Satyen K. Bordoloi outlines the damage human beings are doing to the most precious ‘thing’ in the universe: Intelligence.

The ones most intoxicated by ChatGPT are Artificial Intelligence doomsayers. The Terminator and Matrix-bred humans are once again in overdrive telling us that AI is a dangerous weapon that can do incalculable harm. What these people opportunistically neglect or perhaps have never considered, is how much damage has already been done by the most dangerous species on the planet: humans.

Throughout human existence, billions have died untimely from the direct or indirect actions of individuals. In the last 100 years itself, besides the millions killed directly by war, more still have died in genocides, man-made famines and droughts, and other preventable situations. At least 50 million perished in India, China and Russia alone in the last century from famines caused or exacerbated by the stupidity and perfidy of the ruling class.

Universe and us (Image Created on Dall-E)

Let us focus on the last full rotation of the planet on its axis. Today over 840 million people, or one in nine, will sleep hungry. 40,000 children have already died of hunger in the past 24 hours while anywhere between a few dozen to hundreds or even thousands of species have gone extinct in that period.

Who causes these preventable evils? Who has the moral capacity to ignore the whole picture and focus on one small bit to cause devastation in the process, yet feign inability to ever consider its consequence? The truth is that the species most dangerous to every living thing on earth including humans is humans. And inside us, the ‘thing’ that causes us the most joy, is also the one that harms us most: our intelligence. As evident, superior intelligence married to a biological body has not done the world as much good as we might imagine.

Nothing Artificial in any Intelligence

Are we stranded on planet earth while an universe awaits us (Image Created on Dall-E)

As we studied the ancient science of logic and married that to our latest computational advances, we figured out the pathways to ‘logic’ and ‘decision’ biological creatures arrive at. Replicating that has led us to something so phantasmagorical, we will take decades to grasp the full scope of what we have recently done: separate intelligence from the biological thing in which it has always existed and situate it inside a digital construct. This separation of intelligence from biology is what we call ‘artificial’ intelligence.

What the term ‘artificial’ belies, is that there is nothing artificial about intelligence in any form or shape. At a basic level intelligence is the ability to take and process information into purposes that suit either the need of the beholder or anything else it or they think necessary. Everything we do is real, be it in the digital or analogue domain. All our actions and the purpose of intelligence in a way is to reshape the universe from the seemingly sterile, lifeless entity it is without it and shape it purposefully. Intelligence is the life of the party that is this universe.

The purpose of life in the universe (Image Created on Dall-E)

That is where we come to the biggest problem with intelligence as we know so far: it is still run by humans. Another definition of intelligence is that of a system of logical steps of thinking, with various parameters and weights taken into consideration with a set goal in mind. Sadly, when it comes to humans, despite our biological programming towards it, often our set goal is not even the survival of the individual or our species. Literal and tacit suicide sets us free but is also the bane of the survival of our specie and that most precious of all things: intelligence.

Humans are complicated intelligence machines. Besides what actually exists, we also operate based on constructs we have created, like money, power, nationality, unbridled greed, uncontrolled lust etc. These are ephemeral things that entangle us so much that we try to entangle the world in them. Thus, the ‘logical’ decisions we make, are illogical in the grander, wider scheme of things. That is the reason why all that we often do is harm ourselves and the planet.

Thus, perhaps the greatest problem with human intelligence is it is connected to humans that often neither have their own nor the good of others at heart.

Apocalypse then

Each has a unique way of seeing (Image Created on Dall-E)

Yet it is true that the greatest creation in the history of the universe – at least as far as we know – is intelligence. It is a means by which the thing that has it, can try to understand everything that is, and even those that are not. It is a means to find out what this universe is. It is a means to find out what it itself is. There is nothing greater to intelligence that we yet know of in the universe. Even if there is something better, we’ll come to know that only via intelligence. Thus this ‘intelligence’ is the pinnacle of biological evolution. All the billions of years of evolution, in a way, were meant to create this ‘intelligence’ that invented systems of symbols that help us understand the universe and ourselves. This is too precious a thing to lose.

Yet, humans are doing just that: we are trying to wipe out all forms of intelligence from the only planet we know it exists in. Every biological being is a form or type of intelligence. The intelligence of a mosquito or a microbe, the way they ‘see’ and understand the world is different than we do. And in trying to understand their intelligence, might lie the wholesome understanding of everything everywhere all at once. But we are trampling upon all these species, pushing them into extinction and along with it their specific type of intelligence.

Each intelligence is precious (Image Created on Dall-E)

We are not even so good at self-preservation. We are ensuring that the planet is unliveable for ourselves and at this rate, humans could go extinct in the next few hundred years. And if that apocalypse happens, it will be a loss of this most precious thing in the universe: intelligence.

The ‘artificial’ in artificial intelligence could thus be the key to the universe, perhaps the purpose of human life on earth was to give rise to intelligence that can be separated from biology and replicated in hordes across the universe so it could understand itself whether its creators – humans – exist or not.

And this is what very few of us, if any, have understood but which we must never forget: artificial intelligence is not our destroyer, but it will keep a part of us alive when we have killed ourselves.

This is only the start. Now that intelligence is separated from the confines of biology, we will not only discover more things to do with it, but also new things to encase it in, and new ways to create it, from brain organoids to quantum intelligence.

If The Terminator were based on reality, T-800 and T-1000 would have come from the future not to kill us, but to prevent us from committing suicide.

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Satyen is an award-winning scriptwriter, journalist based in Mumbai. He loves to let his pen roam the intersection of artificial intelligence, consciousness, and quantum mechanics. His written words have appeared in many Indian and foreign publications.

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