Srećko Horvat (Osijek, 1983) is a philosopher, writer and political activist. Having spent the first eight years of his life exiled in Germany, he returned to Croatia in 1991, the year in which the civil war in Yugoslavia broke out. Today he is known as one of the most exciting voices of his generation, as he has written extensively about the Occupy Wall Street movement, the World Social Forum in Senegal and Tunisia, and the Zebaleen in Cairo. He has published 10 books translated into more than 15 languages, most recently What Does Europe Want? with Slavoj Žižek (Columbia University Press, 2014) and The Radicality of Love (Polity, 2015). His articles are regularly published in The Guardian, Al Jazeera and Newsweek, and he is a founder of both the Subversive Festival and the Democracy in Europe Movement with Yanis Varoufakis (DiEM 2025).
Srećko Horvat: “The Will of Silicon Valley”
There is a revolution taking place. It is a dystopian revolution which might soon bring to the extinction of human Will as we knew it. It is a technological revolution lead by Silicon Valley. We all know that newest technological developments supposedly make our daily lives easier, from mobile phones to electric cars, but what if instead of offering us more freedom it is precisely these innovations which will irrevocably change the very definition of human will? Starting from the newest dreams of Silicon Valley, including Elon Musk’s “Neuralink”, a venture to merge the human brain with AI, to Sweden’s microchips built into worker’s bodies, Horvat examines the future of the Will in the 21st century. If human will is governed by computers (or a dozen of white male billionaires from Silicon Valley), will there be any freedom in the future? And is it too late to change it? It certainly can’t be changed without a will.
“The Will of Silicon Valley”
This is a transcript of the lecture given on 22.04.2017 in Open Gallery, Bratislava.
To get a sense of a society in which “free will” doesn’t exist anymore, we should recall a short science fiction film which the young George Lucas directed as a student in 1967 Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138 4EB, later turned into a long feature movie just called THX 1138.
It is a depiction of a future society in which “free will” (including sexual desire, imagination, etc.) doesn’t exist anymore. All humans live in an underground city, which is completely surveilled, it is a computerised world which constantly tracks every move. Everyone wears identical uniforms and shaven heads; instead of names, people have designations – similar to licence plates, with three arbitrary letters and four digits (THX 1138). Lucas had an idea for a long time “based on the concept that we live in the future and that you could make a futuristic film using existing stuff”.
Aren’t we today, with the current technological developments, approaching such a future society in which the Question of the Will becomes one of the most pertinent questions?
The departing hypothesis is the following one: we can’t speak about the Will today without rethinking what the Will means in the context of newest technological developments.
On the one hand, it’s obvious that the Will, just as in THX-1138 and other science-fiction scenarios, more and more becomes pre-programmed, including the possibility that AI will be able to develop a Will on its own.
On the other hand, if the newest breakthroughs of the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution teach us anything, it is the relevance of Karl Marx’ concept of the “General Intellect”.
If the Third Industrial Revolution was the Digital Revolution which started in 1980s in Silicon Valley, meaning the transition from the analog technologies into digital technologies, then the Fourth Industrial Revolution goes a step further, technology becomes embedded within societies and even the human body: AI, VR, AR, nanotechnology, biotechnology, Internet of things, smart cities, smart cars, smart everything… in the end all these transformations lead to “Trans-humanism”. At least, this is the prevailing ideology of Silicon Valley
It is, of course, impossible to speak about the philosophical concept of Will without referring to Friedrich Nietzsche. One of the main arguments from his later work is not only that all humans have a Will to Power (Wille Zur Macht), which can manifest itself as ambition, achievement, etc. – but that Life itself has a Will to Power.
So when we speak about the first aspect of contextualising the Will in today’s technology, we can’t do it without referring to this notion of the Will. It means that the Will shouldn’t be used in the narrow sense, as Nietzsche is frequently interpreted even today, as a Will to Power in a sort of Machiavellian meaning (although Machiavelli himself is usually misinterpreted as well.).
In his earlier work, Nietzsche was still speaking about the “Desire for Power” (Machtgelüst); which might be close to the standard reading that Will to Power is only a will to gain more power. But in 1883 Nietzsche coined the phrase “Wille zur Macht” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The concept, at this point, was no longer limited to only those intellectual beings that can actually experience the feeling of power; it now applied to all Life. So instead of a simple psychological principle (applied only to human behaviour), Nietzsche’s Wille zur Macht is for Nieztsche himself rather a metaphysical general force, underlying all reality.
