On ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and Technology

Between the two ends of the American “power corridor” per se, it is New York which wields the real and true power in America, whereas Washington merely wields the appearance and illusion of power. And even if chaos reigns on Washington as has been the case since the advent of the “Cyborg Era” in 2014, those who possess a significant degree of America’s wealth and power in the “Northeast Establishment” who in turn are largely based out of New York will remain untouched by Washington’s chaos for the most part, unless the chaos in Washington somehow infringes upon their Northeast safe zone. One should also keep in mind that much of the chaos and frenzy in Washington is about getting a piece of the wealth and power which New York quietly and surreptitiously wields and possesses. 

The idea of technology as the main determinant of social reality goes as far back as the “Technological Determinism” of Karl Marx and the American “transcendentalists” of the early period of the American republic. One of the major aspects or dimensions of Marx’s take on technology was that while technology is developed at the top, technology would eventually flip a top-down system into one that is largely bottom-up. One of the reasons for why Marx thought the system would flip as a result of technology is because regular people outnumber those at the top, and as a result of numbers, regular people would then use technology to flip the system. Heidegger also highlighted the immense defects and flaws which result from the “ordering” of the world by technology, which he thought could be overcome by the outpouring of artistic and creative work that would diffuse through technology. 

Today’s world is very much a world of “algorithms” which are embedded in an overarching system defined and shaped by something which seems to have taken up a life of its own, namely, “Artificial Intelligence” or “AI.” And as Byung-Chul Han argued:

“In a world controlled by algorithms, the human being gradually loses the power to act, loses autonomy. The human being confronts a world that resists efforts at comprehension. He or she obeys algorithmic decisions, which lack transparency. Algorithms become black boxes. The world is lost in the deep layers of neuronal networks to which human beings have no access.”

Because “algorithms” are essentially running the show per se, it follows that “more things are happening outside the control of even the most powerful states” to borrow from Joseph Nye. And as Henry Kissinger noted: “When individuals of ambiguous affiliation are capable of undertaking actions of increasing ambition and intrusiveness (due to technology), the very definition of state authority may turn ambiguous.” 

And while the social world is constantly and rapidly being defined and shaped by technology, it is not necessarily clear as to what in turn is spurring and shaping the changes and evolutions in technology, given the mysterious nature of “algorithms” and AI and so forth. But as Jeffrey Sachs noted, one of the major social outcomes of the non-anthropomorphic and uncontrollable changes and evolutions in technology is both a rise in economic and social inequality as well as an increase in social strife on a global scale. And as Henry Kissinger noted: 

“The architects of the Internet thought of their invention as an ingenious means of connecting the world; in reality, it has also yielded a new way to divide humanity into warring tribes. Polarity and conformity rely upon and reinforce each other; one is shunted into a group, and then the group polices one’s thinking. Small wonder that on many contemporary social-media platforms, users are divided into ‘followers’ and ‘influencers’; there are no ‘leaders.’”

And with a rise in both inequality and social strife, the international system as a whole becomes less sustainable over the course of time. In a sense, everything has now come to a point where sane and educated individuals and groups either have to tame the “algorithms” which are spreading lies six times faster than the truth – which in turn spurs the unsustainability of the international system by exacerbating inequality and social strife – or the “algorithms” will continue taking the global community down what is seemingly an unsustainable path. 

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