“Humanity’s Turning Point: Threat or Knockout Evolution?”

AI: Key technology of the 21st century

AI represents a key technology that forms one of the definitive challenges of the 21st century. Companies involved in the development of AI-based systems have an important responsibility here: not only when it comes to technical implementation and feasibility, but also with regard to the prerequisites, motivations and consequences of the use of AI in central areas of human life. A human-friendly design of AI in the working world is one of the most pragmatic problems here. However, the autonomy of machines in performing increasingly complex tasks also touches on fundamental questions of human sociality: What are the prerequisites for a regulated and orderly interaction between humans and machines? What are the main motivations of the application of AI in companies and what are the goals of the digital revolution? What are the consequences of an interaction between humans and machines?

Opportunities and risks of AI

It is often pointed out that AI serves an increase in functionality and sustainability in production as well as an optimal provision of products and services. In this context, serious issues listed include the rise of market concentration as a potential threat to competition and government action, and an inevitable and progressive replacement of humans by AI-based systems to perform various activities. The resulting debate has focused on two main points of contention: 1. an increasing encroachment on the regulatory function of the state via certain AI-based private companies, 2. an unfair distribution of work, where jobs and activities are filled by machines without humans being able to fully understand AI-driven processes. Underlying AI-driven production and its consequences, however, is another and crucial question that is not always made explicit: what paradigm of the humanum is expressed in the context of highly intelligent and machine-driven production?

Machines as dynamic systems

The scientific discourse of the 1990s already pointed to a future abolition of the discontinuity between humans and machines. AI belongs to a turning point in human history: Copernicus performed the turn from cosmocentrism to heliocentrism; Darwin challenged the discontinuity between humans and animals in his theory of evolution; Freud radically changed the conception of the human psyche from an ego-centered to a subject determined by the unconscious. In a similar way, machine learning technology shows that humans and machines are not as discontinuous as previously thought – not because humans function in part like machine systems, but fundamentally because the view of machines in the digital age can no longer be thought of in “mechanistic” terms. Machines are gaining the status of “dynamic systems”.

Creative potentials of human-machine interaction

AI shows an increasingly “symmetrical relationship” between humans and machines, i.e. no mere “use” of the machines, but a true “interaction” (between two intelligences), from which a social and cultural challenge can be derived. Human interaction with the machine is not merely limited to “functions” or “roles”. The relationship includes cognitive and even creative processes and opens a completely different horizon With the use of AI, a turnaround in the nature of social interaction is taking place, because machines no longer appear as “objects” but as (non-human) “subjects” that can not only “control” but also “co-decide” – and, if humans deal with them incorrectly, even “become dominant” – in complex processes. By socializing humans with machines, AI is elevated to an almost horizontal symbiosis of creative potentialities in which humans and machines interact as two independent and interrelated entities. Up to now it was valid that a self-calculating system (machine) without organic dynamics (human intervention) is doomed to self-destruction. Here, a boundary between machine functionality and human creativity became apparent. With the development of AI, these boundaries are no longer so clear, which is one of the fundamental challenges of global society in the digital age.

AI: Between fascination and threat

A number of abilities fall on the side of the machines, which so far have been attributed only to the humanum (as a living being endowed with reason). From this context, a new image of man and a different form of his relationship to the world emerge. As AI continues to develop, humans cannot be conceptualized as either the ‘crown of creation’ or the ‘ruler over nature’. Rather, it appears as a co-evolving organism in the midst of a complex interrelationship of non-human, machine-controlled and creative (natural and artificial) existences that co-create and shape a world equally. This connection is not only fascinating, but also frightening. Fascinating because of the kind of scientific progress the process brings. Frightening because of the fact that the progress is much too fast and changeable to be caught up by a simultaneous control of the new human interaction with machines in the field of computer science.

Technological revolution and ecological crisis

However, the situation of an uncatchable progress of AI by human reflection is only threatening if humans are not aware of the current problems of a global nature, which are to be seen in a context with the preconditions, motivations and goals of the use of AI. However, the situation of an uncatchable progress of AI by human reflection is only threatening if humans are not aware of the current problems of a global nature, which are to be seen in a context with the preconditions, motivations and goals of the use of AI. Limited natural resources, in the face of global warming and biodiversity loss, demand a different approach to technology, as well as the retention of a human margin of maneuver in the face of the unpredictability of natural processes. The AI technological revolution should meet this challenge. A first step would be to ask what constitutes sustainable AI and how framework conditions can be created to use AI applications in a sustainable way and contribute to a transformation towards sustainability.

Ethics in the Age of Technocracy

In this sense, the design of an ethical co-evolution of humans and machines needs to be thought through from the ground up. Among other things, this involves people gradually achieving a new sensitivity to dynamic systems. If he succeeds in doing so, he can renounce his hitherto taken-for-granted dominance over all other existences and assume a modest position in a complex network of human and non-human “subjects”. This modest position is anything but a weakness. It could contribute to the construction of a solid, but also dynamic and thoroughly reflected ethics in the age of technocracy. Such an ethics does not disregard the ecological effects of new technological processes and has a creative and compensatory effect against the increasing automation of an unreflective application of technical calculation for the optimization of action goals.

In the digital age, people are only “threatened” when they transcend their own boundaries and adopt an isolated, self-referential position.

Maximilian Schneider – Ainovate
Co-evolution of man and machine

In the digital age, people are only “threatened” when they transcend their own boundaries and adopt an isolated, self-referential position. KI k This requires a new way of thinking, a qualitative change in individual and collective reflection on the technical challenge of a new form of non-human intelligence. If the design of technologies of this kind is considered ethically, and ethical reflection is not limited to pragmatic decisions but encompasses the spectrum of consequences and further developments, the dangers can be turned into advantages and the threatening into a promise of better cooperation. Co-evolution of humans and machines is a new form of relation, which can no longer be separated from all other forms of relations that constitute social being from a global perspective.


Maximilian Schneider
Managing Director, Ainovate GmbH