3 min readThe shift inspired by AI is not just cultural, it is ontological

When we talk of the dangers of AI, most people would think of high tech weapons and rogue machines. But there is a much more subtle danger that is rarely discussed. It is the cultural shift that this technological hype is going to bring about.

Tom Valovic explores in this compelling article the various reasons why the AI revolution is so much more different (and dangerous) compared to the Internet revolution.

Why It Matters

When we talk of the dangers of AI, most people would think of high tech weapons and rogue machines. But there is a much more subtle danger that is rarely discussed. It is the cultural shift that this technological hype is going to bring about. Consider the following insights from Tom Valovic.

  • Al is an “exotic and inaccessible technology…developed and controlled by well-funded and powerful organizations…exposed as trampling over the rights of their users or corporations that will use it to exert more repressive control over their employees”.
  • “AI will create widespread dehumanization and depersonalization”.
  • “AI will make people dumber and more dependent on ‘the system'”.
  • “AI will increasingly be used as a means of social control”

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel here. According to Valovic, internet users are becoming wiser concerning their use of technologies. He says:

I believe that over time, as they come to better understand the implications, people will begin to reject AI applications and programs that are offensive, exploitative, and dehumanizing.

Our Thoughts on the Matter

Perhaps this is the case in the United States and Europe, where people are at the center of the AI revolution. But in low tech countries such as in certain parts of Asia, the narrative is different. For example, the Philippines and India continues to be the top users of Facebook despite the recent scandal involving the company. Proactive development plans that consider possible implications of AI to employment and income are almost non-existent.

Question to Ponder Upon

Despite this, Valovic’s article is valuable because of the issues he raises. The next time we use technology, let us ask ourselves: 

What new freedom and capacity is this technology affording us? What current freedoms and capacities are we giving up in exchange? Is the exchange worth it for the long run?

I would argue that not only is technology changing society and culture for the worse in some areas of life, but that this shift is not just cultural but ontological. AI and the overuse or inappropriate use of computer technology has the potential to remove us from the natural world and to literally abstract as well as distract us from our surroundings.

In making this existential shift, AI will also make humans more dependent on their systems, less self-reliant, less intelligent, and less educated in the traditional sense of education as a way of apprehending and appreciating the world at large.

Intelligence will be valued, but primarily in machines, not humans and in those who develop and own the most capable machines who will become the new “masters of the universe”. Wisdom, as we now know it, will be diminished because it is not a programmable attribute.


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