Felipe Gómez-Pallete, president of Democratic Quality and Culture: “We are playing god with artificial intelligence” | Technology
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Felipe Gómez-Pallete, born in Reinosa (Cantabria) 78 years ago, has been able to observe from executive watchtowers of large companies, such as Inditex or IBM, the effects of technologies that ceased to be new a long time ago. author of The society of the information. Risks and opportunities for the Spanish company (Science of Management, 1988) together with such prominent authors as Eduardo Punset, Emilio Fontela, José Luis Sampedro and Luis Racionero, among others, is now embarking on a new publishing adventure together with Paz de Torres (former director of Cisco), with who also shares the direction of Democratic Quality and Culture, an organization designed to facilitate citizen participation. This new job Don’t let the trees prevent you from seeing the forest: paths of artificial intelligence (scheduled for publication in Círculo Rojo in October), addresses the transformation of society based on systems and machines that mimic the human way of thinking. He considers that it is necessary to anticipate and act in the face of something as promising as it is conflictive. “We are playing god,” he warns.
Ask. What is behind artificial intelligence?
Response. Various forces. One of them is economic interests, make no mistake. There is also the scientific interest, whose curiosity has no limits. And then the philosophical engine. Man has always tried to create copies of himself, even better ones. One of the authors we quoted [en el libro] affirms that we do it for the same reason that we have children. The drive that moves us is to feel like creators. It’s like playing god. It’s what we’re doing. That would be the philosophical interpretation, but the earthly and powerful interpretation is that of the economic interests behind this, like any technological innovation.
P. Google fired engineer Blake Lemoine for attributing sentiment to an artificial intelligence program.
R. Artificial intelligence will not have feelings. You can program, turn into algorithms, everything that is knowledge or ideas, but feelings, human feeling, seems to me absolutely unprogrammable. I recently reread yesterday’s world, by Stefan Zweig, where he states: “Only illusion, not knowledge, makes man happy”. illusion cannot be algorithmize and, therefore, I do not believe in these so-called transhuman or posthuman replicas. Maybe we are confusing desire with reality because, if it were true, turn it off and let’s go.
It can be programmed, converted into algorithms, everything that is knowledge, ideas, but feelings, the human feeling, seems to me absolutely unprogrammable
P. Can artificial intelligence affect dignity?
R. It is one of the aspects that most concerns us. [a los autores del libro]. Dignity, freedom, social recognition…. Advances in artificial intelligence, in one way or another, can jeopardize or alter these values. Rafael Yuste, who leads the Brain project and advised Obama, warns that there are advances that are changing human nature. It is very serious.
P. Is technology neutral?
R. Technology is not neutral, it is like a match with which you can light your child’s birthday candle or set the mountain on fire. The entire technological process that ends up crystallizing in a product, be it a match or an artificial intelligence system, responds to the interests and values of the moment in which it is developed. And the artificial intelligence that is being developed responds to political, social and economic interests.
P. Are we too cautious when it comes to giving up our data?
R. Recently, at a gathering of friends, one of them said that he didn’t care if he was being watched, but he should know that if you’re sleeping with someone and the other also has a cell phone, a lot of people will know when, where and with whom you’ve been sleeping. asleep, to say something mundane. We are giving all sorts of data about ourselves, our behavior, what we like or don’t like, where we are, what we buy…
All advances in artificial intelligence, in one way or another, can jeopardize or alter the parameters that make up dignity
P. Does that violate the dignity of people?
R. Yes, among other things, because it invades your privacy. It undermines your dignity because you let go of intimate arguments that explain your life. To argue that we provide the personal data that we want to give is a half-truth.
P. Will artificial intelligence end up destroying the workforce?
R. It is an old controversy. He has been working on this issue since the eighties, in the field of information and communication technologies. Technologies, and specifically artificial intelligence, destroy and create jobs. It is obvious. And the balance is not clear. Lluís Racionero used to say that we should not tear our hair out because there is less and less work: it is not a failure of capitalism; it is the demonstration of its success because, if we understand by capitalism the gradual substitution of the labor factor for the capital factor, that is what we are doing, we are substituting human labor for forms of capital and this is what it is.
P. Is it just a matter of quantity or, also, of quality of work?
R. Both. The substitution of the person for algorithms modifies and diminishes the possibilities of learning, because the machine “is left” with circumstances in which the person can no longer be formed because they are opaque to it.
P. Can artificial intelligence be regulated?
R. The products, systems and services that were born in the laboratory and are on the market obviously need to be regulated. Europe has much more muscle and interest than the United States or China, but that battle must continue to be fought. But our focus is not on the regulation of existing artificial intelligence systems. We ask: wouldn’t it also be convenient to put the magnifying glass of regulation at the origin, at the beginning, at basic research? Is it lawful for humanity to investigate anything, to develop anything? One of our favorite quotes is this from Margaret Boden: “We must be very careful what we invent.” That is the key, because the technology, once developed, there is no stopping it. We can regulate it, temper it, but we are late. Why don’t we explain the pros and cons of regulating basic research, where new developments are born? We have not seen that there is interest or focus on research, on the source of the river. They justify us that, in the end, they will provide remedies. But they do not tell us the other side of the coin: the enormous economic interests to which they respond.
The technology, once developed, there is no stopping it. We can regulate it, temper it, but we are late
P. Is it the case of the metaverse?
R. Who is going to create the metaverse if not because, behind it, there is an immense and unimaginable billionaire accumulation of economic interests? Is it being done for the happiness of mankind? Well no. So why isn’t it made that clear?
P. Can citizens do something?
R. In our book we make a call to equip citizens with philosophical and historical thought. If you are educated about what life is and how it unfolds over time, we will handle these waves of technology in a way that is much more measured or conducive to human happiness.
P. Does it mean that we are looking for happiness in technology when it is in our very essence?
R. We are looking outside and we have to look inside. Artificial intelligence is practically absent from the public debate and we want to launch a small cry, mobilize civil society, promote initiatives that make citizens demand more clarity, that part of what they sell us is not hidden only as a benefit for humanity . It is not like this. Absolutely. For now, it destroys jobs with the promise of creating many more and invades people’s privacy. It changes the essence of the human being, as Rafael Yuste repeatedly says. We are not against artificial intelligence and its benefits. We are against selling part of the truth.
Is the metaverse being made for the happiness of mankind? Well no. So why isn’t it made that clear?
P. Should we introduce ethics in the first steps of technology?
R. In the United States, France, Italy or Canada they pay a lot of attention, a lot of resources, a lot of money and a lot of researchers to the ethics applied to artificial intelligence. In Spain we see it, but with less vigor; it is more part of an official discourse, because it has to be said, but I really don’t see great promoters of ethics in the field of artificial intelligence among us.
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