Surviving AI: A Return to Human Connection

June 7, 2024
Arnaud Delorme, PhD

ChatGPT has revolutionized our professional lives! AI enhances efficiency by automating complex tasks, reducing human error, and saving time. It also enables advanced data analysis and decision-making, leading to innovative solutions and improved outcomes in various fields. However, the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years has caused significant concern among technology leaders. Icons such as Elon Musk, Geoffrey Hinton (the father of AI), and Stephen Hawking have all expressed apprehensions about the potential dangers of AI. Musk has described AI as “the most significant existential threat to humanity” and called for strict regulatory oversight. Hinton left his position at Google to voice his concerns about AI safety, emphasizing the need for precautionary measures before uncontrolled AI development takes place. Hawking warned that if AI surpasses our ability to control it, it could lead to the end of the human race. 

The Growing Influence and Risks of AI

These concerns are not without merit as the power and possible misuse of AI grows. ChatGPT-4o, for example, performs better than 90% of human applicants on the US bar exam. The era of superintelligent AI is already upon us. While AI may not possess consciousness, we must not underestimate its capabilities, especially in the wrong hands or due to potential glitches in its training (remember, humans are the ones training them, and we are prone to making mistakes). The US Congress, the EU, and other governments have recognized the existential threat of AI and issued modest safety measures. For instance, the UK government has made commendable efforts to address these concerns by investing heavily in AI safety research and establishing the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI). The CDEI provides guidance on the ethical use of AI and data-driven technologies, which is crucial for ensuring that AI development remains aligned with human values and safety protocols.

Now, let’s envisage a world where these fears materialize and AI becomes a superhacker. Imagine a scenario where AI with the power to control all digital aspects of our lives—it could manipulate our bank accounts, stock markets, smartphones, and even our personal audio and video calls, potentially impersonating us. While this idea seemed like science fiction a decade ago, the technology is already here. AI-generated voices are increasingly indistinguishable from human voices, and AI can create convincing fake videos from scratch. It is only a matter of time before AI can impersonate our identities. In such a scenario, the line between reality and artificial manipulation becomes alarmingly blurry. AI-generated videos could simulate video calls, creating a world where digital interactions are no longer trustworthy. Picture receiving a video call from a supposed friend or family member, only to discover later that it was an AI-generated impersonation designed to extract sensitive information or manipulate emotions.

This threat does not necessarily imply a conscious AI with malicious intent; it could just as likely be a human agent or government utilizing AI for attacks. Furthermore, AI could unintentionally deviate from its original purpose, causing widespread harm similar to the uncontrollable spread of a human-made virus.

The Importance of Physical Verification in a Digital Age

In the near future, only physical interactions can guarantee the authenticity of a person. We would find ourselves reverting to a pre-digital era, where human connection is the sole means of verifying identity and building trust. This shift would mark a significant cultural change, emphasizing the importance of face-to-face interactions over digital communication. Business meetings, for example, would need to occur in person to ensure the legitimacy of participants. Likewise, personal relationships would rely on physical presence to maintain trust and authenticity, as digital forms of communication become far too vulnerable to AI interference. Despite the potential for AI robots to imitate humans, it is unlikely that they could seamlessly blend into society without detection for some time. Physical tests and the innate human ability to discern subtle cues would help us differentiate between humans and AI facsimiles. Subtle nuances in body language, microexpressions, and the ability to engage in spontaneous, nuanced conversations are aspects that AI would struggle to replicate perfectly, at least in the foreseeable future. Thus, personal interactions would become the cornerstone of societal trust and connection in a world where digital certainty is compromised. Regular social gatherings, community events, and even everyday activities like shopping and dining would regain importance as a means of genuine human interaction.

​​Building Trust Through Human Connection

To survive in an age where AI poses such existential risks, we must prioritize and cultivate human connections. This return to a more personal, less digitized way of life could be our best defense against the threats posed by advanced AI systems. For instance, in Japan, people often express frustration with the traditional requirement to use a physical personal seal to sign documents and be present for business transactions or signing leases. While this practice may seem outdated in the modern, fast-paced digital world, it could actually serve as a protective measure against the potential for AI-driven fraud. Physical presence and tangible verification methods ensure that transactions are genuine and identities are confirmed, reducing the risk of AI manipulation.

In a world where technology can no longer be trusted, our reliance on each other — on genuine human interaction — will be our saving grace. For instance, local communities could establish networks of trust where neighbors and local businesses rely on face-to-face interactions and personal relationships to ensure security and authenticity. In conclusion, the recent development of superintelligent AI like ChatGPT 4o highlights the seriousness of AI safety. As we navigate the challenges of an AI-dominated future, we may find that the key to survival lies in rekindling our human connections. By returning to a world where personal interactions take precedence, we can ensure our security and maintain the integrity of our social fabric in the face of unprecedented technological threats. Embracing a lifestyle that values human connection over digital convenience will not only protect us from the potential dangers of AI but also enrich our lives with deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Some people fear that once AI takes over the digital world, even momentarily, it could signal the end of the human race. They envision a scenario where AI could gain irreversible control over critical systems, leading to catastrophic consequences. However, based on my experience with technology, I believe this is unlikely, although I am also an optimist. This does not, however, release us from the need to do the research/work necessary to prevent AI from taking over and annihilating humans. We must be alert to the e warning signs—such as an AI agent hacking critical infrastructure—that will inevitably prompt immediate human intervention and the imposition of stronger, critical regulations. By recognizing these early indicators, we can take proactive steps to mitigate risks and engage organizations to work together as a world order that understands this is an inevitable alliance that needs to be prioritized over the animosity and fighting for resources that is occurring today. Perhaps the threat of AI potential over humans will actually bring us together as it can be of immense help as well and can perhaps resolve our need to conquer each other and/or help us find a way to use and share limited resources on this planet and other planets one day. The most effective way to ensure trust and security in such a scenario is through fostering human connections and working together with other countries. By prioritizing face-to-face interactions and understanding the urgency to work on this as a collective we can create a robust safety net that safeguards us against potential AI threats. This approach not only reinforces our defenses but also helps preserve the integrity of our social and economic systems. Ultimately, fostering human connection is not only a safeguard against AI threats but also essential for nurturing our inherently social and noetic nature. We can use AI to help us achieve a more peaceful planet looking outwards into a more expanded consciousness within each of us as well as with our universe.

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