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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Jamelska

The AI Paradox

Michaela Jamelska

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has captivated our imaginations and shaped our lives, with innovations like ChatGPT leaving a profound mark on society. As AI's influence expands rapidly, we find ourselves contemplating its impact on our future. Will AI replace us? Is it a threat to our society? This article explores the concept of consciousness and the connection between humans and AI, drawing on insights from renowned psychiatrists, philosophers, and other experts. As AI technology becomes more sophisticated, questions about its impact on society are increasingly raised. Will AI replace us? Is it a threat to our society? These concerns have become prevalent in discussions about the future of technology.

This topic has sparked a lot of debate and speculation, particularly regarding AI's ability to possess consciousness and independent thought. On one hand, we fear the potential threats AI may pose to our survival and existence as a species. On the other hand, we are equally fascinated by our ability to create something with such high intelligence. Despite numerous attempts, humans have not yet succeeded in replicating human-like consciousness through artificial means. However, our relentless pursuit of progress continues to drive us in this quest.

Some experts believe that AI could have a detrimental effect on human free will and autonomy, while others argue that AI could enhance our ability to think and make decisions. Consciousness is central to philosophy, and many great thinkers, including Immanuel Kant in his seminal work "Critique of Pure Reason," have explored it. Kant argued that human beings have the capacity to think for themselves and make independent judgments, a capability that defines our humanity.

However, advocates for artificial intelligence argue that machines can replicate human-like thought processes, including the ability to reason and make decisions independently. They point out that AI can think in advanced ways, potentially surpassing human intelligence in some areas. For example, in 2016, Google's AlphaGo program demonstrated human-like intuition and decision-making when it defeated the world champion of the board game Go, previously thought too complex for computers. While this achievement does not represent the ultimate in superintelligent AI or mimic human thought perfectly, proponents consider it a critical milestone and a substantial advancement in the field of artificial intelligence and its future consciousness.

Let’s explore diverse viewpoints on how AI might impact our independent thinking. Dr. Norman Doidge, a prominent psychiatrist and author of "The Brain That Changes Itself," raises concerns about AI's potential effects on the human brain. He suggests that prolonged exposure to AI technologies could modify our neural pathways, potentially diminishing our autonomy and free will. Dr. Doidge cautions that over-reliance on AI for decision-making could impair our critical thinking skills and reduce our ability to make choices independently. This concern is supported by observations of how social media can influence users' thinking patterns and decision-making processes.

On the other side of the debate, philosopher Daniel Dennett, in his book "Consciousness Explained," presents a more optimistic view. He argues that AI has the potential to significantly enhance our cognitive functions. According to Dennett, AI can help us process a larger volume of information more efficiently, leading to improved decision-making capabilities. This perspective suggests that, rather than undermining human intellect, AI could serve as a powerful tool for expanding our mental capacities and facilitating more informed and thoughtful decisions.

Expanding on these ideas, one could imagine a future where the boundaries between AI consciousness and human cognitive skills become increasingly blurred. As AI systems become more integrated into our daily lives, they could begin to exhibit forms of consciousness that, while not identical to human consciousness, complement and enhance our own cognitive capabilities.

Considering the inherent biological limitations of the human brain, we have developed computers to process operations at remarkable speeds, surpassing our cognitive abilities in certain areas. This advancement parallels the invention of cars, which enabled us to travel long distances, transcending the limitations of walking. Throughout history, humans have continually sought to extend their capabilities through technology, a trend that is driving a revolution in the field of AI.

Computers excel in processing large volumes of data and performing repetitive tasks—areas where the human brain has limitations. This capability has led to transformative changes across industries such as healthcare, finance, and transportation.

Ray Kurzweil, a noted American computer scientist, suggests that as AI technology progresses, it could enable us to achieve a level of intelligence that surpasses our current capabilities, potentially leading to a new era of human evolution. This advancement could help us solve complex problems by synthesizing disparate ideas in ways that are currently beyond human capability, potentially leading to groundbreaking innovations.

Moreover, AI could enhance human cognition through interfaces that integrate directly with our neural circuitry, facilitating a merger of human and machine intelligence. This integration could improve our memory, computation, and perception abilities, expanding our capacity to learn and create. This vision of AI-enhanced human intelligence suggests a future where we not only utilize AI but integrate it deeply into our cognitive processes, opening up new possibilities for human advancement.

And then, just as cars liberated us from the constraints of distance, AI technologies are pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve as a species. Undoubtedly, as we tamper with one of humanity's most precious aspects—the brain—the stakes are high.

The thought of our artificial creations replacing humans is frightening for society, yet it also compels us to discover and value traits that are uniquely human. Paradoxically, this exploration gives meaning to our existence.

While emotions have always distinguished us from machines, the development of artificial emotions is a plausible future.

As the advancement of human-like artificial intelligence presents both potential threats and opportunities, it is crucial to maintain a clear distinction between human consciousness and artificial consciousness, as well as between human emotions and their artificial equivalents. This acknowledgment underscores the importance of developing technologies that complement and enhance the human experience rather than replace it.

AI continues to challenge our ego, prompting us to reflect on our abilities and purpose. It forces us to confront our limitations and contemplate our place in a rapidly changing world. It evokes fear, yet also sparks our imagination as we contemplate the vast potential of the technology we are capable of creating. And yet, when we say that AI does this, in reality, it is just us through different means for now—an extension of ourselves, exploring the limits of our potential and opening up new frontiers.


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