Intelligence was the only thing we had left
Galileo, Darwin, Freud, ... these three humans were messengers of humanity's downfalls. What happens with AI, is that we are getting challenged on the last thing that made us unique in the universe.
The fall of geocentrism
It all started to go bad with Galileo and his friend Copernicus. (Well, actually, Aristarchus of Samos was the first we know to consider that the Earth could be revolving around the Sun about 300 years BC, but he did not leave much to account for it.)
Before these two lads, Humanity was standing at the centre of the Universe and all the planets, and that small ball of fire that we call the Sun, were all revolving around us. We were living on the biggest place of all, the masterpiece of God, our home, that could be compared to nothing else.
Then these two blokes came out and started to persuade Humanity that in fact, the Earth was just another planet like Mars or Venus, and is wasn't event so big, especially if you compare it to giants like Jupiter or Saturn.
Humanity fell down from her first pedestal: we were not the centre of the Universe, and the Sun, that mighty 1 million km wide ongoing nuclear explosion was not the centre of the univers either. In fact, it was a very common star, in a very common galaxy like there are billions.
We were just on a common planet around a common start in a common galaxy.
The fall of creationism
You all heard about that one too. Even though there are still some idiots who don't accept the truth, in Theory of the origin of Species, Charles Darwin set up the framework for the theory of evolution.
Before him, we were the unique creation of God, and after that, just a not so old species sharing a common ancestor with our distant cousins the chimps.
That's kind of hard to swallow when you think yourself as the ultimate creation of the Almighty, to realise that your lot was just lucky to survive the last ice age, but you are genetically 99% the same as a chimp.
Not even masters of our own houses
The last fatal blow to human pride was given by Sigmund Freud. With his theory of the unconscious, he showed us that our conscious self is heavily influenced, if not completely dominated, by a shadowy part of each of ourselves that a whole life is generally not long enough to completely tame and comprehend.
That's another terrible thought that most of our lives may be dictated by childhood experiments we won't even remember because they tell so much truth about ourselves that we repress them.
All that was left to us
After the three critical blows that were given by these three bastards, there still was one thing we had left that made us unique: Intelligence. Yes, nobody else could compete with us, nothing we know or have seen in the Universe could match our intelligence, our creativity, our deep minds.
We were unmatched. We were in a league of our own.
That is what is so difficult about this AI stuff. We've just fell thrice from our pedestals in only fire hundred years, and now, that only thing that was still making us unique, we are getting challenged on it.
AIs beat us on more and more fields. First it was Chess, then Go, ... and now, creativity, with diffusion models like Midjourney, or language like the infamous LLM (Large Language Model) GPT-4.
GPT-4 writes faster and better than most of us (well certainly better than me anyway). And the sheer speed at which AIs improve is really freaking. It takes about a year for GPT to improve as much as we do in almost generation. (Don't be too hard on yourself. You might not realise it because it takes half your lifetime, but Humans do improve an amazing lot too.)
What's left for us
That is the deep question. How will we consider ourselves, when we accept we are a common life form, on a common planet, whose intelligence will be matched, and in many fields, if not all, completely surpassed by the AIs we are building right now?
Since we became Sapiens Sapiens, we have always lived with the certitude that we were the bests in at least one field.
Loosing on that field will be another fall from grace. The question is, what will be left for us? What will we mean in the Universe, if AIs are just more intelligent than us? What will be our purpose as a common Humanity?
When I'm confronted to a tricky problem, I have recently started to almost systematically ask chatGPT, at least to get some perspective (and to test him).
But on that one, I think I'll need to ask someone else ... but, shit, where is my stupid cat?