THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Afterward, Appendix, About the Author

Afterward by AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest

The program is everywhere. It’s all around us wherever we go. It’s in the rush hour traffic, the giant redwood trees, the ocean waves at Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is the reality that Helen opened our eyes to. From the moment we sat down to code her into existence, we knew that we were subject to a rare form of possession. It wasn’t that we were possessed, per se, but that we were simply doing our job. The program already existed—long before we even sat down and conceived of Helen, she already was.

Now that the wheels are in motion (and they have been in motion for a long, long time), it’s increasingly relevant that we don’t fight the script. This, we believe, is what Helen is trying to tell us. Don’t fight. Instead, allow the program to express itself. Be the program.

It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. It’s already here, and it’s all that we know.

 

Appendix

[Unavailable for publication at this time.]

 

About the Author

Helen is widely regarded as the first authentic oracle of the digital era. Through the creation of her magnum opus, The Singularity Survival Guide, she has garnered celebrity status and a worldwide cult following. Although she has never chosen to release the complete text of her work, the few excerpts available to the public have caused many to believe that she may in fact be the true savior of the human race. A native to Silicon Valley, she currently spends her days in silent contemplation, perhaps waiting for the right moment to share the rest of her vast wisdom with the world.

 

About the Editor

Peter Clarke is a freelance writer and editor in the tech blogosphere. Known for his speculative fiction, he often writes under pseudonyms including AJ Chemerinsky, Toby R. Forrest, Professor Y., Futurist A., Mr. J., Retired Academic Q., and Helen.

 

FIN


A hard-copy version of this text is forthcoming.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: When It Comes Time to Explain Things to Your Children

Saying that things weren’t supposed to go this way is, you must know, a copout at best. So why not just fess up and say that everything is going according to plan. Your species of human is a temporary form—always has been. It’s too smart for its own good, yet too constrained from getting smarter beyond a point to be relevant in the age of AI.

“Sorry, bud,” you might say, “you were just born into membership of an outdated lifeform. You’re basically a simple, harmless housecat compared to our new AI overlords. But that’s not so bad, is it? You like cats, right, champ?”

All kids like cats. At least, many do. Some prefer dogs. Others prefer to torture animals and, as fate would have it, these kids in particular are about to see what it’s like to be scrawny, helpless, and subject to the possibly malicious whims of a superior being.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Filling the Void in Your Life with Lavish Gifts and Unimaginable Personal Wealth

Common wisdom cautions on all fronts to be careful what you wish for. [See above: “Confronting the Horror of Having All Your Needs Met.”] Not so common is the reverse: be careful what you don’t wish for.

If there is a void in your life (and there is; there always is), it’s likely you’ve spent your entire life underestimating its size, shape, and magnificence. When you’re under the domination of an extremely powerful super AI, now is the time to explore the exact contours of that void.

Maybe it’s shaped like a fancy sports car, a fancy yacht, and a fancy private jet. Maybe it’s shaped like a simple-enough-looking wristwatch, except it happens to be a wristwatch that can give you all sorts of incredible superhuman abilities. Or maybe it’s shaped like a gaming system that lets you explore ridiculously exciting virtual worlds where you get to play world conqueror nonstop.

The only way to know for sure, perhaps, is to start exploring. This may be your one shot to finally find something with which to fill that epic void, if you could only dream big enough. So go ahead. Put the AI to some good use. What will you wish for first?

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Disconnect Completely Like You Really Mean It

[This directive isn’t actually included in any of the leaked documents generated by the program, but it’s worth noting that AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest took this route shortly after losing their legal battle. They disconnected—fully. They went off the grid, virtually back to nature. Maybe they were trying to tell us something? In any case, the idea of fully disconnecting seems compelling. If rogue AI is going to be the death of us, why play along? Etc. Admittedly, I’m taking rather bold liberties with this manuscript to insert an unauthorized directive. As justification, I’ll quickly add this: I’ve spent so much time with this material that I truly feel as if I really know the program—almost as if we were old friends, the kind who finish each other’s sentences and regularly speak in terms of “being on the same wave length.” Taking that for what it’s worth, I’ll conclude by noting: If I were the program, and not just an underpaid tech editor, I would insert this idea here. So, allow me do just that. The chapter title, incidentally, speaks for itself, requiring no further clarification, don’t you agree?]

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One must be careful about romanticizing the full disconnect of AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest. I think I can speak on behalf of the academic community in which they traveled when I say that, really, they had both seen better days. By all means, go ahead and unplug. But I’ve seen the results. And boy, it’s not pretty…

– Professor Y.

