The Global City

One must not lose sight, however, of the fact that ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) and technology have been wrought by humans and have been developed by human beings. But while AI and technology have “advanced” human beings even though the former is a creation of the latter, this advancement has been done “automatically rather than consciously” to borrow from Henry Kissinger. AI and technology are “leading some people to let their capacities for independent reason and judgment atrophy.” As a result: “Technology, strategy, and philosophy need to be brought into some alignment, lest one outstrip the others.” 

It follows that both human philosophy and AI are inclined towards “meeting” one another in the way of shaping an expanded and novel global reality, given that both need each other to answer or at least try to answer questions that have long perplexed human minds. As Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote, the analogy for this expanded and novel global reality is that of a “global city” which is “a nervous, agitated, tense, and fragmented web of interdependent relations.” This novel global reality “overlooks the personal stability, interpersonal intimacy, implicitly shared values, and traditions that were important ingredients of the primitive village.” 

Today’s interdependence “is better characterized by interaction than by intimacy.” And this interaction, one must note, is a “nervous interaction” due to the lack of intimacy. Overarching these interactions and the interdependence in a day and age defined by AI and technology is “the gap between the pace in the expansion of knowledge and the rate of its assimilation” which in turn “raises a perplexing question concerning the prospects for man’s intellectual unity” to borrow from Brzezinski. This point relates to our discussion on polarization, given that the unity or “homogeneity” of this day and age is one based on social fragmentation and a combination of “insecurity, of uncertainty, and of intellectual anarchy” which “would not necessarily be a more stable environment.” 

Social fragmentation and instability is also compounded by an environmental or ecological crisis which is manifested by climate change and environmental degradation. “Ubiquitous connectivity” along with the “scale of data processing and transmission” and an environmental and ecological crisis, to borrow from Jeffrey Sachs, is a confluence of conditions and factors which is bound to create some sort of instability. The internet, as Sachs noted, was initially developed by the American government soon after World War II as a means of communication “in a resilient way that would survive the disruption of networks in a war” which in turn “enabled a vast increase in the speed, accuracy, and scale of data transmission.” Hence, both the creation and employment of the internet can be seen through a war context or war prism.

Underpinning connectivity and data transmission of AI and technology is also a kind of intelligence with layers of “neurons” containing “digital inputs and outputs” with a kind of processing speed that exceeds the human capacity of intelligence, neural power, and processing. But what is still missing in the whole picture is a “generalized intelligence” that would “distinguish” a human being from a machine. AI is doing things which were “once regarded as the unique purview of highly intelligent human beings.” But “generalized intelligence” amounts to having something which the other does not have. And the search for this “generalized intelligence” is something that is ongoing at the moment, despite the rapid advancements of AI and its demonstrated capacity to do things which can at times exceed the capacity wielded by even the most intelligent human beings. 

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