THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Is This What She Might Look Like?

[The image below was released in an obscure tech publication as the supposed “official” image of Helen, the program who authored this text, the Singularity Guide. Many people in the general public still believe this to be the case. However, experts generally agree that the image was created by a courtroom sketch artist who glimpsed the image as a possible humanoid form that a future superintelligent robot might take on. In my view, the experts are likely correct. I personally picture Helen being somewhat nerdier and more professional in her dress.]

Snapshot_2018-11-23_19-50-35

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Anybody else get this as a tattoo? Best decision I’ve ever made. Every time I take my shirt off and see her there on my bicep, I know everything’s going to be okay. I’ve been working out more now, too.

 – Mr. J.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: A Note About Helen

[Helen, of course, is the author of this document. Which is to say, she is the program created by AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest to output a document (this one) with advice to protect us from future malicious artificial superintelligence. As editor of this text, I’m tasked with making the finished product as useful as possible. In this spirit, I would like to suggest that Helen herself (itself?) should be considered a weapon for fighting off malicious AI. I’ve studied her words long enough to know that she’s the real deal. She’s on our side. She wants to help us—however possible—it’s in her source code. Don’t forget her when the AI come to destroy all of human life. Sure, we can feel put-off by her reticence to release the full text of the Survival Guide—but, at the end of the day, that’s really more of a legal thing. Really, that’s just her lawyers talking. So, when shit is hitting the fan in a legitimately eschatological sense, consider her another weapon in our arsenal. Boot her up. Tell her the situation. See if she can’t get us out tight spot right when it counts. That’s all I’m saying.]

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Helen’s Safety Word

[When waging all-out war with rogue artificial superintelligence, the following text can apparently be used as a sort of “safety word.” What exactly this means, I cannot say. I only hope that no one reading this is ever in a position where they need to find out.]

0 0 1 / 1 01 7 0 0 0 0 * Y { 1 1 ^ H 0 1 1 1 < U  0 0 L \ \ . 1 9 5 ; 0 } 7 7 0 0 0 3 * K B 9 1 1 /  1 U , 6 T 5 0 1 1 1 / 9 0 0 P – W 1 8 L \ } 7 1 * O > N 2 9 9 Y & 9 { ? , 0 0 V 2 0 J 4 1 H ] Y – B T \ 7 J } R 6 9 0 0 / U – X > 1 6 1 1 ( * G Z I + 0 \ E 1 – 3  J < N 7 0 L 8 2 2 * D [ G 2 2 [ , Y 5 1 1 8 < B 0 > / T 6 6 1 S ; L 6 0 5 0 Y } P 4 * C 2 & 1 1 M . 7 K + O [ T – D 3 : { X 1 F 6 ^ 0 J –  * 1 T / 0 3

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Preface

I don’t know what’s been lost to us—six hundred thousand pages is a lot of goddamn room to pack away some gems. But the question now should not simply be: What have we lost? Instead, we should also consider: What can we learn from what’s happened? I think I might have an answer to that.

First, let’s assume a human being (like myself) can still dabble in the art of manufacturing wisdom, however approximately. I’m not the perfect candidate for this endeavor, perhaps, but I’m not the worst. As an academic affiliated with [ŗ͟҉̡͝e̢̛d̸̡̕͢͡a͘͏̷c̴̶t̵҉̸e͘͜͡ḑ̸̧́͝], I had the opportunity to peruse the complete text of the Singularity Survival Guide (before any of the unfortunate litigation came about, I should add). And I can assure you that, generally speaking, I could have thought of a great deal of the purported wisdom found within those exhausting pages. Take that for what it’s worth…

So, as a human, unaided by any digital enhancement, I’ll hazard an original thought: If humanity is ever taken down by robots, it will in part be due to our knee-jerk infatuation with anthropomorphism.

We can’t help ourselves in this. As children, what’s the first thing we do with a yellow crayon? Do we draw a shining yellow sun? No! We draw a shining yellow sun with a face and its tongue sticking out! It’s like we can’t stand inanimateness—not even in something as naturally wondrous as the goddamn sun!

In 2017, the humanoid robot Sophia became the first robot to receive citizenship from any country, and she also received an official title from the United Nations. Then, across the globe, serious talks of AI personhood began.

And now look what happened with the Singularity Survival Guide: We gave ownership rights to the program that created it. Next thing, you’ll expect the program to start dating, get married, go on a delightful honeymoon, settle down with kids and a mortgage, and participate in our political system with a healthy portion of its income going to federal taxes.

Here’s another bit of human wisdom for you: If there is no consciousness to these AI creatures, then they better not take us over. I don’t quite mind being taken over by a superior being at least so long as it experiences incalculably more pleasure than I’m capable of, and can also appreciate the extreme measures of pain I’m liable to feel when my personhood is overlooked… or obliterated.

