AI, Technology & Human’s Future
The Most Important Skills For the Rest Of Your Life
(हिन्दी में पढ़ें –ए.आई., प्रौद्योगिकी और मानव भविष्य)
Let’s start with the notion of some of the things that are happening. Technology is becoming a little bit dangerous because you can hack a human. If you want to know what does means by hacking a human and then how do we end up hacking ourselves.
In a positive way, this is maybe the most important thing to know about living right now in the 21st century that we are now hackable animals. We have the technology to decipher how humans think?
You need two things.
First, you need a lot of data, especially biometric data, not just about where you go and what you buy? What is happening inside your body and inside your brain?
Secondly, you need a lot of computing power to make sense of all that data now previously in history.
This was never possible; nobody had enough data and enough computing power to hack human beings. Even, if the K.G.B. (Russian-Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti OR Committee for State Security) of the Gestapo followed you around 24 hours a day. It’s dropping on every conversation.
You had watching everybody. You meet still. They did not have the biological knowledge to really understand what’s happening inside them. They certainly didn’t have the computing power necessary to make sense even of the data. They were able to collect. So the K.G.B. could not really understand. You could not really predict all your choices or manipulate all your desires and so forth. But now it’s changing what the KGB couldn’t do.
Corporations and governments today are beginning to be able to do. This is because of the merger of the revolution in biotech. We are getting better, at understanding what’s happening inside us, in the body, in the brain. At the same time, the revolution in infotech gives us the computing power necessary when you put the two together.
When infotech merges with biotech, what you get? Is the ability to create algorithms that understand me better than I understand myself and then these algorithms cannot just predict my choices but also manipulate my desires? Basically, sell me anything whether it’s a product or a politician and that. So that’s what you’re calling hacking that you’re hitting me with the right emotional message at exactly the right time based on my biometric data.
Yeah, this is one of the things you can do then you can predict you can manipulate. You can eventually also re-engineer or replace. If you really hack a system you really understand how it functions then usually you can also re-engineer or you can completely replace it.
Again one of the dangers that we are facing during the 21st century is that computers and AI would be able to replace humans in more and more tasks. Maybe push millions of humans out of the job market as a result. So you have fully understood the dangers. We will talk about some of, what we were talking about off-camera which is we’ve got this whole story.
We’re exploring that notion of what happens to what you’ve called the useless class. When they’re pushed out of the job market and what does that do economically but going just staying with the notion of hackability for a second. So it’s funny, as you were describing it and it brings the sense of like there’s some like real significant problems. We need to take a very serious look at it.
It means the thing about this ability to hack humans is that it has also potentially tremendous positive consequences. This is why it’s so tempting. If it was only bad then it was which would have been like an easy deal to say, okay we don’t want that, and let’s stop researching or going in the direction but it is extremely tempting because it can provide us.
For example with the best health care in history something which goes far beyond anything, we’ve seen so far. This can mean that maybe in 30 years, the poorest person on the planet can get better health care from her or his Smartphone. The richest person today gets from the best hospitals and the best doctors. The kind of things you can just know about what’s happening in your body is nothing like we’ve seen so far. Know that, that’s really extraordinary. If you had to take the positive look and say okay we have this ability.
Let’s just say, it’s already there we’ve got all this biometric data. It’s kicking off how would you encourage people to leverage that to empower themselves.
Take an example, that it was unclear to you that you were gay (or you have a serious problem from birth). But now Stanford has developed an algorithm that essentially can look at three or four photos of somebody’s face and predict with 91% accuracy whether or not they’re gay. This seems impossible but if that’s true, the level of data that we could give ourselves, about like- deepest most hardwired desires there. Would be a level of clarity there that seems useful. How would you encourage people to use that?
Well, it’s a very good example. It means the Stanford algorithm process can do that but actually, there is a lot of problems with that research. Let’s put it aside but the first key message from that is, how little people actually know about themselves? One of the most important things in a human’s life and also the realization of how little humans know about themselves. Humans in general there is so many important ideas and important facts.
We don’t realize about ourselves, there might be the possibility that a man can understand that he is gay or lacking in something when he is at the age of 19 or 20 but he finally realized that he is gay. Which is, you know when he thinks what it is? It’s absolutely amazing, mean it should have been obvious at age of 12-13. An algorithm would have realized it very quickly and you can build algorithms like that today or in a few years.