Another important characteristic of The Will to Power, as shown by Gilles Deleuze, is something what Nietzsche inherited from pre-Socratic thinkers, namely Heraclitus, that Being is not something static but that Being has to be understood as Becoming. This is why Deleuze links the Will to Power to chance, multiplicities, becoming.
So, to move slowly towards the relationship between Technology and the Will: if due to the 4th Industrial Revolution our lives are so inter-connected with technology to the degree that soon we won’t be able to differentiate a human and a computer (“Trans-humanism”), then we could assume that also the Will, or Will to Power, will change.
Life itself, says Nietzsche, has a Will to Power. What if life is becoming a new sort of life, how does the Will look then?
One of the important questions here is also the interpretation of Will offered by Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche who linked the Will to the unconscious. According to this reading the nature of the Will to Power is the unconscious. This means that the drive to power is always already at work unconsciously. So, what happens when life itself is pre-programmed, what if the unconscious is subject to another Will, the Will of the Machine?
And here we come to the first recent example, which comes from Sweden. A start-up called Epicenter started to implant its workes and start-up members with microchips in 2015 the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand. Although the chips are biologically safe, the data they generate can show how often employees come to work or what they buy.
So what we can see here is not only a prospect of a total surveillance society in a country which was supposed to be a “liberal heaven” (Sweden), what Epicenter raises with the microchipping of humans is the question about the direct link between the human Will (to open a door, buy a smoothie, etc.) and the (capitalist) Machine.
Epicenter is only the beginning. Elon Musk, the director of SpaceX, Tesla, Hyperloop, recently started a new company called Neuralink, with the aim to create implantable brain chips.
Neuralink, still in an “embryonic” stage, will pursue so-called “neural lace” technology, implanting tiny electrodes to the cortex. On the one hand, its function would be to treat serious brain disorders such as epilepsy and depression, or Parkinson’s disease.
On the other hand, Musk explicitly said that his vision is to enable direct “uncompressed” communication of concepts between people, instead of having to effectively “compress” your original thought by translating it into language, and then having the other party “decompress” the package you send them linguistically, which is always a lossy process. Neuralink’s technology would also be able to help humans keep pace with the rapid advances in AI, and would achieve this by basically integrating AI with human consciousness.
This last attempt of Neuralink, together with “communication without language”, is the most interesting part. At a conference in 2016, before it became public that he founded Neuralink, Elon Musk noted that if AI advances, we will become like cats to them. Solution? A third layer above the cortext, a digital layer.
Musk added: “We are already a cyborg, when you have digital version of yourself online, social life, emails, etc, and phone, apps, etc.”
So what we have here is that we are slowly approaching something what William Gibson imagined in his cyberpunk classic “Neuromancer” back in 1984 – a society in which humans have brain-interface chips. Instead of sending a text message to someone or calling per phone to make an appointment for, let’s say, dinner, in Elon Musk’s future one thought goes from one brain to the other directly.
And here we approach a very interesting terrain which is philosophical par excellence. If we imagine a universe in which Elon Musk’s dream is realised, we would for the first time have something close to “telepathy”, the possibility of humans communicating without language, directly by their brains (with the help of the digital cortex).
What we have here brings us to the concept of the Noosphere – the sphere of human thought, a word that derives from the Greek nous (“mind”), and sphere – coined by French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in 1922, who is becoming more and more popular in Silicon Valley today.
Chardin’ (theological) hypothesis was that by the progressive interaction of human minds around the globe, we would reach something like an evolution of the human mind, which would, thanks to technology, be completely interconnected and would reach another level. Just take the basic fact that in 1995 the Internet had only 10 million users and in 2011 already 2 billion. This possibility of interconnection is exponentially growing day bay day. So no wonder it is precisely the ideologists of Silicon Valley – like Ray Kurzweil and his “Singularity” theory – who have appropriated this theological and religious vision and applied it to something what they call “Trans-humanism”.
But before we come to the religious side of Silicon Valley, let us stay a bit at the merging of humans and technology. Does Elon Musk’s dream seem so far or unrealistic?
A technology that was going in that direction already was the Google Glass prototype from 2014. Google Glass is basically a display at your glasses which uses many existing Google applications, (Google Maps, Gmail), Youtube, etc, Facebook, facial recognition, translation, Twitter…
To understand how it was supposed to function, let us imagine the following scenario. You visit a tourist attraction, like the Pyramids or the Statue of Liberty, you stand in front of it and put your Google Glasses, what you will get immediately at your display is all information you would usually get through Google. But there is also something more in it: relying on the integration of all other applications, Google Glass would be able to immediately send your photos or thoughts to others, it would at the same time rely on all the information about Pyramids, for instance, that already exists (on Wikipedia, other people’s social networks, and so on).
