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 So You Want to Be a Sorcerer in the Age of Mythic Powers… (The AI Episode)

The rise of Artificial Intelligence has generated a rush of conversation about benefits and risks, about sentience and intelligence, and about the need for ethics and regulatory measures. Yet it may be that the only way to truly understand the implications of AI — the powers, the potential consequences, and the protocols for dealing with world-altering technologies — is to speak mythically. With the rise of AI, we are entering an era whose only corollary is the stuff of fairy tales and myths. Powers that used to be reserved for magicians and sorcerers — the power to access volumes of knowledge instantaneously, to create fully realized illusory otherworlds, to deceive, to conjure, to transport, to materialize on a massive scale — are no longer hypothetical. The age of metaphor is over. The mythic powers are real. Are human beings prepared to handle such powers?  While the AI conversation centers around regulatory laws, it may be that we also need to look deeper, to understand the chthonic drives at play. And when we do so, we see that the drive to create AI goes beyond narratives of ingenuity, progress, profit, or the creation of a more controllable, convenient world. Buried deep in this urge to tinker with animacy and sentience are core mythic drives —  the longing for mystery, the want to live again in a world of great powers beyond our control,  the longing for death, and ultimately, the unconscious longing for guidance and initiation. Traditionally, there was an initiatory process through which potentially world-altering knowledge was embodied slowly over time.  And so… what needs to be done about ‘The AI question’ might bear much more of a resemblance to the guiding principles of ancient magic and mystery schools than it does to questions of scientific ethics — because the drives at play are deeper and the consequences greater and the magic more real than it’s ever been before. Buckle up for a wild ride through myths of magic and human overreach, and all the kung fu movie and sci fi references you can handle. Featuring music by Charlotte Malin and Sidibe. Listen on a good sound system at a time when you can devote your full attention.