The Decaffeinated life generated by AI

AI is fast becoming omnipresent. It is going to do several important tasks. One area it will certainly enter is the caregiving of the sick, lonely and elderly. Here it may enable people to look after their beloved from a distance. It may offer endless evenings of dialogue about books, movies, politics, food etc. They may even cook food and serve it to the old and the sick. They may even monitor the health and give updates as well as administer medicines. The old and sick will know that they are not dealing with real people. But the AI offers a feel of the real. We may be facing an AI version of decaffeinated life.

We seem to be desperate for a master but only one that we can dominate. We have done it with all technology. But the new developments do castrate our anthropocentric arrogance. We can no longer become masters and possessors of nature. AI is fasting becoming a master of our nature. But we are still hankering for mastery over AI mastery. This mastery over AI mastery is where the issue of ethics over the generation and operation of AI is centred. It is motivated by the fear that we may not be able to control AI. Besides such a fully controlled life is bereft of meaning, lacks the surprise of serendipity and joy of wonder. We do have real fears that those who drive AI revolution may not be able to control their own creations. But there is no dearth of techno-gnostic enthusiasts who welcome the fast-approaching future which is a mixed bag.

We have already dealt with decaffeinated Other in our society. Today Indians are decaffeinated as Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others. We seem to enjoy our attempts to castrate the other and deprive him or her of otherness. Everyone has to become Hindu or so or face the prospect of being not Indian enough. This means the other has to become the same as some of us. We then inflict our religion, politics and even our personality on the other. We like a decaffeinated other. All politics is centred around this demand for a decaffeinated other. But while we demand a decaffeination of the other, we are not aware that we also have to turn our back to our real selves. We cannot truly be ourselves. We are also decaffeinated by our religion, ideology etc.

Our pollical space is defined by decaffeination. It exhibits a thirst for decaffeinated life. The fact that we have come to hate the real other and love a decaffeinated other, we are already ready for an AI-driven decaffeinated life. Our libidinal investments in decaf politics have already prepared us for an AI-generated decaf life. This is why simple people may not be afraid of AI-generated decaffeinated life. But the experts have already foreseen the danger and had already signed a self-chosen six months moratorium on research on AI. There are questions about that six-month pause as it was about control and regulation. The natural question is: control in whose hands? Who has the right to represent humanity? We do have the fear of the rise of new digital over Lords.

AI that offers care to the old and sick is a neighbour with no hidden motives. It must, therefore, be said that it is only AI that can fulfil our demand for a decaffeinated other. The politics of the de-caffeinated other reached its fullness in the coming of the decaf life generated by AI. Our secret hope for a decaffeinated life can only be brought into actualization by an AI. This AI-generated life engages us not with face-to-face encounters but offers us the second-best thing. The second best thing is decaffeinated coffee. It lacks the das ding, the thing of a coffee. It is a coffee without the sting of a coffee.

AI is finally fully blossoming our egoist drive. It is the crystallisation of inordinate self-love. This egology is destructive. It is these egoistic instincts that are fearing the loss of mastery over AI. But AI being the inheritor of our own bias may indeed be dangerous to humans as well as nature. This is why, we need to inscribe the principle of no harm in all AI. We ourselves have to take upon this principle of no harm to us. This may enable us to resist our demand for a decaffeinated other. This demand actually castrates the other. The other is not allowed to be the same. Neither self is able to be real. Hence, the principle of no harm may not solve all our ethical quanderies. Yet it may reverse our politics that demand the other to become decaffeinated. Thus, we may be enabled to turn the clock and reverse our politics to a humane form. The demand for decaffeinated others gave us a decaffeinated AI that endangers our life. Therefore, while inscribing the principle of no harm, we have the challenge to accept the no harm principle in our real life and embrace the otherness of the other. In India, we have the challenge to embrace otherness and diversity and become diverse Indians.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao