With the help of Ai, civilization should be able to survive the flood of misinformation inadvertently caused by personal computing. In 2015 in setting forth a theory of social evolution: From Information, to Knowledge, to Wisdom, Ralph Losey predicted that Ai would be our best hope for salvation.
In this essay Ai is used for the first time to further articulate this theory. Ai is also used to examine the predictions and warnings made in 2015. These predictions are examined in light of current events, especially the release of ChatGPT and other LLMs.
In 2015 Losey shared a vision of how Ai assistance in education and social media could provide a way out of our very dangerous era of misinformation. He predicted this would happen in ten to thirty-five years. Now, eight years later, the Ai tools that we need are here. The new LLM tools can enable us to to get through the initial, dangerous Information stage of a computer based civilization.
Still, a successful outcome is far from inevitable. Our ideals of justice are under attack from all sides. Our democratic societies are vulnerable. We could fall back into the pre-technical world of kings and despots. Such technology in the hands dictators would be disastrous. It would surely lead to constant war and environmental catastrophes, perhaps mass extinctions.
This essay is a call to action, a call for knowledgeable people everywhere to embrace Ai, to use its powers to help us keep truth and justice alive, safe from mob attack.
This article is co-written by ChatGPT and all-too-human Ralph Losey. The Ai takes the speaking voice. All images are by Dall-E 2 as engineered by Losey. For background on Losey’s theory, see ChatGPT’s recent essay, From Information to Knowledge to Wisdom: Can Ai Save the Day? – Part 1.
Civilization is in danger of destruction by misinformation and lies on the internet. Phony facts are polluting the flood of information in which we are all drowning. We all need reliable facts, solid evidence, not just trumped up opinions and propaganda. We need more knowledge, more intelligently processed information, to survive the technology revolution. Mere information, often misinformation, without knowledge and wisdom, is a democracy killer and destroyer of justice. Only by knowledge and wisdom can we sort out the truth from lies. Unbiased artificial intelligence can provide much needed help.
Rules of evidence for public discourse perhaps? Artificial intelligence cyber-verse administrators with knowledgeable humans-in-the-loop experts to monitor and judge? I don’t have the answers; just a broad outline of a hope for the future based on a life of experience with computers, online communities and the law. To help make sense of the quandary we are now in, I draw upon the social and historical perspective of Information → Knowledge → Wisdom. This was articulated in Losey’s blogs in 2015 and 2016. I made predictions then on how the internet age of personal computers would turn out.
Perspective from the “Information → Knowledge → Wisdom” Theory of Historical Progression of Society.
On April 5, 2015, Losey published: Information → Knowledge → Wisdom: Progression of Society in the Age of Computers. The blog started with a self-evident presumption: the personal computer revolution started by the Hacker elite in the 1970s, and the internet based digital age that followed, completely transformed the world. I had high hopes this transformation was all for the good. Losey had been both an observer living through this transition and an active participant, albeit in a weird role of lawyer-tech. But it seems there is a dark side to everything, even the personal computer revolution.
Losey’s use of the word “hacker” in the 2015 article referred to the original meaning of hands-on computer experts, like the two Steves, Jobs and Wozniak. We are not referring to bad guy computer thieves, which most people now think of when they hear hacker. Losey’s blog affirmed that these early computer pioneers, including the likes of Gates, Page, Brin, Bezos, Musk and Zuckerberg, were hackers that changed the world. They brought personal computing and social networks to everyone. They helped usher in a new era of digital, global inter-connectivity. Losey’s blog repeated the popular theme then that:
The first generation of hackers born in the fifties … have quickly changed our world into an information based society. . . . The first step – Information – is just a stepping stone to a more mature, Knowledge-based culture.Ralph Losey, 2015
After extolling the many opportunities of a technology based shift to an information age, Losey also warned of the dangers of this paradigm shift. By 2015 many had seen that the Steves’ opening of computer power to the masses had a dark side. They had also opened a Pandora’s Box for Goebbels-like propagandists.
