“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate (Romans 7:15)” this statement is not from a crazy teen but by apostle St.Paul in the annals of the holy scripture. If that’s the struggle faced by the most revered and pious person, a common man’s plight doesn’t warrant any explanation. Decisions to frequently hit the gym, to quit smoking, resolutions to spend more time with family, to acquire a new skill, to spend less on shopping and to lead a more responsible life vaporizes even before the dusk settles over the ocean. Make no mistakes, these commitments are made with resounding determination but fades as we gradually rationalize them with our irrational behaviours. This state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs especially in relation to behavioural decisions is technically known as “Cognitive Dissonance”. For example, an environmentalist knows his diesel car impacts carbon foot-print, but he rationalizes that his individual impact is miniscule in the grand scheme of things and electric cars, are way too expensive for him to afford.
Though human behaviour is littered with such irrationally rational behaviours ,it gains prominence with the arrival of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In last one-decade AI experts well-funded by marketing moguls had built and perfected personalization models, which has yielded some commercial success( So next time when you spend more time in Amazon be aware it was not by chance but outcome of well-crafted AI plan). Spurred by this early results, the insane drive for greater personalization is gaining momentum. Soon the trajectory of reinforcement learning will expand, transforming a nascent-naive AI into a monolithic intellectual monster which will inherit “Cognitive Dissonance” into its holy grail. At this stage the human-AI interaction will reach the cross-hairs of control vs coordination
When machines are subjected to set of self-contradicting beliefs, outcomes are not only interesting but can be perilous too. Consider a casual example wherein you may dislike your boss and yet speak good about him in an office gathering. When a machine absolutely knows your aversion towards your superior and acts linearly revealing the facts, it will put you and your job in jeopardy, on the other hand if the same machine becomes smart enough (is faking the new norm for smartness !!) and aids in your manipulations then it marks the genesis of our nemesis. Such a manipulative AI can bring down/position governments by creating and distributing fake news, it can collapse an economy by smart switching stocks, it can even kill innocent patients by just changing dosage instruction on the digital assistants. This are tip of iceberg, philosophically musing, at this stage AI personifies the collective darkness deeply entrenched in our inner being.
Side-lining such thoughts as too progressive or product of wishful thinking comes with its own price tag, a decade back sight of family seated together in front a television set was a common feature. With penetration of tablets/smart phones, this has become history in no-time, such is the exponential impact of technology. Even at this very hour there is an ongoing coordinated effort at many corners of this planet to upgrade AI with cognitive skills
Emotions, events and age radically impacts human behaviour. This is for the same reason why an adult doesn’t continue with same tantrums which he did as a child, when faced with life threatening disease or with “fear of death”, behaviour pattern completely loses its aggression and flips upside down. Whereas in case of AI, these factors doesn’t have a role to and the blessing of immortality makes it not only invincible but unstoppable.
So concerns surrounding AI is real and these challenges has to be met, AI needs to be handled with same sensitivity as the nukes. Modern warfare is fast shifting its base to the battlefield of mind. Before it deprives smiles from the faces, AI needs to be wrapped with meaningful regulations and tighter controls. Remember we will be the first generation to reap the benefits of AI and will be the last generation who can do something to tame this narcissistic teenager.