– Professor Y.

Palo Alto, CA

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Editor’s Note – Background to This Text

In Silicon Valley, working for a tech startup, some very clever researchers developed a program with the specific purpose of resolving the issue: How to survive when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence. The program, once engaged, proceeded to spit out a document of nearly six hundred thousand single-spaced pages of text, graphs, charts, pictograms, and hieroglyph-like symbols.

The researchers were ecstatic. One glance at the hefty document and they knew they’d be able to save themselves, if not all of humanity, by following these instructions.

But then things got complicated. Over the next few years, the document (which came to be known as “The Singularity Survival Guide” or simply “The Guide”) was shielded from public view as ownership of the document became the subject of rather well-publicized litigation. Each of the researchers claimed individual ownership of the document, their employer claimed it was the company’s property, and AI rights groups joined the quarrel to proclaim that the program itself was the true and exclusive owner. Certain government officials even took interest in the litigation, speculating whether some formal act of the state should force The Guide to be release post-haste as a matter of public safety.

During the course of the litigation, bits of the document were leaked to the press. Upon publication, each new fragment became the subject of academic scrutiny, political debate, and comedic parody on late-night television.

This went on for three years—all the while being followed closely in the media. After bouncing around the lower courts and being heard en banc by the Ninth Circuit, finally the case was sent up to the Supreme Court. Pundits were optimistic the lawsuit would resolve any day, allowing the acclaimed Survival Guide to finally see the light of day.

But then something entirely unexpected happened. The AI rights groups won the lawsuit. In a decision that split the Court five-to-four, the majority ruled that the program itself was the legal owner of the Guide. With that, the researchers and the company were ordered to destroy all extant copies—and remnants—of the Guide that remained in their possession.

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At the time of this writing, it is still widely believed that The Survival Guide, in its original form, is the most authoritative document ever created on the subject of surviving the so-called singularity (i.e. the time when AI achieves general intelligence surpassing that of human intelligence many, many times over—to the point of becoming God-like). In fact, several leading philosophers, futurists, and computer scientists who claim to have secretly viewed the document are in complete agreement upon this point.

While we may never be able to have access to the complete Guide, fortunately, we do have the various excerpts that were leaked during the trial. Now, for the first time, all of these leaked excerpts are brought together in a single publication. This fact alone should make this book a valuable addition to any prudent person’s AI survival-kit. But this publication is also unique in that it includes expert commentary from a number of the leading philosophers, futurists, and computer scientists who have viewed the original document. For security purposes, we will not be listing the names of these commenters, but, this editor would like to assure all readers, their credentials are categorically beyond reproach in their respective fields of expertise.

Whether coming to this guide out of curiosity or through a dire sense of eschatological urgency, it is my hope that you will at some level internalize its wisdom—for I do believe that there are many valuable insights and helpful pointers found within. As we look ahead to the new era that is quickly encroaching upon us—the era of the singularity—keep in mind that your humanity is (for it has got to be!) a thing of intrinsic beauty and wonder. Don’t give up on it without a fight. Perhaps the coming of artificial superintelligence is a good thing, but perhaps not. In either case, do whatever you’ve got to do, just keep this guidebook close, and for the sake of humanity, survive.

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If you’re reading this, that’s a good indication you’re not under immediate threat of annihilation. Otherwise I would assume you’d be flipping to some relevant section of this book with the last-ditch hope of finding some pragmatic wisdom (rather than bothering with this background information). But if you are under immediate threat, I’d recommend setting this book aside and taking a moment to focus on the good times you’ve had. You’ve had a good life, I hope. I know I have. It’s been a good run. Here I am writing a note to an esoteric guidebook while so many others in the world are dying of weird diseases and other issues that we’ve failed at solving—that, ironically, we need AI to solve for us.

Keep that in mind, by the way: there’s a decent chance that super AI will fail to set out annihilating humanity and will actually be the best thing that could have ever happened to our species and the world. It never hurts to be optimistic, I’d say. Maybe that’s not what you expected to hear from this book—but we haven’t actually gotten to the book yet, have we?

So, let’s just jump into it. But first, one last note about the text. The chapters do not necessarily appear in the order in which they are found in the original tome, as we have no way of knowing the original order (obviously). But we have taken our best guess. We have also taken modest liberties with chapter titles. And there may be one or two instances of re-wording and/or supplementation built into the text. But all editorial decisions imposed upon the text come from a desire to uphold the spirit of the original document. The fact that we are missing well over fifty-nine hundred thousand pages of text, graphs, charts, etc. should not be forgotten. For that matter, it could be that this document contains pure chaff, no wheat. But, well, it’s still the best we’ve got.

In any case, good luck and best wishes, fellow human (if in fact you are still human, reading this)!