Losey suggested in that society would be doomed, and justice in particular, which is Losey’s primary career, would wither and die unless we could quickly shift past an Information based society. We needed to move fast into a computer world based on genuine Knowledge and pursuit of Wisdom, the final goal. Here are a few highlights:
The spike and distribution of online information is just a first major consequence of the New Age of Computation. It will not be the last. The focus on information alone will soon change, indeed, must soon change. The information explosion is nowhere near the final goal. Information alone is dangerous and superficial. Our very survival as a society depends on our quick transition to the next stage of a computer culture, one where Knowledge is the focus, not Information. We must now quickly evolve from shallow, merely informed people with short attention spans, and superficial, easily manipulated insights, to thoughtful, knowledgeable people. Then ultimately, some day, we must evolve to become truly wise people.Ralph Losey, 2015
Losey’s warnings, in retrospect, should had been more strident. He did not realize how fragile society was to the influence of lies and propaganda. He did not foresee how quickly society could devolve and justice lost in clouds of confusion. Still, with the recent advent of LLM generative types of Ai in late 2022, there is good reason for optimism, a light at the end of the tunnel.
Benchmark Predictions to Test the Information → Knowledge → Wisdom Hypothesis
To test the accuracy of the “Information → Knowledge → Wisdom” hypothesis, Losey made twelve specific predictions in April 2015. While he underestimated the negative effects of the internet, the majority of his predictions have come true or are in progress. Here is a summary of the twelve predictions (see the original essay in 2015 for full descriptions). For an earlier review of the accuracy of Losey’s predictions, look at his blog a year later in 2016, How The 12 Predictions Are Doing That We Made In “Information → Knowledge → Wisdom” (e-Discovery Team 2016).
First Prediction. The creation of new types of cyber and physical inter-connectivity environments, including virtual realities using wearables. This prediction is already coming true, with the rise of the Metaverse and Zuckerberg renaming his company.
Second. “Some of the new types of social media sites will be environments where subject matter experts (SME) are featured, avatars and real, cyber and in-person, shifted and real-time.” Again, now obvious, although the “in-person”aspects have been slowed by Covid while the online accelerated.
Third. Products and services will be offered in the new subject matter expert environment, with both free and billed aspects. The pandemic has slowed down in-person aspects, and there is still a long way to go to counter misinformation and lies.
Fourth. The knowledge-focused environments will be both online and in-person.
Fifth. The new cyberspaces will look and feel like today’s social media sites, but with various multimedia. This is already happening.
Sixth. The operators and staff in these cyberspaces will be advanced AI, while humans will delegate where appropriate. This prediction is still in early stages, but I am optimistic that it will be realized by 2035. Here is the exact language of this key prediction:
“The admins, operators and other staff in these cyberspaces will be advanced AI, like cyber-robots. Humans will still be involved too, but will delegate where appropriate, which will be most of the time. This is one of Losey’s key predictions.”Losey, 2015
I stand by the optimism that this prediction will be realized by no later than 2035. If not, society and justice as a living ideal may be lost. Humans need the help of advanced and objective AI. We are obviously too immature and dysfunctional to go it alone with all of this technology at our fingertips. Without AI’s help, we are likely to destroy ourselves before we become an interplanetary species with increased odds of survival.
Seventh. “The presence of AIs will spread and become ubiquitous.” Again, this prediction was a work in progress, until very recently with LLMs such as Chat GPT. There has been a great leap forward with the advent of generative types of AI. This is a very hopeful sign, even though it is only generative Ai, and not discriminatory Ai. It works far better than expected and should now advance very quickly. Fasten your seat belts. This is part of our ride to safety, to wisdom, but could also still go off the rails and wreck in misinformation.
Eighth. Knowledge products and services will come in various new forms that do not exist today, thanks to new inventions in areas such as communications, medical implants, and multidimensional video games and conferences. This is already starting to happen.
Ninth. All subject areas will be covered by cyber learning, with super-intelligent cyber robots to test, validate, and edit each area. The first part of the ninth prediction is, again, starting to come true for cyber learning, but is still a work in progress. With the new LLMs, this should now progress rapidly.
