AI and Evolution

AI and Evolution
Prompt: Big eyed cat girl

How will the coevolution of Humans and AI technology shape our cultural evolution?

AI and Evolution
Dr. Josh Stout

Eric 0:00

Still Friday, February 23rd. But Josh had more. We had more that we wanted to say. So we're continuing on with episode. Episode nine of Mind Body Evolution. Hi again, Josh. 

Dr. Josh Stout 0:15

Hi, Eric. Yeah, I. Yeah. In addition to being dyslexic, I'm ADHD, so it's very easy to get distracted. It's somewhat of a superpower when it comes to researching stuff on the internet. I can go down deep dives on all sorts of topics, but it's hard to stay on one. So anyway, I, I really wanted to talk about it. I would. 

Eric 0:34

I would I would venture a guess that might be part of why your students enjoy you, because the conversations are always wide ranging and fascinating. 

Dr. Josh Stout 0:41

There is always pluses and minuses to these things. All are strengths or weaknesses and vice versa. Yes, indeed. So one thing I wanted to talk about at the beginning of talking about A.I. that I never really got to was where it where it stands in the evolution of consciousness. And that was something that I felt important to tie in A.I. to the podcast in general, but show that how our tools have sort of co-evolved with us and that I evolving as a tool for, you know, writing and thinking. Is is very much the next level of, of, of where our consciousness is going to be going. And I wanted to think a little bit about how we do co-evolved with our tools. So as we got better tools, our teeth got smaller because we didn't need to chew as much as we got cooking. Our stomach got smaller because it was easier to digest things. What is this going to start doing to our brains as we co-evolved with the with the AI? And because it's acting at a cultural level rather than necessarily a genetic one, the evolution can go much, much more rapidly If you if you need to change things genetically, that might take a million years. But if you need to change something culturally, that can that can take months. So we can we can change our culture. You know, the thing we live in, we can change it very rapidly. 

Eric 2:00

The Matrix. 

Dr. Josh Stout 2:01

Well, our habitat, the our, our, our, our ecological niche is defined by our culture. The places we live with, stuff we eat, all of these things. And they used to be defined by our genome. But as we co-evolved with culture, as as part of our evolution, more and more it became culture that drove things. So we don't need to evolve or we can just put on a jacket. Culture buffers. Many of the things that we are actually affected by the world, but also defines how we how we respond to it. And so the evolution of culture is absolutely an important thing to think about in biological evolution in relation to humans. It happens in other creatures as well, but we have the most of it by far. So it's interesting to think about from from that point of view, to think about how evolution is going to start evolving with us. And something I wanted to point out was that we're talking about the evolution of a standard English and that we're going to start moving towards a more and more standardized version. And that's going to happen culturally. 

Eric 3:05

As as, AI leads us to a more AI way of communicating. 

Dr. Josh Stout 3:10

Because A.I. is going to find the most standardized version, it doesn't know what anything is, so it's going to find what's the most like the news articles that it reads and what all those news articles have in common, and eliminate all the differences. And so it's going to lead to this very, very standardized version of doing things. And then when the students start replicating this and learn it, they're going to learn that approach to English, which is going to cause the AI to further refine their model and make it even more standardized. So this is a kind of evolutionary process where it goes back and forth and it pushes towards a single ideal that we're not sure what that is exactly, but that it's going to evolve from our interaction with the AI. I' worried about the same thing that's going to happen to our cultural perceptions of each other, particularly that we're already causing a lot of stress, particularly for young women as they get onto social media with the standardization of beauty. And this has been something that's been an issue forever. Essentially, you see the discussions coming out in the women's magazines of the eighties. They're pushing particular cultural definitions of beauty, often that are unattainable by actual women, and so it forces forces into forces people into becoming anorexic as as a way of becoming more beautiful. And so. 

Eric 4:40

Or at least to take Ozempic. 

