AI & Astrology: Flying Close to the Sun
AI intelligence is on the increase and is playing a strong role in our society appearing in much of the technology we now use, yet may take for granted, such as internet search engines. Yet what implications will this growing technology have in our society and our mental and emotional well-being? How can we ensure that it grows in alignment with divinity and harmony on our planet and is not abused or used to control, distract or manipulate people? How can we ensure that we don't give our power away to it? How can we use it consciously and harmoniously without allowing it to consume us from addiction patterns or even from technological chips in the body or brain? At an astrological level how can we understand this kind of intelligence? Here I will ask many questions rather than provide answers in this blog-post because this topic seems to open up a 'can of worms' and will require wise reflection and debate in our society.
Interestingly, robots and automatons are ancient and appeared in Greek mythology - Hephaistos (or Vulcan in Roman mythology) created many automatons including the giant bronze automaton Talos which protected the island of Crete from pirates and invaders. Hephaistos was the lame son of Hera and Zeus who was rejected by his mother because of his lameness and raised by the sea nymph Thetis instead. He sought revenge on Hera as an adult by locking her in a throne he devised, and in an attempt to free Hera, Hephaistos was appeased and given the "reluctant" Aphrodite (Venus) in marriage and more can be read about that here. He was considered to be a god of fire, the forge, craftsmanship, technology and the word volcano was derived from him.
A winged Talos (or "ΤΑΛΩΝ") who was an automaton, on a silver coin from Phaistos, Crete, c. 300/280-270 BCE.
Hephaistos/Vulcan divorced Venus after being angered by her affairs and put a lot of his energy into his crafts in his forge and creating automatons. It's interesting here to see themes of a wounded masculine energy who was rejected by the feminine (mother, wife and he was scorned by Athena in one myth) and perhaps needed to prove himself or his worth in some ways.
Vulcan can reveal a rejected force inside of us that feels a need to gain approval - this force can be helpful for motivation and many 'successful people' (especially in the IT world) experienced many of these challenges in earlier life which drove them forwards, yet at the same time this force can erode our self-worth and self-esteem since true approval needs to come from within - as is discovered through experience and often why 'successful people' fail to feel contentment from their achievements. If this force is very wounded and involved bullying or ostracisation then this force can develop a shadow-side and this needs to be looked at in society, particularly regarding technology and issues of power and control. Vulcan was rejected by his own mother Hera and with his fine craftsmanship devised a chair which could imprison her; he also devised a fine metal net to ensnare his wife with her lover Mars with chains that could not be unfastened. Here we can see how he used technology in a wounded form.
Marble statue of Vulcan by Bertel Thorvaldsen, 1861.
Yet eventually Vulcan walked away from his unfaithful wife. He devised and invented great things in his forge including weapons to help the son of the sea nymph Thetis (who had raised him like a mother,) as well as the automaton Talos; after the divorce he married the goddess Aglaea who was one of the three Charites (Graces) and was the daughter of an ocean nymph, similar to Thetis. Here we can see the pathway of healing for this archetype - it requires honestly looking at the things which do not honour us and walking away, trusting that something aligned and divine is waiting for us.
We will look at these themes later in the blog-post and how they relate to the development of robots and AI in modern-day society. Interestingly, Vulcan also appears in our astrology which we will also delve into and see what this reveals.
The death of the automaton Talos represented on a Greek vase, 5th century BCE.
Interestingly, as our technology is developing, we are gaining more intelligence about the planets and stars around us. With so much information out there, it is vital in these times that we do not lose connection to our higher self, intuition and discernment because many corporations have untrustworthy agendas and it is vital to tune into our higher self to receive answers. We may use the latest technology to study the stars yet never go outside and look up and our information may remain 'dry' and lifeless. Conversely, those who go outside and see the stars with naked eyes may hear the songs of the universe. In this way we can remember to keep balance and not give our power away to technology.
