Uncanny Valley

March 6, 2018

Computers will probably not have a consciousness in a foreseeable future but they might get quite intelligent. Ever since humans started to consider themselves as conscious beings, we connect consciousness with intelligence. To carry out an intelligent act like playing chess, driving a car or recognizing a particular face, you need to be conscious. But today a computer can do all of these things, without any sensations or feelings. A big difference between chess and the ancient board game Go is that chess is very much about calculating future moves, in Go on the other hand you play more with intuition and for that reason it has been impossible for a computer to beat the human masters in Go. Until last year when Google’s computer Deep Mind learned the game by itself and defeated the worlds best Go player. So it seems like intelligence is becoming decoupled from consciousness as evolution continues and what does that mean for humans? That our value could become extinct.

In Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy The Year of The Flood is the 2nd part, people can upgrade themselves (or others) to raise their value among different hybrids. This is what Claire Colebrook brings up when referring to Atwood;

What Atwood suggests, against the present idea that man might surpass himself and find a new ecological future, is that such redemptive imaginaries have always allowed man to master life in order to maintain himself. 1

 In a way physical upgrading has already begun, it always starts with medical care. A person suffers a car accident and needs a new arm, we invent a prosthesis that could be attached to the body and controlled by thoughts. But why stop there, soon we could use that advanced technique to give healthy people stronger bodies and trimmed organs as well. Of course it would be quite expensive to upgrade your body like that and it would increase the gap between already existing various layers of society. But that hasn’t stopped us before. So how do we heal the coming exhaustion of our value? Maybe through focusing on increasing what we already have that robots do not have could be a way. The things that make us humans like emotional depth, empathy, intimacy, art and music.

 

Zakarias Samad

 

Readings:

1 Sex After Life: Essays of Extinctions, Vol 2 (2014) Claire Colebrook

 The Year of The Flood (2009) Margaret Atwood

Illustration:

Jean-Michel Alberola

http://www.palaisdetokyo.com/en/event/jean-michel-alberola-0

 

 

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