Dr. Josh Stout 4:42

That that's the new thing. But, you know, this has been something that has been this is not a new thing that I have discovered and that social media has already made worse and started to make it completely artificial. So you have filters that can make your eyes bigger than a human's eyes, and then people compare these things to those standards of beauty and there's there's, you know, no way to compare yourself. And then it's a both sides. So, you know, normally this is thought of as women are trying to now achieve these these artificial standards of beauty. But again, men are absolutely part of the equation. These are beauty traps, essentially thirst traps for men to attract men. And the AI will start to know what is attracting the most hits. We already count hits and women have tried to manipulate their images online to get the most hits and so that. 

Eric 5:38

Everyone tries to exaggerate their images online to get the most hits. 

Dr. Josh Stout 5:41

And so this has already changed the way we present ourselves and it's undoubtedly starting to change the way we are attracted to things so that we're going to start being attracted to things that don't actually exist instead of women. We've talked about the problems of of the decline of sex within our culture and the lowering birth rate. This is something else to think about in this context where we're creating these these unattainable beauty images for women, which is terribly damaging to them physically and psychically, but also to to men. We're going to start evolving men who are attracted to things that don't exist, which it cannot be good for it for a species. And many species can be manipulated this way. So, for example, sword tails or a kind of fish with a extra long tail that makes them look longer. And the females like fish that look longer than shorter fish. There are relatives of sword tails that are very closely related. They can interbreed, but they don't have the long tail. If you tape a long tail onto a male, the females will flock to it. So they they will be attracted, even though that doesn't occur in their species. So there are things in brains of fish that are attracted to particular shapes that are programmed in there by evolution, but they can be then manipulated. So one species, the sword tails, figured out how to manipulate that by growing an artificially long tail and attracting the females. This is kind of what we're doing. We are, as a species, at to large eyes because it is part of what enables us to keep our infants alive. They have to depend. They're dependent on us all the time. So if we didn't really like them, it would be bad for them. They need food in the middle of the freaking night. 2 hours sometimes between feedings for if you're lucky. And part of what keeps us going is those big eyes. So we put big eyes on ourselves first artificially. You know, the word coal where we actually get alcohol means essence or something that's been refined or purified or distilled. But it originally was related also to the word coal, as in the black coal rock. Coal was something that the Egyptians used to underline their eyes, to make their eyes look bigger. So we've been manipulating these images for a very, very long time and have been responding to them because men can't help responding just the way those female sword tails can't help responding to this extra artificially long tail. It means nothing about the actual reproductive value of that male. But it is a signal that, oh, look, he's got a long tail and so they're attracted. So the women with larger eyes are more attractive, probably would work somewhat for men, but historically, most of the way dynamics have worked is women trying to attract men and men doing the hunting of women. That's sort of how things have historically happened, not advocating it, just reporting it. 

So, you know, this this these are the ways these dynamics happen. And so Instagram has undoubtedly been already manipulating the way men are responding to these images. It's not just getting those clicks, but once you've learned how to click on something that's attractive, that's going to be reinforced. Again, dopamine reports, you get a little ping every time you see that particular image. So you start looking for that particular image. What is I going to do? A guy is going to know this even better, and you don't even need to have humans anymore. Already, many of the models on Instagram are AI. They're not actual people. And so it's it's yes, definitely creating unreachable, unreachable beauty standards for women, which is devastating, but is also manipulating men into being even worse consumers of sexual product than they were before. And it's going to do things that are terrible. So again, big eyes. These are these are attractive because they're childlike. We're putting them on sexualized images of women, childlike, big eyes on sexualized. Many of the things that we're attracted to are things related to being well under 18. The upturned nose that many women get nose jobs to simulate is an upturn nose that infants need so they can breathe and don't drown while they're nursing on the breast. It turns up so they can keep the nose off the breast. These are things that signal youth that the younger you are, the more upturned your nose is. So we're starting to you know, we've been doing this with plastic surgery. We've been doing it with filters on Instagram. Now. Now I can start playing with these these these criteria things that are deep, deep in our brains this size of hips and buttocks, the size of breasts, the position of breasts shapes things that can't possibly be reproduced by actual women are going to get more clicks. They're going to be things where you're going to combine, you know, the the curves of a 30 year old with a face of a 12 year old. There's going to be things that are going to be encouraging sexualization of underage girls. There is already I just read some. 

Eric 11:09

As if that doesn't happen anyway. 

