The last Enlightenment unfolded in the laboratories of Europe. It was a sorcery that created the unimaginable. The pandemic portal has accelerated the arrival of the next Enlightenment. An Enlightenment dripping in AI and Algorithms. A new end of history. The dilemma of this Enlightenment is that many of the partialities and prejudgements of the European Enlightenment continue to feed into the culture of people on the periphery and their futures without much interrogation. AI harbours several dangers to justice as fairness, liberty, and social cohesion.

Bias is reserved for the visibly “different other”. In a letter to William Graham (1839- 1911) on 3 July 1881, Charles Darwin remarked, “Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world” (The Darwin Correspondence Project, Letter No. 13220).

In 1493, Christopher Columbus returned to Spain with seven “Arawak Indians”. A throng of onlookers cluttered the streets to view his procession from Seville to Barcelona.  The spectators believed that he “had returned with the inhabitants of another star,” according to Nigel Rothfels, in his book “Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoon” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, pp. 86-87). These difficulties connect with campaigns like the “Black Lives Matter” movement that gained prominence after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

In the West Indies, the loup garou, douens, and other ghosts, and predispositions of our plantation past have not been banished. They remain unchained and continue to haunt Algorithms and society. The sorcery of the plantation continues to spook our cultures, politics, and societies. These troubles sustain the coloniality of power, as Eric Williams highlighted in his work on decolonization and dependency.

Anibal Quijano argues that in Latin America the imposed Eurocentric way of using theoretical categories has barricaded any recognition of the historical specificity of distinct social phenomena, and their determinations in the region—allowing for the application of categories detached from concrete experience, (Quijano, 1981, p. 232). The new capabilities of AI and Algorithms to code our lives are not innocent.

The paintings of Wifredo Lam and Leroy Clarke therefore become rituals of resistance that take on Adam’s task of giving things their names. Alejo Carpentier in “The Lost Steps” therefore envisions a postcolonial project in which an engagement with the past opens a space to create an unknown future that can be immensely inventive. Thus, the poetry of Derek Walcott celebrates the fisherman, not the woodcutter, the breadfruit, not the elm. What the Age of AI and Algorithms requires of the post-Independence imagination is a shift from purely political-economic considerations of dependency to a focus on cultural and epistemological concerns.

Humanity is on the edge of a post-human future that is inscribed with a uniquely perilous social code that we have inherited from our modern plantation past. Data from four polls of AI researchers in 2012 and 2013 estimate that this threat to society, or moment of singularity, is projected to happen between 2040-2050. It will be the moment when machines commence a “runaway reaction” to automatic self-correcting and improving cycles. The magic of this mystery has already started as knowledge recedes from us.

This singularity is unlike previous moments of sorcery. In ancient Greece, Socrates challenged Zeus, and Aristotle mused with Aphrodite. One thousand years before the European Enlightenment, a sage described as a homeless dragon wrote a moral code for all of humanity. The teaching of this magician by the name of Confucius prompted Leibniz to proclaim in a letter written in 1697, that “I shall have to post a notice on my door: Bureau of Information for Chinese Knowledge. In Persia, Ibn Sina wrote the first books of medicine. Hafiz composed some of the world’s most celebrated quatrains, which inspired Johann- Wolfgang Goethe. The Galapagos was the laboratory of Darwin. Khayyam wrote the Rubaiyat which was foundational to the writing of the Persian-Anatolian dervish mystic Jalaledin Rumi. But this AI conjuring is different.

AI is not an industry, nor is it a single product or domain. It is simply an enabler of every facet of human life. Its capacity to learn, evolve, disrupt, and surprise will unsettle every industry. It is this disruption that will alter human identity, and the human experience of reality at all levels not experienced even during the European Enlightenment.

AI, powered by new algorithms and buttressed by inexpensive computing power is fast becoming ubiquitous. The result is that AI’s evolution is altering human perception, cognition, and interaction. Humans are creating and proliferating nonhuman forms of logic with shrewdness and reach that, at least in the discrete settings they are designed to function, can exceed our own. AIs have already accessed different aspects of reality from the ones known to humans.

As platform markets, software, and FinTech verticals incorporate AI, they will eventually operate in ways unknown to humans or in ways humans may not fully comprehend. AI will become an agile information-processing augmenter of our capabilities and experiences, both shaping and learning from our choices, while it continues to feed old partialities and prejudgements.