“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
CHARLES DICKENS, A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Introduction- This article is a hypothesis only. It has no relevance to living persons but carries a fictional antidote; all because I am reading Ray Kurzweil on-line and wonderstruck with his brain implant predictions! Frankly, I am as intrigued as I was reading the books by Yuval Noah Harari’s last year1. What Kurzweil contends and predicts is linked to ingress into brain with algorithmic implants. AI direct involvement with our thinking patterns in the near future is the deal. It intrigues me to think all my value systems and prejudice can be wished away with the stroke of a micro implant- democratically or forced into my brain. As with other past inventions and discoveries, most of us have no time to think on such futuristic issues. Much the same manner that post 1947, our freedom fighters could never imagine of our structural changes of 1991. And in 2019, I am unable to grasp Kurzweil.
Many of us are already products of erratically evolved cultures and violent/exploitative systems. We may not access or understand Kurzweil and his band of “Abundance” thinkers in this VUCA2 World! Like it was when Openheimer A-bomb was suddenly dropped in Hiroshima. I still can’t reconcile the subsequent destructions that have followed. But most of the world people are far too busy resolving their own micro problems to philosophize on macro issues of human survival.
So in May 2019, I wish my readers, representing the argumentative Indian Ruling Elite3 to consider the following:
Has India’s socio-economic growth been linear or exponential since 1947?
Has India’s political development been linear or exponential?
Has the World’s scientific R&D been linear or exponential?
Has the reader herself had a linear or exponential growth in terms of comprehending current VUCA conditions? And can she do anything at all to reduce VUCA turmoil at a micro level or/and the macros?
Over and above the need for major improvement in the last mile walk of our citizens, the emerging Indian Ruling Elite (politicians, judges, bureaucrats, academicians and thought leaders) ought to unbundle a few other critical issues beyond 2019. For instance-
How to deal with FB/GOOGLE/TWITTER- the new cigarettes of the 21st century
Consider introducing a National Privacy Law engaging newer technology in our New World
Realize social networks are not uniting but dividing the people.
Inducing a rethink within Indians on Ethics and Values
I ask these questions to get connected with my readers at the commencement of the article itself. Because, we desperately need to know if Kurzweil has any relevance in a world which is so fractionally split. Our leaders including the Media, behave erratically. We also live in a collapsing climate where we could just incinerate into vapour due to extreme fluctuations, both of temperatures and whims of powerful individuals. And to be precise to the intention of this article, we know for a certainty how a virtuous idea (of 1947 Independence) has been converted into a vicious one by successive Ruling Elites in India- Times they are really changing.
The 2019 Election mandate itself is a threshold of aspirational expectations, and offers me splendid opportunity to hypothesize. And also to ask pertinent questions off the Ruling Elite and their ilk who have ruled India so wistfully since 1947. We have created a Silent Revolution. Unlike the Chinese, Russian and even the Vietnamese ones, India has created a bloodless change possibility. 2019 Indians across all classes, castes and creeds need consider themselves on same platform for self-introspection. The Indian Peoples have Greater Expectations hence…not from their leaders but from themselves.
Can Kurzweil predictions on brain implants then worsen or augment the ethical values in our fast depleting moral planet? And can India take the lead in any manner to show the world the way toward salvation and inner peace? This article specifically seeks to enquire through some soul-search the real beneficiaries of futuristic brain implants.
Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a twenty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes magazine, Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PBS selected him as one of “sixteen revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries. An inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and recipient of the National Medal of Technology, the Lemelson-MIT Prize (the world’s largest award for innovation), thirteen honorary doctorates, and awards from three U.S. presidents, he is the author of four previous books:”Fantastic Voyage- Live Long Enough To Live Forever (co-authored by Terry Grossman M.D.); ‘The Age of Spiritual Machines- the 10% Solution for a Healthy Life; and the Age of Intelligent Machines. Humans need to cultivate.4
Kurzweil does not directly discuss how the outcome of his predictions may unite our species and tame nature to give us power. He explains simply how we are technologically redesigning life to fulfil our wildest dreams. Harari, at the other extreme, has explained what it means to be human in an age of bewilderment. He raises the bar insisting humans focus on their own experiences on whatever reality they actually encounter. He does not believe in monitoring the brain with implanted electrodes/electrolysis/algorithmic implants. Harari recommends meditation instead. Meditation raises our consciousness as internal beings. Inner Engineering is necessary in this VUCA World.
Kurzweil goes beyond and talks of brain implants that will ensure humans respond to situations based on a higher level of AI triggered consciousness which is different from natural enhanced consciousness as we understand presently. He explains it all with “maha” hopes and aspirations for our future generations- PROVIDED we read him correct, and intelligently by-pass Harari’s semi-doomsday forecast. With Kurzweil, there is no question of the mind being trained to focus and calm down. The brain implants will prompt the mind to do so in any case! And here lies the emerging “new normal” paradox!
