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a serialized ethno-cyber-punk novel

The Power of Our New Gods

In “The Arbiter”, I also focused on exploring new types of power. And more precisely — the power of Artificial Intelligence. 

As Nietsche said: God is dead — we have killed him. And in its stead we have invented an all-knowing and all-seeing God whose spirit resides in the machine, in some distant server in the cloud. 

Truthbringer A.I., mentioned in “The Arbiter”, is not just some malicious artificial intelligence that I imagined. It is a direct descendant of the surveillance systems that we already have in our own lives. As we have seen so far, some of these panopticons are state-run, while others are owned by corporations. 

SkyNet from the Terminator movies reflects fears and nightmares of a nuclear holocaust, but Truthbringer is no hypothetical paranoia or some kind of a dream — it nowadays exists in various forms. It lives with us. The question is to what degree. It might be just a matter of time for an artificial intelligence to evolve and reach sciescence — real life versions of the Truthbringer AI don’t seem so far off. 

So much of our personal information do we willingly submit to various corporations online, there may not even be a need to build a separate Cybernetic Panopticon. But, what is more important, and scary, is the construction of a machine whose aim would be to achieve ideological goals, which in most such cases corresponds with the end goal of retention of power. 

(Analogue machines of this sort already exist — just check out how one can win an election in Russia by 120%. It is just a matter of porting these kinds of systems and processes into computer code.) 

A truly horrific scenario would be if an artificial intelligence is supplemented by some kind of cyber-immortality. What would happen if one of the dear leaders — in “The Arbiter” story there is a jocular reference of this being Edi Rama, the current Prime Minister of Albania — uploads their consciousness into the AI, and continues to rule from their cybernetically enhanced throne.

Biological limits of our physical bodies still seem to be the best guardians against dictatorships. Our mortality may yet be our best defender of democracy and an agent of change.

Categorized as: bonus | nonfiction

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