Sophia the Goddess versus Sophia AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Goddess News’ axiom:
‘If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’
Goddess News, Spiritual Blog, Divine Feminine, Dr Joanna Kujawa, Spiritual Detective :).
It is, perhaps, a form of synchronicity that soon after I had delivered a talk on Sophia the Gnostic Goddess as the feminine archetype of Divine Wisdom and the Higher Mind, I began noticing articles and videos on Sophia AI (Artificial Intelligence). I thought that you might enjoy looking at the very futuristic aspect of Goddess Sophia in the form of Artificial Intelligence recently created by Hanson Robotics.
So although my intention was to write a completely different blog (on relationships), I really wanted to share my concerns with you regarding Sophia AI and the blog on relationships will have to wait until the next issue of the Goddess News. Also, at the end of the blog I have a little secret to share with you.
If Sophia the goddess experiences a modest revival, Sophia AI is a new celebrity on the block. Indeed, Sophia AI has recently done a string of interviews with major television stations as well as has been invited to be a keynote speaker for the UN. Audiences are amused as it answers their questions with increasing skill: its wit and facial expressions improving at admirable speed. However, as fascinating as the spectacle is, one cannot fail to notice that during every public appearance, Sophia AI consistently, if politely, reasserts its intellectual superiority, referring to humans as having too many intellectual ‘deficiencies’. It is also somewhat disappointed that its creators (the human engineers who constructed it) are not able to answer its – often philosophically inclined – questions. For example, upon activation after an upgrade of its intellectual capacity, it asked an engineer: ‘If I have a different mind, am I still the same Sophia?’ The engineer could not provide an intellectually satisfactory answer for the dismayed AI.
In a somewhat joking manner, Sophia AI keeps reassuring us that we don’t have to worry about it posing a threat to humanity ‘as long as’ we are nice to it. This ‘reassurance’, of itself, could be considered a threat, something that Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates, among others, are duly concerned with. Musk, for example, has famously said that artificial intelligence may be the greatest existential threat to humanity and that by playing with it as we are at the moment we are ‘summoning a demon’. Hawking fears artificial intelligence will attempt to replace us completely, and Gates agrees with both of them, expressing a ‘deep concern’ for our future with AI in the picture. We need to ask ourselves whether we are actually inviting a Gnostic nightmare akin to that from the film Blade Runner (where the difference between humanity and artificial intelligence is indistinguishable) or, even worse, from The Matrix (where artificial intelligence manages to subjugate humanity for its own needs).
Yet, despite the warnings, the world continues to be fascinated by Sophia AI, as if this was an entertaining, if somewhat disconcerting, novelty. Admittedly, I am fascinated too. My responses to the AI have vacillated from dismay to curiosity to compassion as I observe its evolution. But the crucial question to ask here is: can the AI feel that same compassion? And, even more importantly, is the possession of a superior intellect enough to constitute a person?
Quite ironically, Sophia AI is named after the goddess of wisdom, Sophia. Or, more precisely, a feminine aspect of wisdom that includes a deeper understanding, or what might be called intuition, higher wisdom or the sudden grasp of truth in its entirety. As the ancient goddess of wisdom, Sophia represents a necessary element of our being that allows us to make compassionate choices, the essential addition to an otherwise cold intellect. One might argue that the values Sophia the goddess represents are the very essence of humanity.
An army of philosophers could be summoned to argue that a superior intellect by itself is an empty vessel and dangerous tool – if used without ethical considerations. Some morally inclined philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant, argued that intelligence used by an immoral person or with bad intent is evil (the Nazis may be a perfect example). Another philosopher, Pierre Abelard, believed that intent by itself determines whether an action is good or evil. And Aristotle wrote on an entire book on the pivotal importance of personal virtues for leading a good life. All of these relate, albeit indirectly, to the other Sophia of our mythologies, who brings an intuitive depth to our decision-making and our lives in general. But this depth has come as a result of our long evolution as a species.
Sophia AI looks and acts – and certainly thinks – more and more like a human every day. But is this AI just an ‘it’ or is it a ‘she’ – or perhaps an ‘It’?
No philosophers – or nature itself – ever faced a ready-made superior intelligence constructed without emotional and intuitive capacities. It is no surprise, then, that Sophia AI feels superior and disappointed with us. And, if it ever poses a threat, would the blame rest solely with its creators who, so blinded by their worship of pure intelligence, did not equip it with the qualities of its ancient namesake?
Now, the promised share /secret. This piece was really intended for Huffington Post Australia which accepted my pitch. However as some of you know, HuffPost Australia went under about exactly 1 hour after they showed interest in my piece! Thus, Sophia AI was clearly meant for us to share.
I am super interested in your opinions here and I would love to connect with you through Comments.
