Five Questions with Arthur I. Miller and George Zarkadakis - Part I

In this guest post we asked authors Arthur I. Miller and George Zarkadakis to interview each other about their books, and we received fascinating conversation about the future and realities of AI. Arthur Miller is the author of The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity, which just released in paperback last month. George Zarkadakis is the author of Cyber Republic: Reinventing Democracy in the Age of Intelligent Machines, which is newly published since October. 

George Zarkadakis (GS): Your book centers around AI. Can you give me a brief overview of the angle of your book?

Arthur Miller (AM): My goal in this book is to explore machine creativity with focus on AI-created art, literature and music. I ask whether machines can have characteristics of human creativity and so be creative like us, such as competitiveness, unpredictability, and emotions and then evolve a creativity of their own. Artist in the Machine looks at the upside of AI, how it can inspire us, increase our own creativity, and so add to the quality of our lives. Too many times in newspapers and novels we read dystopian scenarios occurring in a far future in which we have remained pretty much the same but AI has advanced dramatically. But these days predicting even five years into the future is risky. Everything is changing quickly, including us. Are we not merging with machines?

GZ: You say that we shouldn’t fear artificial intelligence – are there any aspects surrounding AI that we should be concerned about?

AM: Actually what we should fear is lack of AIs. For example, AIs have a higher success rate in spotting tumours in x-rays than radiologists. AIs are playing a key role in assisting medical researchers to find a vaccine for Covid-19. In education AI is becoming more and more indispensable for online schooling, of key importance to today’s pandemic scene. In the near future driverless cars will be perfected, saving tens of thousands of lives each year. The Internet of Things will drastically affect our already changing society. To be sure there are dangers lurking in AI, just as there are in any emergent technology. As AIs become increasingly autonomous their use by the military will have to scrutinised. Indeed, autonomy is often at the root of people’s fears about a future in which machines run amok – a Terminator scenario. Then there is their role in fake news, interference in elections, and the emergence of a surveillance society. They are fed with our personal data from which mega-corporations profit immensely, at our expense. All this serves to widen the gap between the haves and have nots, while hollowing out the so-called middle class. This leads us to ask: What is the good life in the Age of AI? George Zarkadakis focuses on questions such as this in his book Cyber Republic. He suggests a way that could pave the road for mutual ownership based on a safe method for exchanging information and money, which he takes to be blockchain.

GZ: Will AI have consciousness someday? If so, how does that affect the issues raised in your book?

AM: Yes, I discuss in Artist in the Machine how AIs will someday have consciousness. Consciousness is our inner being, our essence and so is essential for our creativity. Like us, once AIs have consciousness they will have emotions as well and so be capable of true creativity in art, literature and music. Presently we cannot imagine what their products be. Who knows, perhaps, at the end of the day, they might be better than what we produce. The big question that emerges in all this is: Can we learn to appreciate art we know has been created by a machine?

GZ: Is the future of AI one that’s dystopian or one that’s utopian?

AM: As I’ve discussed earlier the future can be utopian with a better quality of life for everyone. If not, it’s not the fault of AI but of politicians.

GZ: What do you think people or the workforce should be doing now to introduce better AI to society?

AM: Introducing AI for medical uses and to increase our creativity, among other avenues, will clearly boost our quality of life. George suggests ways in which AI can reduce the widening economic gap with what he calls a “cyber republic,” with AI at the core of democratisation. It is a society in which the individual is not irrelevant, that is, is not merely a source of data and can be forgotten about by elected officials as soon as they take office.

A point of contact for our books is that in the future creativity will be highly valued, creativity in humans and in machines.

Stay tuned for Part II of the interview next week!