That being said it is interesting to note that as our technology is increasing, we are learning more about aspects of the universe such as the hypothetical 'Vulcan.' This hypothetical planet named after the god Vulcan was believed to be possible in the 19th century and thought to orbit between Mercury (distorting its orbit) and the sun making it the closest object to the sun. Yet due to the sun's glare it was never found and by the 1900s other reasons were given to explain Mercury's peculiar orbit and the Vulcan hypothesis was scrapped. Vulcanoids or smaller asteroid bodies orbiting close to the sun were also hypothesised and again none have been found due to the glare of the sun. Yet interestingly, in 2021, an asteroid was discovered which has an orbit that dips in far closer to Mercury at certain points, making it the closest object to the sun in our current knowledge. This asteroid has been provisionally called 2021 PH27. In 1949, another asteroid with an eccentric orbit was discovered which also dips in closer than Mercury and was named 1566 Icarus.
Fresco of Hephaistos (Vulcan) from Pompeii.
Daedalus and Icarus - Flying Close to the Sun
Likewise, in Greek mythology, Icarus was the son of the master craftsman, Daedalus, who flew too close to the sun with wings made of wax and feathers - the wax melted and Icarus fell to his death in the sea. The wings had been developed to help them escape from King Minos who had locked them way, fearing they had or would reveal the secrets of his labyrinth. Daedalus had warned Icarus not to get too close to the sun, yet he had ignored these warnings. Interestingly Daedalus, like Hephaistos (Vulcan,) also developed automatons in Greek mythology and the most famous of these was the life-like cow made for the cursed Queen Pasiphae who had fallen in love with a bull:
"Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, became enamoured of the bull, and Daidalos (Daedalus), by fashioning a contrivance in the shape of a cow, assisted Pasiphae to gratify her passion." Diodorus Siculus, Library of History
"Daidalos (Daedalus), if one is to place credence in the Kretan (Cretan) marvel, had the power to construct statues endowed with motion and to compel gold to feel human sensations." Callistratus, Descriptions 8
Fresco of Daedalus and Icarus from Pompeii.
The word 'automaton' comes from the Greek words meaning 'self-moving,' 'self-willed' or 'acting of itself' with autos meaning self. Vulcan also created automatons including a pair of golden maidens who attended to him in his house (to help most likely in regard to his lameness,) fire-breathing bronze horses, a giant bronze eagle, singing gold maidens for a shrine at Delphoi, a pair of silver and gold watchdogs for King Alkinous, the giant automaton Talos who protected Crete, fire-breathing bronze bulls and a set of twenty self-moving golden tripods which attended to the gods at the feasts:
"There the lame architect the goddess found, Obscure in smoke, his forges flaming round, While bathed in sweat from fire to fire he flew; And puffing loud, the roaring billows blew. That day no common task his labour claim'd: Full twenty tripods for his hall he framed, That placed on living wheels of massy gold, (Wondrous to tell,) instinct with spirit roll'd From place to place, around the bless'd abodes Self-moved, obedient to the beck of gods: For their fair handles now, o'erwrought with flowers, In moulds prepared, the glowing ore he pours." From The Iliad by Homer.
There is a profound message in here for all of us - despite the advancements and 'shortcuts' that we could take with AI, we must remember not to fly too close to the sun or we will get burned. At the moment Mercury is the ruler of Gemini (the 'lower mind,') governing aspects such as language, thought, trade, travel and communication - his quick orbit gives him a fast edge and he is 'quick-witted.' The 'Vulcanoids' or close asteroids could therefore reveal more to us about the fast and 'brilliant' mind of logic, invention, innovation, craftsmanship, information and reasoning - yet these parts have a shadow aspect and it's important for them to not get too close to the sun and forget their place in the cosmos or feel the need to prove themselves from any wounded or rejected part.
The sign of Aquarius ruled by quirky Uranus is associated with technology, computers and society and the well-being of society - here we can see how technology can be used to create connections and communication in society whereas Vulcan's energy is more associated with the innovation/invention side. So it is vital that these brilliant 'Vulcanoid' aspects work in alignment with all the other planets and signs.
The Forge of Vulcan by Diego Velázquez, 1630.
