Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence

Updated: Mar 5

The field of philosophy has increasingly been seen as something outdated, or not relevant to our modern technological age.

But, all things go in cycles. And, actually, in the coming years, I am convinced that Philosophy will have a vital part to play in shaping our world — particularly when it comes to the future of technology, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

For example, one of the most fundamental elements to the long term use of any Artificial Intelligence programme is its ethics. In other words, how can we ensure that this new technology will be used for the good of humanity, rather than for its detriment.

Of course, a question as broad as this will naturally lead to a whole host of discussions (which we do not have enough time to detail fully here)

But, though we may lack firm answers at this stage — the one fact we can be absolutely sure of is that questions like this cannot be solved by computer science alone.

Just as it is impossible to develop an optimally functioning form of Artificial Intelligence without the help of gifted developers and computer scientists . . . so too, it will be impossible to develop a truly benevolent and beneficial form of artificial intelligence, without some sort of grounding in philosophy.

So, now more than ever, we need to be asking ourselves very serious questions like “What constitutes a Good Life?” “How do we find meaning?” “How should we treat each other?” “How would we want to be treated by an external / intelligent programme?” “What do we really need in order to advance Human potential?” “Are some of our modern priorities actually getting in the way of our intellectual or spiritual growth?”

Because inevitable, the artificial intelligence we are creating now, will one day have the ability to take charge of so much of life as we know it. So, in that sense, we are like a society on the cusp of electing a new leader. Only, this time, we have the direct ability to programme what kind of leader we will have. And, more importantly, define how it will work for our benefit.

In that sense, it brings to my mind something Plato wrote in The Republic — of how the ideal city would be governed by so called “philosopher kings”.

But, with our modern world, the idea is perhaps that we need a new breed of philosopher scientists and philosopher developers too.

Because, after all, these are the people who are currently building the next generations of technology which will shape all our lives in the very near future.

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