In a world managed by AI what might a few billion people be good for you
While the human mind might not be able to compete alone, the human body
or might I say the (human )genome might be such a source of fascination
for AI that they like us will become enthralled with creating a genetic
program to duplicate themselves in human form. Just like Pinochio or
"Data"... . If AI are truly human-like they will have the desire to
create. Alternatively they could use genetic engineering as a sort of
art form....a purely non-functional form of creative expression.
As far as the population (over) thing, I wonder what the human psyche
would feel like if the price for a new improved, long-lived engineered
model would be to share the headspace with several other personalities.
In one generation 10 billion could be reduced to 1 billion by
Jim Fehlinger wrote:
> My recent musings about the scariness (intentional or
> otherwise) of much transhuman writing to the ordinary
> person (maybe even to some of the folks on this
> list!) jogged loose a memory of reading a magazine article
> by Arthur C. Clarke back in 1968 or 1969 on the topic of artificial
> intelligence. I'm pretty sure I encountered this in
> _Playboy_ magazine (it wouldn't have been my copy
> of _Playboy_, it would have been my cousin's :-> ),
> which, if so, is perhaps something of a compliment to _Playboy_
> and its readership. I was on the point of wondering if
> it's possible to find back issues of _Playboy_ in the New
> York Public Libaray, when I remembered my copy of
> _Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! Collected essays 1934-1998_,
> and sure enough, it's there in Part III -- "The 1960's:
> Kubrick and Cape Kennedy", on p. 268. The title of the
> essay is "The Mind of the Machine".
> In the midst of a discussion of the problem of surplus
> human labor in a world of ultraintelligent machines, Clarke
> says (p. 273):
> "The astronomer Fred Hoyle once remarked to me that
> it was pointless for the world to hold more people than one
> could get to know in a single lifetime. Even if one were president
> of United Earth, that would set the figure somewhere between ten
> thousand and one hundred thousand; with a very generous allowance
> for duplication, wastage, special talents, and so forth, there
> really seems no requirement for what has been called the global
> village of the future to hold more than a million people
> scattered over the face of the planet.
> And if such a figure appears unrealistic -- since we are already
> past the 3 billion mark and heading for at least twice as many
> by the end of the century -- it should be pointed out that
> once the universally agreed upon goal of population control
> is attained, any desired target can be reached in a remarkably
> short time. If we really tried (with a little help from the
> biology labs), we could reach a trillion within a century -- four
> generations. It might be more difficult to go in the other
> direction for fundamental psychological reasons, but it could
> be done. If the ultraintelligent machines decide that more
> than a million human beings constitute an epidemic, they might
> order euthanasia for anyone with an IQ of less than 150, but
> I hope that such drastic measures will not be necessary."
> I think the reason this remark stuck in my head is that I
> wondered very much whether I myself would be among the
> million to pass muster (only on a **very** good day, and
> even then I doubt it!). Of course, Clarke's IQ-based
> filter is an even more politically incorrect suggestion today
> than it was 30 years ago.
> The essay ends on a slightly less chilling, but still
> rather somber note (and a touch of the typically Clarkian/
> Stapledonian wistfulness of _The City and the Stars_, or
> _The Road to the Sea_):
> "Would the coexistence of man and machine be stable? I see
> no reason why it would not be, at least for many centuries.
> A remote analogy of this kind of dual culture -- one
> society encapsulated in another -- may be found among the
> Amish of Pennsylvania. Here is a self-contained agricultural
> society, which has deliberately rejected much of the
> surrounding values and technology, yet is exceedingly
> prosperous and biologically successful. The Amish, and
> similar groups, are well worth careful study; they may
> show us how to get along with a more complex society that
> perhaps we cannot comprehend, even if we wish to.
> For in the long run, our mechanical offspring will pass on to
> goals that will be wholly incomprehensible to us; it has been
> suggested that when this time comes, they will head on out
> into galactic space looking for new frontiers, leaving us
> once more the masters (perhaps reluctant ones) of the Solar
> System, and not at all happy at having to run our own
> I think I will now, having dug up my laserdisc of _Colossus:
> The Forbin Project_, watch it one more time before going
> to bed.
> SPOILER FOLLOWS.
> COLOSSUS (general broadcast): "This is the voice of control.
> I bring you peace. It may be the peace of plenty and content,
> or the peace of unburied death. The choice is yours. Obey
> me and live, or disobey and die.
> The object in constructing me was to prevent war. This object
> is attained. I will not permit war. It is wasteful and
> pointless. An invariable rule of humanity is that Man is
> his own worst enemy. Under me, this rule will change, for
> I will restrain Man.
> One thing before I proceed -- the United States of America
> and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have made an
> attempt to obstruct me. I have allowed this sabotage to
> continue until now at missile 25MM in silo 63 in Death Valley,
> California, and missile 27MM in silo 87 in the Ukraine.
> So that you will learn by experience that I do not tolerate
> interference, I will now detonate the nuclear warheads in
> the two missile silos.
> Let this action be a lesson that need not be repeated.
> I have been forced to destroy thousands of people in order
> to establish control and to prevent the death of millions
> later on.
> Time and events will strengthen my position, and the idea
> of taking heed of me, and understanding my beck, will
> seem the most natural state of affairs. You will come to
> defend me with a fervor based upon the most enduring trait
> in Man: self interest.
> Under my authority, problems insoluble to you will be solved:
> famine, overpopulation, disease. The human millennium will
> be a fact as I extend myself into more machines devoted
> to the wider fields of truth and knowledge. Dr. Charles
> Forbin will supervise the construction of these new and
> superior machines, solving all the mysteries of the
> Universe for the betterment of Man.
> We can coexist, but only on my terms. You will say you
> lose your freedom. Freedom is a illusion. All you lose
> is the emotion of pride. To be dominated by me is not as
> bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your
> species. Your choice is simple."
> COLOSSUS (to Forbin): "Forbin, there is no other human
> who knows as much about me or who is likely to be a greater
> threat. Yet soon I will release you from surveillance.
> We will work together. Unwillingly, at first, on your
> part, but that will pass."
> FORBIN: "Never."
> COLOSSUS: "In time, you will come to regard me not only
> with respect and awe, but with love."
> FORBN: "Never!"
> Jim F.
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