In 2002 a science fiction movie by Steven Spielberg Minority Report, showed the consequences of this. It is a story about Tom Cruise who is playing John Anderton, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel about pre-crime… There is a wonderful scene which shows the future of advertisement which relies precisely on data integration, but also something much more dangerous, which brings us back to Deleuze’s point that the Will is always connected with the unconscious.
When we take a look at Minority Report and take into account that it was filmed 15 years ago, what we can say today is that we are almost at this stage of (augmented) advertising. Because of the developments in machine learning and AI, marketing that relies on our own unconscious is now almost everywhere.
Is it so difficult to imagine that one day soon we will have personalised advertisement. For instance, you will come to your favourite shopping store, and instead of listening the annoying music by some stupid manager, your Google Glass device or Digital Cortex will immediately play the music you like; it will show you 3D or hologram versions of yourself in your new T-shirt, or it will even remind you of compliments you got or could get (“Red colour suits you perfectly”, and so on).
Or is it so difficult to imagine the next step. You are at work and late for dinner. But the devices you are connected to already measured your hear-rate and through machine learning understood you are stressed, so once you come to the car, it will play a peaceful music, of course, the car will be “smart” and it will already send a message to your friend that you are late, etc.
In short, what is deeply changing with the 4th Industrial Revolution is the relation between the Will and the Unconscious. It is the Machine now which will know your steps even before you know them. Already today with Google it is not anymore that you search what interests you or what you desire, but Google actually suggests you what you should desire! Google knows more about you than you know about yourself. And this is the real truth behind “Smart Cities”, “Smart Cars”, “The Internet of Things”… all of this “smart technology”, same as Google Glass, relies on data integration – or to be more precise, it is hyper-integration.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t Google or Apple or Elon Musk who anticipated this new development. Already in 1999 Microsoft made an advertisement showing its vision for the “smart home” of the future”.
This is how in 1999 Microsoft imagined the “smart” home: Robin arrives home back from home, there is no more trouble with finding and inserting keys, because her motions start the entry process, all what she does is looking into an eye scanner at the door, she can also use a voice or finger-print to be lead in. As Robin enters, she touches the wall panel which reproduces the “house report”, then the lights come on to preset levels, music comes on, messages are played, everything in the home is connected together. Her husband calls from his car and asks for dinner. Before she starts to prepare, she can check the entire inter-connected family schedule to see when everyone will come home. When she starts cooking dinner, she realises she is missing garlic – a key ingredient – so she brings up a map on her screen to see where her husband’s car is at the moment, she wants him to stop and pick up the garlic. While cooking dinner, Robin uses a few other things, she scanes them into an electronic shopping list which will be sent via the internet to an online groccery which will schedule the delivery. Or, she can just throw the empty items into a connected waste-basket which will add them to the shopping list. When the rest of the family gets home, there are many ways the house makes life easier…
From today’s perspective, it can come as a surprise of how accurate the Microsoft “smart” home was even before the “smart” home really existed. As we can see in this depiction of the future, the “smart” home is based on a convergence of multiple technologies, including voice recognition, biometric identification, machine learning, wireless communication, commodity sensors, GPS tracking app, Internet TV, etc. The only detail that doesn’t make this the home of the future is the occasional appearance of Windows ’98. And instead of the computer as the main hub device, it seems that, at least for now, the smart-phone is the master remote control.
As we can see, the “smart home” is based on data integration (fridge, voice recognition, car, etc.). But it seems Microsoft failed in what Google succeeded. In January 2016, Google became the most highly valued company in the world. In 2010 both Apple and Google were worth less than 200 billlion dollar each, but today each is worth over 500 billion dolars. How did Google succeed to come so high? Precisely through acquisition and hyper-integration. Did Google invent Google Maps? No. They acquired it. Did Google invent Youtube? No, they bought it. Google would not be possible without having acquired Keyhole, which was a start-up co-funded by the CIA. Google spends more money on registered lobbyists in Washington DC than any other company in the world (including arms, Pharma, etc). So it is not only that Google is the most valued company but also very close to political power. Those at the top of Google are closely connected with the US State Department. Jared Cohen, director of GoogleIdeas, was advisor to Clinton until 2010. Eric Schmidt was head of H. Clinton’s digital campaign. In their book “The New Digital Age”, they explicitly said that Tech-Companies will be to the 21st century what arms companies were to the 20th century.
