The Western think tank is running on empty, and Artificial Intelligence isn’t going to help
Yesterdays post here on the (lack of) a case against Kirk Douglas as the ‘brutal rapist’ of Natalie Wood wasn’t any kind of eye-opener for me: I knew it would evoke a storm of crazed mania, hate and insults from the “all men are beasts” New Victorians out there. More concerning for me was the very low number of overall comments – considering the visits (34,000 and still counting) the analysis received.
I use the word analysis there not to be pretentious, but to remind detractors that the piece used reason, eclectic evidence, psychiatric science, human social psychology, timing illogicalities, medical gaps, familial histories, legal rejection of hearsay and a little tangential experience of the players involved not to absolve Douglas, but rather to show how flimsy and unlikely the charges look from a distance of some sixty-five years. My (if you like) singularly Scottish legal verdict was ‘not proven’.
What I got instead of 300 thread comments was an avalanche of emails from both genders – biased 70-30 to males – that were nearly 100% supportive of the conclusions on offer.
Encouraging? On the contrary, I found it profoundly worrying. These were people who preferred to offer private support. Understandably in today’s Thought Control culture, they felt more comfortable being Noises Off rather than centre stage.
We live in an age where Groupthink and Mobentum bullying of the jury mean people tend to stay indoors when the street-fighting starts.
My task today is to suggest how technology in general – and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in particular – are going to take liberal educational blinkers, and turn them into blindfolds.
The results of that process will be first, electorates capable of nothing more than reactive conformity; and second, a critique from the threepercenter candidates suggesting that such behaviour means “dullard” voters should be removed from the Electoral Roll.
Such an outcome is based on the Tony Blair MO – “Heads we win, tails you lose”: I create a problem for you, and then solve to the best advantage of me.
The standard response of the AI promoters among the 3% is to frame doubters as “Luddites”. Like 95% of the assertive codswallop emanating from the hegemonistas, it fails to stand up to even the most cursory examination.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, machines like the Spinning Jenny were able to show without fear of contradiction that the physical tasks they could perform were cheaper, quicker and better than humans doing the same job.
In the 20th century, factories employed both women and men doing unbelievably boring and unfulfilling tasks involved in aiding those machines. Henry Ford pioneered the automotive assembly line. As the century went on, however, robotics replaced even those tasks.
By the 1940s, sounds and voices were replaced at first by recordings: it would, let’s face it, have been the world’s most brain-damaging job imaginable to sit 365 on a switchboard and tell people what the time was. Automatic and then digital telephone exchanges in turn replaced the mind-numbing job of pushing and pulling jackpoints all day long.
Even at this late stage, the general view was that inventions offered people the chance to do more fulfilling jobs, and have spare time for DIY and television once all electricity was free thanks to nuclear power – while increased prosperity offered them early retirement subsidised by fulsome pensions.
Call me wacky, but I think the turning point was the eradication of even the female voice over’s salary by voice synthesisers. Synthetic voices sound like poor devils who have lost their larynxes to cancer. They are weird, and at times downright impenetrable. This was the moment when the cost accountant’s machine mania first started to make things worse, not better.
When I lived in Paris a few years ago, the elevator in our apartment block had an android (and adenoidally damaged) voice that announced “doors opening” with the words “portes overtes”. It sounded exactly like “perve alert”.
The qualitative difference in the 21st century is that today, bots and software and the entire AI sector is performing the thinking tasks that used to be done by human beings.
This is no longer just an unemployment problem for which society must pay: it is a cerebral creativity theft for which our species will surely pay in the future. Because what is already clear among many under 40s in the West is that, if they don’t have to think, they won’t.
Worse still, pretty much everyone’s experience of interfacing with AI is that it has no common sense ( it has turned applying for a new passport into a nightmare) and in many situations it lacks the essentially human innovation needed to get round an impasse, or deal with a completely new situation. For example, AI doesn’t know about Convo19, and has no idea what a 30% drop in Chinese output will produce on the bourses. I predict with no fear whatsoever that this is going to have serious consequences.
