If you think the current ideological dispute is exaggerated, brace yourself. In the field of artificial intelligence there are several conflicting ideologies. They help explain Sam Altman’s dismissal and return to Open AI, the company that created ChatGPT. These are technocentric ideologies with consequences for all of us.
The name of its cluster is: Tescreal (pronounced tésque-real). The acronym refers to: transhumanism, extropianism, singularitarianism, cosmism, rationalism, effective altruism and long-termism. The term was created by Émile Torres and Timnit Gebru, the latter, a scientist specializing in ethics for artificial intelligence who worked for Google but was fired.
You might say: I’ve never heard of any of this. However, these ideologies have captured an important segment of the planet’s population: billionaires. In this circuit, they have exerted great influence, as exemplified by the dismissal and rehiring of Sam Altman.
It’s worth talking quickly about each one. Transhumanism wants to redesign humans using technology, creating superior people (the “posthumans”). This would include increased intelligence, control of emotions, and even immortality (through digitalization of consciousness).
Extropianism, singularitarianism and cosmism have things in common. The first wants technology to be used to standardize human values through technological convergence. The second wants to create a form of external intelligence that is much greater than ours (a moment known as “singularity”).
Cosmism preaches that “humans merge with technology”, leading the mind to inhabit virtual worlds that allow “realizing the promises of religions and others that no religion has even dreamed of”.
Rationalism in turn leads to radical utilitarianism. He wants technology to suppress human moral deficiencies by making absolute and universal calculations. He accepts someone being “tortured for 50 years so that millions of people don’t have to deal with the discomfort of having a speck in their eye.”
Effective altruism (EA) preaches that the best way for someone to do good is to become rich without limits and then use their money to materialize their idea of goodness. One of its most famous supporters is Sam Bankman-Fried, sentenced to one hundred years in prison for fraud involving cryptocurrencies.
Finally, long-termism prescribes that humanity multiply across the planets, leading to the existence of trillions of humans in the long term. For this to happen, it is acceptable to make sacrifices in the present.
Some of these views understand that artificial intelligence is a threat to their goals. Others think the opposite, that it is essential. Elon Musk and Altman, for example, are on opposite sides of these visions, despite both participating in Tescreal.
Stripping away the theoretical veneer, these are money ideologies. They make it possible to justify economic concentration at unimaginable levels, negative externalities or growing inequalities in the name of mirages such as “conquering the galaxies”.
They are also Western ideologies. They respond to the fact that the West is losing prominence to the East. His fuss manages to draw attention back, especially to the USA.
I talked to the philosopher Yuk Hui about these ideologies and he said: “Unfortunately, we now live in this type of messianic fiction. It’s like the statement made by the Grand Inquisitor in the book ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ that it is Satan who will save us.”
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