AI, the Human Brain, and PTSD
Very refreshing to read a piece like this. In my experience AI enthusiasts rarely seem to focus on the unique complexity of the human mind and body compared to AI programs and instead focus on the increasing 'intelligence' of these programs. It also strikes me as odd that improvement in the intelligence of AI should correspond to a conscious AI. Chickens aren't the brightest among us but we can probably agree that they are conscious.
I've also been interested in learning more about PTSD and your insights are greatly appreciated. I'm looking forward to reading more.
Nicely put. I’m a trauma survivor too and have been learning slowly to recognize those triggers and my brain-gut connection. Perhaps as a result of this more nuanced appreciation of how our brains work, I’m less worried than my colleagues in tech that AI is on the verge of putting us all out of work.
Have you read “Body Keeps the Score”? I’ve got tons of personal experience with the way our body holds information our minds aren’t yet ready to process...it’s fascinating and has led me to think our entire body has intelligences of various sorts, right down to our feet.
It’s a fascinating topic. Thanks for sharing.
It was an interesting read and a lot of useful information.
In general, I agree with you, but it is not entirely clear why you oppose research in the direction of artificial general intelligence to research in biological intelligence.
To whom is this opposition directed?
For those who hype on the topic of AI? But they do not care about scientific truth, their goal is usually in the field of marketing, and their actions are guided by pragmatism (so it does not matter if they agree with you or not)
AI researchers? But they are aware of what you write and are aware of how it intersects with their work.
I don't know how immersed you are in the technical details of modern AI architectures, but the 'T' in GPT means "transformer", which means learning the internal representation of phrases, images, and signals, and the "attention" mechanism that learns the correlations between these representations. That is, in fact, the transformer learns to operate with the meanings of the input information in a style similar to the manipulations of "images" and "patterns" described by you.
This in no way means that the transformer is comparable to biological thinking. Doesn't this mean that there is now a new line of research to better understand how biological intelligence works? A better understanding of the brain can be gained by drawing analogies not only from biological intelligence to artificial intelligence (as has been done since McCulloch, Pitts, and Rosenblatt), but also vice versa.
Airplanes do not fly like birds, but they do, and dreams of the sky stimulated the development of scientific knowledge about the world around us (physics, mechanics, aerodynamics) which eventually gave rise not only to aviation, but also to a better understanding of bird flight as such.
an illuminating look at the "human processor"...I do a lot of thinking on how we humans, with all of our collective technological development and complex interpersonal systems, can throw all of it out of the window in an instant based on the material circumstances at hand.
I did take special interest in this part of your post:
"This creates a discordance if we are actually safe as most of us are in our first-world lives. While externally everything ‘feels’ safe, our gut is telling us something is wrong and so the brain freaks out. Because a threat that we can’t see is the worst thing for human survival. Historically, these were the threats that could kill you the fastest. So, the brain starts dumping alarm signals that lead to hyper-awareness and worry. What we diagnose as Anxiety."
how does this reality sqaure with threats that are more impending than imminent, like climate change, resource shortages, and social degradation? it often feels "safe," but the writing is on the wall.
how can we counter what seem to be the inevitable effects of accurately percieving the world around us with an eye on the future?
Very impressive thinking and writing you're doing, Michael. Thank you.