DW049: Generative AI, Ancient Greek Legends, & Cautionary Tales
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Happy Sunday fellow wayfinder!
Last week, we discussed Bitcoin communities, AI learning, and Filipino contractors. This week, we look at what we can learn from Greek myths about the “threat of AI.” I also share a bit about what entrepreneurs and professionals can do too as a result.
Let's dive in.
Reminder: Before we continue, remember, if you’re looking for content only on community-building and/or emerging tech from a business perspective, subscribe to my company Faiā’s newsletter. Otherwise, enjoy my uncommon blend of topics!
Generative AI has made remarkable advances in recent years, but what happens when/if it becomes sentient? There are arguments on both sides of the table for this ever happening. But there are also countless legends where the “created” defy or overthrow their creators — from Adam & Eve disobeying God, to humans defying the Greek gods.
In this particular piece, we’re going to look at a few ancient Greek legends — where gods overthrow their Titan elders, and humans defy the gods — serving as a cautionary tale of what could happen if we create something (in our image) that ends up overtaking us.
Let’s see what we can learn from the past.
The Greek Legends
According to Greek legends, in the beginning, there was only chaos. Out of the void, Erebus and Night were born. The two slept together, giving birth to Ether (heavenly light) and Day (earthly light). Love was born, bringing a start of order. From Love came Light and Day, and from Day, came Gaea (Earth). Gaea gave birth to Uranus (the heavens), but also became her mate. Together, they produced 3 Cyclopes, 3 Hecatonicheires, and 12 Titans.
The Titans were the rulers of Earth before the Olympians. The conflict began when Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, overthrew Uranus. Interestingly, this was prophecized by Gaea before any of their children were born. But since Cronus betrayed his father, he was worried his offspring would do the same.
As feared, Cronus was later overthrown in a similar fashion by his son Zeus. Most of the Titans fought with Cronus against Zeus, in a 10-year war known as Titanomachy (”Titan war”), but eventually lost. As punishment, the Titans (now seen as the “old gods”) were sent to Tartarus.
But where did humans come in?
According to legend, humans were created by the Titans Prometheus (God of Fire) and Epimetheus. These two were spared by the new Greek gods because they did not join Cronus in the battle against Zeus. Prometheus shaped man out of mud, and Athena breathed life into his clay figure. But, being the trickster god that he was, Prometheus also “stole fire (knowledge) from the gods,” and gave it to humans. As punishment, Zeus created Pandora. She was given a box she was commanded never to open, but eventually did, leading to “evil, plagues, sorrows, and misfortunes.” Sounds similar to the biblical story of Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge, no?
But humans defied the Greek gods by eventually accepting Christianity (and a monotheistic view of the world) via the Romans, which left the Greek gods with no power or authority. The last pagans were converted in the 9th century CE. A rather interesting turn of events.
The overthrow of the Titans, and the subsequent defiance of the Greek gods by humans demonstrate the danger of creating something that becomes more powerful than its creators. In each case, the ones in power become complacent, and their downfall is sealed. Such could be the fate of humankind when it comes to our own creation, AI.
Generative AI Today & “Fictional” Series
Today, we are faced with the possibility of generative AI producing something sentient. Is it possible for AI to become more powerful than humans? And if so, what are the consequences? Fictional series like Transformers, Star Trek, and even Xena: Warrior Princess have explored the possibilities and dangers of the created overthrowing the creators (e.g. AI).
📰 FEATURED NEWS
Got invited to speak at CMX Summit in San Francisco, on the topic of blockchain and AI in community-building, later this year
Became certified in Advanced AI Prompt Engineering via Rob Lennon’s course (inventor of the term “prompt crafting”)
Had 183 people register for a client workshop on how to use AI/ChatGPT to build on a scaleable blockchain (see here)
🪶 DIGITAL WAYFINDER STORY: Vajra Fatih Keçelioglu
This video introduces the Mayan calendar system (or “Tzolkin”). It is referred to in the West as “Mayan Astrology,” but it’s not really that. It’s just used as such to make it more ‘palatable’ for Western audiences.
I stumbled upon Vajra Fatih Keçelioglu, originally from Turkey (above), after a recent trip to Guatemala. I discovered him while researching the Mayan calendar, which led me to his site MyMayanSign.com.
Firstly, let me just say that the site has a pretty clean UX. Secondly, Fatih does a good job of interpreting a rather complex Mayan system into something more comprehensible for Western audiences. However, he acknowledges that you must go to the source (the Mayan Elders and wisdom keepers, or recordings of them) to learn more.
I became fascinated with this system after a Guatemalan man shared with me my “Mayan sign.” In Mexico, I had already received my Aztec (Quetzalcoatl) and Zapotec (Owl) signs. I felt there was a lot more to the Mayan system than just one sign though, which was proven correct after doing further research. So far, it has been eerily accurate in some of its descriptions and predictions. If you’re at all interested in this area, just hit reply — happy to chat further about my discoveries.
Until next week, remember: through patience & persistence, it will come.
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