I have written before about language not being an effective tool to solve our complicated social problems. Despite the deep irony of using language to express this thought, I will continue to do so. If I believed doing an interpretive dance to express this thought would be more useful, I would dance till the end of love.
But here’s the thing: language is useful. It can order thoughts, create unexpected connections between events in the world and neural blossoms in our brains, and plow practical roads through the dense jungles of confusion that is our world.
In the beginning was the word because it was the greatest magic trick our brains ever crafted for us. It let us control other humans at a distance. Magic.
But each word is a bulldozer clearing a road, each utterance a pattern that influences future patterns. If you want to figure out how we should tackle an issue like mass shootings in the US, you are not going to be able to talk it out and come to a compromise. Because to some people guns mean safety, and to others they mean violence. Those are not meanings that can be changed through listening to arguments from the other side.
We may belive the issue is about trying to align on policy, but what policy aligns a person who feels good when holding a gun with one who feels horror? And of course guns are just one part of this equation: race, economic stagnation, national identity, mental health, rights, 8chan, etc: each means something different to different folks. All of this mess isn’t going to be negotiated with words, and logic is just expensive wordplay.
So, if this is a solutions blog, what is the post-language solution here? Well, the technology is nascent for sure, but ultimately I believe it is the HAiL systems, the human AI language systems that are currently evolving around us. These systems will translate the language of our political opponents so we can truly understand each other on a neural level.
Because when a gun nut is talking about how owning guns are their rights, what they are talking about is the fear of losing them, of losing control to governments and larger unfeeling systems. When a liberal talks about gun control they are talking about their fear of a dystopian society of mindless violence, or in other words, the current world.
The linguistic arguments around guns causing or not causing mass violence are an ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail, the ancient symbol of eternity, the world soul, the life cycle, and the absurdity and futility of it all. There is no conclusion to be found in solely language-based arguments, just endless cycles of one-upsmanship.
Only when we understand and feel each other’s emotional states beyond language will progress be made, and the ouroboros freed from the endless gnawing. To do this, we will each need an AI to extend us, to communicate on our behalf to the rest of the world, to other AIs.
We will need meet-in-the-middle AI to negotiate these connections.
Then, and only then, can we progress beyond our infantile political, legal, religious and media operating systems.
Images from Wikipedia, and Conan the Barbarian.