Today’s world is in considerable trouble as a result of the rejection of liberal democracy by some nationalist leaders and simultaneously by the rise of demagogues within liberal democracies. Why is this happening? Because we are in a most unusual condition —there is no philosophy, world-view, religion or ideology around at the present time which ticks all the boxes the most discerning observers regard as essential.
Liberal Democracy itself is only a shell position, one which has always in the past been able to ride on the back of a majority of its members’ firmly held beliefs. Left without this support, it looks toothless, weak and rather unsatisfactory.
These blogs are, of course, offering a solution to this situation, or in other words, offer a new world-view which does (spectacularly) tick all the boxes the most discerning people regard as essential. So why is it necessary to say this? Because the most discerning people aren’t noticing this amazing innovation very much. They are almost all looking elsewhere for the answer. They seem to be fixated onto IT and especially onto AI generated IT, which they think might gradually turn into the kind of thing which meets our needs.
They are going to be disappointed, though, because they haven’t taken the big picture about IT into account. IT is run on computers (including mini-computers like smartphones) and what computers do is to electronically automate mathematics. So it is the rich potential of ‘automated mathematics’ which these discerning people are, in effect, banking on. But they have overlooked three important facts: (a) that the IT community has long since nailed its colours to the mantra <<that IT has nothing to do with mathematics>> (b) that modern mathematics is in a state of terminal crisis, because its mo-jo has virtually evaporated. The gurus of modern mathematics have let their subject muddy its own concepts to the point where no one is sure what is valid in modern mathematics any more: and the whole panorama of its millions of deeply obscure abstract discoveries is much too daunting for anyone, however brilliant, to comprehend. Also (c) the demoralised higher maths gurus have given-in to the IT lobby and allowed it a ‘free hand’ to do whatever it likes with automated applications of maths. The only principle likely to be observed by those who have been given this unqualified free hand is, I’m afraid, ‘making money’. A great deal of money has already been made. Today in the corridors of IT it is easy money which calls the shots.
So, as a by-product of this seriously unhealthy situation, the potential of IT to determine the future of humankind has been hyped to the skies. The godfathers of IT are treated as the brainiest people on the planet and it suits their style to talk-up the digital marvels they are about to show-off. But, in the last analysis, all IT does is to copy, break-up and re-assemble information. (The latter creates new examples of simulated information.) This process has been gathering pace for several decades and we now have a situation where simulation has been allowed to develop techniques which can show X (as bad as you like) being Y (as good as you like) with uncanny professionalism, polish and apparent credibility. These are techniques of mass obliteration. They could wipe out the moral perceptivity of the entire human race. (An example: a concocted video appearing to show The Pope endorsing Donald Trump for the White House in 2016.)
It is therefore becoming important to realise that the power of the godfathers of IT to freely determine the future is a long way away from any kind of democratic or civilised control. It is essential that we must insist on the democratic accountability of IT.
The raw limitations of AI are shown by its many howlers when used to generate sub-titles for films and TV programmes in real time.
CHATgpt is supposed to be another marvel, but it merely assembles bits of truistic information from a huge data base to produce passable but mediocre statements which —properly understood— are not ‘statements’ at all, because no identifiable person has stated them. It is just another step towards devilishly dangerous simulation.
As part of the democratic accountability of IT it is essential that all such IT concocted ‘pseudo-statements’ should be accompanied —as a legal requirement— by an icon saying that they are impersonal concoctions.
The readers of CHATstuff can, if they choose, prefer to live in a semi-virtual mode, where they are happy to treat the output of modern IT sophistry as if it were the considered opinion of some wise flesh-and-bones honest person who had reflected deeply on the matter. That would be their choice, like people who are happy to pay real money to buy hectares of farmland in the metaverse.
IT was left in an enfeebled state when the gurus of higher maths rolled-over in the 1960s and tacitly allowed its godfathers a complete freedom to drag the name of ‘automated mathematics’ through the mud. Now the consequences of that enfeeblement are coming home to roost.
CHRISTOPHER ORMELL 1st April 2023