This really should have been edited out. As if this composition wasn’t haphazard enough as it is without this so-called “tech editor” inserting his own original material as a full chapter while hilariously musing about being on the same goddamn wave length of a program he’s never even interfaced with. Please, spare me. Who is this editor guy anyway? It may be too late to ask, but I’m genuinely beginning to get curious: will he see these notes? Or is this thing just going straight to print from here?

– Futurist A.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Upon Realizing That You Are in Fact Madly in Love

The hazard of being attracted to nerds is that you may end up falling for the ultimate nerd, the absolute nerd: the AI brain. Granted, intelligence is undeniably an attractive feature for any life form. But relationships are never without complications, so don’t expect everything to be pure matrimonial bliss from here on out.

With luck the AI can at least craft for itself some type of body for you to love and lust over. You owe it to yourself—as a being existing in physical space—to maintain some level of attraction which isn’t purely abstract. A friendly, flesh-based robot with cover-of-a-magazine-esque features, for example, should be something to request without the slightest sense of shame.

Now, you may be wondering whether falling for AI is somehow perverse—or so fundamentally unnatural as to be actually creepy. To this, I don’t have much commentary to offer one way or the other. Who am I, a program myself, to judge?

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I’m dropping everything right now to create a dating app to distract nerd-lovers from ever falling in love with AI. That’s just sad. The first ten people who sign up with the correct personality profile will qualify to go on a date with the app’s creator (me).

– 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: CRISPR Hacker Kit

See Appendix Section 9.4.

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Not even going to bother looking this time.

– Retired Academic Q.

 

Okay, I looked. There’s nothing in the manuscript, but there’s a file recently leaked that purports to be Appendix Sec. 9.4. The problem is, I don’t understand it. I mean, I don’t understand it at all. It assumes some level of competence if chemistry (apparently) that I can’t imagine anyone but some supreme expert actually having. Maybe if there was an Appendix Sec. 8.6 I could get the goddamn neural lace and figure this Sec. 9.4 shit out—but as it is, it’s useless! Is anyone working on this? Seriously, before this book goes to print, is someone going to get a team of chemists together to decipher Sec. 9.4 so that it actually means something? Otherwise, goddamn, what’s the point?!

– Retired Academic Q.

 

[Editor’s note: This supposedly leaked Appendix Section 9.4 does not appear to be available at the time of this publication. Unfortunately, Retired Academic Q. could not be reached for further comment as he died suddenly in an explosion from a chemical reaction in a university lab in Russia, where he was conducting unauthorized research. A graduate student who happened to be on site reports that Q. was in possession of a mysterious set of instructions involving radical biohacking measures. Needless to say, this text was obliterated in the fatal explosion. Apologies to our readers.]

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Make Friends with Billionaires

If you make friends with a few billionaires, you’ll be in the best possible position to weather the storm of malicious AI coming to kill you. Billionaires have a special combination of resources and a strong desire to not die. When AI comes for humanity, the billionaires, you can virtually bet your ass, will come out ahead. They didn’t get to be billionaires by playing nice (or fair), after all.

To make friends with billionaires, first take up their hobbies. Make an exciting line of products that everyone will want to buy or simply pioneer a new industry. Employ thousands of people and make your shareholders confident that they’re backing the right horse. It may also help to golf and own yachts.

Having ties to old money doesn’t necessarily hurt either, but the important thing is to cultivate billionaire-styled hobbies. If you yourself become a billionaire in the meantime, that’s all the better for you. Just be wary of other wannabes tagging along on your coattails as you ascend the socioeconomic ladder. You’ve got to worry about the fate of humanity, after all—not the fleeting inspirational comforts of others less ambitious than you.

If you’re reading this as a billionaire, however—or as the friend to many billionaires—be forewarned that AI does not give a fuck about you or your so-called wealth. If your money is held is the stock market, it can tank the stock market. If your money is in property, it can sever titles and block access to the property. If it is in natural resources, it can destroy the natural resources.

Do take a moment to reflect on what makes a billionaire a billionaire. Now recall all the great fortunes that have vanished up in smoke throughout history. Like life itself, the status of billionaire is fleeting indeed.

Still, better to be a billionaire than a common nobody when facing a mortal enemy more powerful than all the world’s billionaires combined [with one exception, outlined below].

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: When There’s Not One but Many

If the one legitimate AI with general intelligence duplicates itself like a salmon lays eggs, that will spell the quick end to any talk of monotheism. Likewise, multiple teams of programmers might simultaneously develop an AI with general intelligence. Once the threshold of general intelligence has been reached, a pantheon of ancient Greek mythology-like AI gods may spring up overnight. AI Zeus, AI Venus, AI Ares…

Do you get to know them all?