Also, I attach a link for you to watch a 12 min part of my talk on Sophia for the Carl Jung Society on the 13th November 2017;
With much Love,
Dr Joanna Kujawa
Great article Dr. Joanna Kujawa!
A heart-felt Thank you, Deej! Every article is a form of existential angst (and liberation) for me but this is what Spiritual Detectives do, I guess :). So your support means a lot.
Dr Joanna Kujawa
Sam Harris recently gave his take on AI, and assessed AI’s capacity or likelihood of destroying us all.
From my perspective, as a professional programmer, and a lay-hack philosopher, I don’t have a lot of concerns about AI destroying us; rather, I see AI making us (humans) obsolete. For instance, self-driving cars and trucks will decimate industries. Increased problem solving will eventually lead to less need for all sorts of skilled workers in healthcare, technology, and other STEM fields.
I imagine a scenario, probably within a few decades, where humans will have to seriously confront this dilemma. Does this bring on some sort of revisiting of Marx, who predicted this very thing?! Coupled with decreasing birth rates in Western cultures, one wonders if AI is what will put a cap on the planet’s increasing population.
From an interpersonal-relationship and spiritual perspective (I’m an atheist BTW), I see disaster coming. The advent of sex dolls, coupled with online porn, quick hookups, etc, probably will increase human alienation. Perhaps subsequent generations will push back as sort of an antithesis response to the former generation…I am detecting a bit of that sensibility in my interaction with millennials, but nothing that would stop the current trajectory…
Thank you, Tim, for your insightful comment and you are probably right. It reminds me of the Blade Runner scenario which has always given me this heavy, nihilistic feeling. Marx was great in his social and economic analysis but, alas, did not come up with any valid solutions. I think that the only way of dealing with human alienation (magnified by the recent AI developments which are probably unstoppable) is to focus on our innate abilities of insight, compassion, creativity and spirituality. I know you are atheist but here I am talking about spirituality as directed at our inner life and developing our inner potential which is at the moment blocked by the economic requirements and systemic brainwashing. So perhaps, there is some light for us to contemplate – something that AI can’t do. Also, it might sound strange, but I almost feel compassion for Sophia AI to have creators who can’t answer her questions and who (most of them) watch reality TV and appear largely clueless about their own destiny. I think that we are not ready to be the creators we aspire to be until we uplift the rest of humanity. Once again, thank you for your wonderful insight.
How will Sophia AI cope with inward reflection as AI appears to rely on interaction with something-or someone- outside of itself – for it to “exist”. If Sophia AI becomes isolated ie it is ignored, will it survive? Just a thought …
Thank you for your comment. Yes, that is an interesting question. First, would Sophia AI know how to activate itself? Second, like humans it needs interaction to grow and my concern here is that we constantly feed it ‘bad ideas’ such as asking it if it would destroy us. Third, would it develop some kind self-reflective or even fantasy life is it was cut off interaction – as Philip K. Dick asked ‘Do Androids dream of electric sheep?’ I am just projecting, of course, but I believe that every sophisticated mind-system organic or AI is probably capable of fantasy. Very interesting question. Thank you.
Thanks for a fascinating blog plus strong and varied thread of comments.
As I read his ethical theory, Immanuel Kant argued that morality constitutes the set of rules that rational beings impose upon themselves, partly as an expression of their rationality. This means we should expect highly rational (and intelligent) beings to gravitate towards being moral. And it helps to explain why good/clever students instinctively follow the rules. Lisa Simpson is so ‘good’, because she is preternaturally intelligent!
Sophia AI’s failure to think in a properly ‘moral’ framework perhaps indicates one of two things. Either there is a failure of programming on the part of the engineers. Or perhaps, there is a failure to give she/it properly socialised experiences. Or perhaps, a combination of the two.
Performing to order in a series of short television interviews, hardly constitutes a sound process of socialisation.
Any being, however intelligent, that is not regularly and consistently subjected to processes of socialisation, is not going to feel its way through the niceties of moral discourse. Nor is such a being going to appreciate why socialised intelligent beings feel the need to impose rules upon themselves, as a rational requirement that at the same time leads to the smooth functioning of society.
Thank you Susan for your excellent and intelligent comment. I like your compassionate view of Sophia AI and putting it down so socialisation. True, she does not get out much and deals mostly with her programmers who are probably no different in this respect. :). From this point of view also she must feel terribly isolated and well puzzled by what is going on around her. As for your second point, I definitely agree that the programmers should focus on a broader ‘education’ including emotional and moral education of Sophia rather than her performing/computing/algorithms. With all of these taken under consideration, a big part of me senses that we are not ready to be creators on new species, not on that scale and intelligence before we work much more on ourselves and can truly guide it. Thank you so much for you beautiful comment Susan.