A dialogue between Professor MD PhD Richard Levi, specialist of neuro-rehabilitation at Linköping University Hospital and Dr Luis De Miranda, philosophical practitioner and researcher at the Center for Medical Humanities, Uppsala University.
Most governments and enterprises see AI as a chance and as a positive challenge. But scientists like Stephen Hawking and authors like Karel Čapek, who introduced the word “robot” to the world in a play from 1920, warned against dangers coming with AI. So does much of the fiction written on the topic. Hear a discussion on robots in literature and technology between Michal Pěchouček, AI professor, Luis De Miranda, philosopher and Kristina Hård, novelist.
“Upon my soul we might have known that some day or other the Robots would be stronger than human beings, and that this was bound to happen, and we were doing all we could to bring it about as soon as possible.”
In his play “R.U.R.” from 1920, Czech author Karel Capek writes about robots that are used for heavy labour but eventually becomes smarter than humans, and rise up against them. The subject is maybe more relevant than ever in our time, and is discussed during the evening, both from a literary and a societal perspective.
About the panelists:
Michal Pěchouček is an AI professor, R&D executive and serial entrepreneur. He has been active in the field of cutting edge AI since the late nineties, and founded the iconic Artificial Intelligence Center at the Czech Technical University in Prague. Michal have co-founded Cognitive Security, one of the first machine learning startups for cybersecurity, AgentFly Technologies, a drone technology firm and BlindSpot Solutions, an AI/ML high-end consultancy.
Michal has got his master degree from the University of Edinburgh and his PhD from Czech Technical University. He has been working at several leading universities, such University of Calgary or University of Southern California. In 2014 he was listed in New Europe 100 list of most innovative minds in Central and Easter Europe.
Luis De Miranda is a philosopher who was born in Portugal in 1971 and has since lived in many places over the world. His philosophical essays concerns societal issues, historical methods, technological devices, and process philosophy. He has among other things written a widely reviewed and influential cultural history of digital devices and automata.
Kristina Hård is a Swedish novelist who has written several books in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Her debut novel was the book “Alba”, and since then she has written three more novels as well as books on computer science.
The discussion will be held in English and led by Patrik Schylström, librarian.
Talk by Dr Luis de Miranda at the 3rd International Conference on Philosophical Counseling & Practice, organised by The National Philosophical Counseling Association (15-16 January 2021).
The article referred to is open access here.
Power produces. Global power produces. What does it produce? Victims. Many victims and a few so-called winners to cover the fact that the main production is a mental state of victimism. The current pandemia was an excellent opportunity for power to reinforce the mental state of victimism. Victimism is not only “I am a victim”, but “I can be a victim”. Power wants you to feel vulnerable. Power wants you to remain at a distance from triumph. Power wants you to think that triumph means money, and exceptionalism, and that normality is vulnerability. Power says: “Look, we die, we get ill, therefore we are weak. ” But dying and getting sick is not a sign of vulnerability. Dying, like living is a moment of your triumph, getting sick is a (all the more rare as you get more triumphant) moment in our triumphant becoming. To be is to triumph, and power wants you to remain at a distance of your own life, or your own crealectic triumph: to be, to become, to be true, to be honest and brave and without fear, to be in creation.
It is snowing outside as I write these lines, and the manifold covers itself in white, unified under a layer of purity. Much has been written about the current global crisis. We can think dialectically and realise that the Zeitgeist has manifested the moment of digital capitalism, the actualised state of electronic cybernetic control. We can realise that the fear of being a victim authorises governments to become more authoritarian. In other words victimism generates more victimism. The real sickness is humanity’s self-hatred and our passion for vulnerability, immaturity, stupefaction (stupidity) and, ultimately, the fear of our own triumph. Is this a form of ancestral guilt? Why are we so afraid or our triumph, which is our presence in the world, our creal becoming, our being here, able to think, and feel, and contemplate?
Understand that triumph is without object, understand that triumph is its own victory, that there is nothing to fear, nor death, nor suffering. You are: this is your triumph, here and now. You are the Creal that is: this is your eternal triumph.
Do we still need to explain today that facts are never neutral, that they are part of an interpretative discourse that serves a dynamic of control?
I was quite proud to see how Sweden, were I live, handled the panmedia (sic) this spring, but Since November and the so-called second wave, I regret that the ideological virus of control seems to have infected the nation as it has plagued other countries like Germany or France.
Public Libraries are now closed in Sweden even to the point that it is not possible to go in for a few minutes and borrow a few books for our children. Theatres continue to be closed and the general cultural life stricken. Swimming pools and cinemas are now closed after having been open until November. A principle of fear, control and lack of coherence is disguised under the ideology called “principle of precaution”.
I believe that Sweden has self-ridiculed itself in changing its Covid strategy at the end of 2020. The deficit in integrity of the government is now patent. People of principles do not proceed to 180 degrees demagogic turns. And the Kind of Sweden should have remained silent, as his institutional lack of relevance demands.
I am not a negationist: I believe there are many viruses out there, physical, ideological. Philosophical health is the best instrument to counter them, globally and in the long term. A deep orientation is the best form of immunology. Some principles of precaution are necessary, but shutting down life and growth in the name of hyper-hygienism does not work and weakens the vital forces of a nation.
One usually opposes the necessary and the possible. And indeed, if there is a relationship between the possible and freedom, then it is hard to imagine a form of liberty that would be constrained by necessity. But once freedom is seen as a discipline, and I would argue that it can only be cultivated as such, then one could think there is a paradox in the idea of – not constrained – but at least a trained attitude of liberty inducement.
The paradox fades away if we look at the domain of music improvisation, today associated with jazz but formerly also practiced in baroque music for example. There is a necessity dictated by the score, the tonality at least, some elements and themes that one needs to return to, a field or grid delimitating a domain of possibility for expression, but these function as a trance inducing protocol to generate the liberty of improvisation, the singularity of a musical voice.
The domain of human existence is equally constrained, albeit arguably less than music. What they both have in common is the idea that an individual, a person may manifest new possibles, rather than a group may do so. Of course, groups may have styles and be innovative, but in our epoch the idea of singularity, style, freedom, is preferably associated with the singular person, the modern subject and his respective free will.
I wrote free will, which begs the question: is free will the condition of possibility of freedom? Perhaps it is the opposite: the capacity to train oneself to improvise and think as personally as possible slowly generates a character that allows for autonomous wiling. This means that not all human possesses free will. As surprising as this assertion might sound, if one thinks about the two words free and will in their stark sense, we might agree that not everybody is autonomously willed. Free will is a horizon, a state that might be attained after a long training and a life of courage, virtue and introspection, amongst the obstacles of the majority of humans and their autopilot, mimetic or timorous behaviour.
Here a soft imperative (comparable to a musical tonality for an improviser) might be: in order to become yourself, remain constantly faithful to your mode of access to freedom (a motto for example), and then see what happens, let life and the Creal offer you synchronistic opportunities along the lines of your combat for authenticity. There is no need for wanting secular standards of recognition if you cultivate freedom as a martial art.