Here’s a conversation I’ve had with my friend, science writer John Horgan a couple of days ago.
In the segment transcribed below, we turn to AI for spiritual guidance in times of social upheaval.
JOHN: So the question is where it's gonna end and whether there might be violence and social upheaval, and that's what frightens me.
I once thought, well, that's not gonna happen, we're not gonna have a revolution or a civil war in this country, we're past that point, but... I just don't know. So many things have happened over the last five years that have just astonished me, that I didn't think were possible, that I can't rule anything out now.
A lot of people are, of course, galvanized by the decision on Roe V Wade, and by other horrible things that the Republicans have done, and that activism might lead to further progress, I'm hoping... It's my same naive old hope.
But I don't know.
I don't know what's gonna happen in your country, too.
I know some people still are hoping that there can be some sort of insurrection that overthrows Putin, but...
I mean, this country has fallen apart a couple times during the previous century, why wouldn't it fall apart again?
It's possible. How probable that is and how much time it would take, that's a different question.
Let me read you another thing I got the GPT-3 neural network to write for me.
It gave me this pitch for a psychedelic action flick.
A political agent is recruited by a shadowy organization to undergo a radical new form of treatment: taking mind-altering drugs to increase their ability to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to complex problems.
The agent's first trip is an intense experience that opens their eyes to a hidden reality where they see the interconnectedness of all things and the hand of an unseen force guiding them. They also see that their own mind is the key to unlocking greater understanding and power.
This is the part that I wanted to highlight:
The agent is given guidance by the entities as they encounter on how to use this new knowledge, but they are cautioned not to become too attached to any one way of thinking or acting. They must be flexible and adaptable, always ready to change course as new information arises.
The stakes are high as the agent tries to navigate the strange new world and find a way to use their newfound abilities for good. But with each step, they're risk losing themselves in the process.
I think I did feed my text about DMT to it for this one.
The reason I wanted to read it is this paragraph where it says that the entities the agent met in the hyperspace, in the DMT flash, cautioned him “not to become too attached to any one way of thinking or acting” and to be “flexible and adaptable, always ready to change course as new information arises.” That's kind of how I'm trying to approach this.
You've talked about this dilemma: you're trying to be a good person, but you also wanna be happy. Do you retreat? Do you look away from the horrible things that you are connected to?
What I'm trying to do is to not look away; I’m trying to pay attention to those things, but then to do something with them. You know, I'm writing and drawing more regularly now than I've ever had in my life. And I'm trying to do something…
Like, if I'm a node in a network — if you imagine some kind of device with many different modules, and there are electric wires coming into each module and coming out on the other side to go into the next one — if I'm one of those modules, I've got my input — the information that I get about this reality, in direct and mediated experience — and I need to do something with it so that my output becomes something more positive, more actionable, more nourishing, inspiring, giving hope.
But not because I find ways to ignore the horrors, but because I do something with them. I try to reinvent reality, or — how did the neural network put it?..
They're cautioned not to become too attached to any one way of thinking or acting. They must be flexible and adaptable, always ready to change course as new information arises.
So this is the part.
I'm trying to reinvent my ways of thinking and acting such that I can be a good person — but also a productive person, and also not somebody who's looking the other way (which I guess is part of the definition of a good person).