The phrase “artificial intelligence” is a philosophical descendant of the debunked myth of the Sun revolving around the Earth: Both concepts are anthropocentric and egocentric perceptions of a false reality that humans have conjured to feed their need for self-importance. Wanting to feel important isn’t necessarily a bad thing (Who doesn’t want to feel important to their families, employers, and to society?), but it becomes counterproductive when it prevents us from understanding the true nature of our existence in relation to our environment.
Myths Should be Debunked. Thanks to Copernicus in the 1500s, today nobody seriously disputes that the Earth actually revolves around the Sun, but almost everybody still believes human intelligence is a qualitatively distinct form of intelligence unattainable by manufactured, nonbiological machines. This notion is simply not based on any facts or truth; it’s based on a fundamentally false assumption about the essence of intelligence.
Nonbiological Intelligence is Qualitatively the Same as Human Intelligence. The phrase artificial intelligence implicitly assumes that any human-engineered intelligence operating outside the bloody, murky gray matter of the human brain must be qualitatively inferior to human intelligence. Perceiving human-engineered, nonbiological intelligence as “artificial” is like saying a river created from the falling condensation of H2O molecules in the atmosphere is qualitatively different from an “artificial” river created by releasing the floodgates of a dam: The flowing H2O molecules are the same substance in both rivers; the only meaningful difference is the source. In other words, pretending there is a qualitative difference between human and artificial intelligence will ultimately become a distinction without a difference in the future.
Delusions Persist When Humans Feel Threatened. Just like believing the Earth was the center of the universe was a persistent delusion born of an unconscious need to soothe conscious and unconscious fears, so too is it a persistent delusion to believe there is anything qualitatively “artificial” about nonbiological machine intelligence. This delusion is so persistent because most people understandably feel deeply threatened when they contemplate a future in which nonhuman intelligence competes for supremacy on Earth. That day will inevitably come.
Children at Funerals Reveal the Primacy of Contextual Awareness. Intelligence itself is simply the application of a database of information (etched neurons throughout the brain) arranged and filtered to accurately interpret and convert incoming information into knowledge, which triggers timely actions that are appropriate to a given situation (“context “). This concept becomes clear when we observe children doing random things. A child will often make obnoxious sounds and jump around wildly for apparently no rational reason. This behavior would be completely inappropriate within the context of a somber and quiet funeral ceremony, but it might take years for the child to truly comprehend why that behavior is not appropriate at a funeral. Should we classify that child’s intelligence as nonhuman until he learns to behave like most other humans in that context?
Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace Focused on the Wrong Measures of Intelligence. The most important element of intelligence is “context,“ which is only indirectly measured by Alan Turing’s experiments; and the principal of context was completely ignored by Ada Lovelace’s definition of human intelligence in the 1800s, which was essentially based on the principle of “origination.” Lovelace believed that machines will never be able to originate any ideas and they can only follow commands; therefore, in her opinion, machines can never attain anything resembling human intelligence.
The Essence of All Intelligence is Contextual Awareness. I would humbly suggest that what Turing and Lovelace were trying to measure were distractions from a more fundamental principle, which is a far more accurate measure of all forms of intelligence: contextual awareness. In fact, the only meaningful qualitative difference between any form of intelligence is contextual awareness, which can only be developed in the same way as the obnoxious child at the funeral: direct interaction with the environment in which the entity is expected to eventually behave itself within the behavioral boundaries that its parents have defined.
To Behave Like a Human Machines Must be Immersed in the World of Humans. What actually makes human intelligence distinct from machine or artificial intelligence is the source of the information within their experiential databases. The human child spends nearly two decades completely immersed every day in the world of humans, learning what humans want and expect, which continuously modifies the child’s behavior until the child finally behaves like a real human, as defined by a Turing Test. In contrast, machines have historically had no opportunity to be completely immersed in the world of humans to receive decades of human training because the machines did not have sufficient physical attributes—arms, legs, feet, hands, eyes, ears, nose, and software advanced enough to control all these appendages—to navigate the physical world.
“Human Training” Will Accelerate Humanoid Cohabitation with Humans. The most recent generation of robots from Boston Dynamics are already beginning to emerge from the lab to engage the physical world in ways that were limited to humans only a few years ago. Their physical capabilities and dexterity are evolving rapidly to the point where we will see fully autonomous humanoid robots walking among humans in increasingly complex social environments within the next decade. At that point, both the physical capabilities and the raw intellectual capabilities of machines will far surpass the raw capabilities of the average human toddler. Only then will it be possible for machines to finally receive the same human training over decades that those rambunctious rascals on human playgrounds get today.
The Contextual Awareness of Machines Will Far Exceed the Awareness of Humans. By being in the real human world and interacting with real humans everyday, machines will evolve quickly enough to pass the Turing Test even more frequently than their human child counterparts. That will be the time when humans begin to realize that the phrase “artificial intelligence” is a misnomer and that there is only “intelligence,” which is manifested as appropriate actions informed by contextual awareness derived from a database of behavioral patterns (“knowledge”) that are appropriate for increasingly more complex environments. Then we will see machines with contextual awareness that far exceeds the awareness of any human.
Can Humans Become Better than Human? This is the essential question at the core of Transhumanism. For many technical, social, and philosophical reasons I have no doubt that nonbiological machines will surpass their human counterparts in virtually every measurable way within the lifetime of most people reading this article. When superhuman contextual awareness is combined with the superhuman senses of sight, smell, hearing, touching, and tasting that machines already have today, there will be no meaningful advantage to being a member of the human race. That’s when large numbers of humans around the world will abandon their human-centric perception of reality—just as they abandoned the Earth-is-the-center-of-the-universe delusion during Copernicus’ time—and they will upgrade themselves to something that they will genuinely perceive as better than human.
The Deepest Instinct of Every Creature is to Perpetuate its Own Existence. When Transhumanism becomes a scientific reality, most humans will be much less concerned about the physical form of their existence than the preservation of their conscious identity and sense of self apart from all other matter in the universe. When humans can replace the majority of their human organs and body parts with nonbiological hardware and software, the temptation to upgrade themselves will be irresistible for the vast majority of humans for many social, economic, and political reasons.
Humanity is Not Exempt from the Evolutionary Imperative: Adapt or Die. After the first few pioneering homo sapien guinea pigs prove that Human 2.0 is relatively bug-free, hundreds of millions of legacy humans will desperately flock to do whatever is necessary to get the upgrade before they slip into obsolescent oblivion. There is no rational reason to fear this inevitable transition, but it will inevitably correspond with a profoundly disruptive reformation of human civilization, resulting in many bloody wars, political oppression, social unrest and the most atrocious crimes against (trans) humanity. Ironically, these atrocities will be perpetrated by humans (not “artificial intelligence”) who will be terrified by the inescapable evolutionary imperative: adapt or die.