You just need to follow your eye movements. Like you go on the beach or you look at the computer screen and you see an attractive guy an attractive girl. Just follow the focus of the eyes world, with the eyes go and whom do they focus on should be very easy. Such an algorithm could have told that man when he was 15 that he was gay or he is lacking in a particular.
The implications are really mind-blowing when an algorithm knows such an important thing about you before you know it about yourself. Now it can go in all kinds of directions. It really depends on where you live and what you do with it. In some countries, you can be in trouble.
Now with the police in the government, you might be sent to some reaction facility in some countries. Like with surveillance capitalism. So maybe I don’t know about myself that I’m gay but some tech-organization or say coca-cola, knows I’m gay because they have these algorithms. They want to know that because they need to know which commercials to show me.
Let’s say coca-cola knows that I’m gay and I even know about myself that they know it and Pepsi doesn’t. Coca-cola will show me a commercial with a shirtless guy drinking coca-cola but Pepsi will make the mistake of showing the girl in the bikini. The next day without my realization, why when I go to the supermarket when I go to restaurant I will order coca-cola not Pepsi. I don’t know why but they know so they might not even share this kind of information with me.
Now if the algorithm does share the information with me. Again it’s a lot depends on the context. One scenario is that you’re 15 years old you go to a birthday party of somebody from your class and somebody just heard that there is this cool new algorithm that tells zeros sexual orientation and everybody agrees. It will be a lot of fun to just have this as a game that everybody takes turns with the algorithm and everybody else looking and seeing the results. Would you like to discover about yourself in such a scenario this can be quite a shocking experience?
Okay but even if it’s done in complete privacy you know it’s a very deep philosophical question. What does it mean to discover something like that about yourself from an algorithm that car? What does it mean about human life about human identity? We have very little experience with these kinds of things.
You know from very ancient times all the philosophers and saints and sages tell people to get to know themselves better. It’s one of maybe the most important things in life is to get to know yourself better. But for all of history this was a process of self-exploration or realization which you did through things like meditation and maybe sports and maybe out and contemplation and all these things. What does it mean when the process of self-exploration is being outsourced to a big data algorithm and the philosophical implications are quite mind-blowing.
It’s interesting so let’s talk about that the implications, outsourcing the self-discovery process that sounds so profoundly useful because people have a question basically one essential question. How do I find the thing that I love?
Actually, it is a very big question or you could say a problem. For this, people need to develop a passion in their life. It might possible you find it or you develop it but they need to start from an area of real interest. It needs to be actually something that at a hardwiring level they’re just they get that response.
So in the same way next question could be like- how right, how do I get into that, how do I discover the thing that triggers me like that. If I discover then how do I develop it into a passion? If you had an algorithm something that we’re able to use the more manipulative techniques that as we’ve discussed that Coca-Cola’s (say for example) or whatever but give it to you in a way that can move you in the desired direction.
Take a specific example that you give in the book so talking about how. Let’s say there was an algorithm that knew you just broken up with somebody, knew that you were in the grips of heartache because they’re reading your BIOS. The thing we all do have, in fact, give it to us.
Take the previous kind of example that you put, so the biometrics they’re reading you that it’s the song, it knows what songs to pick? Yeah, It means something is as simple as choosing music so you were just dumped by your boyfriend or girlfriend. The algorithm that controls the music that you listen to chooses the songs that are the best fit for your current mental state.
Of course, this brings up the question of what is the matrix? What do you actually want from the music? Do you want the music to uplift you or do you more want the music to kind of connect you to the deepest level of sadness and depression? Ultimately we can say that the algorithm can follow different kinds of instructions. If you know what kind of emotional state you want to be in you, can just tell the algorithm what you want and it will do it. If you are not sure you can tell the algorithm.
Follow the recommendation of the best psychologist today. Let’s say you have the five stages of grief. Okay walk me with music through these five stages of grief and the algorithm can do that better than any human. What we really need to understand in this regard is that what music.