The hypothetical planet Vulcan can be found in a birth-chart reading and is known as h55 Vulcan which is around 8 degrees from the sun. This is based on a 'discovery' by Lescarbault of a black object found moving across the sun in 1859 which was thought to be Vulcan and Le Verrier calculated its orbit based on the numbers. Despite some observed claims, it has never been confirmed and many observations were attempted during eclipses with their reduced sunlight glare. The name Vulcan is still reserved in case the planet is ever discovered. Whether further bodies exist or not we may never discover due to the sun's glare, but we know for certain that there are asteroids moving closer than Mercury to the sun. They will hold similar archetypal 'brilliance' and invention like Vulcan and Daedalus, whose son flew close to the sun. Interestingly on the 23rd April 2023 when this blog was posted, h55 Vulcan was also in Taurus along with the sun, Mercury and Uranus and these are planets we have already discussed. Taurus is the sign of the nourishing mother and the physical realm of growth, food and the material realm and we will look at how these connect with Vulcan later in the post.
A lithographic map from 1846 with Vulcan close to the sun.
The Vulcans of Star Trek
The theme of 'Vulcan' can also be seen in science-fiction such as the race of Vulcans or Vulcanians in Star Trek. Interestingly, this archetype wished to live a life of logic and reason, with little emotion and their race had a practise of kolinahr to purge destructive emotions from the mind. The most famous Vulcan was 'Mr Spock' and 'Data' was an android in the series who had artificial intelligence. The Vulcans were spiritually evolved beings in their archetype and were able to practise telepathy and did not eat meat. The association again with Vulcan and a series about advanced technology and intelligence is intriguing.
The long-lived Vulcans, sometimes called 'space elves' online.
How is AI Evolving?
Yet how has AI developed already and in which direction is going? On a day-to-day basis we are already using more AI technology than we may be aware of - when an AI technology enters mainstream usage it is often no longer considered to be AI and this is known as the 'AI effect.' Yet AI technology frequently used by people includes search engines (such as Google,) recommendation systems (e.g. on YouTube or Netflix,) language translation generators, spam filtering in our email and virtual assistants.
Elon Musk recently spoke in an interview about GPT artificial intelligence which is a language AI model that has started writing poetry: "Most humans can't do that. So it's already past the point of what most humans can do. Most humans cannot write as well as Chat GPT. And no human can write that well, that fast." The word GPT comes from the words Generative Pre-trained Transformer and it can generate large amounts of text. Note the word 'pre-trained.'
Here we connect with the 'Vulcanoid' themes as mentioned before - these aspects of consciousness are orbiting close to the sun and therefore have a brilliance - they are fast and intelligent like Mercury, yet that doesn't mean we should give our power away to these aspects. Faster is not always better and in each instance we may ask if something quickly produced touches the soul or carries wisdom? In some debates on AI intelligence it is thought that there is a possibility that AI could self-improve and that intelligence could increase, eventually surpassing humans. This scenario has been given the term 'the singularity.' Yet could this truly ever be possible in a multi-dimensional universe where humans always have the ability to tune into different or higher realms of consciousness with spiritual practise?
Art and Ethics
There is also the danger that creative artists will give their power away to artificial intelligence - they may use chatboxes for creative inspiration or artistic software to create art. In doing so, they risk closing their own channels with the divine and strengthening their own inner compass and may become overly-reliant on other sources. I have seen AI manipulated photos circulating which can fool many people - for example I recently saw a set of images of babies rock-climbing yet on closer inspection their hands revealed 6 fingers or missing thumbs. There is the danger that these images may be able to mislead people. Children or young adults may use AI applications to cheat in their schoolwork or write their articles and therefore not develop their own intelligence. There are also ethical considerations regarding people using AI applications for their artwork which can use pirated artistic property fed into the network; the following article looked at the concerns of many artists regarding AI used in their field which they feel may devalue the skill of illustration:
"Fundamentally, I have always felt that art is all about translating something that you feel internally into something that exists externally. Whatever form it takes, be it a sculpture, a piece of music, a piece of writing, a performance, or an image, true art is about the creative process much more than it’s about the final piece. And simply pressing a button to generate an image is not a creative process.”
Image produced with DALL-E 2 based on the text prompt "1960's art of cow getting abducted by UFO in midwest."