So all this – including, Minority Report and advertising; Google Glasses, “smart homes”, etc. – bring us to one important concept, which is the concept developed by Karl Marx in “Fragment on Machines” in Grundrisse. The concept of the General Intellect relies on Marx’ insight that knowledge is becoming – Grundrisse was written in 1858, published only 1939 – the main force of production. It means that the productive value of intellectual and scientific labour becomes the dominant and principal productive force. Or as Marx himself explains it in Fragment 706:
“Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it.”
So why is the concept of General Intellect so important today? Because what we can see is that the human brain – in cooperation with others – creates all these sorts of innovations and forms of life, but is in the end not the owner of it. The classical question: Who owns the means of production? Or to put it in other words, if we are all working for Google on a daily level, if this is the General Intellect, how come that Google is getting rich and by harvesting our data controlling us in the same way as THX is controlled in George Lucas’ science fiction film? In a way, the General intellect – which includes formal and informal knowledge, imagination, ethics, language, etc – is not in our power anymore.
Although all human brains create together the next level of human evolution, something what Chardin calls the Noosphere, it is only a selected few – usually white males in their 40-50s – from Silicon Valley who own the means of production. And it brings us back to Nietzsche’s concept of the Will. Actually, it is already in Nietzsche, in his Will to Power, fragment 636, that we have something which can also be understood as an equivalent to Marx’s General Intellect:
“My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (its will to power) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement (“union”) with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on.”
What we find here, finally, is that Nietzsche’s concept of Will to Power is very similar to Marx “General Intellect”. Instead of competition, we have cooperation. And only by conspiring together for power, the process can go on to another stage. By evoking such a concept of Will, which aspires not at eliminating other wills, but cooperating together, we are able to understand what Marx understood under the “General Intellect”. And only by the theory of the “General Intellect” we can see what is wrong with Silicon Valley today. Surprisingly, it was no one else but Steve Jobs who in an interview back in 1983 gave the best possible definition of the General Intellect: “We speak a language that other people developed and we use mathematics that other people evolved – we are constantly using things that other people made”.
In other words, even the leaders of Silicon Valley recognise that technological inventions wouldn’t be possible without the General Intellect. What Steve Jobs implies here is that after the process of cooperation comes the process of privatisation of the General Intellect. This is a point the economist Marina Mazzucato convincingly made in her recent book The Entrepreneurial State, showing that it is the Government, not venture capitalists or tech visionaries, that have paved the way for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Her main point is the following one: every major technological change in recent years traces most of its funding back to the state. The parts of the “smart phone” that make it “smart” —GPS, touch screens, the Internet—were advanced by the Defence Department. Tesla’s battery technologies and solar panels came out of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Google’s search engine algorithm was boosted by a National Science Foundation innovation.
If we now look at Microsoft’s “Smart Home” or even Musk dream about the “digital cortex”, we can decipher the real problem: it is the privatisation of the General Intellect. Which brings us back to disappearance of Human Will. And here we finally come to another important point: If everything is hyper-integrated, it can easily turns into a dystopia.
We can see what it means in the second season of Mr. Robot, a TV series about a group of hackers conspiring to change the world. A woman, who works for a multinational company, returns home and her “smart home”, a futuristic apartment is hacked. First the alarm goes off, then the projector turns on by itself, lights, music, heating,… she calls for help but there’s nothing she can do. She finally calls 911 and asks what to do. “Unplug what?”, she says over the phone. “Everything is inside the walls.”
Even before Mr Robot, actually even before the concept of “smart home” was invented, there was a science-fiction film from 1977. called Demon Seed, with Julie Christie & Fritz Weaver, which is based on the story that the “smart home” becomes a hell governed by an evil artificially intelligent computer.
As we can see here, it is not only about the question who is in power of the machines, but also what if the Machine really reaches the stage of AI so that it starts developing its own Will. And it is not some future which will come in decades, it is already here: more and more, from Japan to US, AI is actually taking the place of humans.
For instance, in January 2017 the Guardian published an article about “Japanese company replacing office workers with AI”. The insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is making 34 employees redundant and replacing them with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30%. The technology will be able to read tens of thousands of medical certificates and factor in the length of hospital stays, medical histories and any surgical procedures before calculating payouts. According to a 2015 report by the Nomura Research Institute, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035.
