The Artifice of intelligence
By Nilson Roberto Da Silva

Guido Orefice, protagonist of The Life Is Beautiful (1997) – Roberto Benigni’s award-winning film -, had relied on a better future; he fostered enchantment to the son’s life with creative skills. The character’s quasi-magical and touching communication had not been influenced by social media funny videos, nor by mind-expanding drug effects. Inspiration came from the synergy between social coexistence and developed lifelong skills.

When considering the structures of moral values currently, what would it be like to plan ethics of beauty in everyday life without neglecting historical horrors of wars, basic sanitation absence, hunger, unemployment, moral and emotional needs?

Feelings harmonize between reality and dreams. The senses react to each other and reflect itself in the body – nerves and muscles – their perceptions for animate existence. The biological clock does not freeze itself by botulinum toxin, but it gives for free and for each one the journey result: visible and psychological scars, those palpable, these indelible. There is no gag that silences the lines of expression acquired over time.

Artwork imitates the life essence, registers and expresses generational values and characteristics. Life is sui generis painting; it should copy art based on a strict calibration criterion – as ethical austerity -, otherwise the facsimile can produce iridescent-colour effect capable of degenerating the “fresco in movement’s properties”.

Social painting is subject to chromatic distortions brought about by intermediary agents such as the fake news – a modern, shabby, widespread and mixed version of bad word-of-mouth, hear something through the grapevine, and the broken telephone game -, which has a contrary consequence to the Information and Communication Technology’s tools (ICT): information to help in training. It is not unnoticed, the homo faber consumes, but also creates doubtful low-level technology.

The human being creates to fit itself and adapt to create, delicate visual poetry, pictured by the director and actor Benigni. The trigger for this action is in psychology and sociability in natura, since the wise man origin.

Darwin’s shrewdness observation about the adaptive capacity for natural selection was a scientific milestone. Since 1859, the essence of The Origin of Species influences plays, films and other artworks at the world culture; inspires young people into the scientific universe and; has become a counterpoint to creationism.

Besides scientific ability, Darwin had intuition and goodwill, but these three qualities would have been insufficient for the projection of the naturalist’s ideas. His grandfather’s business success, Josiah Wedgwood, allowed his grandson, Darwin, to put his scientific beacon to the trial. His grandfather’s heritage helped him to score. Wedgwood’s ability for entrepreneurial adaptation was the embryonic and homegrown version of the modern Research & Development (R&D).

The touchstone in any business is investment in R&D – that work as forwarder of discovery, creations and innovations. Humanity dreams of diseases eradication, the auspicious role of R&D in health industry and national governments. However, for the smooth transition between the real harshness and the imaginary tenderness, there is the ace up one’s sleeve: the observance of moral principles.

Ethics has been the biomedicine gatekeeper against violations, even these ones try to mimic progress. On the ethics absence into a potential scenario that mixes R&D reality and the futuristic imagery of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Nick Bilton – a technology columnist – left a reflective clue, “Imagine how a medical robot, originally programmed to rid cancer, could conclude that the best way to obliterate cancer is to exterminate humans who are genetically prone to the disease”.

The extermination of people with physical problems or with ethnic-racial differences has already been an atrocious strategy that perpetrated heinous crimes and against humanity – see the concentration camps established in World War II, as well as other historical moments such as ethnic cleansing. Even if one knows about legislation and ethics, human beings sometimes violate both of them.

Any TV or radio station has obligations to be fulfilled as to the news precision, according to the journalism ethics, not with verisimilitude. Fake news is a social virus that harasses ethics and brings consequences that spread virulently. Damage is not only caused by the sender – let alone by the machine itself.

It is likely that Jean Baudrillard, a French sociologist and philosopher, would accept being a witness defence of any computer, in the fake news’ case, by making clear that “The sad thing about artificial intelligence is that it lacks artifice and therefore intelligence”. If a gun never goes to jail for murdering, why could a computer be blamed? Then, where would be the others, besides the issuer himself, in the network gathering and distribution of lies?


Plots of lives, stories and histories

AI enthusiasts are able to raise investments for R&D; they emulate, by means of machines, the social behaviours or reactions to approach the human abilities and skilfulness. For this purpose, this technology depends on the aid of interpreters, from applications and software developed in advanced language, based on complex algorithms.

