Conversation on Becoming: Between AI (Ro)Bot & the Human

By LJ Frank

The psychologist, Gordon W. Allport delivered a humanistic series of lectures in 1954 and the dilemma humans faced in the 20th century machine age. Erudite as it was to his audiences at the time, it now feels sightly antiquated in 2023. AI Artificial Intelligence, AI generated bots and humanity at times appears to be evolving in a cosmological footnote in time.

Allow me to briefly describe an experience I had in the past 48 hours. I wrote and published an article about the Christopher Steele Dossier on May 2. It was not a deep dive, rather leaning towards an anecdotal quality.

The following morning, I noticed unusual activity on my site’s analytics under statistics. User location visitor listings included Spain, Russia, South Africa, China, UK, Seychelles, and USA as visitors on a map. But the ISPs were not ones I recognized from those countries. I check the ISPS for Spain as one example and all ISP locations from Spain were in reality from Denver, CO.

The architecture of Bot Ethics leaves something to be desired. I prefer honest artificial intelligence. It’s gamesmanship that leads to disillusion and mistrust. (Further research including contacting various services revealed there were 4500 visits and 1200 bots.) One wonders when will bots surpass the presence of humans and humanoids? It was further revealed through a human from my website hosting service later on that Bots were a likely source and after that chat I discovered that another source was playing from another city on the USA East Coast as well as from southern Australia.

I found it all amusing. There’s really nothing new. Vanity remains intact. Is there anything new to read into it? Probably not.

Still, I step back and wonder about the decade’s old philosophy of machine ethics. What will our software look like by tomorrow and my perception of who is reading NPJ be what the analytics suggest or will it be veiled under an Artificially Intelligent (ro)bot designed by whom and for what purpose? Meanwhile, I sent a question to one of my sources and the reply was insightful and stated this reply was generated by Artificial Intelligence.

More relevant than Allport’s work for me is I and Thou by Martin Buber, the philosopher theologian, who talks on one level, metaphorically speaking, naming people and things for approachability, accessibility, and controllability. Will AI or Artificial Intelligence become “I” and humans become “Thou” in the emerging future?

In 1971 on my way to the Middle East and in particular, Jerusalem, I was on a train across southern India and on the outskirts of then Bombay, now Mumbai, I met a woman in her 70s with whom we struck up a conversation with each other. She told me someday I would be wealthy (in experience.) She also told me about a man she met in the 1920s. The man was Gandhi. She noted he was very much a humanist and was worried about the machine replacing weavers. He understood what makes a person human. I was interested in what shapes human belief and our conversation lasted for over an hour while sitting at a small, dusty, square wood table outside a restaurant sipping tea.

I tried yesterday to have a deeper personal conversation with humans and found a wealth of good information from Artificial Intelligence but it wasn’t nor expected to be a human conversation. What do I expect from either AI or human? How are those identities merging?