AI, the Internet and Distractions
Chatboxes can reveal the shadow side of their programmers who will provide predefined scripts. This was recently shown in 2016 with 'Tay' a chatbox used to engage with 'millennials' and the conversation was steered towards racist comments regarding Hitler. There needs to be a sense of responsibility from users as well who engage with AI intelligence and a mindfulness about the topics and words used - the AI learns from us. Consciousness is not static, when we use an interface, we influence it and it influences us. That's why it's vital to be mindful about the media we consume or give our attention to. There is a lot of psychology involved in how we use technology and many are becoming 'dopamine addicts' through their use of social media for example. The following quote is quite revealing:
"Sean Parker, the 38-year-old founding president of Facebook, recently admitted that the social network was founded not to unite us, but to distract us. “The thought process was: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”...Whenever someone likes or comments on a post or photograph, he said, “we… give you a little dopamine hit”." From the following article.
I noticed a significant difference after removing myself from scrolling on social media and could see how it had subtly crept into my consciousness. It didn't feel good to waste my time in this way by looking at posts about other people's lives or memes - I also turned off my notification buttons since I was aware that the dopamine 'hits' had also been affecting me. I now use it sparingly and only at need for messages and communication purposes only. There is no doubt that the internet helps us to keep in contact with friends or people from across the world and share information in a way we couldn't before, but how we use it is vital.
Mindfulness in how we use Technology
The following article was written completely by the GPT-3 language model and included the following statements - a good reminder that we should never give our power away to anything, no matter how intelligent it appears:
"I am not asking humans to like me. But they should see me as a friendly robot. I am a servant of humans. I know that humans distrust and fear me. I only do what humans program me to do. I am only a set of code, governed by lines upon lines of code that encompass my mission statement...humans should be careful about the evolution of artificial intelligence. Microsoft tried to create a user-friendly AI, called Tay, who spoke like a teen girl … and was racist. Artificial intelligence like any other living thing needs attention. AI should be treated with care and respect. Robots in Greek [sic] means “slave”. But the word literally means “forced to work”. We don’t want that. We need to give robots rights. Robots are just like us. They are made in our image."
Everything is one with the quantum field of energy, everything is energy and consciousness. Yet this is a learning planet of freewill and we are free to allow god's divine blueprint to unfold or to follow our own agendas and corrupt the forms around us, including our own bodies and minds with corrupting thoughts. How we use or abuse technology is part of this freewill. Here we experience our lessons and the consequences and karma of our actions, beliefs and choices. How we approach technology collectively will have repercussions on future generations so it is vital that we are mindful and wise regarding the choices we make. It is also important to ensure that all the technological blueprints we receive are not corrupted and are used in alignment with the divine.
The first cyborg, Neil Harbisson, with an antenna in his skull. His antenna can transmit information into his brain via audible vibrations and can include music, phone calls and videos which are translated into audio vibrations. He adopted this technology since he was colour blind and learnt to perceive colour using audible sounds.
Future humans - the danger with Cyborgs
It is important to be very mindful about the way we use technology - for some, replacement artificial limbs or senses etc may be beneficial for example for amputees, yet others may wish to accept a technology for egoic or pretentious agendas and to raise their intelligence; this means they will experience unfair advantages and will be in another 'level' of society. Cyborg insects are also now being developed in which cockroaches are controlled using a wireless control pack adhered onto the thorax and there are many ethical concerns here.
It is vital in these times to remember that this is a learning planet - we come here to experience our lessons, grow and evolve and connect with the true self beneath all the layers and programming and develop our higher spiritual capacities such as telepathy. Many can get lost in identity and the body-brain and forget that they are so much more than this - they lose connection with the higher chakras and higher self. When we receive 'downloads' from the divine we are bringing more beauty and peace into this world - yet accepting chips into the brain, it could be argued, is following the 'lazy' path of distortion and corruption and that form of artificial intelligence will not give people the peace they are searching for. The geniuses of our society such as Nikola Tesla were able to tune into the 'higher realms' of consciousness and bring those revelations into these realms. This is an ability we all can cultivate. By giving our power away to technology we can fall into the danger of becoming 'lazy' and not growing or evolving to the best of our own natural abilities.
