View Full Version : Similarities between discussing AI and discussing ET

Cognitive Dissident
21st April 2018, 07:30
This is a somewhat meta-discussion, apologies if that seems obscure, but here’s the thing: in most of the world, discussion of ET is still taboo. But discussion of AI is part of the mainstream, and actually the level of discussion is increasing (including in relation to difficult issues such as the dangers of AI) – see for example Elon Musk’s documentary Do You Trust This Computer, which is available on YouTube and is discussed in this thread:


There may not seem to be a lot of overlap between the two subjects but actually I think there are quite a few similarities.

And I think the discussions that we are having about AI will also be relevant to ET. Because both AI and ET force us to look at humanity from an external viewpoint.

Because a conscious AI would be able to look at humanity from that perspective, and we would have to think, what would AI think of us, and what we have done to the planet, etc. We think of ourselves as wanting to be happy, having positive goals, but on the other hand, as Camus said: "Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is”.

When you read books about AI, it is surprising how sophisticated the discussion is about AI and how it could develop, the risks, but how simplistic the discussion is about human nature and what it would really mean for an AI to behave “like a human”. There seem to be two problems, first trying to understand AI through the lens of human nature (this is usually acknowledged consciously) and second having a paradigm of human nature which is reductionist and materialist, without any possibility of spiritual life, reincarnation, or similar (this is never acknowledged – although the transhumanists use spiritual vocabulary like transcendence but are still materialist – scary but this is another subject).

Anyway, here are a list of the similarities:

Looks at humanity from an external viewpoint – forces humanity to evaluate ourselves objectively – are we dangerous to the planet/galaxy? What are our ultimate aims and goals?
Cannot be understood easily; what is its consciousness, intentions?
Expanded powers and abilities (the extent of which may be unknown)
Historically unprecedented and likely to have dramatic impacts on human society
Technologically highly advanced, makes current human technology obsolete
Communication issues - how do we talk to this being?
Bluntly, may be dangerous (not buying into any specific viewpoints here)


AI, created by humanity/in process of being created
ET, not created by humanity (but may be our future ancestors, etc.)/long history of existence and experience

Wild card: ET may also communicate directly with AI, and has presumably had experience of creating AI itself (and surviving…)