The "why" of my guest post on Michael Spencer's AI Supremacy
I’m totally with you on this one Birgitte: interacting with algorithms and with AI dehumanizes us, distancing us from more deeply satisfying (albeit sometimes frustrating) relations with real humans. I know that one way I’ve responded to the dehumanizing aspects of the proliferation of digital interactions is to push myself into the kinds of interactions that require human, face-to-face interaction. I’ve taken to working for a local bakery, running their booth at a nearby farmer’s market, and this has led me to get to known a bunch of people who come to the market weekly to get food and other goods grown and made by their neighbors. There’s a little girl who has come to know me as “the muffin man,” and we have an ongoing joke, me and her mother. It’s one of the most satisfying interactions of my week. This is a deep essay. Thanks.
The way you talk about scattering and atomizing made me think of something ... My new grad degree is in visual and critical studies and we've been talking a lot about the diaspora as it relates to art. The root of the word diaspora is disperse and it made me curious to think about this fragmentation caused by the algorithms as creating a kind of non-geographical diaspora. Not a fully formed thought yet but that was my initial reaction to reading this. <3
So much to absorb and process here, Birgitte. Thank you. I do feel the continual shift away from in-person, in depth connection is harmful to my mental and physical well being. After periods of over participation in social media, I sometimes feel unwell, tired, and sad and have to ask myself, "why am I supposed to be in these spaces again?" FOMO is a beast. And not a particularly friendly one.
As a techie who used to have hands in such systems your words run true at every step. I've only been on Substack for a few days, but the quality of (human) writing I've found has been quite inspiring. Your tips at the end made me pause. I feel you there. Don't forget the humans. Indeed.
But only if we can discern them. I've read a few articles on the Stack that were obviously written by AI. Not surprising of course, but the gushing comments that followed certainly were.
Thanks for your thoughts.
I enjoy the opportunity to connect in person with people. Some of them I know, some of them I am meeting for the first time like it happened this week at an event in San Jose, California. There is no doubt that they are human.
Using the telephone is the next desirable medium to connect with people, with text, email, or social media as the last one.
We have choices to communicate with people on Earth.
As humanity starts settling beyond earth, it is going to be harder to see them in person, or even talk to them on the phone, but for that, let us be prepared to continue to improve the ways that people connect.
This wave of AI will pass like the previous ones did.
Let us be a cork in the ocean and stay afloat as each wave of adversity in human connection comes and then goes.
What a journey! It was fascinating and a bit distressing to hear about your experience writing this post behind the scenes, thank you so much! The title "The datafication of the human being" would be an excellent sequal for this series which sounds important to your ruminations on technology and impact of digital on our human condition.
There's a lot of real data on what loneliness does to people on a level of health, well-being and life expectancy. It's also I admit a very emotional topic for me as well. As civilization goes further down the rabbit hole with virtual reality, generative A.I. and video obsession and especially gaming it will continue to have a profound impact on us, and yet remain on the fringes, margins and under-reported in part by the lobbying of major tech corporations.
Recently Roblox had issues around diversity and very few women in positions of leadership there, and you know it's all really connected. More women need to talk about not just women in tech, but the moral impact of these products on us, on our kids and how they are growing up differently from historical baselines.
Now Neuralink is looking to start human trials. A brain computer interface (BCI) is on the horizon and how we codify and normalize surveillance capitalism is only in its infancy. Our mental health data and genetic data is being collected in addition to all the millions of our other data points these companies have access to by our digital behavior. It's not just about the profound disconnect, but what all of this data capture leads to in a world where more robots and more immersion in digital is as inevitable as the decline of institutions, rituals, intimacy, friendships and communities we used to take for granted that help us cope in life's ups and downs.
Suffice to say that I'm worried what is in store for GenZ and Alpha cohorts who will experience this at far more dangerous levels than perhaps we are today.
Curious to hear more about this delicious sister publication...
This atomization is part of what pushed me out of higher education. It’s precisely what academic assessment endeavors to do. I wrote about this some time ago on Inner Life, with a potentially amusing reference to a feud that Willa Cather had with one of her professors on the subject. https://open.substack.com/pub/innerlifecollaborative/p/numbers-trouble?r=16vgt&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web
I always appreciate a little "peek behind the writing curtain", Birgitte. Thanks for this!