Across the globe, we are letting machines do our thinking for us, even though they’re less effective than humans. We’re throwing tens of millions out of work to keep the corporate accountants and shareholders happy, but leaving behind an electoral franchise that lacks discernment of choice (beyond celebrity), has no experience with which fend off braindead belief systems, and zero foresight with which to grasp the consequences.
The day cannot be far off when one or more political members of the élites come right out with the view that the People can’t be trusted with democracy any more. The founders and unelected functionaries of the European Union already think this – at times stating the Catch22 belief openly. The recurring narrative of the 2016 UK referendum losers was that thick, poorly educated and racist citizens voted to Leave the EU. Since the defeat at the hands of Trump, the US Democratic Party has hinted that the problem lies not with it, but with voters being conned by a man who dared to question their crypto-fascist insistence on an extreme liberal hegemony.
The use of closed minds to close ranks is already bad enough. Western first world democracies are split as never before between armed camps that proffer no respect for, or understanding of, the other side. Fear of leaving the ideologico-religious stockade will quickly become acute anxiety if the individual’s confidence in a contrarian solution is never even tried – let alone proved correct.
There are already signs that certain of our species panic when given something to solve wihout a machine to do it for them. Satnav and orientation, long division without a calculator, voting decisions without a Twitter poll….and so on. As the AI/bot army marches ever onwards, this is going to get far worse. What started as a Little Britain sketch (“Computer sez no”) will one day become “computer says wear your gloves, it’s cold outside”.
All independent, human decision making will come to an end. What is already wired into us as the herding instinct will become membership of a regiment where the sole judgement criterion will be how well that platoon’s attitudes have been cloned. Hitler’s spirit will be enjoying an infinite wet-dream.
The social and cultural consequences of that will be the removal of all empirical policy development in national and local life…..with two or more armies vying to force-fit new circumstances into their belief system maze of criss-crossing catacombs.
One sees this already in the upcoming US Presidential elections scheduled for later this year. The three biggest threats to America going forward are a collapse in bourse confidence, an event or events forcing up interest rates, and the blatant inability of the US governmental system to keep to its own fiscal rules.
But these are not the issues being talked about in the US media – in fact, quite the opposite. The information channels have been obsessed with Harvey Weinstein, the most ludicrous impeachment attempt in US history, Trump’s equally idiotic SoU outlook of boom times ahead, Me Too, Nancy Pelosi’s Telephone directory tearing-up circus act, and the somewhat sinister arrival of the Bloomberg person in the racing péages.
While Trump’s senators chant for Four More Years, DNC fanatics have neglected their own very real problem of candidate mediocrity: a man whose ’embrace’ of women from 11 upwards seems odd, another approaching his eighties, a gay ‘Radar’ who declares results before they happen, and of course the old lady who now hopes to be the VP in a Bloomberg Presidency. It’s beyond unhealthy: it’s pathetic.
But it was doomed to be inevitable because of the way in which liberals – be they at the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times or the DNC tiller – are far more concerned to nobble the other side’s nag than clean out the horseshit in their own stables.
In Britain, although we are still basking in the BoJo honeymoon clin d’oeil, the potential for disaster is even greater – not least because the opposing armies make up a deadly triangle of Faith terrorists.
Our utterly unreal British cognitive dissonance starts with the anti-misogynist Left courting the Islamists in order to retain their votes, and continues with the sociopathic Right soft-pedalling with Jihadists in order to retain Saudi arms orders. The big loser in this is the citizen, who in various UK cities no longer feels safe any more – and as the outcry against appeasement of Muslim demands and behaviour grows, will undoubtedly see liberties removed in the name of “security”.
And yet….the appeal of the stockade seems stronger than ever. In the farcical aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote, the watchword among centrist-to-Right voters was revenge – revenge upon a political class that brazenly defied the People’s “mistake’ in voting to Leave. Younger and activist Left Remainers, meanwhile, became a majority in the Labour Party, but a dwindling minority in the country.