Most of the art plays on in the end. Is the human biochemical system at least according to the dominant view of art in the modern Western world? We had different views in different cultures. But in the modern Western world, the idea of art is that art is above all about inspiring human emotions. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a joy. Great art can inspire also sadness can inspire. Anger can inspire fear. It can be a whole palette of emotional states but out is about inspiring human emotions so the instrument artists play on and whether it’s musicians or poets or moviemakers they’re actually playing on the homo-sapiens biochemical system.
We might reach a point quite soon when an algorithm knows this instrument better than any human artist. A movie or a poem or a song that will not move you, that will not inspire you, might inspire me and something that will inspire me in one situation, might not inspire me in another situation.
As time goes on and the algorithm gathers more and more data about me. It will become more and more accurate in reading my biochemical system and knowing how to play on it as if it was a piano-like. Okay, you want joy, I press this button, and out comes the perfect song, the only song in the world that can actually make me joyful right now that’s so interesting to me.
Alright, so right now real world you can snap your fingers. You can have one algorithm that’s tied to one biochemical process in your life for real what would you want to monitor and get that feedback on, now that’s easy. It means healthcare if there is something seriously wrong in my body that I don’t know about that. Like- I don’t know cancer or something I would like the algorithm to find that out. I don’t want to wait until. It means the usual process is that it has to go through your own mind you can’t outsource it.
It means today when you need to diagnose cancer there are exceptions but in most cases, there is a crucial moment when you feel something is wrong in your body. You go to this XYZ doctor and that doctor recommends something and you do some test for this and that test until they finally realize that, okay we just discovered, you have cancer in your liver or whatever. But, because it relies on your own feelings. In this case feelings of pain very often. It’s quite late in the process by the time you start feeling pain usually cancer has spread. Maybe it’s not too late but it’s going to be expensive and painful and problematic to treat it but if we can. You know outsource, this doesn’t go through the mind, through my feelings.
I want an algorithm that with biometric & ensures monitoring my health 24 hours a day without my being aware of it. It can potentially discover this liver cancer when it is just tiny, just a few cells are beginning to split and to spread. It’s so easy and cheap and painless to take care of it, now instead of two years later when it’s already spread, it’s a big problem.
So this is something that almost everybody would sign on it. This is the big temptation because it comes with the whole. Other be the long tail of dangers. It means this algorithm that the healthcare system knows almost everything about you.
One of the biggest battles in the 21st century or in the upcoming century is likely to be between privacy and health, there may be health is going to win. Most people will be willing to give up a very significant amount of privacy in exchange for far better health care. Now we do need to try and enjoy both worlds to create a system that gives us very good health care but without compromising our privacy keeping there.
Yes, you can use the data to tell me that there is a problem and then we should do this order to solve it. I don’t want this data to be used for other purposes without my knowing it, whether we can reach such a balance and like you know have-your-cake- and-eat-it-too that, that’s a big political question.
Yeah, that is very crazy and very exciting for somebody like me who definitely airs on the side of wanting health care. We’ve talked really powerfully about stories about how stories like money which I don’t think most people think of as a story as being. You know these tremendous things that control all of our lives that point us all in the same direction, that gives us sort of a common code by which to live.
How can people take control of the story that they tell themselves about themselves, which he finds to be one of the most important stories that you engage in?
Yes, how our identity is really just a story that we constantly construct and abolish. It means you can say that an entire human mind is a machine that constantly produces stories. Especially one very important story which could be the story of a human and different people have different specialization in different genres. Some people build their stories a tragedy, some people build their stories a comedy or a drama but in the end, the self is a story and not a real thing.
On the one hand with all the new technologies you get better. In this regard, better abilities require you to construct yourself. But already today a lot of the work which previously was done in the brain, in the mind of constructing human’s identity, human’s story has been outsourced.
Two things like- Facebook, in that you build your Facebook account and this is actually outsourcing it from the brain and you are busy, maybe four hours every day, just building a story and becoming extremely attached to it and publicizing it to everybody. You tend to make this fundamental mistake. You think it’s the wreck this is really me and so that a mistake.
You may be actually really curious, first of all if you take something like the profile that people create about themselves on Facebook or Instagram, it should be obvious. It doesn’t really reflect your actual existence, your actual reality, both in reality. Now to reality like the percentage of time you smile in your Instagram account is much bigger than the percentage of time you smile in real life.
