Development vs. Civilization vis-à-vis Artificial Intelligence Takeoff

By Carlos Largacha-Martínez, Ph.D. Humanistic Management Network

The existence of laws has made society more developed. However, having a legal system has not made society more civilized. This is an important distinction. We often confuse and interchange the meaning of being developed with being civilized. This is something that governments have not put attention to. Or, they do not have a solution.

I believe AI could become part of the solution.

A significant challenge of Artificial Intelligence is that it will reach its singularity—its takeoff, its intelligence explosion— before we reach the singularity of evolving from developed to civilized nation states.

But what does it mean to be a civilized nation? We have the idea that the ‘Rule of Law’ will help maintain a true democracy, one that is developed and civilized. Its main and simple premise is that ‘no one should be above the law’ and that ‘the international community acknowledges the rule of law as a precursor to the successful promotion of development and democracy’.

We need laws to help harmonize the social transactions demanded in a developed society. So it seems that we need more laws since we are an uncivilized global society. If someone misbehaves, society creates laws to define the limits of that behavior. More laws and incivility will vanish. That is the Rule of Law.

However, the reality is complex. Incivility is on the rise in the same way that laws have been on the rise in many democratic nation-states. For example, in the United States, David Hayes helps us see the incredible contrast,when the laws of the United States were codified … in 1925, all of the titles combined occupied a single volume’.

The message that I want to send is that we need to redefine civilization. We must go further until we reach a true state of self-government and self-management. Control has to be redefined as a healthy balance between harmonious laws and self-control. This is true inflection point that defines civilized nation-states.

Socialization’s main goal must be to convert state mandated control into self-control. Abell and Gecas wrote that the internalization of appropriate social and moral norms is considered the hallmark of successful socialization. It is a major means by which social order and control are maintained in a society, because it involves the individual’s voluntary compliance. We are failing as a global society in good-faith voluntarily social behavior. We need to strengthen this part of global socialization. If not, incivility will continue to happen. Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate with KRC Research, found that in the United States there is a ‘severe civility deficit in our country’, what the Huffpost called a Shame Nation, since in 2016, among the population ‘84% have personally experienced incivility’. Also, The UK Government has done research about why laws have become too complex. The Economist called ‘Over-regulated America’, and the Cato Institute argued that we have ‘too many laws’ and ‘too much regulation’.

Being a developed society is a materialistic goal. Being a civilized society is a flourishing one. It seems that this ought to be part of any AI-project if we want to transcend development and enter a desired stage of civilizations.

The good news is that this is already happening. You could critique any interaction between AI and emotions, or purposeful living, or caring machines. But this path must start somewhere. So for example the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society, funded by Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft, has seven thematic pillars, all with a goal of ‘AI and the Social Good’. Another initiative is the Global Civic Debate on the Governance of AI, where through six themes the ‘vision for prioritizing human wellbeing in an era of AI and autonomous systems’ can be globally discussed. Yet another exciting project is the LovingAI project led by Julia Mossbridge and her team of experts, working with AI-Sophia by Hanson Robotics, promising determinations where “AI agents can communicate unconditional love to humans through conversations”.

But starting something is not enough. We ought to see actual and current social voids in global societies, understand their root causes, and then instill these findings in the software that will be embedded in artificial intelligence machines. By doing this, I argue, we could help humanity’s next step in 2050 where AI-humanoids will be part of the social thread.

This is the third in a series of posts about human flourishing and artificial intelligence. Find the second post here