Both implicitly depend on awakening of the human consciousness to a higher level of being. At the theoretical level, Kurzweil appears ‘acceptable’. But at the practical level, in the larger perspective of global leadership, absence of any Buddha and total deterioration in human macro/micro relationships, this ‘acceptability’ appears to be quietly heading toward creating two distinct classes of haves and have-nots. This is different from the aftermath of the French, Russian and Chinese Revolutions. At the best, what Kurzweil predicts so confidently has the potential to convert humans 100% into class of schizoid creatures on planet earth.5 The other class will be the aristocratic Ruling Elite. Will this be our cure for the better? We have already lost much of our values and decision making processes as humans; we are actually suckers- in the family, with the Bosses and even with ourselves! We do not understand what are coordination, collaboration and cooperation! Can we then invent a cure to our present day malaise?
It is for readers to make their own assessment. Kurzweil offers me the opportunity as a thought person and writer and through discussion forums to scale up the consciousness levels of my few readers within the time and space they may give to reading this article. And I evolve in the process. My readers in turn may rise to the occasion as they should.6
As with my previous articles, my basic purpose is to identify unethical/immoral personal revenue improvement program (PRIPs) approaches by unscrupulous short-term oriented insidious minded individuals/groups; as opposed to general revenue improvement program (GRIPs) enablers. I have been life-long committed to GRIP as my own Mission and Vision. If a level playing field with my readers is established then it is good. The 2019 Indian Election mandate sure gives me the motivation to share my apprehensions with as many. Kurzweil and his brain implants offer me an equivalence to drive home my perspectives my way.
How Kurzweil has thrown the Spanner at us– Post 2019 Elections, Indians are to confront several challenges. The reality involves a new government with aims and objectives of making India grow to grow. There has to be a paradigm shift in governance. We are also facing yet another silent adversary beyond imaginations: dawning of the Age of Artificial Intelligence (exponential growth?). There are very serious ethical, legal and human considerations as we move with the times and AI. There are multiple benefits of AI surely. But when/if it comes to brain implants and even if this occurs in India 30 years away, we must be cautioned to mentally deal efficaciously from now. Given the current capability maturity of our politicians, judiciary for the past few decades (and who have risen to newer highs recently) bureaucrats, India sure needs more mature, sound leadership sanely committed to the national ethos woven around the Constitution that make us all proud to call our country-India that is Bharat! Can our Ruling Elite take the lead finally or become part of vicious exploitations as in the past?
We need to set an example to the World for emulation. Is Modi the Man For All Seasons?
In May 2019, it is reasonably safe to imagine if many more secure jobs are in danger of being lost; how many new jobs will be created; how many start-ups will be functional; if our Bureaucracy, judiciary ad executive branches are less on the “koi hai?” (meaning: Is there anyone listening to my call?) “Topee pehnao” (meaning: fooling others) arrogant trips; if we are using Solar Energy more substantially and if we are INTELLIGENTLY alert to the issues concerning water, health and hygiene…but most critically will the mandate of the Indian people’s democratic inspirations be fulfilled finally?
The self-acquisitive bureaucracy, judiciary and executive branches of the Union of India and our Ruling Elite need to shed their in-built arrogance and be on the same page-in order to take the timely decisions even when they agree to disagree. Judiciary demands the finest revolutionary avant-garde minds. So do the others. Modi alone cannot bring in the paradigm shift within India. Self-serving Ruling Elite may wish him to try and fail like his predecessors. I do believe Modi is made of much, much sterner stuff the likes of which this sub continent has not seen for long. The Indian People believe so anyway but their faith can be washed asunder by misfortunes of Time also…
Introducing Kurzweil in such circumstances is risky and a real challenge to the Capability Maturity of our vicious’ (ever since 1947) Ruling Elite. If we go by Harari’s conclusions, youth across the world need awareness (from being aspirational toward inspirational consciousness). And we need to achieve these needs before Kurzweil brain implants take over so that we conduct ourselves as balanced humans with higher levels of capability maturity. Indeed our chronological age and psychological age need be at par for synergy to occur. This can evolve over time since 1947- but it has not. Post 2019, this can be induced through deft command.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not an intelligent invasion from Mars either. Indians need to think in terms of ‘brain extenders’ to create their own mental reach. Western people, Chinese and many Russians have already begun to make AI part of their daily life. Before 2050, AI will be part of the human system but in a newer avatar- in an ‘extended’ form. Our national, secular and individual personalities may be patterned on the ‘dies’ cast/created by AI! The situational gravity may be so intense that as a nation state, we should have gathered the enhanced inspirational consciousness during the structural changes of 1991. We missed the buck in 1947, which the Chinese did not – post 1949; and we missed it in 1991 too. In 2019, the fruits of our unstructured, undisciplined personal revenue improvement program oriented minds must no longer call the shots. Given the Kurzweil predictions, our comprador class Ruling Elite, unless tamed henceforth with a national outlook, can turn into a more vicious one than they are.
