There is no satisfactory way to fully describe what it means to be alive. There are ways to describe what it means to be a person, a human, or a living organism, but besides the corporeal processes that keep the body biologically active, it is more difficult describing what it means to be alive.
Is being alive a sense of feeling good, of gathering certain types of experiences, of dancing like no one is watching?
Is it to love or to show compassion? Or to feel fear, and act in self-interest?
Is it to get goosebumps reading a beautiful passage in a book, to eat your grandmother’s pastries, or to love again after heartbreak?
I’m not sure that you could find the right word, factually, for what it’s like to witness a child be astonished by an ant stack, or the kinship you feel when you stroke your cat, or for that matter any other living animal that, like you, is moving through spacetime like a dream. For there is simply no encompassing way to describe the complexity of embodiment, of being in a body that changes, that is fleshy, that gets sunburned, that tenses and releases.
Whatever it is to be alive, it certainly isn’t what Artificial Intelligence is. Europatriarchal Knowledge has conditioned people to think that intelligence is synonymous with quantifying and measuring logical sums of information, data systems, algorithmic discoveries, technoscience, rationality. And if this is what intelligence is considered to be then it is no wonder that there is so much fear of how AI is more “intelligent” than us. After all, it can outshine humans by far in producing *this* type of knowledge.
But can AI be alive? And if it can’t, then why is so much of the commentariat centralising AI as more-than-technology and a competitive phenomenon of aliveness to either be afraid of or excited by? Is it, perhaps, just another victory of Europatriarchal Knowledge? Yet another means to blind us from reality, from our animal nature, from the truths of our searching selves, and from the expansive experiences that emerge from non-hierarchically variegating sources of knowing.
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