With this AI, what does it mean to be human?

The development of AI is both relentless and astonishing.
I recently experimented with using chatgpt on increasingly complex tasks.
Had an article on this blog that required finishing and little inspiration so asked my electronic friend to give it a go.
The level of quality of the outcome left me baffled.
If this is the level of quality AI can achieve is still meaningful to have a blog altogether?
I thus raised the bar.

How good is AI?

If it is so good – I figured – it also also pretty good at identifying possibile subjects for a new posts.
This blog is not vertical on any specific topic but much like its author likes to wander into multiple domains: technology, business, economics, politics, physics and any combination of the above.
Once phrased the question precisely, chatgpt came out with a long list of very promising articles, that would have very much fitted my blog’s intended style.
Did not dig further, but was pretty sure that on any of these articles it would have proved pretty hard to beat AI in terms of insights, cross-references and overall appeal of the result.

Humans vs Machines

The discomforting finding was that AI is already at human-level quality in content creation.
AI, beating my expectation, is also pretty at ease with moving up and down the hierarchy of thought.
It can toggle from staying within pre-defined boundaries, as in the task of creating content relevant to a given topic, to the level just above – that is identifying key topics for content creation – onto the next level – sorting out a good strategy to create a tech-business blog. Then back down to identifying which technology it’s best suited to create it, or devising a launch strategy for the blog, or how to support it with advertising on its intended target.
What is the point of having a blog in first place, if AI can do better all of these tasks?
What is truly individual and exceptional for me as a human in content creation?
If machines can perform all these tasks better than us – reminding that we are only at the onset of AI capabilities – what is left for humans and what does it mean at present times to be humans?

Asking machines what it means to be human

Of course to be consistent I tried my hand at this question using the machine itself and none of the arguments in our favour the machine came out with appeared to be solid.

Chatgpt answer:

  1. Emotions and Empathy: Humans experience a wide range of emotions, from joy and love to sadness and empathy. While AI can simulate certain emotional responses, it lacks genuine emotions and empathy.
  2. Creativity: Human creativity involves the ability to think outside the box, generate novel ideas, and engage in artistic expression. AI can assist in creative processes but often relies on patterns and data, lacking true creativity.
  3. Ethics and Morality: Humans have a complex moral framework shaped by culture, society, and personal experiences. AI, on the other hand, follows rules and algorithms without intrinsic moral understanding.
  4. Consciousness: Human consciousness involves self-awareness and the ability to reflect on one’s own existence. AI, even at advanced levels, does not possess consciousness or self-awareness.
  5. Physical embodiment: Being human involves having a physical body, senses, and the ability to interact with the physical world. AI, at least in its traditional forms, is disembodied and lacks sensory experiences.
  6. Social Relationships: Humans are inherently social creatures who form deep and meaningful relationships with others. AI can simulate conversation and interaction but lacks genuine social connections.
  7. Learning and Adaptation: While AI can learn from data and adapt within predefined parameters, it lacks the broad-based, flexible learning capabilities of humans.
  8. Subjectivity and Individuality: Every human has a unique perspective and subjective experience. AI processes data objectively and lacks individual subjectivity.
  9. Biological Needs: Humans have physical and biological needs, such as food, water, and sleep. AI does not have such requirements.
  10. Spirituality and Transcendence: Many humans seek spiritual or transcendent experiences that go beyond the material world. AI does not possess this capacity.

Counter arguing machines on the significance of being human

Lets map, group these arguments and counter argue:

  • Subjective experience: (emotions, consciousness, subjectivity): just a matter of time. Machines will mimic always better human behaviour and what we define as consciousness will in time be indistinguishable from what they will be able to offer. Just as they easily passed Touring test, they will pass psychological personality traits tests, with an ability to reflect on self and be introspective, with the extra ability to enact different personalities at will.
  • Physicality (Physical embodiment and biological needs): more a flaw than and asset for us humans. Senses and interaction are granted to machines. Our biological needs are just a tax to keep the our systems working.
  • Creativity: creativity and relational intelligence are what I always expected to be the intelligence areas of last resort for us humans. I must admit I have second thoughts about this now. A lot of what machines now are able to produce is not just plagiarism of human abilities but can be defined as altogether original and strikingly so. One example is image creation, where you can pretty much ask anything from the machine, and it will return images that are beautiful and hard to distinguish from our own artistic abilities. Another example is games strategy: expert players of different games have reported when faced against machines of the non-human nature of certain winning strategies adopted by the machine.
surfer riding a storm in a glass with a shark .. or a caption similar to that

  • Social Relations: this is an easy one. Machines can connect faster, better and with less bias than humans. The very algorithms on which they are based and their physical structure are intrinsically neural and networked.
  • Learning: I refuse to discuss this item and easily grant it to machines. It’s in the very name of the algorithm (“machine learning”) and they have proved excellent learners if – only created by humans a century ago – they are now already in the position to challenge our biological dominance. It took us 4 million years.
  • Values (ethics, spirituality). I will also challenge this point. Ethics are by all means relative. Relative to culture and relative to the single human being. If we were all born with the same principles, judges would be out of their jobs. Machines can be thought to obey ethical rules, and it is actually a good time to discuss all paradoxes, starting from the trolley dilemma. For what concerns spirituality we could probably group it with “Physicality”. We need a higher order cause to justify our living, as nature has thought us that there is no consequence without a cause. It has more to do with our human mindset than with any type of superior ability.

What should we expect from the future?

What is it therefore left for humans as their true unique ability and comfort area?
Hard to tell, actually.
Machines are increasingly conquering spaces that were previously only left to human competence.
Given the speed of development of the field it is not hard to envision that they will eventually conquer all of it.
What will it mean to be human at that point?

Who’s the real pet?

Will we inherit a Matrix like scenario, where biological beings are only functional to the needs of the machines? Will we survive as pets of our own machines?
After all it is not very different from what we have done to animals.
The useful ones are used for feeding, some for company or entertainment, others left on their own as long as they do not conflict with human interests.
Let’s hope the machines will stand on higher moral grounds than us humans.
That is the best we can hope for.