The future of governance is going to be tough. A refined set of individuals, capable of understanding the philosophical and meta-physical implications of a brain implanted reality, need be placed at the helm of affairs for judiciously managing and moderating the emerging paradoxical scenario. For example, sure we need use brain implants judiciously to meet specific needs of suffering individuals. Today we need to sustain Brain Storming Groups discussing issues that may occur 30 years down the line, unrelated to political compulsions, directed at quantum consciousness. Had we done the same with toilets, fertilizers and water since 1947, we may have been more advantageous position in 2019. Generations of youth may not have been misled and gone wayward. This was an economic necessity and despite our intellectual acumen developed since 1947, our Ruling Elite ensured Indians missed the bus!
I believe we are living in very challenging times indeed, needing humility of self introspection and the grace of Adi Yogi!7
Two predictions have silently emerged and in India, due to our linear growth since 1947, we under-estimate the significance of the third:-
That by 2014, humanity had reached a “tipping point” where the cost-per-watt from solar energy is cheaper than from coal and oil: By capturing only 0.03 percent of the sun’s energy that falls on Earth, humanity will meet virtually all of its projected energy needs up to 2030 (thirty trillion watts); this will be distributed through extremely inexpensive, lightweight, and efficient nano-engineered solar panels together with nano-fuel cells to store and distribute the captured energy. Kurzweil believes, by the end of the 2020s, humans will be able to completely replace fossil fuels.
And in September 2002, Chess master 9000, a widely available chess playing game from Ubisoft, had defeated the then U.S. Chess Champion and International Grandmaster Larry Christiansen in a four-game match!
And a third prediction may be converted into reality now. That by the 2030s, people will be able to send nano-bots into their brains through their capillaries!!8
Kurzweil affirms nano-bots should take up positions in close physical proximity to each inter-neuronal connection coming from each physical sense and cause the firing of neurons to result in full-immersion of virtual reality, similar to the way psychedelic drugs alter consciousness. The nano-bots will also allow people to “connect their neo-cortex to the cloud“. This technology is based on “neuron transistors” developed by scientists at the Max Planck Institute that can control the firing of neurons.9
Now, consider superimposing this connectivity’ onto our more ‘enlightened’ and job ‘satisfied’ youth who are working 24×7 in Bangalore-Chennai-Delhi- Mumbai-Hyderabad and smaller metros for their employers. They are unable to optimally use their neo-cortex and limbic brains to cultivate a deeper curiosity of macro issues like what they are really doing and where they would be 5 years later….involving their future, their family- such issues are normally accepted as natural humane concerns linked to our ability to be wired to care. No one has any time to reflect except to “chill” in this menacing world…even as water shortages increases and air gets more impure10. Everyone is on a sinister 007 type, a very personal trip! We are not wired to care.
I have a gut feeling that when/if the “AI brain implant” begin to settle down more substantially in the next 30 years, (and should our current regressive behavioural trends persist); India’s Ruling Elite shall offer excuses saying- ‘we have to impose because of difficulty to govern and democratically control/manage 1.3 billion people: so better to tame them with brain implants’11. This is much like our inability for doing nothing to scale up aspirations/inspirations since 1947! – resorting to polemics…
At another level, AI may boost this facade of human values and democratic aspirations but when we realize, it will be too late to react. Much like the Inconvenient Truths hidden within the Paris Climate Accord! Society would be in a shoddier than it’s present-day ‘eerie’ state of being. The vicious rich and powerful may have taken fuller control of State mechanisms. Such are my apprehensions, post understanding Kurzweil predictions and possible utility values in a VUCA World scenario. When the push comes to shove, even relatives disown the downtrodden families; so why cannot future governments, controlled by alienated/autocratic bureaucrats, judiciary and executives, do the same 30 years later (2049) as they did 72 years ago ( 1947) to Indians? Our country was divided 1947 (bringing to shame the sacrifices of our freedom fighters). And after the 2019 mandate, we are standing at the throes of another possibility of opportunity lost. ***
Wake up Call: Non-biological component into Human Bodies by mid 21st century-Experts predict that within the next few decades human-machine civilization will become increasingly dominated by its non-biological component. As opposed to the human articular expressions and movements, AI and computers are designed using the modular approach with much more accurate memories than humans. AI performs logical transformations far more effectively than unaided human intelligence. IBM Watson is a case by example! “Advances in deep learning and neural networks have improved the precision of AI algorithms and enabled the automation of tasks that were previously thought to be the exclusive domain of human intelligence. But the precision in performance comes at a cost to transparency. Unlike with traditional software, we don’t always have an exact idea of how deep-learning algorithms work. Troubleshooting them is very difficult, and they often fail in unanticipated and unexplainable ways. Even the creators of deep-learning algorithms are often hard-pressed to investigate and interpret the logic behind their decisions.”12
While the chaotic non-modular approach of nature has the deeper powers of human pattern recognition; in the emerging paradigm shift of our being, we shall have human-directed technology involving AI with the ‘limitations’ of our nature-driven biological systems. As is the case with all information-based technology, the complexity of genetic algorithms is increasing exponentially. “If we examine the rate at which this complexity is increasing, we find that they will match the complexity of human intelligence within about two decades, which is consistent with my estimates drawn from direct trends in hardware and software.”
