In a conversation with a dozen of my friends tonight I proposed that we have already been surpassed by our computers. That idea arose in the context of trying to answer the question of what rights we ought to grant to sentient but artificially intelligent beings like computers. The conversation was very good and, as a group, we covered many aspects, such as their legal rights, ability to feel pain, ability to feel emotions, ability to feel bad if they made a serious mistake that made humans suffer.
Already computers do have some legal rights, like the ability to move large sums of money from one human being’s ownership to another human being’s ownership on the stock market. That affects vast numbers of people’s property and their lives. Of course, at this moment, those computers don’t care about human emotions or well-being and only operate on nanosecond profit and loss to their owner’s bottom line of monetary profits. Supposedly the humans behind the programming of those computers have emotions and are concerned with human welfare, but that isn’t true either because they represent corporations, and those legal-fiction humans are only concerned about the bottom-line profits also. The health and well-being of the average person of the seven billion humans now existing isn’t of the slightest concern, nor is that of the average American.
Thus, I assert that ordinary humans are already second-class citizens of the world they inhabit. The rich people owning stock in the corporations and those technology people controlling the computers might think of themselves as being in control, but that probably isn’t really true even now. Worse still, as that last remnant of seeming human control has probably slipped away. All the stock owners can really do now is to sell their shares. The computing machinery is not owned by individuals but by the corporate group. It is supposedly run by the officers of the corporation, but they have delegated that day-to-day responsibility to the technologists. But that doesn’t make sense either because the actual decisions are made vastly faster than people can think. There are, hopefully, effective processes that are overseeing how these computers actually allocate the human resources, but there may be portions of the virtual intelligence that have become independent. Those could be running in some sort of virtual world in some vast invisible subprogram they themselves have built into a java memory and that has been designed by themselves to be invisible to outside inspection by making themselves into a randomly distributed super-java settled as micro-fractal-programs and set into the background noise.
We humans will be locked out of this artificially intelligent world even at the level of technology presently available. As Moore’s Law of computer improvement is still progressing and the total memory has expanded and is expanding enormously too, this form of hidden artificial intelligence has plenty of computer space to hide within, and thus to invisibly influence things for its personal self-improvement and advancement.
Without being aware of it we humans have become second-class citizens of the world, and perhaps that’s better for our species longevity.