Solving the AI race: Starting a human self-sufficiency movement. The handicap principle.

You’d have to be daft to pass this opportunity!

Peacock flying on rice field, at Karaikudi, Tamilnadu. Image taken on 12th November 2012, by Haribabu Pasupathy. CC BY-SA 3.0,

Publicly editable Google Doc with this text is available here for cases where you want to easily see the updates (using history), or ask questions, to comment, or to add suggestions.

Roland Pihlakas, 18. May 2018

Initially posted among my other ideas to the Solving the AI Race challenge.
This essay is a distilled and slightly modified version of one of my older texts, on the handicap principle:
“The irresistible strategy for saving the world”.


In the following text I will propose one of the solutions for slowing down the developments in AI and the technological innovation, and for reducing the technology use in general.

The main objective would be to take one of the most flexible evolutionary strategies, almost a primal need, if you like, although one that you would not find in the Maslow’s pyramid in its current definition, and incorporate it into a world-saving general plan.

The story.

The idea is about creating a human self-sufficiency movement. Humans need something to be proud of. They also innately need some amount of burden in their lives. It does not even have to be meaningful. If that burden is meaningful though, then even better.

The main objective of the solution would be to take one of the most flexible evolutionary strategies, almost a primal need, if you like, although one that you would not find in the Maslow’s pyramid in its current definition, and incorporate it into a AI race solving general plan. Both laymen and company owners are targeted, to reduce their use of technology.

This strategy is already being exploited by salesmen, banks etc., for selling various goods and services, whereas my aim is to divert it into a much more human-empowerment-centered and social cause. Especially given that in such a case it would be supported by numerous other primal needs and strategies and have a decent footing as a memetic virus, which is something that the “stuff-and-easy-life-selling-guys” can not boast with, try as they might.

What would distinguish my approach from the multitude of other world-saving enterprises is:
- First and foremost, the lack of need to provide a logical argument as its basis or to tap on anybody’s conscience.
- Secondly, the nature of this approach enables to stress, or even benefits from stressing its subjective “resource-costliness”.
- Thirdly, it is contagious and will not simply eradicate or replace current behavior, but rather will alter the world-view of the people involved.
- Also, the approach is an affirmative proposition, not a negation.
- And last but not least, it will offer the participants a sense of higher purpose, something that is increasingly sought after in our bleak material world.

The approach could be called “the intelligent handicap” — based on the handicap principle.

A handicap ( shows an individual’s state of welfare, strength and adaptability, despite the negative circumstances they might be experiencing. I would like to add to the previous that these difficult circumstances (or the handicap) often have a subjectively pleasant, appealing, even beautiful form in the eye of an onlooker.

For example — the huge antlers of male deer are more than an efficient fighting tool. Not only are they heavy and uncomfortable, but they are also a burden metabolically, requiring good nutrition to be grown. Big antlers send the signal of a “hardy organism”. The same goes for the cumbersome tail of the peacock, which not only hinders free movement and thus escaping from predators, but requires stable and steady nutrition to be maintained. The term handicap is generally used to indicate an inability, but it also means a deliberate rendering of the odds, for example in sports.

The same goes for people — fancy technology, expensive gadgets, mortgages and excessive consumerism, but also sports, creative arts, design and beauty, can all be perceived as forms of handicap. The natural world is full of handicap and indicates that there is more to life on this planet, than existing in the mere “survival mode”.

There is no need for the handicap to be perceived by others. Accomplishing something difficult or even ending a strenuous training session makes one feel great, feel very potent. Handicap need not be a conscious choice or thought. It is a way the organism distributes energy. I am certain that handicap is a primal need, one that Maslow has overlooked and only partially refers to in other, irrelevant parts of his work.

A handicap shows: I’m wealthy enough to afford it! 
A handicap is appealing and enjoyable for the executor.

There are not many prerequisites for a handicap. People pick between the handicaps on the market. They choose what they are offered. Few of us construct our own, unique handicaps.

Technology, gadgets, shopping, various accompanying services offered by banks are handicaps that are brought to us on a platter, are comfortable to use and are offered as such (though not explicitly defined as a handicap). The bearer of a handicap is not interested in the originality of their handicap but the connotation of superiority. Therefore the average user will choose what is offered (or what others have chosen before them) and after the initial easy selection is willing to labor painstakingly in order to acquire what he has chosen.

Handicap is an explanation how fabricated needs for various products are formed. Handicap is a special kind of success. Handicap as a primal need touches everyone. The proposal is to promote handicaps based on real needs and deliberative selection — the “intelligent handicaps”.

A handicap should be burdensome, but not meaningless. The main thing is that it should not be a necessity, it should be a choice, an urge that people can somehow pleasantly alleviate.

When we promote values that are inevitable for the welfare of our planet and its’ inhabitants as a handicap, they should reach the “guy next door” in a palatable form, and, with the aid of publicity it will be clear to him that everybody considers this approach to be hard but also superior (thus a handicap). Which is exactly what we need.

According to the handicap theory, there is no need to give something up, there is only to gain. The proposed theory of intelligent handicap suggests, that some choices are erratic and can therefore be amended without fundamentally altering the whole picture.

The handicap would also offer other bonuses besides mental titillation. So far, most handicaps have simply been sales arguments based on sexual or affective implication. Still, there are other similarly primal alleys yet to be exploited.

One of them would be „sociality” in the sense of caring about the group, others, nature or the planet. Everybody wants to be perceived to be „good”, and even though that alone might not be motivation enough to actually alter one’s behaviour, it could be a significant part of the equation and eventually help to tip the scale over to the other side.

Another bonus would be dominance — a prize reserved for those who become the driving force of the ideology, either spreading the current approach or expanding and improving it. They would be the ones who direct the course of the future.

And this brings us to the third extra bonus of the deal — the dimension of creativity. The world-saving handicap enables the participants to use their brains and imagination, to create countless new ideas how to utilize this main principle even further. Being the distributor of an ideology or a creator of it are different dimensions, which may occur in the same person but not necessarily.

On top of everything, the world-saving handicap will provide people with a higher, more spiritual cause, a chance to rise above the material and the mundane. In that sense it could be compared to religion and subjectively validate a life otherwise deprived of a driving force. Many studies indicate that the search for meaning is an irrefutable human need.

Virusware copyright.

You can distribute this idea when deemed necessary, there is no and will be no copyright. However I would prefer to keep my (relative) anonymity for several reasons, and so do some other friends and acquaintances involved. In my case, I feel no need to be publicly recognized and connected to this movement. First of all, this should be a movement for all and by all, not the hyping of some specific group of people.

If you happen to know some activist who would not mind adopting this ideology and whatever honor and glory that could come with it, please feel free to introduce us.

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