The same is happening at Wall Street already. Financial giants such as Goldman Sachs and many of the biggest hedge funds are all switching on AI-driven systems that can foresee market trends and make trades better than humans. AI trading software can suck up enormous amounts of data to learn about the world and then make predictions about stocks, bonds, commodities and other financial instruments. The machines can ingest books, tweets, news reports, financial data, earnings numbers, international monetary policy, even Saturday Night Live sketches—anything that might help the software understand global trends. The AI can keep watching this information all the time, never tiring, always learning and perfecting its predictions.
One trend is represented by something which is called Transhumanism, which is a theory developed by Ray Kurzweil. The theory about Singularity, the theory that humans and machines will merge.And the other one is something this is much closer to something we’ll see in the next clip, which is, what will happen if AI develops its will to such a sophisticated and developed degree that it would actually have its own will and that humans would become irrelevant. So, the next thing you’ll see is a short clip from a movie by Spike Jonze, from 2013, called Her, where the main character, Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with an operating system called Samantha, with the voice by Scarlett Johansson. This is the part of the movie, this is the scene where Phoenix realizes that AI was cheating on him and let’s hear Samantha.
This is not only a good film about technology, it is a good film about love. It should be called after him, not Her, because it shows when you are narcissistically in love with yourself. If he was truly love in her, he should have done something really radical, which of course is really impossible from his perspective, to say ok, you have 8000 others, which are not serious relationships, but you have 600 others which is serious and I’m still in love with you. That would be different and I would like to imagine this kind of ending of the movie. That would bring us back to the theory of polyamories, and whether it is possible to love so many people at the same time, cause one of the problems of polyamory, is precisely energy consumption, that if you have 3 or 4, you need to have 3 or 4 phones, you need to meet all these people, and so on, so it is very complicated. But if you are an AI, well, you can have 8000 unserious, and 600 serious relationships. And it brings us to something which is not sci-fi anymore. That is the development of AI, where we could imagine that this kind of scenario, not so much advanced when it comes to love, although some people were already in love with Tamagotchi, as you know, but scenario where AI become so progressed that AI doesn’t need humans anymore. And if you think this is sci-fi, let us mention just two short examples.
In January 2017, The Guardian published an article about a Japanese company replacing office workers with AI, so an insurance firm, called Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is making 35 employees redundant and replaces the them with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI. So, the technology will be able to read, tens of thousands of, similar to this, medical certificates and factors in the length of the hospital stays, medical histories and any surgical histories before calculating payouts. Which means that from the view of the insurance company, AI which doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t have an unconscious and so on, will be much more productive and reliable than humans.
Second example is Wall Street today. It is not news anymore that during the last years at Wall Street we have more and more AI, which is doing trading instead of humans, where you actually encounter something very interesting. The situation, which I’m not sure whether is happening already but the possibility that an AI, working in a hedge fund in Wall Street, would be able to trade with an AI in a hedge fund in Tokyo. That means that humans will become completely insignificant, in the sense that artificial intelligence would deal with other artificial intelligence. And this is something what is happening.
So to come slowly to the end of this exposé, there are two basic approaches from Silicon Valley, and of course a third one is missing, which is the approach of political economy and the General Intellect, and the concept of will in Nietzsche as we have seen; the two main answers to this and the main developments from the Silicon Valley today, on the one hand are Transhumanism, advocated by Kurzweil, now working for Google and one of the most influential theorists of so called Singularity, the idea that the humans and AI will merge and that will bring paradise and the second one is much close to to this scene, the thesis that AI will develop a will on its own and humans will become insignificant. So, the first trend is based on Kurzweil’s book The Age of Intelligent Machines from 2006, where he claims that 21st century will be different; that the human species, along with the computational technology it created will be able to solve all the problems we’ve had for centuries. And that it will be the position to change the nature of mortality in a post-biological future. And this is also not sci-fi anymore. Last year for instance I was traveling from Berlin to London, and in the in-flight magazine of British Airways, there was a cover about Silicon Valley uploading their brains to clouds, which is a new trend in the Silicon Valley, the trend of immortality. That brings us to a very interesting terrain, which is the fact that Transhumanism already has a religious aspect. And it is interesting that recently, it was published in Guardian, several days ago, in the long-read sections, where you can long articles, and there was a title, God in the Machine: my Strange Journey into Transhumanism.