The concept and science behind deep learning have existed since the late 20th century. Only in 21st century the abundance of data and compute resources pushed the ‘learning’ from research labs and academic papers into practical domains. And with its rise in popularity, deep learning has introduced changes in the way developers create software. Kurzweil is one such brilliant output.
Coming to terms with mega exponential growth in India, this country must be prepared with inspirational and not just aspirational consciousness. Aspirations are power driven for the self; inspirations are value-driven for the community and more spontaneous. Owing to the control and management of institutions and cash flows by the repulsive aspirational Ruling Elite in MOST nation states, there is an ever widening chasm between the chronological and psychological ages of individuals. It is in this context that even though I appreciate Kurzweil, I am prone to seek refuge under Yuval Noah Harari’s recommended umbrella of Inner Engineering (his books:”SAPIENS” explored our past; “HOMO DEUS” explored the future; and “21 LESSONS FOR THE 21st CENTURY” explores the present. Indeed, there is a huge gap analysis in the aforesaid two ages among Indians of all denominations!!
Yes, we are talking of higher level of thinking and execution. Suppose Ruling Elites across the world suddenly combine forces to forsake the sacred principles of democracy, secularism, socialism and communism at their highest forms of practice in different power centres, then, we may see the advent of a different type of “Animal Farm” (George Orwell). In such a scenario, critics of global establishments may not possibly be allowed to even criticise. My own brain may have been implanted (brain-washed?) to perceive “reality”. Wonderful! The newer scenario may be a set of compromises based less on self-pretentious convictions by futuristic Rulers for the “greatest good for the greatest many”!13 This is known as psycho-analytical sleep paralysis?
Ray Kurzweil and other emerging Gurus- The crux of writing this article is precisely to trigger readers’ consciousness- at whichever level of awareness this may be!14 Despite having attained scientific and philosophical understanding over the centuries, our inflated egos and closer attention to personal revenue improvement programs (PRIPs) refuse to recognize the patterns of wonderful exponential reality unfolding around us (refer Figure One). We lack the ‘look within’ mind set. We prefer to think ‘outside-in’ and not ‘inside-out’, thereby focussing on competition with others at the expense of the self; aided/abetted by our arrogance and lust for power. The Media has well become the tormentor. Within the confines of our very earthly and generally ‘unconsciously primeval’ lives, lie the explanation of our linear growth as opposed to the exponential ones referred hereiånbefore (Figure One). Kurzweil may challenge us to transact more joyfully with AI and Cosmic Nature and control both.
I believe, post the Industrial Revolution and what we now call globalization; we have been so casual with our reptilian brain functions15 engaging in trivial issues that we are yet unable to fully comprehend the impact of Artificial Intelligence on our futuristic life patterns.
Consider our perennial human plight- we are always at war or combating rebel groups, getting raped and shot at, fleeing our mother country and languishing in mid sea blues as migrants is a normal, languishing in caste/colour/creed ridden divides or we are blowing ourselves and others through acts of terror are regular happenings. How are our brains functioning in such restless environment? Can we describe our mental states as largely unconsciously incompetent or, even worse, consciously incompetent? Nassim Taleb shows how we are being taken for a ride all the time by the systems/situations we are part of. Our current linear growth in consciousness may sufficiently justify Kurzweilian brain implants in the future- because we are already fossils!16
Contextually speaking, our manipulative Ruling Elites, with the scrupulous scientific communities, are far ahead in terms of curiosity to quietly explore the future, linking up advances in biotechnology with algorithmic equations involving AI for their self perpetuation. For the majority of Homosapiens, the fruits of scientific work normally reach their doors decades later- consider the A-Bomb drops in WWII and our full understanding of what really happened decades later! A gigantic gap between the “to-be” and “as-is” levels is thus created. Such gaps, perpetuated by the Ruling Elites and consolidated over centuries of time and energy, have kept on increasing causally (cause-effect connect): where the Ruling Elites and scientific communities, have kept on extracting compound interests thereof for themselves and their progenies at the nation’s (peoples) expense. The rest of us ordinary mortals (people), smitten by misfortune or committed to unconditional service, remain relatively casual in our quest for survival. History has cared little for the ordinary- unless even the run of the mill stories are marketed through movies by the Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen types. It is survival for the fittest all the way! This is another reason for creating this narrative- my way of making a movie-movie!!
Nassim Taleb cautions the conventional person on this gap-analysis. He says the general public is still being fooled because the human intellect has been conditioned to suffer from three mistakes when (IF) the mind tries to make sense of history:
The first one is our illusion of understanding. Everyone thinks s/he knows what is going on, whereas in reality the world is far too complicated and random to know what is really going on.
The retrospective distortion or how we can access everything easily is reflected in our rear-view mirror hindsight. We are very good at making sense of events after they happened.
The overvaluation of factual information and the danger of “platonifying” or putting information into categories. Putting information into categories always oversimplifies reality.
In effect we have all become like the turkey which is fed for 1000 days. Taleb elaborates thus: “the turkey of course, thinks everything is alright and food will keep coming. I mean how can it think otherwise when it has been fed consistently for 1000 days in a row now. On day 1001, the day before thanksgiving, everything changes.” This story illustrates why it’s dangerous to use history to predict the future. And so we need write cautiously and timely with due respect!
