Historically, generational divides have been defined by geopolitical-social-economic changes within societies. Today, however, advances in technology appear to define the lines between generations. The advent of the iPhone spawned generation I, and it appears that AI is birthing the next generation - Generation AI — currently in diapers.
This generation will be surrounded, immersed and plugged into all kinds of interfaces that attempt to anticipate their every need, want, desire and wish. This invasive and adulterated anticipatory attention will help form their relationship to themselves, others and the world around them.
AI will also structure their needs, wants, desires and wishes in ways that bypass the mystery of trial and error, the empty spaces of uncertainty, and the lonely moments of solitude that open a portal to creative reflection and play, and that help form a cohesive sense of self.
Like tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears, the AI generation will be encapsulated and enframed within the digital hum defining both the experience and the narrative of the emerging self. Just like online porn has devitalized the creative sexual imagination of Millenials and Z’s, by structuring both the content and form of sexual desire and reducing it to unidimensional templates of rigid, regressive, impersonal and alienating gender roles and scripts, AI, in the hands of such questionable players as Facebook and Google, is destined to eviscerate the creative imagination of self.
The pervasiveness of AI, like a neurotically anxious overbearing parent (i.e. helicopter parent), risks short-circuiting the messy and necessary struggles inherent in life, including tolerating the void of the unknown, whereas for children, the unknown being the evolving sense of self.
In the past year, with brain-computer interfaces (BCI), researchers have shown that it is possible to translate directly from brain activity into synthetic speech or text by recording and decoding a person’s neural signals, using sophisticated AI algorithms.
And Facebook is primed and ready to exploit your neural activity to help you type with your thoughts, hear with your skin, and enhance your reality to magic mushroom levels. But to “help you” reach such psychedelic levels of experiencing, Facebook will need to have access to all your neural data. And considering the incredible malleability of children’s evolving brains, do we really want the Zuckerbergs of the world mucking around in our kids’ neural networks creating the conditions for the next Cambridge Neurologica? Furthermore, giving the source code of our children’s neural networks to potentially unethical players opens the door to the iniquitous manipulation of these networks via immersive BCI technologies.
The paradox of BCI technology infiltrating the minds of children is that even though it can prove helpful for people suffering from “locked-in” conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or brain stroke, where the patient is conscious but cannot voluntarily move the muscles that correspond to speech, it can also create a “locked-in” generational condition.
A generation for who the boring and demanding constraints of reality are an escapable option, hence robbing them of the necessary collisions with the real world inherent in growing up and finding their own voice.
Also, the evolving BCI ecosystem does not operate in a value-free vacuum; it is imbued with intention, and it is the intention that defines the human experience. Intention is soaked in meaning, and meaning is more circular and symbolic than linear and binary.
And what defines one’s experiences as unique, is the meaning emerging from the billions of neural connections within the brain as one collides with others and the real world around them. Furthermore, as meaning-making machines, we humans are burdened with the unique task of writing our place in the world, and BCI assisted AI risks hijacking the pen of both the individual and collective narratives for this generation.
Finally, as the guiding relational algorithm for helicopter parents is structured around controlling and stifling the child’s inherent will-to-meaning, to assuage their unresolved fears and unactualized lives, questionable BCI players’ monetization algorithms will further entrap children within an inauthentic narrative of AI-generated selfhood.