Key idea: Historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari says storytelling computers will change the course of human history as the AI will probably imitate the human prototypes that it was trained on in its infancy
Original author and publication date: Yuval Noah Harari (YNet News) – May 6, 2023
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Should be fear what AI can do to us? Or should we fear what we can do to ourselves?
From the article:
Fears of artificial intelligence (AI) have haunted humanity since the very beginning of the computer age. Hitherto these fears focused on machines using physical means to kill, enslave or replace people. But over the past couple of years, new AI tools have emerged that threaten the survival of human civilization from an unexpected direction. AI has gained some remarkable abilities to manipulate and generate language, whether with words, sounds or images. AI has thereby hacked the operating system of our civilization.
Language is the stuff almost all human culture is made of. Human rights, for example, aren’t inscribed in our DNA. Rather, they are cultural artifacts we created by telling stories and writing laws. Gods aren’t physical realities. Rather, they are cultural artifacts we created by inventing myths and writing scriptures.
Money, too, is a cultural artifact. Banknotes are just colorful pieces of paper, and at present more than 90% of money is not even banknotes—it is just digital information on computers. What gives money value is the stories that bankers, finance ministers and cryptocurrency gurus tell us about it. Sam Bankman-Fried, Elizabeth Holmes and Bernie Madoff were not particularly good at creating real value, but they were all extremely capable storytellers.
What would happen once a non-human intelligence becomes better than the average human at telling stories, composing melodies, drawing images, and writing laws and scriptures?
When people think about Chatgpt and other new AI tools, they are often drawn to examples like schoolchildren using AI to write their essays. What will happen to the school system when kids do that? But this kind of question misses the big picture. Forget about school essays. Think of the next American presidential race in 2024, and try to imagine the impact of AI tools that can be made to mass-produce political content, fake news stories and scriptures for new cults.