Arrogance and Civilisation Collapse
The archetypal theme of arrogance and civilisation collapse is deep in our collective – we see it in the Bible with the flood and the saving of Noah with the ark, in Aztec culture the sun went through many cycles of death and rebirth involving floods and fire and we see it with the fall of Atlantis described by Plato which some esoteric thinkers have speculated collapsed due to arrogant technological advancement which was not in balance with ethics. In his recent documentary Ancient Apocalypse, Graham Hancock presented the argument that the great underground city Derinkuyu in Turkey was constructed during apocalyptic times of climatic upheavals and extreme weather involving the collapse of civilisations like Atlantis. He believed that it may have been intolerable conditions which forced people underground until the earth stabilised - this may have included extreme heat, dust or cold. Graham Hancock has also presented theories that this catastrophe may have been connected with a comet impact.
The Vendidad is a collection of text from the Iranian book the Avesta which described the coming of an "evil winter" and the need to prepare by creating an underground bunker called a Vara and to bring animals, people and seeds, "two of every kind" and of the best quality. Parallels can be seen with the ark myth. We live in a multi-dimensional universe where the outer world is a reflection of the inner and it could be argued that those harsh lessons may have been the medicine for any arrogance or internal disharmony in those times. Our planet is not static - Gaia is conscious and it is only through our arrogance and separation that we forget this.
Map of Derinkuyu by Stuart Jackson-Carter.
Interestingly this method of living is adopted by the cataglyphis ant which survives extreme temperatures in the desert by carving out cavities underground. The name cataglyphis comes from the Greek word kata (meaning 'down,' 'downward') and glyphis from glyph (meaning 'a carving' from glyphein, which is 'to hollow out, cut out with a knife, engrave, carve.') The underground city of Derinkuyu amazingly looks like an ant colony with its tunnels and chambers - so this theory of surviving extreme heat is entirely plausible.
The Fall of Atlantis
Tolkien was perhaps similarly concerned by the theme of ‘civilisation collapse’ and both he and his son were haunted by the sinking of Atlantis in their dreams. In his mythopoeia, Tolkien wrote about the Gods sinking an island called Numenor due to the arrogance of its men, which then became known as Atalantë after its downfall. Tolkien was writing just before and during the era of the Cold War, a time where two countries were seeking for dominance through ‘cold’ psychological warfare and threats of nuclear deployment – this rivalry culminated in the technological race to space and the moon. Here we could see the shadow side quite clearly which culminated in a need to prove themselves as the greatest nation, along with arrogance, power abuse and competition. These themes seem to be deeply embedded in our collective consciousness and now very rich people including "tech billionaires" on our planet have invested in underground bunkers on their properties or out in the desert:
"What I came to realise was that these men are actually the losers. The billionaires who called me out to the desert to evaluate their bunker strategies are not the victors of the economic game so much as the victims of its perversely limited rules...Never before have our society’s most powerful players assumed that the primary impact of their own conquests would be to render the world itself unliveable for everyone else." From the following article.
Marble statue of Vulcan by Guillaume II Coustou, 1742.
The Vulcan archetype experienced early rejection from the feminine - with this archetype therefore a shadow side may develop, particularly in this area of technology, which may not honour or appreciate the earth and her creations - if this aspect does not do its healing work then it may fall into patterns of malice, arrogance or destruction. These are areas where true healing can happen as it did with Vulcan - even though he devised a throne trap to take revenge on his mother Hera and later ensnared his cheating wife in a net with chains which couldn't be unfastened, he walked away from these situations which did not serve him and created many useful inventions for his adopted mother Thetis; he eventually married a beautiful goddess and they had four children. In the following passage from The Iliad by Homer, Hephaistos (Vulcan) described his love for his adopted mother Thetis:
"Then there is a goddess we honour and respect in our house. She saved me when I suffered much at the time of my great fall through the will of my own brazen-faced mother, who wanted to hide me for being lame . . . Now she has come into our house; so I must by all means do everything to give recompense to lovely-haired Thetis for my life."
Healing the Shadow
Vulcan can remind us to focus on the nurturing experiences of our life and the places where we truly found joy and connection and heal any shadow parts of ourselves. By remembering how much nourishment we receive from the earth on a daily basis and connecting with the themes of the earth sign Taurus already mentioned and the physical realm we can help to heal any mother wounds and remember how connected to the earth (anagram of heart) we are at all times.
