Sophia the Goddess versus Sophia AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Goddess News’ axiom:
‘If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’
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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