The downfall of humanity could very well be our inability to recognize that we are, in fact, all supposed to be different. This flaw in the cultural ideologies that permeate every society around the globe forces the vast majority of us to fear and demonize our differences rather than embrace them. It is the cause for all of our wars, all of the violence, and all of the hate we’ve seen and continue to see every day. In reality though, there is no us vs. them, or this group or that. There is no bell curve of intelligent souls. Until we recognize this fundamental truth, we will continue to experience the pain and suffering that casual discrimination begets. If we want a better future, we need to start by having a bigger conversation with ourselves and with each other about accepting that everyone should be different.
There is another reason that starting this conversation is important. There are thousands of brilliant minds working extremely hard everyday to develop a computational model of human intelligence that is commonly referred to as artificial intelligence, or AI. Artificial intelligence is kind of a misnomer because there is really no such thing as “artificial” intelligence: there is only intelligence. Intelligence is a trait of any sentient being regardless of whether this greater awareness depends on biological or electromagnetic phenomena. As the great minds working to create sentient life from computers get closer to their goal, the conversation that continues to dominate the media is about how we are going to deal with them and if these new intelligent beings are going to take over the world. This is the wrong conversation. When the human race finally does come into contact with another sentient intelligence, we need to embrace it for being what it is and not worry about how to control what it will become. Our first conversation needs to be one that rises above discrimination and accepts that all sentient intelligence is supposed to be different and the only thing we have in common is that we are aware, that we are in a sense alive.
It is unclear when exactly humanity will have this conversation with another sentient intelligence and who will be present when it occurs. There are some that believe another sentient intelligence will simply emerge as S&T reaches new bounds and others that think were only years away from creating it in a lab. The uncertainty about how and when this conversation will take place means that we will almost certainly not be prepared for it when it happens. If we want to make sure our first conversation with another sentient intelligence sets the right precedent for that future relationship, then we need a culture change that values differences. If we can instill the notion around the world that intelligent beings are supposed to be different and that we are not supposed to think or act the same now, then we won’t have to worry about having the right plan in place for when another sentient being makes contact with humanity.
Let’s start a bigger conversation today. Let’s see each other for who we are and embrace it. Let’s bring out the true human potential by recognizing we are all different and that is what makes us the same.