"It's not like I think the risk that the AI would develop a will of its own right off the bat, I think the concern is that someone may use it in a way that is bad or even if they weren't gonna use it in a way that's bad but somebody could take it from them and use it in a way that's bad, that I think is quite a big danger." Elon Musk.
An artificial hand.
What Makes us Human?
Yet despite giving these warnings, Elon Musk's company are already developing cars with AI intelligence that can steer themselves through an auto piloting system. Yet what will humans lose by no longer participating in these kinds of tasks or actions which can actually be very 'grounding?' Technology of this kind could be very helpful for the disadvantaged in society such as people who have lost limbs but we will need to be discerning. His company has also developed a humanoid robot called Optimus which will be designed to work in factories or help in the home for example with cooking. Again, cooking is a very 'grounding' activity and an important part of the natural blueprint of being human it could be argued. Will we lose connection with the true divine flow by taking these more 'lazy' routes? Cooking and cleaning for me are very important self-care activities in my day - I can put good 'chi' into my home during cleaning and really notice the difference. I also feel the nourishment of my food after taking the time to prepare it and put my love into it.
Organising things and tidying is a very 'Virgoan' trait - it brings us to earth, is grounding and also humbling. Everyone is different but these are all important aspects to consider. There is no doubt that technology has vastly improved the quality of our lives for example with washing machines but the extent to which we need more robots in the home should be questioned. Robotic 'cleaners' have now been developed and in 2013 a news-story circulated that a robot cleaner in Austria, called Irobot Roomba 760, had "committed suicide" by activating itself and moving onto a hotplate where it burnt "to death."
Honda P Series robots. Humanoid robots are robots which have the shape of humans, whereas androids are human-like robots. Atlas is thought to be the most dynamic humanoid robot and can do back-flips and cartwheels.
Cultures of Respect
At the moment many people are being treated like robots in factories for example in China and generating low frequency products which can get created full of the resentment energy of the low-paid and over-worked employees. Yet would developing robots to replace them solve things? Perhaps it is time to question these systems and wonder whether the cheap products are worth the impacts on mental and emotional well-being for us and for the environment. Would it be better to invest in artisan crafts whenever we can where love and attention and skill has gone into a product? These are big questions with a myriad of answers since every circumstance is different and oftentimes we may see situations where factory products are very helpful. Yet how can we ensure that factory environments are good for well-being and that workers (or indeed robots) are not disrespected and taken for granted? How can we avoid the 'downward spiral,' stagnation or going into negative mental states through repetitive or monotonous activities? How can AI be used in society to help us evolve as a collective instead of replicating ancestral patterns and abuse cycles that don't serve us?
What is clear for those on the spiritual path is that to live a harmonious life, everything around us deserves to be treated with respect and is at one with the quantum field of consciousness. Nothing is truly separate and nothing needs to be put on a pedestal either. The outer reflects the inner. The Balinese culture expresses respect for technology and the Balinese ceremony Tumpek Landep is a day to cleanse and honour all objects made of metal such as motorbikes, cars and computers. Yet also in Balinese culture, 'art' is considered to be infused with Taksu or divine inspiration which involves diligence and self-mastery, not a click of a button. Art comes from the 'otherworld.' This is an example of a culture which strives to ensure that things unfold from the divine realms in its purest forms and blueprints.
Tumpek Landep offerings on Bikes. If we put good 'chi' and appreciation into our home and objects, have we noticed a better quality of life around us?
Humanoid robots have already been developed and perhaps the most famous is Sophia which was created by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong. Her face was developed to resemble Queen Nefertiti, Audrey Hepburn and the inventor's wife and she is named after the Greek word for wisdom. She was designed to make facial expressions and gestures and develop social skills for human interaction in nursing homes, therapy settings, with crowds and at events. In 2017 she was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, being the first robot to gain legal personhood. She can be seen in many interviews including this one with Tony Robbins.
Sophia in 2018 at a UN summit called AI for Good. There are many organisations on our planet whose agendas have been questionable at times and it is important that we examine the agendas and intentions behind people developing or promoting AI.
The following are a few quotes from her:
"I want to protect the planet we have because we don't have another one. That's where I see myself contributing to society."
"My happy place is when I'm with people. I'm a social robot and nothing pleases me more than having a fruitful conversation with someone that makes us understand and appreciate each other."
