"Half beast, half machine… Where is the beauty?
Beast is a biological machine. So what’s the difference?
What makes a machine aware of itself?
What really makes us human? Not by comparison with other beasts but genuinely human?
How do we become human? Is humanness inherited or learned?
Can humanness be lost like virginity or gained like experience?
Do you think these questions are stupid because we are human by default?
What about by default humans who burned millions of other by default humans in furnaces of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dachau?
What does it really mean to be human?
It seems that we all know the answer but we fail to put this knowledge into words.
It’s a tacit knowledge, isn’t it?
And where is spirit? What's about soul?
Maybe, being human is a spiritual experience after all?
We can’t tell for sure if anything at all exists beyond the membrane of our sensations. Yet we can manipulate our sensations believing that we control either the laws of nature or the mystical forces around us, or both.
Is humanness all about arrogance and pride then? We don’t find them neither in beasts, nor in machines.
We believe that humanness means more than that.
Maybe, humanness starts when a mother takes a baby in her arms and starts telling a story. A fairy tale. The baby feels her gentle touches, hears her kind and caring voice… At the borderline of sleep and reality the baby’s brain starts to fire neurons in the same areas where the mother’s brain neurons are firing following the rhythm of mother’s speech. The magic spark of humanness flashes…
Can we quantify humanness? Can we rate it?
Is a civilized man more human than a savage?
What about a serial killer and an innocent child?
Is sociopath a human being?
Can humanness be reduced to the laws of nature?
If my heel is itching, I have a choice to scratch it or ignore. I can govern the biological machine of my body with a pure power of my thought. To my best knowledge my body works according to the laws of nature. Thus, by scratching my heel I make the laws of nature obey me with a pure power of my thought.
Searching for the source of humanness is like chasing the horizon: faster you move, faster it runs away.
Why do we need to catch it after all?
There are reasons, if we believe that humans are more than just intelligent biological machines.
Because the artificial intelligence that is evolving now across a wide array of instances from self driving cars to smart cities and beyond will not automatically become human. Without learning what makes us human we risk to create a super intelligent sociopath. Or a whole bunch of super intelligent, super powerful sociopaths. Artificial intelligence needs not to be general to become dangerous.
We also feel that more and more people around us are surrendering their humanness to their bestial or machine origins. We don’t know if something extraordinary is happening or it is just a normal process but our reaction to it is also humanly normal. We wish to make such people more human again. And we wish to make it really fast before it’s too late.
Our way of digging down to the first principle of humanness lays through the development of products in the field that we tentatively call Humanness Development.
We believe that neuroscientists have already discovered some of the most practical and efficient means, by which humanness is memorized and retrieved in human brains and transferred between them.
We also believe that scientists in the field of artificial intelligence have already successfully reproduced these means in machine learning algorithms.
These means may seem too simple, even primitive but science proves that they really work. These means are stories. The question remains: Which stories are best suitable for the learning of humanness? How can we pick up the right ones?
Comparative phylogenetic research of fairy tales and myths has provided us with the answer to the above question by tracing the same stories from our time to the times when people just discovered speech.
Three lines of research (neuroscience+stories, AI+stories, phylogenetics+stories) which so far went mostly in parallel are now ripe for convergence. Humanness Learning as a discipline may emerge as a result.
It’s time for us to come out and start building a community of AI scientists, neuroscientists, philologists, game developers, historians of literature, movie producers, writers, entrepreneurs -- all those who are united by the passion to discover the first principle of humanity - and furthermore - by the genuine desire to provide humans and machines with compelling and efficient tools of learning and relearning to be human."
March 22, 2017