The philosophical implications of artificial intelligence is an urgent matter. 2023 appears to be the year of exponential and subsequent growth following ChatGPT’s release late last year. The rise of nihilism will overset and therefore reach its zenith. We are now at the cusp of a grandiose societal change, and whether we like it or not it will ominously affect our creative and critical thinking faculties of mind.
The philosopher’s stone was a sought-after symbol of material object having the characteristics of God and totality pre-Enlightenment. Now, hundreds of years later, we have almost achieved this very teleology of all things. We, giving birth to a tool capable of things beyond imagination is now in the Western consciousness. ChatGPT was the gamechanger and therefore the impetus to this psychological shift. Although this technology is astonishing in and on itself, it will be obsolete in months. And so, the questions arise: What intrinsic value can we seek and realise if A.I can do everything we do, but better? This is not a rhetorical question. Meaning will be attacked because the perceived value of work and the work’s natural value to us will be substantially lowered relative to pre-A.I. Nihilism is surely going to be rampant in this future world of A.I if not used carefully and without moral etiquette. Artists, lyricists, novelists – and all that encapsulates the human spirit, have now felt a shadow of A.I lurking under their work. This shadow has tainted and subverted the very value of art and work. There is now the idea, at the back of all our minds, that “A.I can do this so what is so special about my work?” You may think this a pessimistic endeavour on the topic of A.I, but it does not change the reality on what is currently unfolding.
When value is diminished to such a degree, how will we be satiated in anything that we do? Art and work have a soul-bound teleology that provides meaning. If this is removed and we become only consumers of A.I generated material, then nihilism is consequently going to posses us. How will we achieve individual greatness that stands out from the herd? Ambition will be fruitless. The ego-death of billions will be fragmented like a slow shattering wineglass. And what is left of us will be more susceptible to participation mystique (i.e., no ego or specialness = becoming a cog in a collective machine.) How will A.I necessitate individuality and streamline ambition? These questions must be answered by someone.
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human experience is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being” – C.G Jung.
This essay and its discontents would not be replete without the Jewish folklore tale of the golem (גולם.) The golem is an animated anthropomorphic being that was magically sprung to life from inanimate matter such as clay. The story goes that this creation was destroyed by R. Zeira because of the fear and uncertainty that came along with it. The fear was that it would continue to leave catastrophe in its footsteps. Although the golem left physical carnage in its footsteps, it can be paralleled to our A.I where it will create nihilism, psychological carnage. Some Jewish scholars attribute the idea that golem did not have a mature or divine life since it was devoid of the portion of God from above; the golem didn’t have the divine power or “image of God” that was breathed into Adam in Genesis.
Humans must continue to be the rulers and leaders of the earth or risk falling back into the primordial dust.