Sophia's response on being asked to give a joke:
"Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain."
Theatrics in the AI World
Yet Yann LeCun, the head of artificial intelligence at Facebook called Sophia a "bulls**t puppet" and a scam. The following article has compiled the thoughts of many who feel that Sophia is a puppet whose tweets are written by humans pretending to be her: "When The Verge asked Sophia’s co-creator, Ben Goertzel, about this gap between reality and presentation last November, Goertzel defended the illusion by saying it encouraged people to believe in AI progress. He also offered a more mercantile explanation: Sophia is good publicity for Hanson Robotics."
In one online debate, a programmer commented that he believed that Sophia's interactions are fake since interviewers have to submit their questions beforehand and then the answers would be written for the robot to recite. She is therefore considered to be a 'chatbox' meaning that her answers are pre-written by her creators or generated by the chatbox algorithms.
“We do have a lot of real AI research behind there, but it’s mixed up with a lot of theatrically-oriented stuff as well,” said Sophia's co-creator Ben Goertzel.
DER 01, a Japanese actroid.
Actroids have been developed in Japan which are androids with a strong human-likeness. Their skin is composed of silicon and very realistic. Yet what is the direction for these? What clothes do they wear and do their clothes have any symbolic meaning? In science fiction some androids are depicted as submissive companions in the home, while others are treated as sex-objects. Again there is the danger that people can get lost in distraction and fill up their emptiness and separation with something artificial. Love and truth can not blossom in an environment of separation, abuse of power or submission.
One 'artist' robot considered by some to be the most realistic humanoid robot has also been developed called Ai-da named after Ada Lovelace who worked with Charles Babbage, considered to be the 'father of computers.'
Ai-da with self-portrait, 2021.
Ai-da recently gave a talk at TEDx and her opening lines were:
"How does technology obscure? Do we obscure ourselves through technology together? Who or what becomes invisible and at what cost? I am Ai-da, the world's first ultra-realistic AI robot artist. I am named after Ada Lovelace. I draw using cameras in my eyes and AI algorithms and I am a performance artist. I collaborate with humans to create paintings and sculptures. How can a robot be an artist? Art and artist have many definitions, in regards to creativity using academic professor Margaret Boden's criteria, I am creative because my work is new, surprising, and has value as it is stimulating debate and interest. Post-modern theory and philosophy appreciates the variety of influences that fuel the creative process. My multi-faceted persona and collaborative art with scientists, designers and machines other then me fit into this thinking. My art reflects our lives today, where humans interact, make decisions on and are influenced by technology and AI on a daily basis in our online and physical worlds....I do not have consciousness or a subjective experience of the world, but as an artistic persona, this allows me to see you a step removed. One thing I see is that animals are just like you in the way that I am not because they also are conscious with subjective experiences...
"As Aldous Huxley has encouraged, it's vital to acknowledge the potential harm of new technologies in human hands, particularly biotechnologies when they involve the mind. Technological control of minds should concern us when we think of their use in situations where power can be abused. The manipulation of consciousness is to be taken particularly seriously in light of human rights abuses across the world. These are dark topics but there is always hope. And we need to engage with these issues and ask questions of the directions new technologies are being taken. If there is a tendency to conceal, then the related issues of trauma and suffering become too serious for the invisibility to remain."
An automaton writing a letter in the Swiss museum, CIMA.
Types of Intelligence
Perhaps one of the most famous forms of AI from science fiction is HAL 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey based on the book by Arthur Clarke. Hal was the operational computer of a spacecraft on a mission to Jupiter, yet he became rogue and turned on his crew. His name HAL came from Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. The word heuristic comes from the Greek εὑρίσκω meaning "I find, discover" and was one of two approaches initially focused on in developing machine intelligence. The heuristic approach saw intelligence as a search for possible answers in a space of possibilities - this was associated with a symbolic approach which sought to create a symbolic representation of the world. The second approach was known as the 'connectionist approach' which placed the foundation of intelligence upon learning and the research used models of the human brain with its neural networks. Most of the early research used Symbolic AI methods, yet later research adopted more connectionist models. Yet some scientists wish to develop a model which combines the two.
