If You Are Rethinking Your Ethics – In Line With Developments In Digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence, Superintelligence And Singularity

by Stuart D.G. Robinson

The full article can be accessed online here or downloaded in pdf format here (pdf, 757 kB).

A Synopsis of Stuart Robinson’s Article about Ethics

by Alan Ettlin

In this sequel to Stuart Robinson’s article on visions, he goes two levels beyond where discourse on digitalisation, artificial intelligence, superintelligence, singularity and crucially, ethics is currently being led. Stuart does not address the ethical questions surrounding the programming of emergent intelligence including the ensuing dilemmas. Instead, he chooses to illuminate the ethical premises which underlie the motives of the predominant forces and figures behind the contemporary technological developments which are impacting on humanity with unprecedented velocity and magnitude – without even asking humanity for permission.

In a nutshell, Stuart addresses the question as to whether we have put the cart before the horse: have we neglected to address ethical singularity before pursuing technological singularity with such might?

Stuart illustrates how the key driving forces themselves are contained within ethical systems which have not changed since the Middle Ages. Such ethical systems are described by Stuart as being anthropocentric and each based on such circular1, self-perpetuating and self-legitimising reasoning that not only their further development but also any meaningful dialogue between the systems is precluded.

In a central section of the article, Stuart expounds the possibility that the forces behind contemporary developments in AI may, wittingly or unwittingly, be trapping humanity within their respective ethical systems for yet another aeon to come. Furthermore, using examples of developments emerging from the West Coast of the US, Stuart illustrates what might be described by some as a disturbing similarity between the ethical systems pertaining there and Nietzschean ethics. In this respect, he refers not only to Nietzschean concepts such as the super-human, but even more pertinently to the self-inflicted exclusion of those who do not follow.

In a surprising turn, Stuart proposes that the future development of AI could indeed offer humanity – and therefore the leaders, supervisory and executive boards of organisations around the world – the opportunity to escape this “Singularity Comedy” and finally capture what Dante was attempting to show us in his Divine Comedy seven hundred years ago.

1. i.e. that by their sheer existence fulfil the necessary and sufficient conditions for their existence.