The incompetence of the electorate last December was multivariate. Almost nobody bothered to interrogate Boris Johnson’s new EU departure deal (indistinguishable from the one vilified under Theresa May) nor indeed to take his history of serial duplicity, cover-ups and broken promises into account. The Left persisted in its long-proven vilification of British values, while turning a blind eye to the magnifying glass at last being trained upon Islamic rape gangs….but Northern Labour voters reacted in near-silence as Johnson brokered a grubby deal with Brexit Party bankroller Arron Banks to further doom the Opposition.
There has been much talk since December 12th of traditional Labour voters changing sides, but this only occurred at the older end of demography. Under forties on the Libleft remain steadfast in their belief that Islam is the religion of peace, the EU is a blameless pillar of human rights screwed by Little Englanders, that Brexit will result in untold chaos and bankruptcy, and their Party is about to engage in a healing process.
Compare the popular vote of Labour/LibDem to the Tories, and BoJo’s margin of victory was a wafer-thin 0.8%.
In five years’ time, with more baby-boomers dead and a degree of global economic unravelling, the Wishful Unthinking Tendency will be in the majority. AI will help ensure that the average left cortex atrophies further….and the power-hungry media barons, both old and new, will forget once and for all what their raison d’etre is.
Of course, there will be resisters. The decline in thinking in favour of nodding heads began in a politicised education system and was then exacerbated by parents convinced there were more exciting things to life than encouraging children to have an independent viewpoint. My own family did not escape this: it has taken me five years to talk my two out of unvarnished admiration for Brussels; in 2016, they both voted Remain. They were utterly convinced that Leave would lose.
And yet…..and yet: they have married men who doubt all public information, and both daughters are outspoken about anti-social behaviour and the need for honesty. As I say, there will always be contrarians who make their own minds up.
But how many of them will there be? And how will they be viewed by the broad swathe of society – as brave freedom fighters, or eccentric (even dangerous) nutjobs? There are those who will insist that the creation of docile electors from already conformist educational output is all a carefully designed plot, but I doubt it: I buy into Labour’s deliberate import of poor families to get votes, because that was typically opportunistic. But I have yet to meet any politician with either the power or the patience to put such a conspiracy into practice.
That doesn’t mean to say Whiteminster won’t now take full advantage of this perfect storm. With the threat of banking annihilation in the air – given our continued overdependence as a nation on that sector – I am sure that Bojo and Sedwill may use it to try and purge government of those they see as The Enemy Within.
But somehow, I can’t see a love of liberty and democracy guiding their definition of The Enemy: it never has before, so why should it now?
I wrote here, before the recent general election, that if Sedwill stayed, then the portents were not good. I still think that. I also still believe that a huge amount depends on what Dominic Cummings does (or is allowed to do) and whether he gets edged out.
The thing I like above anything about Dom is that all those media hypocrites and Brexit doomsayers I have grown to detest loathe the bloke. They do so because, more than any other figure in public life today, he threatens every dimension of our multifaceted Establishment.
But the bottom line of this essay isn’t a short-term one. Rather, it is a call for vigilance. All I dare ask of people any more is that they seize every last opportunity to challenge shibboleths in their everyday lives. I can’t see any useful reform of our education system coming, so the best thing is for thinkers to influence the young by challenging every “received truth” cliché they utter.
Joni Mitchell (whose politics, by the way, have no appeal for me) once answered a question about musical and lyrical composition as follows:
“So I go through all the words and circle every cliché. Then I interrogate every chord progression on the same basis. Then I ask if the song still has a strong idea in it. It’s the only way to stay true to yourself as an artist”.
She was just one Canadian kid with a burning obsession to stay original. One kid who influenced the way most guitarists played for half a century.
The aim of The Slog remains the same: to help protect fragile creativity from big process.