You know, you go on some vacation and you post the images from the vacation so usually, you’re smiling in your swimming suit on the beach with your girlfriend and boyfriend holding something. This cocktail and everything looks perfect and everybody’s so envious. But actually, you just had a nasty fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend five minutes ago.
This is the image that everybody else is seeing and thinking, oh, they must have such a wonderful time. afterward like a year later of two years later you look back and this is what you see and you forget what was the actual experience. Like what is the role of truth in a story that we tell ourselves about ourselves very little.
Do you think there should be more, there should definitely be more, and wanting an outcome. If we were like, I’m really gonna make sure that the story I tell myself is objectively true it’s going to be very very painful and difficult. Perhaps it is worth the effort but it’s just very difficult. We constantly edit this story just like the news on TV is edited. Just like it’s a bit making a movie like you watch the movie in the cinema and everything is so seamless.
Like this is the story it flows and then when you actually see how a movie is produced. This is insane, like you have this tiny bit of a scene you repeat it 50 times and sometimes you know you shoot this scene. This scene-2 comes after a scene-1 but actually, it was filmed long before.
Sometimes you feel the breakup of the lovers before you film the first meeting for all kinds of scheduled reasons and location. So the end result is completely seamless and perfect but it is actually made up from all these tiny & tiny disconnected bits that have been. You know this is from here and this is from there and we somehow glue it together. It looks good and it’s the same as the story of our life it’s all kinds of bits and pieces and only when you tell it to yourself or to somebody else.
It kind of makes sense the cost of trying to stick with the reality as it is very very high. It’s very difficult. It demands a lot of effort and it is often very painful because you have to acknowledge many things about yourself that you don’t want to acknowledge.
People have this fantasy of going to some retreat and just taking out a week or two off from life to really observe inside, to really explore, Who am I, what is my authentic self. They have this fantastic notion that I will be able to finally connect to my inner child. I will discover my true vocation in life. I will discover all these wonderful things about me. When you actually do it, the first thing you usually encounter is- all the things you don’t want to know about yourself. There is a reason that you don’t want to know them. You may think it’s worth the effort, but it’s a very hard task.
All right, on that, there are so many studies that talk about the more delusional. Somebody is self-delusional the more likely they are to be happy. You’ve noticed one of the big questions is- you’re trying to answer, is- as we’ve moved forward as you know a species of society have we actually gotten happier. So there is some importance- it sounds like that you placed on happiness. So why then would you want, people to do that hard work of facing the reality is recognizing the things about themselves that they don’t necessarily want to recognize. Is that because you think it leads to more happiness?
It may possible that ultimately it is worth the price. It means delusions come at a very high price also and not just to yourself but to people around you to the world as a whole. It means ultimately this leads to things like wars and like genocide and like an emperor. You know someone comes from Israel, someone comes from the Middle East. So I am or you are surrounded by millions of people who are killing each other because of all kinds of fictional stories in delusions that they believe in.
So sometimes it’s an important defensive mechanism. It’s very difficult to live just with the raw truth all the time but the price of delusion and the price of not being able to tell the difference between fiction and reality it ends up. Eventually, it adds up to things like genocide and war that sound like a pretty extraordinary price to pay.
Yeah, I will agree with you there in 21 century, lessons are- what do we do when we’re faced with being put out of work that we are one of the useless class. We have to do this reinvention at a career level. You’re living longer. Your career life is 50, 60, 70, 80 years whatever that looks like in a time where every seven to ten years. Like it’s just it’s a completely new world.
What do you think the human capacity for that level of reinvention is well?
That’s a very important question-it that has little to do with immortality because even without immortality we are heading in the direction. Even if people, if the lifespan remains as it is 80 years. Every 10 years people have another big shock. One of the things many people don’t realize about the AI revolution and the automation revolution. They imagine it is some kind of one-time event.
We have the big AI revolution in 2025 or later. We have all these truck drivers and taxi drivers and doctors and whatever losing their jobs. You have a few difficult years of adjustment and then eventually you have the new brave new world of AI with a new equilibrium. This is an extremely unlikely scenario because we are nowhere near the maximum potential of AI. The speed at which it develops is only likely to accelerate.
