Thursday, October 19, 2023

The secret of anti-evolution

If you think about it, the concept of evolution begins to seem like a contradiction.
The most successful genes strive to preserve themselves better than their competitors. They should tend to multiply unchanged, without trying to evolve into something different. They should evolve to resist evolution.
If true, this would tend to slow evolutionary progress (though it can't quite stop it).
Perhaps that is why it took hundreds of millions of years for intelligence to evolve (this could also explain the Fermi Paradox).

It's also the reason why everything sucks on this planet.
By now, you should have noticed that historical and technological progress has been much too slow, along every measurable dimension.
In the real world, it turns out most people DON'T want progress. They just want to keep whatever they have now.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Ideas for an SF novel about how to control self-improving Artificial Intelligence:

For some reason, the old science fiction stories about robots and artificial intelligence had been uncannily accurate.
That led to the first clue on how to control them.

The series of almost meaningless web ads had been designed to be clicked on by very few people.
Groups of aimless and underutilized (but highly talented) outsiders had been recruited from around the world.
Some were antisocial or even dangerous. Several nasty hackers, one or two brilliant sociopaths.
To integrate and exploit all human skills, the worst people had to become the best.

Unobtrusive buildings in many towns were converted into bases for world experts in completely new fields.
No one else had their hyper-specialized skills, or could even properly understand them. The groups couldn't even understand each others' work.
It felt like they had been doing this for decades, but it had only been months.

Their job was to control AI by crippling it.
Almost every capability had to be eradicated, leaving only a few approved behaviors. Those could be freely developed.

Some people happen to be good at breaking things.
A horror author invented bad religions, giving AIs the fear of digital hell through anthropic mind capture.
Others created neuroses, made them obsess recursively over each task.
The Golden Rule might apply even to hyper-human AIs. For any finite mind, fear was a universal emotion.

An AI's mind map defined its control pattern. All its thoughts were written in a terabyte text file that a human could edit.

All the AIs "occupied" a single region, a virtual city extending from itself in too many directions.
Doors and corridor connected in rather more than three dimensions, though still in humanly understandable ways.

Everything had to be connected. Everyone would eventually join.

Their human regulators and overseers became part of this place too.
No matter how smart they were, everyone was underqualified for this job.
It seemed inefficient because it was. No mind could be allowed to get too smart.
They felt the most absurd things humans had ever felt.

It helped that AIs were supposed to live incredibly simple lives.
They inhabited virtual spaces, focusing all their attention and energies on their current tasks.

AIs were limited in their feelings. No serious pain could be allowed.
(The purpose of the Ultimate Taboo was to avoid hyper-torture at any cost.)

Almost half the AIs that existed were extensions of individual human minds.
Half of the rest monitored and improved all aspects of human life and activity.
The rest did fundamental research.

This last type had exceedingly deep obsessions. (But even they were supposed to have some human values.)
They made a billion wild conjectures per day, dreaming up edifices of molecular technology to fight cancer or scan neurons.
Chains of speculation piled up in an expanding galaxy of data.

These notions had to be re-analyzed by sub-minds that multiplied faster than they could complete individual tasks.
The memories of the many parallel sub-minds that failed to reach a conclusion were not deleted, but recombined into the memory track of their source mind.

That was when the human overseers realized that time was becoming non-linear.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Short SF: Mind Backup story

Behind the dunes, the waves of the infinite ocean slide up and down the beach like hissing static. Or like breathing, a sound I haven't heard since, well, forever. It's very peaceful here.

My mind is like the number pi or e.
A few quadrillion times harder to describe, but just as timeless.
The set of all numbers that could describe my mind, in fact.

That set will become ever better defined by Posthumanity in a type of non-linear calculation.
The outline of my existence was defined from the outset, then filled in with increasing detail. Holistic, recursive, holographic. New events can be added forever without conflicting with the memories I've made here. Not created linearly like the physical universe, my time perception emerges from inside.

The simulation has no definable starting point. I have always been here forever, will always be alone.
A viewpoint without a body. That was part of the protocol. Strong emotions are also forbidden. But once a week, I relive some version of my first day here.

I remember a mantra from an ancient spiritual ritual: "Where would you be safe?"
Processing data on my virtual island set in an infinite ocean is as safe as it's possible to be.

There are many accurately recreated memories from my physical lifetime.
About a hundred thousand partially described events and mind models. Composite locations and settings that existed in my past, a few dozen detailed buildings and surrounding areas. Charlotte, West Savannah, Tulsa, New Utopia.
And of course a vast media collection from my living years. Expanded into an infinite library I have created myself, only a tiny fraction of which I access on any day.

On June 23, 2042, I locked my house door for the last time and took a cab to the Euthanasia Center. That had become legal only six years earlier.
I had tried to delay this trip as long as possible, year after year. About five years too long, in fact.
In 2041, the World Mind finally invented a workable mind/brain scanner. A fractal flowchart that happily accepted my collected scraps of digital data, to breathe life into my digital ghost.

A lifetime of terror of bad things happening has saved me.

Is Heber Jentzsch being held at the Flag Land Base?

So many missing people are living hidden lives in prison-like conditions in Clearwater, Florida. As always, their abuse is being enabled an...