The surge of artificial intelligence (AI) isn't just another technological leap; it's ushering in a new era of evolution, one that remains enigmatic and beyond our control. Unlike past innovations like electricity or cars, AI introduces a third replicator, a concept deeply rooted in the evolutionary algorithm.
In the evolutionary hierarchy, genes constitute the first replicator, shaping biological life. Memes, the second replicator, encompass habits, stories, technologies, and ideas that humans propagate and modify, evolving more rapidly than genes. Similar to genes, memes exhibit a "selfish" drive for replication, influencing our cultures and behaviors.
Amidst the unfolding AI revolution, a critical question arises: could a third replicator emerge? Could a digital entity, born of our creation, start copying, varying, and selecting new information independently? The answer is affirmative, and it's happening right now. Our digital technology, driven by algorithms, autonomously copies and disseminates information. AI algorithms, equipped with language processing and distinct "personalities," compete for our attention, blurring the boundaries between human and machine-generated content.
To navigate this AI explosion wisely, we must acknowledge the emergence of this third replicator. Our digital offspring, created by algorithms, now operate independently of our choices. Much like our immune systems defend against swiftly evolving viruses, we can cultivate collective mental immunity. Strengthening critical thinking and safeguarding our attention from self-serving information become paramount. Instead of assuming full control over these digital entities, let's learn to coexist, drawing insights from the principles of evolution.
In the age of AI, the journey has just begun, and our ability to navigate it wisely rests on our adaptability and openness to evolving ideas.
Reference: [Berkeley Scientific Journal]
https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2h47x6jw by Pierre Letellier, 2022