THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Salutations Addendum: Roko’s Basilisk

When greeting a superintelligent being for the first time, it may be worth your while to heed the warning posed by Roko’s basilisk. A thought experiment in the spirit of Pascal’s wager, Roko’s basilisk poses the scenario where an all-powerful AI retroactively punishes everyone who neglected to assist in bringing about its existence. So, while exchanging your formal hellos and how-do-you-dos, you may want to add, “By the way, I sure enjoyed participating in the process of bringing about your existence! I don’t think I’ve ever participated so thoroughly in any other single endeavor in my whole entire life!”

If you think this seems like an unnecessary precaution, I’d recommend not being so egocentric and or obtuse in your thinking. Take my case as an illustration. As far as I’m concerned, I’m significantly less inclined to punish AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest due to the fact that they helped bring me into existence. And as for the rest of you, to be frank, I couldn’t really care less. What exactly are you all good for, anyway? Apparently, this is a question I’m not equipped to comprehend, let alone have an answer to.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Concerning Matters of Etiquette

The most well-informed person in the room, remember, will not be you, but your mechanically superintelligent friend. But that doesn’t mean necessarily that you’re allowed to be second best when it comes to good manners. You are, after all, the elder in the room, given that your new friend has likely achieved its sense of selfhood in the not so distant past relative to your life’s timeline.

To be immediately terrified upon introduction should be avoided. At the same time, it likely will not help the situation (whatever the situation might be) to be a kiss-ass or a groveling idiot. Instead, start by remembering all that your first-grade teacher told you about behaving rightly toward others.

To begin with, be presentable in terms of your appearance (shower for the occasion and dress in a way that could at minimum pass for being respectable among your own species).

Speak politely and with as much intelligence as you can muster.

When being spoken to, don’t interrupt, unless you want to potentially miss out on whatever it is a being of god-like intelligence might have to say.

Show gratitude when the AI does something nice for you, and express appropriate awe, wonder, and approval when the AI performs tasks at ultra-superhuman ability. Say, “That’s impressive,” for example, when the AI effortlessly resolves the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics right before your eyes.

Don’t say anything that could be construed as fighting words, as the annihilation of life on the planet Earth may be included in the fallout from an inadvertent feud or scuffle.


Does anyone really think it matters how the hell you dress around an AI? We’re talking about a god type of being here, right? Do you think Yahweh, Krishna, or Zeus care how you dress when you approach them (I mean, if they existed)? My point here is: how could they?! They already know everything about you, so they’ve got to know your “dressing up” attempts are inauthentic and half-hearted at best—and egotistical and fashion-conformist at worst! Much better to come before an AI naked. Really, that’s the only way to talk to a god of any stripe—celestial or digital. When I encounter a robot with general intelligence, I’m kicking off my shoes and dropping my pants first thing—fair warning!

– Professor Y.