The Black Swan events (refer Taleb aforesaid) are relative to knowledge. The butcher knew about the Thanksgiving death of the turkey all the time. Here lies one of the keys to not being a sucker: The black swan events happen relative to our expectations. Avoid a negative black swan event by keeping an open mind. 17
So are we evolving or dissolving as a Human Race? Kurzweil believes that a few decades hence humans will have created millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as nanobots inside our bodies- fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities. “The pace of change will be so astonishingly quick that we won’t be able to keep up, unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating“. By choice we may become the category that Kurzweil forecasts – a hybrid of biological and non-biological intelligence that becomes increasingly dominated by their non-biological (technical/mechanical) component. This is akin to meticulously maintaining a pen of sheep or a sty of pigs…
I remember it was in 1982-85 that I came across the words ‘virtual reality’ as I prepared my late evening lectures in the Institute of Modern Management in Park Street area of Calcutta. I was simultaneously part of a user group entrusted to usher in paradigm change from manual to computerized billing systems with the electricity utility in Mother Theresa’s City of Joy. For me, ‘virtual reality’ then meant the changes in processes and documentation from hard files and record systems to soft ones and printed outputs. Little could I realize then, as I now, how this same “Virtual reality” will come to represent a massive means of accelerating social change in the 21st century with 3D outputs and possibly brain implants! By the third or fourth decade of this century, perhaps, we will have earned the capability to routinely interact with virtual humans that will have natural language understanding to act as our personal assistants for a wide range of tasks. Such are Kurzweil predictions!
Possible Scenarios- Scientists have discussed several scenarios for a non-biological intelligence to display the full range of “emotionally rich” behavior exhibited by biological humans today.
It is stated by the late 2020s we will have completed the reverse engineering of the human brain, which will enable us to create non-biological systems that match and exceed the complexity and subtlety of humans, including our emotional intelligence.
A second scenario is that we could upload the patterns of an actual human into a suitable non biological, thinking substrate.
A third, and the most compelling, scenario involves the gradual but inexorable progression of humans themselves from biological to non-biological. That has already started with the benign introduction of devices such as neural implants to ameliorate disabilities and disease. It will progress with the introduction of nanobots in the bloodstream, which will be developed initially for medical and anti-aging applications.
Later more sophisticated nanobots will interface with our biological neurons to augment our senses, provide virtual and augmented reality from within the nervous system, assist our memories, and provide other routine cognitive tasks. We will then be cyborgs, and from that foothold in our brains, the non-biological portion of our intelligence will expand its powers exponentially.18
Whether we understand or do not, it is being slowly accepted that Artificial Intelligence would outsmart the human brain in computational capabilities by mid-21st century. The problem is located in the definition and meaning/current explanations of “emotional intelligence”; “consciousness”; “bounded rationality” –patterns of an actual human (brain); our matrix of movements in future societies…and how the Ruling Elite allows the possibilities to pan out favouring or disfavouring the larger human kind.
And, I faintly begin to believe a judicious mix of right balanced persons must regulate critical issues including monitoring future brain implants to convert abnormal or subnormal humans into a given standard of acceptability. Perhaps we could then have an American President who takes lead in the Climate Accord and an India-Pakistan border(less), wired-to-care neighbourhood?19 The matter boils down to a paradigm shift in our patterns of thinking by the 2040s. Add to this, the possibility of climatic changes for the worse; we have a major existential problem in our hands. What if we are mentally and physically unprepared for the tectonic shifts science and technology may introduce into our substantially decapitating minds and environment by mid 21st century?
But, are Indians better evolved in 2019 to appreciate and arrest the emergence of such paradigm shifts in our human relationship, with death and even God? Our perceptions of good and bad, right and wrong are already significantly distorted in this VUCA World. Consider the manner we enslave ourselves at office and arrogantly conduct our relationships, both official and personal, glued as we are to the urges of making money and more money? We have no alternative. It is VUCA~ a spiraling out of control global economy! In the midst of all this chaos where would the ‘at the receiving end’ youth turn for mentoring and advice? Could a futuristic Ruling Elite clamp down on such fragile minded citizens in very undemocratic manners? Given the historical behavioral syndromes exhibited by fickle minded members among politicians, judiciary and bureaucracy (power/status)- the Ruling Elite- this is a very possible scenario. Connivance of businessmen, armed forces and industrialists may ensure dictatorial personalities emerge silently and we don’t know who they will be, do we Mrs. Jones?
Our Brains connected to the Clouds!-We have billions of erratic minds providing inconsistent solutions to issues requiring consistent responses in context of being wired to care with one another. I apprehend if Artificial Intelligence is under the direct control of PRIP oriented multi-faceted insidious Ruling Elite of 2019 and their lackeys, the world will become a very unstable “Animal Farm” (George Orwell) indeed. Within a few decades, nano-bots will take up positions in close physical proximity to each inter-neuronal connection and cause the firing of neurons to result in captivation of virtual reality, similar to the way psychedelic drugs alter consciousness. The nano-bots will also allow people to “connect their neocortex to the cloud”. These are the forecasts made in Ray Kurzweil enigmatic books. There are positive and negative aspects to the issues. It all depends on the level of consciousness of the world peoples and especially the Rulers who have the State control-beyond 2019 in India!