Dr. Josh Stout 11:11

Exactly. No, I was just reading in the Times yesterday, they had an article on how the insta moms are putting their underage girls online and they're doing it for the clicks. And the comments by the men are disgusting. And I actually had an idea for how to deal with some of the disgusting communications online. Okay, I'm slightly off topic, but is is it's related to the problems of online pornography in many ways. In the early days of the Internet, I didn't have a television and I had young children and I wanted to give them videos, but I didn't want to have a television in my house. I thought television was bad for many, many reasons. Terrible programming, terrible advertising. You you you start it and you end up watching something. You would never watch by choice. It just sort of forces it down your throat. So I didn't want one of these things in my house. But on the other hand, videos are great when you have small children. And so I wanted the Internet to be providing me videos. And this was, you know, years before YouTube. Even So, I was searching for ways to get things. And there was various forms of piracy and there is things that were legal and semi legal and all sorts of stuff. And I got this really, I actually started going deep where I would get permissions for technologies. When they first came out, I would get codes that would allow me in to be in beta tests of things. And I got into this file sharing program. I wish I could remember the name of it. It was decades ago, more than two decades ago, that allowed you to stream entire movies and you would share these movies on your personal website, so you would have your little avatar and then all the movies you had. And if anyone clicked on your avatar, they would see all your movies and they could just stream them from there. And if they want to put them on their website, they would just cut and paste it right to their website. And so everyone had their own website with their own movies on it, and it instantly became all porn. Everyone's avatar was disgusting and all of their movies were porn and then over on one little corner they'd have like a Disney folder. And so if you wanted stuff, you'd be like, I take my laptop away from anywhere where my kids would be, and I'd find the ones that had the Disney folder and we'd watch some Disney movies and I'd say, You cannot touch my computer. You don't go anywhere near any of the buttons. It'll all explode. Because I knew that if they just started, they would just see pages of porn. And it was it was really, really awkward. And then about three months into this where the people realized they had a disaster on their hands, they started figuring out ways to get rid of all of the porn. And I think it was it was brilliant of them. They didn't change anything except you had to become the friends with someone to see the to see the movies on their site. So it put a tiny barrier for people just surfing for porn. 

Eric 14:03

So before you could just look at anybody's web page. 

Dr. Josh Stout 14:06

And so, so so any any avatar you saw, you clicked on it and looked at their web page to see if they had something. So I'm looking for Disney filters. Right. And they're and most people are just clicking on who has the biggest breasts in their avatar. Right. And so everyone's a naked woman and everyone's clicking on, you know, naked women. Now you have to be friends with someone. And so if you want to be friends with someone, no one wants a naked lady friend. They want a person. And so people started making their avatars be real humans. It also showed a list of who your friends were, and no one wanted a list of friends that were all naked ladies. So they started making real avatars. And almost overnight all the porn disappeared from everyone's pages. People would… 

Eric 14:51

Because you had to identify yourself. 

Dr. Josh Stout 14:52

Not with a real name. It was still completely anonymous. You just identified yourself within the group that you were dealing with. But no one wanted the naked pictures anymore, even though it had been on the people's pages already. It was your page with your thing, but it wasn't driving clicks anymore. And it wasn't and it wasn't something that people wanted on their page. And so people still had porn folders. They would have it as a folder on their page somewhere and they would have a warning label on it. But now their pages were all Disney movies and kids movies and stuff that people actually wanted. And it was because instead of driving clicks, you were driving friends, and the people with the most friends had the most movies that people actually wanted. And it changed overnight. And I wonder if we couldn't do something like this with the way we respond, where there would be some sort of relationship between what you've said and how people deal with you, Not in terms of, you know, people could still be anonymous, possibly just like it was on this site, but where you would actually  see what people were up to in some way, you know, this is how traditionally science that sites how society has policed itself. You know, all the mens have always been dogs. And there's always when women who want to take their clothes off to attract the dogs. But generally this doesn't happen in public because we're all kind of watching each other and we're just kind of embarrassed. 

Eric 16:24

Well, I mean, that's I mean, I hear what you're saying, and that's where I was going. And you said it. The key is shame. The key is that is that you're a little embarrassed about this, so at least you're going to put it up in the corner and hide it and put a warning on it so that it's not the most prominent thing on the web page that's associated with your avatar. The thing is, it feels like we've moved into an era that's very much post shame. 

