A place for provocation…
We’ve seen previously, Yuval Noah Harari often uses provocation to advance his arguments. The (optional/bonus) video below is excellent! It features a story of another bright soul who, like Harari, uses provocation to stimulate her students. A regular News Hour feature, this episode introduces Flossie Lewis (age 91), provocateur:
Reducing reality to the individual…
I’ve mostly made my way through Homo Deus [HD] (pdf here) and I’m now finally enjoying part three. I still (provisionally) feel Harari’s overarching concern is human sustainability within given modernist philosophical frameworks and their iterations.
Above [HD pg. 372], Harari implicates the new religion: dataism [neo-modernist]—and, below, dataism‘s practical extensions discounting/ghosting the individual in the current political and economic space [HD pg. 308]:
Perhaps even more troubling, an opposite-yet-parallel dysfunction in the inherited religious sphere, e.g., much of legacy Christianity reflects:
‘Subjective‘ & ‘inter-subjective‘ space
While Harari often likes characterizing reality in purely objective terms [e.g., collapsing reality into the right-hand quadrants], what he writes in HD [below] makes it clear he is not a materialist reductionist, and he opens space for the non-material subjective and inter-subjective dimensions of reality—upper left [UL] and lower left [LL] in our quadrant mnemonic.
In HD Harari describes his “triple-layered” image of a holistic accounting for human reality [pg. 155]:
Animals such as wolves and chimpanzees live in a dual reality. On the one hand they are familiar with objective entities outside them, such as trees, rocks and rivers. On the other hand they are aware of subjective experiences within them, such as fear, joy and desire. Sapiens in contrast, live in a triple-layered reality. In addition to trees, fears and desires, the Sapiens world also contains stories about money, gods, nations and corporations. As history unfolded, the impact of gods, nations and corporations grew at the expense of rivers, fears, and desires.
Harari recognizes the reality and power of human storytelling and the inter-subjective (“We”) worldspace that our stories and relationships create [LL, ‘cultural’ in our holism mnemonic]. In fact, as we saw last week, Harari attributes this human capacity to imagine stories and mythologize (imagine/create Blue [DQ]) as the chief reason Sapiens advanced to god-like dominance on earth.
For example, Harari talks about “money” as a story of our inter-subjective world [LL]—shared faith in the value of money. Remember, actual physical money itself is a co-emerging and corresponding objective artifact found in the lower right-hand quadrant of our holism mnemonic [LR].
A little yeast?
How is human storytelling going to interact with artificial intelligence? I propose every ‘machine learning’ process needs to include an AI-upload of the Christ algorithm. Surely no mean feat, it’s like placing a little yeast in the AI loaf. How do we translate the spiritual algorithm of Christ—seamless relationality/Love—into an algorithm AI can meaningfully integrate? I suggest: Jesus the person is the ‘simple’ algorithmic link—e.g., embodied Love—allowing us to justly/effectively face any/all of life’s complexities.
A Jesus informed AI sets my mind to wandering.
Saint Augustine said that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Harari argues AI is quickly moving into that Augustinian God-space of knowing us better than we know ourselves.
Jesus preached more times on money than any other topic. An old saw of most preachers is often a standing (rhetorical) challenge to church congregants: “Allow me to take an accounting of the activity in your checkbook (or, now, debit card)” [calendar, too]—because it accurately reflects one’s level of discipleship and devotion in following Jesus.
But it won’t just be AI‘s exhaustive knowledge of our financial reality, it will know everything about us. Where we go, who we talk to (or text), and everything there is to know regarding our engagement with all that is beyond our subjective interior. Then, too, we even reveal the contours of our subjective interior with our social media engagement, e.g., “likes,” “shares” and so forth.
So, if the AI system has uploaded/integrated the Jesus algorithm, and if we claim to be Christian (and ostensibly exemplifying the Jesus algorithm), then the fidelity of any particular person’s discipleship will be fully known by the AI.
I wonder, what measures will the system take to achieve faithfulness in those not exhibiting the machine’s threshold for acceptable compliance? Along with the Jesus algorithm, maybe we might want to have the AI system upload books like, Nudge, by Leonard Sweet, and perhaps an in-depth look into divine grace?
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
Note: This blog page has employed a serial approach to outline, Spiral Dynamics, a helpful developmental anthropology based on the research of Clare Graves. Introduction (June 30, 2018), first in series (July 1, 2018).