Éric Sadin is a French philosopher who’s aroused a great deal of interest for his profound reflections on a phenomenon that concerns us all: artificial intelligence. For this thinker, it’s not a question of a simple technological advance, but a fracture of civilization as we know it. In fact, he doesn’t hesitate in claiming that artificial intelligence is the most important philosophical challenge of the 21st century.
Sadin states that the evolution of technology has been exponential in recent years. In the beginning, it was linked with the treatment of information in a functional way, especially, when the volume was extremely large. However, today, according to this expert, technology is capable of ‘creating truths’ and controlling human actions.
Moreover, the philosopher claims that artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly intelligent. Yet, the subjects it affects not only don’t reject this but welcome it with fascination. Indeed, its gadgets and functionalities captivate us all.
“Artificial intelligence stands from now on as a kind of superego, endowed with the intuition of truth and called upon to guide our lives in all circumstances towards the greatest efficiency and comfort imaginable.”
Eric Sadin and artificial intelligence
We must make it clear that Sadin isn’t an ‘anti-tech’ thinker. In fact, he analyzes the impact of new technologies in the framework of civilization and identifies the challenges they pose. One of his concerns is the fact that many of the devices no longer have the task of ‘helping’ us as human beings, but rather ‘replacing’ us.
Obviously, this current technological frenzy is likely to change. But, it’s highly unlikely to be stopped due to the competitive advantages it brings. Sadin believes that we’re close to entering the realms of transhumanism. Therefore, the main challenge will be the fusion between the human brain and the computer, giving rise to a superior reality: superintelligence.
Within the framework of transhumanism, our lives are expected to be much longer. We’ll maintain good physical and mental health for many years. Moreover, our cognitive abilities will be extraordinarily vitaminized. So far, so good. But the problem is that this will be directed and controlled from outside individual consciousness. This means that the ‘perfect world’ will be managed by consciences and interests external to the individual.
The three dimensions of ‘algorithmic life’
Éric Sadin claims that are three dimensions involved in what he calls the ‘digitization of consciousness’ or ‘algorithmic life’. One is ontological and related to being; the other is epistemic and associated with the production of truths. Finally, there’s the ethical-political dimension. This is linked to ethical human conduct and power.
One of the great risks that Sadin warns of is the fact that artificial intelligence has become a producer of truths. Algorithms are able to analyze situations, draw conclusions and propose routes. The simplest example is given by social media. Based on questions or ratings by the individual, the algorithms decide what information should and shouldn’t be shown to them.
This occurs in all fields, including science. Sadin believes a new regime has been inaugurated, that of algorithmic truth. It’s universal. It’s the first time in history that anything like this has happened. It corresponds to the epistemic dimension and has many implications.
The real and the neutral
Sadin also argues that this new version of the world leads to a ‘disappearance of reality’ For him, reality generates uncertainty and sets boundaries. But, in this new ‘perfect’ world built through technologies, it pursues the end of eliminating uncertainty. In other words, eliminating reality.
Another danger lies in the fact that all these advances are presented to the general public as being ‘neutral’. It’s as if this structure has no other intention than to facilitate and improve human life. However, this isn’t the case. Indeed, we already know that algorithms make us good customers but tame voters.
Finally, Éric Sadin warns us about an indisputable fact. We’re changing civilization. As always, this brings benefits, but also risks. Those that are implicit in the world of artificial intelligence are extremely important. Therefore, we shouldn’t lose sight of them.
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