So what we are really going to face is a cascade of ever bigger revolutions in the job market and in many other areas of life relationships politics and so forth. So you have a big disruption in 2025 or in a later year. You have an even bigger disruption in 2035 an even bigger one in 2045 and so forth. If you look, say at a job market- you were a truck driver and they no longer need you but there is a new demand for yoga teachers.
So you somehow reinvent yourself at age 40. No one, no longer truck driver nominate your teacher. It’s very difficult. You somehow do it 10 years later no need for yoga teachers, thank you very much we now have these amazing applications connected with biometric sensors to your body. They know exactly- what you’re doing with every tiny muscle, as you do this posture of that posture no human yoga teacher can compete with that. You’re out of a job you have to reinvent yourself again as a designer of virtual world games. You do it somehow but 10 years later you have to do it again because this too has now been automated. Even if you get support from the government and there is all this education for the adult system.
The really big question is again it’s psychological- do we as human beings have the mental stability and the emotional intelligence necessary to reinvent ourselves repeatedly. You know- when you’re 20 years old, what you’re doing is basically to reinvent yourself or to invent yourself for the first time. It is very difficult when you’re 30, it’s even more difficult but you sometimes, you somehow do it. But when you get to be 40, 50, 60, it becomes more and more difficult.
You have more to let go of. I have invested so much in building this career, this personality, these skills, to give it all up and start again from a new, it’s so difficult. So we don’t know- what weather we can do it. That is the question that will ultimately be forced to answer and that brings us to education.
So what do you think that if we’re talking to somebody who’s 18 right now? They’re trying to decide- do I go to college yes or no, should they go to college and if they go to college what should they be studying?
That’s a very difficult question. The first thing they should realize is that nobody really knows, how the job market would look like in 2040? So they should be suspicious of all these kinds of advice by people who pretend that they know- what the job market would need in 20 years. The best investment is in emotional intelligence and in mental balance and these kinds of skills of- how to keep changing throughout your life, how to keep learning throughout your life.
Now how do you learn that? That’s very very difficult. We don’t have a college degree in mental flexibility but these are the most important. So whatever you choose you can go to law school you can go to ballet school but you should keep in mind that much of what I’m learning might be irrelevant in 20 or 30 years. So whatever else I’m doing I should also invest in developing my emotional intelligence my mental balance. My ability to keep changing and learning and reinventing throughout my life.
So maybe to give an image or a metaphor, if in the past education was like building a stone house with very deep foundations. Now I would say that education is more like constructing a tent that you can fold up and move to another location very quickly and easily that’s a great analogy. So given that, it’s so hard to predict the future.
We’ve talked a lot about the power of science fiction. Science fiction writers walk us through that why what is the role that a science fiction writer can play or storytellers, filmmaker, whatever the case may be, our lives in the 21st century or later more than anything else is going to be new technologies especially in AI and biotechnology and most people their understanding of these technologies. Their potential for good or for bad really comes from science fiction the political system so far has done an awful job in understanding and preparing us for these kinds of developments.
There is almost no talk in the political arena about AI and biotechnology. The scientific community is of course very deeply engaged with it but most people don’t read articles in science or nature. Even if they tried, it would be very difficult for them to understand. The professionals are gone and all that the statistics and so forth, so that most people actually get their education about- what’s coming from science fiction.
This means at least that science fiction is now the most important artistic genre and it should also be the most responsible. One of the problems we sense- fiction is it’s so far, it is done as social jobs. Some novels and TV series and films are really amazing in the way they explore- what could happen, are ranging like some of the favorites is ‘Brave new world’ by Aldous Huxley which was written back in the early 1930s. This is the most prophetic and profound.
What is the impact that should be on the world?
We should bring more clarity to the public conversation on what’s happening in the world. It is that too much of the public discussion is focused either on the wrong issues or is extremely confused and unclear. People are flooded by enormous amounts of information that they don’t know how to make sense of. What could be understood in the next mission is bringing clarity to the public discussion. Especially in terms of focusing people’s attention on the most important questions.
The important thing is to agree about the questions and finally, there are three big challenges to humankind in the 21st century and later, there are nuclear war, climate change, and technological disruption. These should be the first three items on the political agenda of every country, this is not the case right now.
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