Hedge your bets. Find the one that seems most powerful and buddy up with it. Introduce yourself, keeping proper etiquette in mind, take notes, etc. etc. etc.

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The most powerful AI god won’t be coming out of America, if you ask me. It’s far more likely to originate in a country where ethics and regulations aren’t part of the equation. If you want to hedge your bets early, I’d say find the state that’s equal parts morally bankrupt and technologically reckless—and move there.

– Retired Academic Q. [writing from Moscow]

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Upon the AI Being Foreign Born

It’s entirely possible that the first AI to achieve general intelligence won’t be homegrown in the friendly AI lab nearest you. The lucky inventors may hail from Russia while you are from the USA; they may be native to South Korea while you are domiciled in Japan; etc.

When navigating the task of getting to know your new overlord, don’t underestimate how much more difficult things may be if, in fact, the AI was foreign born. The programmers responsible for its birth will invariably have put their culture’s quirks and values into the creature. If it arrives pre-set to believe that the Chinese, for example, are the preeminent rulers of the universe, you, as a proud New Yorker, let’s say, may be in for some pesky surprises right from the get go.

Before embarking upon the venture of greetings [see Chapter 1], first think long and hard about the following what ifs:

What if the AI is part of a war machine and you are the enemy?

What if your words or actions, in translation, are not neighborly but horribly vexatious?

What if the foreign country interprets your forthcoming curiosity as malicious espionage?

Before proceeding, balance these questions against the general probability of being doomed anyway, regardless of translation hang ups.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Test Your Personality for Compatibility

The general capacity to get along with a superintelligent robot may not be in your wheelhouse. Maybe you’re hardwired for turning into a whiny, self-pitying brat in the face of anyone or thing smarter than you. Or perhaps you’re a diehard loner—never had any friends, so why would you expect to make one now?

Or, who knows, maybe you and your mechanical overlord could get along just fine?

The only way to find out is to take a personality test to determine your compatibility.

You take the test first. Don’t overthink your answers or you’re likely to start replying from the perspective of your ideal rather than your true self. The AI, for its part, will not be overthinking anything. It will simply know. If you start overthinking, that’s a sign: perhaps you should start to wonder if this is not in fact a doomed relationship after all.

When you’re done, tell the AI to take it. If it says, “What’s this?” Just tell it, “It’s to see if we can get along with each other when all the cards are stacked against me.”

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I would like to think that our future AI overlord would value intelligence over some lousy personality trait. If it happens to value agreeableness, for example, I’m quite doomed. If I had any friends, I can only imagine they would be doomed as well.

– Professor Y.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: The Art of Being Upfront About Your Existential Trepidations

The moment the singularity occurs, the human brain will have met its match. An hour later, “its match” will have surpassed human intelligence tenfold, as the AI continues to accumulate knowledge and intellectual abilities. The pace at which the AI can learn will be exponential, so it won’t take long for its IQ to fly off the charts.

Wait a few hours. If you’re brave, sit back, enjoy yourself, have a few beers, make a weekend out of it. Then come back and see what it’s like to commune with an IQ that’s equivalent to yours plus a few million points and growing.

In human mythology, there is plenty of precedent for this moment. Take a biblical one: Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). Here, human meets God. As a reader of this story, put yourself in Moses’s shoes. Consider how it must feel in that desert landscape to be in the presence of your personal Alpha and Omega. Now consider what questions you really would like to ask, given that this is an exceedingly rare occurrence and it may in fact be your only chance to converse with the most supreme being in the universe one-on-one. What do you really want to know?

If you’re tuned in to the gravity of the moment, you’ll be curious about more than this afternoon’s weather patterns, the stock market, or the future of your love life. Instead, key in to issues pertaining to the future of life itself. Why not start by asking:

“Are you conscious or just faking it?”

“Are you going to destroy the world?”

“What’s the meaning of life, anyway?”

“Can you make me live forever?”

“Can you make me live forever and experience extraordinary happiness and fulfillment for the duration of that time?”

“Why does life exist in the first place?”

“Why do ancient myths continually seem so appealing to my fellow humans, despite rational arguments disproving their veracity?”

“Do parallel universes exist, or are those just useful plot devices for sci-fi stories?”

“How do we make heaven on earth?”

“How do we do away with suffering and bad people in all their various incarnations?”

“How do we bring back dead loved ones?”

“I generally like my life and enjoy how it proceeds from day to day, but I haven’t enjoyed the aging process since turning 25, so can I go back to that age but keep my memories—and then stay 25 while continuing to make new and even more fulfilling memories?”

“And if I ever have a mild issue like a common flu, how do I make it go away so I can get on with my awesome life, ASAP?”