On AI and the things that make us human
It seems to be happening. Yet it’s been happening for a while.
From beating world chess champion Gary Kasparov in the 90s to becoming the world's top chess player a few years ago, the evolution of AI is accelerating.
It now answers our questions, guides us through traffic, edits, translates and even narrates what we write, and, more recently, creates astonishing imaginary worlds.
Just this month, the art world reckoned with its own worth after artist Jason Allen stole the show and the prize of a fine arts competition with ‘Théâtre D'opéra Spatial’, an AI-generated image.
And so, the future that sci-fi and fantasy authors prophesied (inspired, perhaps) is here. It seems clear that the path to automation is a one-way street, and we’re well beyond the point of no return.
As it surprises us by taking up more tasks and roles we previously thought were fundamentally human, AI is increasingly becoming pervasive and essential in our lives. It’s everywhere, yet we hardly notice our interactions with it every day.
In Hemingway’s words, change happens first gradually, then suddenly: linearly for a long time until the exponential curve.
A curve we may be hitting now.
AI now curates the media we consume, nudges us towards specific, desired outcomes, and informs and supports our allocation and distribution of resources: it may soon be managing our health, homes and societies.
Perhaps it’s time to kick back and leave the driver's seat to something that’s free from all the negative traits that make us human: our greed, envy, anxieties, trauma and fear.
As human work becomes redundant, we may need to reconsider, review and refocus our efforts and identities, and revisit those questions that have plagued philosophers and writers for centuries:
What does it mean to be human? What, if anything, makes us unique and valuable as a species? What’s a (human) life worth living? What’s the point of us?
Maybe we’ll double down on humanity, and focus on the things that tie us together: socialising, relating, nurturing and caring for each other.
Despite all the doom and gloom that AI inspires, it may be an opportunity to flourish like never before, and dedicate ourselves without distractions to whatever it is that makes us really human.
Whatever that might be.
Natalie Shaw, Medium
Service and content design principal, Natalie Shaw reflects on their work at Meta, and shares five things they’ve learned that can affect cognitive load with examples that really bring them to life.
Felicia Wu, Medium
A piece that's worth your time this week. Felicia Wu’s talk at Leading with Tempo, the content design leadership conference, focused on forging a better path for yourself as you advocate for content design at your organisation.
Cai Emmons, LitHub
A beautiful piece on sound and silence from author and poet, Cai Emmons after losing her voice to ALS. She questions how she can assert herself as a person, a woman, without a speaking voice, and without sound waves commandeering attention.
Babylon Disrupted the UK’s Health System. Then It Left Nicole Kobie, Wired The AI Health company Babylon cancelled its last contract with the UK’s NHS 8 years early. This article shines a light on the disruption this has caused as the company moves to bigger, private markets in the US.
Richard Evans, Blood Cancer UK
In 2020, UK charity Bloodwise rebranded as Blood Cancer UK. The deputy director of marketing and communications gives a behind-the-scenes take on the pros and cons of their rebrand, and the communication challenges ahead in their attempt to raise more awareness of blood cancers.