Badmington, Foucault, and The Future of Humanity

One part of Badmington’s article that jumped out to me was his analysis of Time Magazine’s 1982 Man of the Year being a computer. Badmington’s attention, however, is not on the computer on the cover, but the person observing the computer. “Why,” he states, “if the computer has ‘moved in,’ should there be a human witness?…If ‘Man’ is present at ‘his’ own funeral, how can ‘he’ possibly be dead? (Badmington 13)” This made me realize something as I was considering the future of the relationship between man and machine: Humanity has always loved and continues to love making everything about itself. We want to be at the center of our worlds, in control of our own destinies. Given this, I do not think that there will ever come a time where the popular theory of AI enacting a human genocide will ever come to pass. This is because when ever we make advances in technology, we figure out how to apply those technologies to ourselves. We create advanced mechanical arms. How can amputees use them? We create devices capable of translating light into soundwaves. How can the color-blind use them to augment their own vision?

The future will not simply be AI one day evolving past humanity; Humans and machines will evolve within and beside each other, not independently of each other. This coincides with Foucault’s ideas of enlightenment. Enlightenment is when “the universal, the free, and the public uses of reason are superimposed on one another. (Foucault 35)” We want to freely apply our reason to our lives. Humans are shapers by nature. We want to shape technology and through that shape ourselves. It is against our nature to allow any other will other than the human will to control our destiny. Even in many branches of Christianity, God’s omniscience allows for human free-will, which is central to many doctrines. If we will not even concede our self-determination to God then what chance does AI have? If artificial intelligence should ever decide to make an enemy of humanity, it will not be as frightening as science fiction often portrays. Because of the highly likely coevolution of man and machine, it seems likely to me that once AI reaches a point at which it can decide to make humanity an enemy, humanity will have already augmented itself to the point where AI is either an equal opposition or inferior to augmented humanity.

Even the technology of AI itself is being utilized to serve our ends, quite literally in this video from IBM. It is common to enthuse about the increased independence and creativity of AI, but it was not created for its own sake. As we make ever greater strides in the field of artificial intelligence, those advancements are put to work in the service of humanity, where we want them to be. The only way AI will reach its full potential will be through integration and cooperation with humanity and vice versa.

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