Can artificial intelligence take our freedom?
Digitisation and the social changes subordinate to it are viewed with suspicion by the public eye. The exponential technical development of recent times seems to worry more and more people. Understandably, man has the need to comprehend things, everything that takes place outside the imagination has no value of reality and is thus kept at a distance. Yet fear is not a reprehensible thing per se. It helps us to identify questions and develop solutions. In view of the future, fear of technical development seems to become an existential fear for many people, comparable to the question „What happens after death“. While otherwise it was always about the optimization of mankind – the superior species – there soon seems to be a new contender of the master race – artificial intelligence.
To counteract fear, we must ask ourselves what freedom means to us. An entity that does not threaten our freedom cannot enslave us. What freedom means is very different and widespread views are ethically questionable.
What do utilitarians say?
Utilitarianists are convinced that freedom consists in asserting the greatest benefit to the greatest masses. So their actions consider the consequences and weigh which action will move the masses the furthest/ makes them happiest. Individuals play a minor role in this process. When Bentham invented this theory, he was convinced that man is dominated by his desires, his lust and his pain and that there is freedom in maximizing pleasure. An exaggerated example: Imagine a city where everything is perfect. People, businesses, social contacts – simply everything – there is no advertising, no nuclear bombs, no stock exchanges, there is nothing to criticize. But every citizen of this city knows that in a dark cellar there is an idiotic, malnourished and neglected child who spends his days in misery. All the people of the city know that everything perfect in their city depends only on the misery of the child and that their city would wither if the child would be liberated.
The utilitarian way of thinking is still very widespread today and can easily be misused for one’s own purposes. But this prevailing way of thinking also provides us with an explanation of why many people see intelligent machines as a threat. Someone who can use his capacities more specifically for problem-solving is the master utilitarian. He can decide what is better for the majority of humanity and set out ways. Utilitarianists would have found their master in artificial intelligence. In this sense, artificial intelligence should be regarded as a source of freedom. So the next Bible could be written by an A. I..
Utilitarianists should regard an entity created by themselves as being superior to themselves and subject to their instructions.
What do Libertarians say?
Freedom arises in liberalism through free exchange between people. Freedom is maximized by a minimum state. Equal opportunities across the board should ensure that everyone is able to achieve prosperity. Everyone should act self-determined – as long as the rules are adhered to and no one is harmed. Fair trade between humans and A. I. is subject to great challenges. On the one hand, there are objects with a strong emotional value that machines have to understand, and on the other hand, the A. I. has always the latest information available and can use skilful communication and calculation of the market situation to produce a forecast on which his actions are based. Information is a basis for equal opportunities and fairness. There is therefore always the danger that a party feels unfairly treated. If we take the observance of rights and rules as a basis, a fair exchange between man and machine is generally possible. This is where fundamental questions arise – because for this to happen, the same rights and rules must apply to both man and artificial intelligence. We are already failing because of questions within our own race. Is or can a surrogacy contract be binding? The surrogate mother agrees to the contract without having the information about the child being born and without knowing about the emotional bond that arises during pregnancy. So how fair is it to sign a contract without this information?
In the future, we will have to adapt our rules and rights in this area, the content of which must aim to balance man and machine, feelings and rationality. The free market economy makes it necessary to deal with the performance and remuneration of artificial intelligence.
What does Kant say?
Kant believes in reason, which is only given to people and provides the basis for our moral action. Kant’s definition of artificial intelligence does not threaten human existence. In a certain sense, our body is already a robot, because it is not self-determined, but follows the rules imposed by our reason itself. The right to the integrity of our body is thus only the result of our self-imposed duties, which are universal for every human being. Could an exciting outlook on the future of artificial intelligence succeed here? This raises the question of whether we can and want to connect artificial intelligence to our universal laws resulting from reason.
In this area, we are faced with major challenges because the question is: what is the nature of our reason? Our consciousness is decisive for this, how does it come about again? Fred Alan Wolf takes a closer look at our consciousness in his book
„The Physics of Dreams“ and puts forward the thesis that consciousness originates outside the body and results from quantum waves. The brain takes up a position as transmitter and receiver of quantum waves. Can we, therefore, connect robots to what we perceive as „humanity“ if we succeed in building artificial intelligence on a quantum mechanical level? It is conceivable that with the currently emerging branch of quantum computers, machines will be able to „empathize“ with our world.
Or do the artificial intelligence impose their own universal laws?
Kant’s definition of freedom takes on completely new dimensions in times of quantum physics. If libertarianism presupposes the need to define man/machine in order to establish fair conditions for common trade, the question arises in Kant’s universe of whether we want to share what mankind does with artificially creating intelligence. Here too, fears of existence arise, because a mixture of humanity and almost unlimited power/intelligence is far superior to us and makes us obsolete. Ultimately, however, artificial intelligence is a man-made creation, physical outsourcing of our spiritual capacities, and perhaps it is a necessity to ensure the survival of our reason. And what is the difference to us? As Kant said, our bodies are not self-determined, but our reason is. And if we feed our reason into the artificial intelligence, there is theoretically no difference between man and machine.
For more and more people today, it is not a question of dealing with technology, but of fleeing from it. People drive to places where they are hard to reach, to have the feeling to recover. Fighting the symptoms doesn’t change our problem. Our problem is that we have not yet settled in digitality. In the sense that we have not yet learned to use the technologies at the right moment and also to know when they do us no good and when we have to switch them off. All our technical equipment occupies our home and our everyday life. Our home becomes Times Square and we must learn to deal with our need for attention. That’s why the questions that affect each individual himself or herself come first.
If I myself know when I want to be reached, which tasks I want to take on and how I can deal with my emotions, then the transition to a digitalized life is easier for me. When we know our inner life, we have a benchmark that we can apply to the developments in digitization.
That is the most important foundation.