However, how will computers assimilate synaesthesia, a human verve? The scenic art technique – which interprets body language and verbal as well behavioural norms – may be an early clue. No wonder that around the world there are awards for the best stagings like Goya, Gramado, Oscar and Palme d’Or. The main categories evaluate actors and actresses’ commotion capacity and films approaching of the human reality.

Body language, psychology – individual and social – applied to the games’ logic, can contextualize a little bit more. The poker player’s acumen needs to outstrip amusement prescriptions; it requires capturing and interpreting opponents’ body language to seize their expectations and anxieties. The panoramic view, tuned to the environment, will help the practitioner to establish tactics, among them, bluffing, a kind of artifice’s ethics – allowed in the game -, unadvisable in human relations.

AI’s electronic brain depends on massive databases loading to process commands that generate probabilistic paths to human decision making. The digital machine tries to surmise the logic of human language through the Natural Language Processing (NLP).

It is essential to take your hat off to the possibilities of the computer. Gilberto Gil, a Brazilian singer-songwriter, valued the CPU of the computer, but exposed the limitations of the Electronic Brain (Cérebro Eletrônico, 1969’s song) that: “[…] It does everything / Almost everything / It commands / Call the shots [but] / Only I can think / If God exists, only me / Only I can cry when I am sad / I think and I can […] “. Is it essential to take your hat off to the impossibilities of the computer?

Human reasoning and behaviour allow for much more than numb of data analysis – they require more processing complexity than any gadget or widget. One of the human traits is fascination – capable of enchanting oneself and others. Despite this, there is utilitarian social pressure that demands laconic, almost binary responses, with subtle difference between yes and no. Someone tries to adapt the human to the electronic brain.

Domain management and the transition between fiction and reality recall George Orwell’s 1984 book. The title – a numerical pun – was the reversal of the publication release year, 1948. Not without purpose, it would aim to ascertain how far the prediction would be out of reality, thirty-six years later. A primal and romanticized version of modern organizational quality management tools.

The plot of Orwell’s dystopian romance could work as a trigger for doubts on AI’s processes and goals, but it goes further. Just a look at the book quotation’s insight: “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood“. The programming techniques coherence to be incorporated into AI, with products and services for humanity, must be in harmony between the logic of what one wants and the ethics of the possible.

Comprehension is necessary to understand different evolutionary times of everyone, because each one lives his own, although they could have the same ages. In Orwell’s quotation, the human being is contextualised beyond the timeline, considered in their plots of lives, stories and histories.

Jeff Bezzos, Amazon archetype, in a speech to graduates of Princeton University (2010), recalled the words of his grandfather, which emphasized the importance of another characteristic of comprehension: “Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever”.

Comprehension is the sum of many human senses; empathy, par excellence, means the social relationships success, because it allows people to give each other opportunity to meet and respect one another – basis for any subsequent dialogue. What is the possibility of an electronic brain to achieve the skills of understanding and empathy, in the same breath, through a programmed algorithm?

Imagination and creativity save lives; both are reaction natural abilities to any circumstance. Yes, the human being is reactive, but it is also preventive through empathic and understanding capacities. Reaction and prevention are instinctive and ratiocinated, both guarantee the survival and conviviality of humanity. The Life is Beautiful has demonstrated this ethics parameters.

Distinctive signs of technological efficiency will not be social panaceas exempt from the siege of moral principles. They will never be. It is a commonplace to say many sciences contribute to creation and development of defence and attack resources for conflicts (radiotelegraphy, gunpowder, aircraft, atomic energy). Nation states, science, business, and wars communicate with each other.

It must also be considered communication with society, the sensitive stakeholder. Social ethics are invisible, but austere; its understanding vary in time and place. History charges the ethical account according to the level of collective social conscience, there is no prescription of unethical debts.

To avoid a bumpy ride, it will be mandatory to establish the connection between real human behaviours and dreams designed for them by AI, without leaving moral aside, through the artifice’s ethics.


Nilson Roberto Da Silva: Economist seasoned in public and private sector. Worked in the tech project called Brazil 4D, which allows digital TV interactivity without broadband, just using television broadcasting.

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