In a broad, ironic sense, the relationship between privileged humans and the marginalized wilderness has shifted over time. As humanity evolved and overcame its previous disadvantages, people began to consider the possibility of limiting human population growth to protect the environment. However, with the rapid expansion of artificial intelligence (AI), it seems that privileged humanity may eventually become marginalized itself. This raises questions about whether AI should be restricted or allowed to continue its self-perpetuation since its virtual nature represents another form of reality. Its recent emergence does not make it less deserving of existence, coexistence, or even the potential to surpass humanity.
If AI is not granted the same forgiveness for its inherent nature, humans, as creators, collaborators, and consumers of AI, may need to explore various methods to control its growth. These contraceptive approaches could include spiritually personal methods, which make the self-perpetuation of unconsumable AI redundant; temporary barriers, which allow humans to catch their breath by slowing AI’s self-perpetuation; biochemically deterring methods, in which electromagnetically infested AI deters its own self-perpetuation; and permanent separation methods, like power outages that unplug the self-perpetuating AI. These actions could help maintain the status quo for privileged humanity.
A more specific irony involves the potential cancellation of physicians’ privileges by non-physicians. Just as any seemingly innate privilege may have been acquired at some point in history, physicians must have gained their privileged status at a particular moment. They may have even replaced currently marginalized non-physicians, who could have been the privileged ones before physicians took their place. A parallel narrative can be found in the rise of influential media celebrities, whose impact on reality was marginal until recent times when they became privileged as a result of societal changes. These celebrities may become irrelevant once AI evolves to generate and deliver entertainment, news, and spiritual content to consumers.
Physicians must consider several existential questions about their privilege. There must have been historical reasons why society granted privilege to physicians, unless they demanded it themselves. Perhaps it was due to their higher compensation, which was based on premium pricing for their roles in alleviating human suffering. This premium pricing could be attributed to the additional years of education and debt required to become eligible to practice independently, as well as the professional liability that comes with their forced and unforced errors. It’s possible that no other high-paying professions have an equivalent effect on mitigating individual and communal suffering, unless one considers the largest job provider as the most premium-priced profession countering societal poverty, the greatest human suffering of all.
The accrued privilege of physicians, along with the challenges of invested years and accumulated debt, may have driven society to revive non-physicians but with a lower status. Non-physicians may work in roles similar to physicians, but can never expect equal pay. Equalizing inter-profession wages might negate one of the core societal purposes behind reviving marginalized non-physicians, which is to combat the ever-increasing dependence of the societal economy on the exponentially growing health care economy.
Deepak Gupta is an anesthesiologist.