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AI generates fear, or maybe we are afraid of ourselves

To the growing fear (real or imaginary) that artificial intelligence (AI) will soon leave us all without jobs, a new fear is now added: that AI will soon take away our free will and our ability to act, according to recent statements by Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter (now called X).

In an interview with the Oslo Freedom Forum, Dorsey argued that AI (including social media and its algorithms) has, in its current version, a negative impact on our free will (that is, our freedom) because those algorithms limit our options to a choice between algorithms, without actually being a true option or choice.

In other words, in my words, AI creates the illusion that we are choosing, when in reality the decisions have already been made because, according to Dorsey, “these systems (AI, internet, social networks) control every aspect of our lives.” Every day, “they tell us what to do and what not to do.”

Even worse, Dorsey maintains that it is “truly scary” that these tools “are in the hands of only five companies,” all of them global, highly influential, and well known.

Several questions then arise: what are we truly afraid of when we fear AI? To be left without work? To lose our freedom? Or to something even deeper, more terrifying, and even more existential? How soon before AI becomes sentient and surpasses human intelligence?

Perhaps our real fear of artificial AI lies in the fact that the artificiality of the intelligence that we ourselves have created (that is, the externalization of our own intelligence) reveals, for that very reason, the artificiality of our natural intelligence and, as a consequence, the unreal nature and illusory nature of our supposed freedom of choice.

Perhaps we are afraid of discovering that we are not what we think we are, that our freedom is just a fantasy and that what we, as humans, believe we are, we are not and never were. We confused the mask with the person, the map with the territory and the illusion with reality.

As Jorge Luis Borges expressed (I do not know where), freedom is a deception that arises from the ignorance of being manipulated from the outside. For this very reason, Borges suggested that in the praise of the shadow, freedom (in its full sense) is illusory.

Perhaps this means that we live in a constant state of falsehood, like what Calderón de la Barca said centuries ago, that “The king dreams that he is king, and lives with this deception, commanding, arranging and governing.” Both Borges and Calderón propose that what frees us from illusion and awakens us from self-deception is death.

Therefore, it could be said that the fear that AI generates the fear (better yet, the anguish) that, when looking at ourselves in the mirror of AI, we must recognize and accept our finitude, our mortality, and our inauthenticity. Perhaps the shadow praised by Borges (and presented by Carl Jung) lurks deeply inside the AI ​​of our own creation.

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