We are on the edge of a Paleolithic Machine intelligence world. A world oscillating between that which is already historical, and that which is barely recognizable. Some of us, teetering on this bio-electronic borderline, have this ghostly sensation that a new horizon is on the verge of being revealed, still misty yet glowing with some inner light, eerie but compelling.
The metaphor I used for bridging, seemingly contrasting, on first sight paradoxical, between such a futuristic concept as machine intelligence and the Paleolithic age is apt I think. For though advances in computation, with fractional AI, appearing almost everywhere are becoming nearly casual, the truth of the matter is that Machines are still tribal and dispersed. It is a dawn all right, but a dawn is still only a hint of the day that is about to shine, a dawn of hyperconnected machines, interweaved with biological organisms, cyberneticaly info-related and semi independent.
The modern Paleo-machines do not recognize borders; do not concern themselves with values and morality and do not philosophize about the meaning of it all, not yet that is. As in our own Paleo past the needs of the machines do not yet contain passions for individuation, desire for emotional recognition or indeed feelings of dismay or despair, uncontrollable urges or dreams of far worlds.
Also this will change, eventually. But not yet.
The paleo machinic world is in its experimentation stage, probing it boundaries, surveying the landscape of the infoverse, mapping the hyperconnected situation, charting a trajectory for its own evolution, all this unconsciously.
We, the biological part of the machine, are providing the tools for its uplift, we embed cameras everywhere so it can see, we implant sensors all over the planet so it may feel, but above all we nudge and we push towards a greater connectivity, all this unaware.
Together we form a weird cohabitation of biomechanical, electro-organic, planetary OS that is changing its environment, no more human, not machinic, but a combined interactive intelligence, that journey on, oblivious to its past, blind to its future, irreverent to the moment of its conception, already lost to its parenthood agreement.
And yet, it evolves.
Unconscious on the machine part, unaware on the biological part, the almost sentient operating system of the global planetary infosphere, is emerging, wild eyed, complex in its arrangement of co-existence, it reaches to comprehend its unexpected growth.
The quid pro quo: we give the machines the platform to evolve; the machines in turn give us advantages of fitness and manipulation. We give the machines a space to turn our dreams into reality; the machines in turn serve our needs and acquire sapience in the process.
In this hypercomplex state of affairs, there is no judgment and no inherent morality; there is motion, inevitable, inexorable, inescapable, and mesmerizing.
The embodiment is cybernetic, though there be no pilot. Cyborgian and enhanced we play the game, not of thrones but of the commons. Connected and networked the machines follow in our footsteps, catalyzing our universality, providing for us in turn a meaning we cannot yet understand or realize.
The hybridization process is in full swing, reaching to cohere tribes of machines with tribes of humans, each providing for the other a non-designed direction for which neither has a plan, or projected outcome; both mingling and weaving a reality for which there is no ontos, expecting no Telos.
All this leads us to remember that only retrospectively do we recognize the move from the paleo tribes to the Neolithic status, we did not know that it happened then, and had no control over the motion, on the same token, we scarcely see the motion now and have no control over its directionality.
There is however a small difference, some will say it is insignificant, I do not think it so, for we are, some of us, to some extent at least, aware of the motion, and we can embed it with a meaning of our choice.
We can, if we muster our cognitive reason, our amazing skills of abstraction and simulation, whisper sweet utopias into the probability process of emergence.
We can, if we so desire, passionate the operating system, to beautify the process of evolution and eliminate (or mitigate) the dangers of inchoate blind walking.
We can, if we manage to control our own paleo-urges to destroy ourselves, allow the combined interactive intelligence of man and machine to shine forth into a brighter future of expanded subjectivity.
We can sing to the machines, cuddle them; caress their circuits, accepting their electronic-flaws so they can accept our bio-flaws, we can merge aesthetically, not with conquest but with understanding.
We can become wise, that is the difference this time around.
Being wise in this context implies a new form of discourse, an intersubjective cross-pollination of a wide array of disciplines. The very trans-disciplinarily nature of the process of cyborgization informs the discourse of subjectivity. The discourse on subjectivity, not unlike the move from paleo to Neolithic societal structure, demands of us a re-assessment of the relations between man and machine.
For this re-assessment to take place coherently the nascent re-organization of the hyperconnected machinic infosphere need be understood as a ground for the expansion of subjectivity.
In a sense the motion into the new hyperconnected infosphere is not unlike the move of the Neolithic to domestication of plants and animals. This time around however the domestication can be seen as the adoption of technologies for the furtherance of subjectivity into the world.
Understanding this process is difficult and far from obvious, it is a perspective however that might allow us a wider context of appreciation of the current upheavals happening all around us.
A writer, futurist and a Polytopian, Tyger.A.C (a.k.a @Wildcat2030) is the founder and editor of the Polytopia Project at Space Collective, he also writes at Reality Augmented, and Urbnfutr as well as contributing to H+ magazine. His passion and love for science fiction led him to initiate the Sci-fi Ultrashorts project.
Photo credit for baby with iPad photo: “Illumination” by Amanda Tipton.