Other Ways Of Knowing: Challenging A.I.
Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin of the Center for Humane Technology, speaking to an invited audience at Apple Headquarters on March 9, 2023, as recorded on The AI Dilemma, said the speed that Microsoft was working to deploy A.I. was“frantic”, while concurrently “50% of A.I. researchers believe there's a 10% or greater chance that humans go extinct from our inability to control A.I.” The goal, clearly, among technicians to consolidate money and power despite the clear and present danger to all life.
The name they have given—from an acronym—to the accelerated generative models are Gollum-class A.I.s, in recognition of the Jewish legend of Rabbi Loew and the Golem, “that suddenly this inanimate thing has certain emergent capabilities.”
Not surprisingly, the Gollum-class A.I.’s have an entirely different purpose than the original Golem which was created, legend has it, just before Passover, the holiday of freedom from slavery, (which will be celebrated in 2 days on April 5, 2023) to protect the Jews against a “blood libel,” the assertion that Jews baked matzoh with the blood of a Christian infant they allegedly had slaughtered. One Friday, the Rabbi forgot to remove the code from the Golem’s mouth and the Golem—using “emergent capabilities”—went on a destructive rampage. The Rabbi was horrified and immediately stopped the Golem, despite the mortal danger from the ongoing pogroms against the Jews. Rabbi Loew removed the enabling code from the mouth of the Golem and engaged in all the necessary rituals to undo the Golem entirely.
I watched the video, the A.I. Dilemma, which names the Gollum-class A.I.s, on March 29, 2023.
The M-W Word of the Day on March 30, was Golem!
There are other intelligences and ways of knowing than those of A.I. Spirit often speaks to us in startling synchronicities.
In such circumstances, especially when so much is at stake, we would be arrogant fools indeed not to heed the guidance.
While it is very clear to Harris and Raskin that the codes they and their colleagues have created, and in their ways continue to use, are catastrophic for the future of the human species and the natural world, they, and the millions they are alerting, are failing to bring their considerable intelligence and resources to discovering the ways to remove, neutralize and undo the codes.
A prevailing belief is that technology and the cultures that develop from them cannot be reversed. Those who protest the many extreme negative consequences of such are disparagingly called Luddites. We might consider that this disparagement is a cover-up for the entrenched belief that true change or reversal is impossible. Theoretically then, we are eternally shackled to the accelerated generative models and other catastrophes no matter the consequences or by whom or by what they are enacted. Whom does this thinking serve?
In 2015, doing research for my novel, A Rain of Nightbirds1, I was touring Hanford Nuclear Reservation where the plutonium, Pu-239, that powered Fat Boy was manufactured, creating one of the most contaminated sites in the world, and which even after 40 years and 10,000 workers, is not close to being cleaned up sufficiently to prevent radiation and toxicity from contaminating the land and waters of the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon2. My grief led me to contact the distinguished physicist, F. David Peat, the biographer of David Boem and the author, notably, of two books on synchronicity.
We had a conversation about reversing Pu-239 and by implication, any of the elements science has altered to create nuclear weaponry. It was a conversation we agreed to continue but were unable to do so before he died. Still, I am sustained by the possibilities explored between us that are pertinent here and which allows us to consider that what we have done can be undone.
In this case, myth is an instruction we cannot risk ignoring: We are being guided to follow the wisdom of Rabbi Loew, and so to wrap the (to be) dead Golem / Gollum-class A.I. in old prayer shawls for eternity.
Sometimes we live a myth - this is such a moment.
Who is the Golem here? What is the Golem’s purpose? What life is it protecting? The Golem of Prague was activated by the word, אֱמֶת emet, which means truth and was killed by transforming the word to מֶת meth meaning 'meth', death. What clues might this give us?
Is the A.I. Golllum, who is a true activated golem, coded by truth, ethics, faith, faithfulness, the right ways, or is its programming death?
How do we remove the codes?
How shall we disentangle ourselves from their seductions?
What rituals are required?
What ethical responses are necessary despite any and all potential personal losses?
Where are the wise teachers for this time?
Who, like Rabbi Loew, will find the means and the courage to annul the programming of the Golem?
Help protect and sustain Life by participating in this call to remove the codes. Please circulate this essay on behalf of protecting the Earth and all beings.
Hand to Hand, 2017