By the mid 21st century, we can have thousands Homosapiens with neurological implants, twenty nanobots in their brains and rebooted hearts and lungs. Much like tattoos and external nose implants! Shall we call such life humane or will these schizoid persons become the rulers over the less privileged Homosapiens? Imagine! Many things can happen…
This is a strange, strange VUCA world indeed.
A Futuristic View of what Intelligence could be like- Kurzweil calls the state ‘Singularity’, when Artificial Intelligence transcends Human Intelligence. While conversing with Bill Gates, he explains two types of principles may emerge in future. First traditional and the other secular- the traditional will confer respect for HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS (engaging legal/moral issues); but the SECULAR CONSCIOUSNESS will relate to ARTS & KNOWLEDGE (engaging acts to saturate all matter and energy in the universe) with triggered intelligence to “wake up” all matter and energy to a more conscious state.20 It is practically possible to believe this is closest mankind can come to seeking God. But at the back end of it all is silicon intelligence. Kurzweil, in his conversation with Bill Gates, goes on thus:
“BILL GATES: That’s going to be silicon intelligence, not biological intelligence.
RAY KURZWEIL: Well, yes, we’re going to transcend biological intelligence. We’ll merge with it first, but ultimately the non biological portion of our intelligence will predominate. By the way, it’s not likely to be silicon, but something like carbon nanotubes.
BILL: Yes, I understand—I’m just referring to that as silicon intelligence since people understand what that means. But I don’t think that’s going to be conscious in the human sense.
RAY: Why not? If we emulate in as detailed a manner as necessary everything going on in the human brain and body and instantiate these processes in another substrate, and then of course expand it greatly, why wouldn’t it be conscious?
BILL: Oh, it will be conscious. I just think it will be a different type of consciousness.
RAY: Maybe this is the 1 percent we disagree on. Why would it be different?
BILL: Because computers can merge together instantly. Ten computers—or one million computers—can become one faster, bigger computer. As humans, we can’t do that. We each have a distinct individuality that cannot be bridged.
RAY: That’s just a limitation of biological intelligence. The unbridgeable distinctness of biological intelligence is not a plus. “Silicon” intelligence can have it both ways. Computers don’t have to pool their intelligence and resources. They can remain “individuals” if they wish. Silicon intelligence can even have it both ways by merging and retaining individuality—at the same time. As humans, we try to merge with others also, but our ability to accomplish this is fleeting.
BILL: Everything of value is fleeting.
RAY: Yes, but it gets replaced by something of even greater value.
BILL: True, that’s why we need to keep innovating.”
Going by this narrative, it is worthwhile to imagine we have entered a puzzling phase of human life that is both miraculously intrusive and intriguing.
There are also rare exceptions of well-knit families in this VUCA World- family unit who are beyond such influence and conduct their lives rationally and wired to care. Among others, they belong to the motley group of visionaries with empathy for the human race; at least toward those directly related to them by birth and genetics! If only this minority were the majority! By the way, our super technocrats like Gates, Pichai and others have a method in their madness in the way they nurture their own children. The WHO states children below 5 years must not be allowed access to screens for more than an hour. Children below one year ought not to see screens at all. There is a direct co-relate between our limbic brain and the screen flashes sensed by the human mind.
Late Steve Jobs (RIP) limited his children’s exposure to modern technology, the iPad for instance. Bill and Melinda Gates never let their children access to cell phones till they reached 14 years. Cell hones have been disallowed in their children’s’ bedrooms. Using cell phones at dinner table were a big “No-No”! Video games were taboo as were limits to screen time. 21
Devoid of support from their better halves, such home rules are not possible to be implemented effectively. Snapchart Founder Evan Spiegel is indebted to his wife Miranda Kerr’s strict no-nonsense approach of kids being prevented from “looking at the black back of the phone…with no idea what’s going on save sensory impulses being triggered”. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google for instance, has dissuaded his 11 year son from possessing a cell phone and strictly enforces limited television exposure. Technology has always to be negotiated in the Satya Nadella household as they rear their family. The CEO of Microsoft and his wife Anu include movie times and video games in the list. Some like co-owner of Dallas Mavericks; Mark Cuban negotiated with his kids to seek permission to see Netflix in lieu of one hour regular reading of math videos or solving math problems. He even uses Cisco routers to detect when his kids are using technology to shutdown all activity!
A few lessons emerge from each of these enterprising examples-
BOTH parents are jointly on the job in a transparent and disciplined manner
BOTH are fair to their roles as proactive parents, transmitting such virtue to their kids
BOTH are displaying genuine empathy for their kids which is cascading mindfully
BOTH parents have built a team work based on cause and effect(causal) and not casual
BOTH are sustaining this approach over years for betterment of their kids and society
Why millions of ‘enslaved’ other parents so careless with their children’s rearing and nurturing? What is so critically wrong in their limbic brains in relation to their career building and general behavior to ignore their children- Their children are the most humane gifts to them in this life! Why the Big Dads are lie Pichai and Gates more sure-footed? And if the general public is so casual, then imagine the ease of brain implants execution in our futuristic Orwellian society!