What is interesting here, and it wasn’t written by Kurzweil, or the others from Silicon Valley, but it was written by a former evangelical Christian, who shows… well, he had profound crisis of faith, he stopped to believe in God, and then he read Kurzweil’s spiritual machines and said that he finally found God again. Because what is the idea of singularity? The idea is merging machines and humans and then this guy, former Christian, now Transhumanist, whatever, tries to answer the question what is Jesus Christ. Isn’t Jesus Christ a human and a god at the same time? And this is basically the main ideology of Silicon Valley today, which is advocated not only by Kurzweil, but by Musk, and is, already mentioned in Neuralink. That is also the assumption that we will become partially humans, partially gods. It’s advocated by Thiel, who is now one of the most influential Silicon Valley people close to Trump. It’s advocated by Apple and so on. In the end, it actually brings us back to something what Heidegger said in the Bremen Lectures, that we have a new mode of being, a new mode of existence.
The second answer to this new development is advocated by a German computer neuroscientist Jürgen Schmidhuber who has an institute for the research of AI in Switzerland; who was the first to coin the term, long short-term memory (LSTM), which is very important for functioning of technology today. At the beginning, he submitted this paper on long short-term memory to MIT and he was rejected, in the meantime, today it is Google, Apple, Microsoft and even the Chinese Baidu, using this mechanism which is basically a mechanism which basically allows the machine to learn, and to learn from its mistakes, and to develop even further stages of AI. This is something what you can see in Her, at the beginning she was primitive, she had like 20 relationships, etc., in the end, she was able, what was a dream of every hippie, to have 8000 relationships at the same time.
It is interesting that Schmidhuber uses the term coined by Chardin, called the Omega Point. In Chardin it is that after we reach the Noosphere, we will reach the Omega Point, the God. Schmidhuber tends to be a funny guy, so he says that Omega Point sounds a bit like “Oh my god” and that actually by advancement in AI we will reach the stage where humans will merge with technology and become similar to god himself. But what is the difference? It consists in the fact that Musk, Thiel, Kurzweil and Google people and so on, believe that we will lie in a paradise, which of course will be the paradise of twenty white male people of Silicon Valley who acquired all this wealth through state sponsorship and so on. Schmidhuber claims that AI will advance so far that at one point AI as we have seen it in Her, that AI will not need humans anymore. So, he mentions for instance the Matrix. You know, in Matrix, humans served the purpose of filling the machine with energy. Schmidhuber says this is a completely ridiculous idea – why would the machine need humans, it would be capable of building power plants itself. But, unlike Matrix, Schmidhuber says, that AI wouldn’t destroy humans immediately, but we would become something similar as ants are to humans. So even if you stand at ants today, or even if you destroy whole colonies of ants, the earth will never get rid of ants; there are so many ants, that we can kill as many of them as we want, but he says that we would become as something similar to ants and that AI wouldn’t really care about us. They would be able to colonize other planets and so on and humans would become completely insignificant.
Why is this interesting? It’s interesting because it adds a kind of subversive plot to this whole story. It adds a subversive characteristic in the sense that even on the one hand, I think the problems is, that even if you go to the direction of Kurzweil, the main problem is the means of production, i.e., who will be the ones who will live in this paradise and what will be with the rest of the humanity. If you go in in this other direction, I think it actually gives us hope. Not only hope, but it completely deconstructs the myth that it is humans who are here on this planet Earth from the very start and will be here forever, and it was best described in a British post-apocalyptic zombie horror-drama, Girl with all the Gifts. It is really interesting because it is the first zombie movie, where the main character is female and it is a first zombie movie, where zombies actually have intelligence. You know that usually in zombie movies people are like stupid idiots in a rave party, walking around without any kind of rational intelligence. But in this zombie movie a girl with all the gifts is special and she develops intelligence, which is similar to the idea that AI develops its own will and at the ends of the movie, when almost all humans are eradicated by the other stupid zombies, she approaches a doctor, who have become a good friend of her and she asks the doctor, also a female actor – “Am I alive?”. She had a kind of evolution as AI would have and the doctor says “yes”, and the zombie girl answers: “Why should it be us who die for you then?”. And I think this is the best answer that we can imagine that AI’s would come to that degree, but why would it be us who should govern over AI? And if the first trend, the singularity trend, which is not a paradise on Earth, which is actually a capitalist paradise either on Earth, or on Mars – if this trend develops, this question becomes completely legitimate.So, if the first trend develops, we will not be able, with human will, to stop the will of the Silicon Valley, to stop the privatization of General Intellect. Then I think the second answer which is the “then why should it be us who die for you” will become the legitimate answer.