AI and Subjectivity

When people fret about the impending death of democracy because of coming fascism or authoritarianism, they are half right. Democracy is weakened but by the erosion of the nation-state.

I think a similar anxiety can be seen in the worries that AI will develop so much that it will have its own subjectivity and then you won’t be able to distinguish between humans and machines. People intuit a real problem but they mistakenly attribute it to AI. It isn’t the development of the AI that’s a problem. It’s the impoverishment of human subjectivity.

We develop a subjectivity by being alone with our thoughts. When a small child first starts engaging in imaginative play and you see her little lips moving silently as she goes deep inside her mind to find enjoyment within, you feel a sense of reverence because you are witnessing a little animal becoming human. It’s an amazing moment. A child’s deep, unbroken concentration is precious.

But we are losing this capacity. One needs to work hard every day to keep it. That’s the real threat to our subjectivity, and the AI is simply an object onto which we displace our fear of something real we perceive in ourselves.


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