If this is not a display of erratic behavior with symptoms of unconscious/ conscious incompetence by people then what is? Perhaps, the meaning of discipline in a democratic society needs redefinition very urgently. The relevance of Meditation and Inner Engineering in relation to our environment becomes very critical. At least much before Kurzweil and Singularity overtake our lives and we begin to live lives as narratives out of a 21st century Animal Farm.
Negative behavioural nudges resonate across all communities involving families and professionals.22 And if/when the mother turns turtle or seethes with frenzy and rage in revenge to the father’s inconsistent, sudden MCP behavior or the Boss is unrighteous and wrong, then we are surely creating mammoth, invincible human ogres for the future.23 In the context of our on-going eco-disasters and the impending 6th extinction of the human race that experts gossip of, is this then another real micro crisis scenario going beyond our control? Is this new normal? And would brain implants aggravate or improve the situational dynamics into ones of collaboration and cooperation in that foreseeable future?
Kurzweil impact as a futurist and philosopher is no less significant. In his best-selling books, which include How to Create a Mind, The Age of Spiritual Machines, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil depicts in detail a portrait of the human condition over the next few decades, as accelerating technologies forever blur the line between human and machine. (https://www.ted.com/speakers/ray_kurzweil?language=en)
Reading such narratives many questions are also bound to emerge engaging Religion and how is it different from being Spiritual? Perceptions with distortions can never be reality. But would the futuristic AI implant narratives in our brains make us better human persons or worse? This is precisely played out when elderly parents in India link up as appendages with their “already by choice psychologically brain implanted” Big Data Consultant or Public Servant role-playing children in different cities. These Children of India’s New Horizon are a world apart from their parent. They do not possess emotional depth of empathy to even understand the imminence of not being ‘wired to care’- that they have emerged as Robots! They have consecrated their lives to their 24×7 jobs and employers. Their IQ, EQ and SQ levels can be mind-boggling!
Possible Scenarios- Kurzweil writes in his “Transcendent Man”: “We humans are going to start linking with each other and become a meta-connection.” Inter and intra-connectedness shall occur as we become omnipresent, “plugged into this global network that is connected to billions of people, and filled with data.” It is a fact of evolution that humans “didn’t stay in the caves, didn’t stay on the planet, and are not going to stay with the limitations of our biology”. Unbelievably, in his singularity based documentary Kurzweil says “I think people are fooling themselves when they say they have accepted death“. This can raise hopes and aspirations among the super rich, ambitious and their lackeys who do not wish to physically fade away from their accomplishments and dreams.
Can a futuristic Ruling Elite clamp down on such fragile minded citizens in very undemocratic manners? Given the historical behavioral syndromes exhibited by members among politicians, judiciary and bureaucracy (power/status) world over, this is a very possible scenario.
Intriguing Issues involving “Knowing thyself”- In a previous article written by me for a different publication, I had discussed similar issues ranging from consciousness to Harari’s “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”. Are we evolving or dissolving as a race, I had asked! The detrimental impacts of negative prompts and stimulations have a strong psychological consequence with how we think and behave. But when Alexander the Great read “Know Thyself” encrypted in the facade of the Apollo sanctuary in Delphi City before embarking on his Asian conquests, he had made a profound observation: “It is obvious- to know ourselves is the most difficult of enterprises because it involves not reason alone; but our fears and our passions as well. If we are capable of truly knowing ourselves then we will be able to understand others and the reality that surrounds us.”24 This has always been the fundamental challenge for humans and remains so till date. And yet, so few of our progenies are explained reality as life-learning tool.
For the love of Mike, do we at all foresee where our children and grandchildren are heading toward? Are we emulating Omar Khayyam- : “unborn tomorrow, dead yesterday- why fret about them if today be sweet?” Should we invest our some little time toward inner engineering exercises-which, when done with a consecration and sense of exploration, enable enhancement of our natural energy levels o cosmic connects? Only at that supremely confident level directed more generously at general revenue improvement programs, Kurzweil is acceptable to me. But right now his scientific predictions, however efficacious, appear superfluous for our needs. We must deal with caution and be truly wired to care to move forward.
Other links to Kurzweil works/talks-
KurzweilAI.net News articles, essays, and discussion on the latest topics in technology and accelerating intelligence.
SingInst.org The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence: A think tank devoted to increasing Humanity’s odds of experiencing a safe, beneficial Singularity. Many interesting articles on such topics as Friendly AI, Existential Risks.
SingInst.org/Media Videos, audio, and PowerPoint from the Singularity Summits; and videos about SIAI’s purpose.
blinkx.com/videos/kurzweil Videos on the internet in which the word “Kurzweil” is spoken. Great new resource!