Dr. Josh Stout 16:48

Because we've we've been exclusively doing social media that downplay the connection between something you should be ashamed of and any value on the social media. It had all been there on this website before You got more clicks for the nakedness. You've got more people going to your page for the nakedness, but as soon as you had to display your friends and people were looking for who had the best friends, suddenly all the porn went away again, like almost overnight. 

Eric 17:18

Well, again, this was 15, 20 years ago. Yeah. And again, I'm like, I love where you're coming at from this, but I. I don't know. Are we in an era that is different now where people don't feel the same shame about certain things? 

Dr. Josh Stout 17:33

It's it's it's not really about that. I don't think you're going to change people. What you can change is the way the motivation system works. Just like eBay with with, with their their feedback. There's always going to be scammers out there and there are always going be people who figured out a way to scam the system. But in general, the system works because people literally write comments and rate things and mostly you're not going to buy something if someone's gotten bad feedback or. 

Eric 17:57

No feedback. 

Dr. Josh Stout 17:58

Or no feedback. So everyone has this, you know, really built in guarantee just based on everyone else's comments and you can manipulate it and it does get me inflated and you still will get ripped off. But it has lowered the chances by far because of that system. And I think we could do the same for ourselves online so we don't go down this rabbit hole that we were speeding as fast as we can down where we're going to create artificial things to attract the worst parts of us of ourselves. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. All right. Anyway, that's what I wanted to say today. I just wanted to be short and sweet, but I wanted to draw that connection between our co-evolution of culture and our tools and where we're going evolutionarily and evolutionarily with the development of AI. 

Eric 18:44

I mean, it's interesting because, you know, we normally think of evolution as a force that happens over such long periods of time that we don't have any interaction or interplay with it. We can't affect how evolution's going to go. But you're saying that this is a this is an evolution, but this is an evolution happening at such a scale that we actually can have an influence on. 

Dr. Josh Stout 19:07

It's happening in our lifetime and it's happening right now. It's happening to our sons and daughters. 

Eric 19:11

What you are coming at is a is a is a again, just like the last episode, a hopeful point of view that like if we are conscious about how we interact with this thing. Yes, that may be we can actually affect our coevolution in a positive way. Yes.  

Dr. Josh Stout 19:29

Still have free speech. 

Eric 19:30

Rather than all arms in the air screaming. 

Dr. Josh Stout 19:31

Yeah. I mean, the FBI is already worried about how is the FBI going to start underage AI pornography? How is the FBI going to find these things? And the FBI is already trying to police thought in many ways you can't have any kind of pornography that references anyone under 18. But, you know, what would Nabokov have done with literally writing Lolita? You know, these these things are would catch an FBI alert right away. Yeah. And it's it's really strange to think about. We're going to try and let there be this absolute free for all and then police it by arresting people who look at underage computer images or something. You know, I that's it's going to lead to all sorts of bad things. Just for the record, not supporting underage porn. Just wanted to put that out there. But you know, this is this is definitely a direction we're going where we need. We need to think about it. 

Eric 20:25

And I also I like I like the hopeful message because you know, what you what we're talking about in this episode, in the last episode and the potentials of of I as we head into an era where we are in danger of heading into an unfair authoritarian era, the possibilities of an authoritarian government combined with the like that's. 

Dr. Josh Stout 20:47

The worst nightmare. But we can actually make ourselves better using A.I. because we can improve ourselves. 

Eric 20:54

We need this message. 

Dr. Josh Stout 20:55

A as, as a conscious goal, because right now we're kind of unconsciously what's the opposite of improve? Just prove on improve, become worse? Yeah. 

Eric 21:08

I guess you're talking about the kung fu of of AI and working with AI. 

Dr. Josh Stout 21:13

Somewhat yeah yeah thank you. Thank you. 

Eric 21:16

All right. Until next time. 

Coevolution - Wikipedia

Instagram - Wikipedia

Instamom - Wiktionary, the free dictionary

swordtail - Wiktionary, the free dictionary

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