Can survival and freedom coexist long term?
A technological singularity is coming. ASI will enhance or surpass human cognitive capabilities beyond our wildest dreams. Automation will make technology extremely cheap.
Currently, anyone with above average cognitive capabilities, internet access, a few years of spare time and some spare money can build their own autonomous weapons. Drones killing people? How about drones dispersing viruses and bacteria, striking anywhere on Earth undetected and untraceable?
In a few decades, anyone can learn how to make an ASI. If every idiot with an idea decides to make an ASI, someone is bound to fuck up and create an evil or malfunctioning ASI. I see some ways we can prevent that from happening:
- Make it impossible or prohibitively difficult to create powerful ASI by restricting access to technology with draconian regulation or other tyranny
- Create a godlike entity (either an ASI or a hivemind of ASI-enhanced humans) to detect the problem early and limit the damage a malfunctioning ASI can cause
- Eliminate the possibility of anyone doing something so stupid and irresponsible with education and enhancement of all entities capable of creating ASI.
Option 1 is not desirable. Options 2 and 3 have issues. Before we can solve this issue we must solve the control problem. It’s not just a question of determining what our wishes are, it’s a question of determining what our wishes should be. We can only do that with better information processing. Humans in the loop should in theory lead to human interests being served, so let’s try to keep ourselves in the loop. We must educate everyone about the issues we’re facing, include everyone in the debate, enhance everyone to a level sufficient for them to meaningfully participate and contribute to making responsible decisions for all of humanity. We are gradually morphing into a singular organism.
Humans have always been connected. At first the connection was simply our shared ancestry, shared traits and shared experiences. We evolved the ability to communicate directly using touch, sight, sound and smell. We created art, music and literature that exploits our shared nature to connect emotionally and intellectually across large distances in time and space. Now the internet brings us closer and closer together. The exchange of ideas and sentiment happens globally with low latency and low bandwidth. Social media, articles, news stories, direct communication.
We have not yet unleashed the full potential of the internet as an interconnect layer for humanity the organism. We are making rapid advances across the board. Technological limitations limit the bandwidth and processing capabilities of each individual human. Those limits will increase. The limitation I’m most interested in is the inefficient network topography, the nonoptimal flow of information.
We humans repeat ourselves a lot. A powerful concept in programing is called Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY). It’s inefficient to define the same concept several times, it’s generally better to define it once and later refer to that definition. We need to apply the same concept to human communication. If something has been said, why say it again? If you can say it better, you should instead go to the original definition and improve it.
Sites like Wikipedia, Stackoverflow and Quora encourage that principle. Duplicated content is discouraged, good quality content is encouraged. Twitter, facebook, reddit, mailing lists etc. discourage it. They encourage a high volume of communication and a lot of noise and repetition. It’s difficult to find the information you’re looking for. Noise and repetition reduce the efficiency of communication, causing us to waste time, energy and machine-human bandwidth on filtering out noise. Instead we should design systems that discourage the creation and propagation of noise. The internet should adopt DRY principles and encourage high content quality.
We can do better.