analog processes, on the other hand are primarily based on flowing blendable continual stimuli which more closely approximate the foundations of the organic processes of humans.  The super microchips that use analog processes can be said to come close in some ways to imitating human mental processes in certain areas of thought without being generated by an organic sense of self.  Notice I say come close, because, when all is said and done, these flowing blendable continual stimuli, are being used in the service of the defined discrete structures of machines that lack direction stemming from an organic sense of self.  It is humans that are directing the usage of these machines.  But just imagine if an average individual human being can have all this power on a small hand-held device using a super microchip, the ramifications are enormous. 

First of all, people won’t have to solve most problems themselves anymore.  They can refer all their concerns to the super neuromorphic microchip in their hand-held devices.  On one level, this will make life a whole lot easier.  But on the other hand, it will take away whole areas of opportunities for people to make and preserve organic imprints.  People will no longer feel friction grappling with all the different kinds of problems with which they grapple in everyday life.  As a result they will lose the narrative to their lives.  Many of the rich vibrant experiences that come from grappling directly with life’s problems will be eliminated.  And of course, without having the challenge of making and preserving organic imprints, people will be unable to prepare for death with a surrogate immortality.

Life will become easier.  But it will also become blander and ultimately more meaningless.  Maybe for many, it will become a frictionless cognitive paradise.  But on some levels, a paradise is not always a paradise.  A paradise is a beautiful picture.  It is a beautiful frozen moment in time.  But with such a frozen moment, there is no allowance for the evolution, for the development of the human individual.  Some friction, some stress is necessary to properly propel a person through a life cycle.  Without that stress, a person never develops a defined coherent organic sense of self.  And without self-definition, a person is subject to undifferentiation, to being reduced psychologically to a more impulsive instinctive animal.

A person living in a tropical paradise can develop organic coherence from all the bonding that occurs in a warm embracing natural environment.  But without the challenges that occur in a more climactically taxing environment or a more urban environment, a person is not as likely to be confronted by the problems he needs to come up with the solutions that become imprints that he makes and preserves and that lead to self-definition.

In a modern frictionless technological paradise like we are creating in different places with things like super microchips, people can develop a brittle self-definition from all the defined discrete frictionless interactions they have with the devices.  But they won’t develop self-coherence because there will be a lack of real organic grounding and a lack of organic phenomena in their living environment with which to bond.  In this case, a person is subject to being reduced to becoming a brittle non-bonding entity: a robot.  Or as technology continues to evolve, and frictionlessness leads to living in an experiential vacuum with fewer and fewer floating figures of substance, a person is threatened with vacuumization, and becoming an avatar of himself.

            In all these cases, the proper balance that leads to a rich vibrant meaningful human life is lost.  In today’s world, very few of us have the opportunity to put ourselves in a situation, where we will be subject to the dangers present spending long periods of our lives in a tropical paradise living environment.  To the extent that a person immerses himself in the mediated experience world of a super microchip, to that extent he becomes vacuumized and increasingly like an avatar, a technologically created complex behavioral entity that lacks the substance or the opportunity to make and preserve organic imprints on the field of experience in which he is spending so much time.

            The super microchip will create a lot of process and activity for the world of technological complex behavioral entities.  But it will contribute to the continued loss of human narrative.  All these so called improvements - the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, super chips - they are all pushing us into a living death, where there is little left to do except watch the action that is occurring among other entities.

© 2018 Laurence Mesirow

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