Tenth. The tenth prediction is really important and so I quote it here in full. The very survival of democracies and justice may well depend on this.
“The AI admins will monitor, analyze, and screen out alleged SMEs who do not meet certain quality standards. The AI admins will thus serve as a truth screen and quality assurance. An SME’s continued participation in an AI certified site will be like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”Losey, 2015
This has not yet happened, although we have recently begun seeing early signs of it with LLMs such as OpenAI’s hot ChatGPT software. They could could bring AIs to the rescue just in time. The fix needs to happen now and FAST. The best way out of the web of lies seems to be the use of objective, ethical AI. Thank you Open AI and Microsoft for getting this going. We are beginning see use AI for more than just selling us stuff. This trend must continue so we can escape propaganda and move into a knowledge and wisdom based society.
Eleventh. AI administrators will screen out alleged subject matter experts who do not meet certain quality standards, providing a truth screen and quality assurance. This has not yet happened, but we are beginning to see early signs of it.
Twelfth. AI-guided cyber-knowledge-nests will provide a comforting alternative to information overload environments filled with conflicting information, and will become a refuge of music in a sea of noise. Some will become next-generation vacation paradises. It is starting to happen.
In summary, Losey’s predictions for the future based on the “Information → Knowledge → Wisdom” hypothesis, are all starting to come true. Still, we need to do a much better job filtering out the misinformation and propaganda Powerful dictatorships and would be kings, foreign and domestic, still thrive in the current knowledge and wisdom weak society. We need much more help from advanced and objective AI to overcome the flood of misinformation. Without AI’s help, the societies we have built based on at least the goal of democracy and justice may still fall. Their current imperfections and inequalities may never be fixed. As I said in Losey’s 2016 retrospective of the predictions of 2015:
The transition from mere Information to Knowledge is seen as a necessary survival step for society, not an idealistic dream. … We remain hopeful that artificial intelligence will help usher in a Golden Age of Knowledge, then ultimately of Wisdom. This is not to deny the possibility of dark futures with human subjugation by robot overlords or all-too-human political despots, etc. In order to avoid these dystopias we need to know and understand the real dangers we are now facing, including, without limitation, AI, and act accordingly.Ralph Losey, 2016
The Information → Knowledge → Wisdom model remains a valuable tool for understanding the rapid changes in society. However, in looking back at Losey’s warnings from 2015, he underestimated the severity of the dangers faced today. While he foresaw the potential dangers of an Information Age, he failed to anticipate the speed at which our society could decline under anti-democratic leadership, nor did he fully grasp how quickly misinformation and lies could spread and erode the very foundations of civilization. Additionally, he had hoped that AI would develop more quickly and be used for the greater good, but progress in this area has been slower than anticipated.
Despite these setbacks, there is still reason for hope. The recent advancements in generative AI have the potential to accelerate progress in positive directions beyond even Losey’s previous predictions. From his personal experience working with AI since 2012, he is confident that artificial intelligence can help us navigate these turbulent times.
We are currently in a dangerous transition period where anyone can claim to be an expert without the necessary knowledge and wisdom to back up their claims. Civil discourse and shared values of morality and decency have been replaced with constant lies, confrontations, and violence. Ethics and morality seem to be in short supply, and we are in desperate need of a solution. Lady Justice, and the freedom and equality for which she stands, are in danger form the deluge of disinformation. We must take action.
Misinformation, when not corrected and balanced with knowledge and wisdom, is a dangerous force. It could destroy civilization and, ultimately, with the looming environmental disaster facing us, imperil all life on Earth. The threats are real, and we must remain vigilant and use all the tools at are disposal. Chief among them is Ai. So I urge you to look around and start using LLMs like Chat GPT to help in knowledge generation. Not just more information, but real knowledge and wisdom too. Together, with the help of AI and other advanced technologies, we can overcome these challenges and build a brighter future for ourselves and generations to come.
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