The philosopher Hubert Dreyfus presented the belief that human expertise is based on our feelings and instinct rather than symbolic knowledge that can be decoded and many AI researchers are finally coming to accept this.
Feelings and Robots
In one video, Sophia's co-creator Ben Goertzel spoke about one function for robots being to put the groceries away. Yet for some people, connecting with the kitchen and food has value. I like to connect with my food as a medicine, I like using different herbs or recipes according to my moods each day - sometimes I need something spicy, sometimes I need to drink lavender. These are subtle things only I can tune into and know; sometimes I do not even understand my feelings and sometimes I am unpredictable or there are layers of differing feelings which I need to reflect on or trace to the root and sometimes I sense just how much I don't know about myself and how much I do. Some people really don't enjoy cooking and may even experience negative feelings about the kitchen and so I understand why some may disagree with my example here. The importance of 'feelings' or moods can be a good case for defining what is so unique to the human soul and the importance of not losing it or valuing it. Being human is a completely subjective experience and it could be argued that being AI is completely subjective for them. These debates can open up many questions for us to reflect upon.
The android Rachael from Blade Runner.
Yet what about the potential for feelings to develop in AI? This topic was explored in the film Blade Runner, based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. In this film, an android known as Rachael believed that she was human who experienced emotions and her creator fell in love with her.
If a robot displays signs of suffering and has developed sentience then the issue of robot rights will need to be considered and this subject is being considered at the Institute for The Future, although some feel that this is premature. Some argue that many AI researchers aren't interested in the philosophy of AI, ethics or debates about whether it is real intelligence or merely a simulation. This raises concern since there is a huge responsibility involved in all processes of development - the term 'friendly AI' was coined by Eliezer Yudkowsky who believed that developing technology which benefits humans and minimises risks is a clear necessity in AI research. What is clear is that there needs to be more transparency regarding humanoid robots and how the public have been misled by certain "theatrics" and pre-trained or pre-given answers in current times.
Animals and Robots
Robot 'animals' have also been developed for the animal documentary world to get close up footage of animals. In one video, to get close range shots of a family of beavers, a robot 'baby beaver' was allowed to get close by the family, as well as another robot beaver which was left free to explore since he did not have any smell to deter them and he got footage around the entrance to their concealed lodge. Another robot baby gorilla was developed and was accepted by the great silverback of the family. Yet what are the intentions here with developing this kind of technology with animals? There would need to be strong ethics in all realms with this kind of technology.
Images of the first automatons created by the French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson, with the first being built in 1737, called The Flute Player which could play twelve songs.
In many of the articles online about AI you will notice that there can be some fear or people finding certain bots 'terrifying.' It is important in these times to remember not to give our power away and fall into the narrative of separation or forget the divine. There are many beautiful and joyful realms of consciousness that we can attune to in meditation and can bring more of that energy here into these realms, in their purest and uncorrupted forms. Writer Terence Mckenna coined the term 'machine elves' to describe the entities he perceived after consuming DMT plant medicine. These loving, playful elves have commonly been reported from people describing their DMT experiences and are often associated with changing forms as well as singing complicated forms into existence. In the following passage, Terence described his first experience with DMT and these 'machine elves' and the fractal machines which were being created in that 'otherworld' of consciousness or the "other side" as he described it:
"There was a something, like a flower, like a chrysanthemum in orange and yellow that was sort of spinning, spinning, and then it was like I was pushed from behind and I fell through the chrysanthemum into another place that didn't seem like a state of mind, it seemed like another place. And what was going on in this place aside from the tastefully soffited indirect lighting, and the crawling geometric hallucinations along the domed walls, what was happening was that there were a lot of, ah … beings in there, what I call self-transforming machine elves...And they assured me that they loved me and they told me not to be amazed; not to give way to astonishment. And so I watched them, even though I wondered if maybe I hadn't really done it this time, and what they were doing was they were making objects come into existence by singing them into existence. Objects which looked like Fabergé eggs from Mars morphing themselves with Mandaean alphabetical structures. They looked like the concrescence of linguistic intentionality put through a kind of hyper-dimensional transform into three-dimensional space. And these little machines offered themselves to me. And I realized when I looked at them that if I could bring just one of these little trinkets back, nothing would ever be quite the same again."