1 SPLINT Journal, Volume V, Issue 4, October-December 2018- “Who is Dr. Yuval Nah Harari?- for the Uninitiated Indian Scholar Gypsies- A Tribute” Prof. Partho S. Sengupta
2 Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity of general conditions and situations: drawing on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus.
3 “These English educated elite had got away for 70 years with peddling their prattle as profundities and keeping oppressed and crushed the spirit of Indian nationhood and cultural persona”-says a former Civil Servant a top bureaucrat since the days of Nehru. He goes on…” that class has been totally divorced from the mass of what roughly constitutes Bharat…for the first time Narendra Modi has been engaging himself dividing the chaff from the grain- those who stand up for India’s glory from those who are vandalizing from within and those who mistaken anglicized, westernized crap as enlightenment and salvation.” Worth a ponder.
4 “Singularity is near”: Ray Kurzweil. Other books by him include- a) The Age of Intelligent Machines b) The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life. c) The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceeds Human Intelligence. D) Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough To Live Forever (with Terry Grossman, M.D.)
5 Yes, I am implying the human race is already 60% schizoid sans morals, values and direction at all levels. Other animals, within their bounded rationalities, are more natural than my species. It is for the readers to reflect to concur or disagree.
6 See APPENDIX ONE
7 Kurzweil is not pessimistic about the future. But if he was an Indian, even he would have apprehensions of India’s future under the lens of AI brain implants- unless this is monitored by mature, altruistic leaders and not the self-absorbed ones as at present. In that perspective, Kurzweil is like a Dr. Jekyll to me and Yuval Noah Harari the Mr. Hyde!
8 On 22nd May 2019 TOINS Newspaper reported- an Indian scientist in commissioned by US Military to develop brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. This US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is aimed at developing a helmet that a soldier could put on and use his mind to control multiple unmanned aerial vehicles and much other equipment. The significance is that all military products, like our Smartphones and Heavy Vehicles have, after decades been used for public consumption.
In such circumstances, I sure wish I were a 21st century Timothy Leary who did a paradigm shift for the Beatles generation of the 1970s!
A short visual capturing children’s agony and ecstasy involving shortage/availability of water in Andhra Pradesh, India
11 Much like the ‘nus bandhi’/ vasectomy explosion of Sanjay Gandhi in the 1970s in India
13 What we have seen of corruption, nepotism and PRIP approaches by responsible Ruing Elite since 1947, is now converted into much higher levels of play-acting by the powerful that have access to the latest technology, power and loads of money. The behavioural symptom exhibited by these powerful Ruling Elite lacks humility, encased wit manipulative aspirations since 1947. This must change.
14 Here ‘awareness’ must be understood in context of state of self-realization and perception. Kurzweil prediction must not be converted under the veneer of governance into an exploitative one by such powerful persons.
15 Typically the lower hierarchy needs of Maslow/McClelland involving physiological, security, power needs encapsulated in our biological frames are positioned in the reptilian brain. Self-actualization has gone for a royal toss!
16 Refer Ray Kurzweil- https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2016/06/03/3-reasons-to-believe-the-singularity-is-near/#57cbb29e7b39 and Nassim N Taleb, author of bestseller “The Black Swan”- https://www.norupp.com/the-black-swan-summary/ . In spite of the hegemonistic political and economic decisions being made by our Ruling Elites and their lackeys, Scientists and Thought Leaders such as Kurzweil, Nassim N. Taleb, Peter H. Diamonds (author of “Abundance-Future is better than you think”) and many others are echoing only positivism for the future with AI. Sadly, such giants are rarely ever brought to the discussion table in mentoring our largely youthful Indian Population.
17 Google: “The Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb: “Summary and Key Takeaways” to learn more…
18 Ray Kurzweil
19 Consider the great progress made by ISRO Scientists in space/rocket technology for instance and assess the rapidity with which Indian Scientists can and will adapt to Artificial Intelligence. Can the Indian citizenry be made to emulate their scientist brethren more than their current pursuit of the Smartphone technology with FB, Instagram, IOT, and Twitter?
20 This is NOT the same ‘secular’ word used by India’s pseudo-secularists in distinguishing and dividing to create chasms among people. Arguably this is a less synthetic definition!
21 From an article, discussing among others, Gates interview in 2017:- “ET Panache, 2nd May 2019 titled “Many CEOs already raise their children with limited technology. Some of them include tech titans who helped invent social media platforms or devices that kids use.”
22 Nudge is a concept in behavioural science, political theory and behavioural economics which propose positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals. (Wikipedia). It is especially relevant in parenting and teaching in the formative developmental years of creating robust children. Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economics on his fundamental work in improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness that convert to positive economic output.
23 We must also agree the qualitative roles of the female gender in decision making processes are more significant contributions in different societies. Enfranchisement of women had been a much delayed matter in western states; feudalistic approaches and brutalization of women persist and are much discussed issues across all cultures…and I would believe Kurzweil, Sadhguru, Nassim Taleb, Sudhir Kakar, Ravi Shankar, and Shivananda ji are better understood by the female gender than the male. The battle between the good and bad has been “on” for centuries and ingrained into our blood. We need look at the future with hindsight.