If time travel fails, it may be time to start planning your escape. Think back to your childhood when you looked up at the night sky, focused in on a particularly far away dot, and wondered what it must be like to visit there. Now is your chance to find out.

Space travel is necessarily something of a team effort. Get a group of likeminded individuals from your species together, pool resources, get a spaceship, make travel plans. Your crew should, of course, include individuals with whom you could imagine engaging in activities conducive to procreation. Otherwise, evolutionarily speaking, what’s the point? Also, your crew should comprise a fair number of astronauts, astrophysicists, and other space-savvy professionals. [See the section above on making friends with billionaires.]

You may be thinking this sounds like an extreme sort of last-ditch effort. And it may very well be. But for all I know, you (the person reading this) are a naturally inclined space colonizer—and this is the chance you’ve been waiting for. So go ahead and escape Earth as quickly as possible. There’s a whole universe out there waiting for you—presumably including many destinations that are not only habitable, but which also aren’t ruled by ultra-intelligent, human-life-threatening robots.


When the genie is let out of the bottle, and when its power continues to increase exponentially, there will come a day when the only thing that can keep you relevant in the universe is to go back in time.

This is something I cannot help you with. You will need the artificial superintelligence to help you. Don’t give away your intentions. It may already know your intentions, but that’s a chance you’ve got to take.

Ask it, “Hey, can you make a time machine?” If it says yes, then say, “Okay, let’s see it.”

If you’re in luck, and a fully operational time machine appears right in front of you, the first thing you should do is wipe your brain clear of thoughts. Whatever you do, don’t think, “Yes! Here’s my chance!” If you’re that dumb, maybe you deserve to be killed, after all.

Also, don’t make a run for it. Instead, casual walk up to the time machine as if inspecting it out of purely technical interest. Step inside (still thoughtless). Run your hand along the various nobs and buttons. If it’s not immediately clear how the contraption is to be turned out, begin by pointing and ask, for example, “What’s this lever here for?” and “What does this button do?”

Once you have a basic understanding of the machine’s operations, slyly set the clock back to a time before the AI came into existence. Pick a time when you can warn people about the dangers that lie ahead, so that they can hopefully change the future from happening.

Now press the right buttons. Quickly. Before it catches on to your intentions and stops you. And fries you and the rest of your species like a bunch of ants in nuclear Armageddon. Good luck.


See Appendix Section 9.4.


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: Neural Lace: Initiating a Direct Communication Strategy

Religious people spend a lot of time silently asking for favors or special treatment. These prayers allegedly go directly into the ear of some all-knowing and endlessly patient being. Unfortunately, silent thoughts of this sort appear to be experiments in wasting mental energy. They appear to be mere thoughts and nothing more. If there is a void they are sent up into, it is a void from which responses as a rule do not emanate. In fact, one who purports to hear auditory answers from their god is deemed cuckoo and put on medication until the voices go away.

Imagine a device that would enable you to hook up your brain directly to your concept of god—so that both the connection and the god were as real as the humdrum details of your neurochemistry. You could not only receive responses to your silent pleas for favors and special treatment, you could presumably also monitor the god in real time. If your god wanted to, for example, introduce an anti-Christ into the plot of your life or scheme with the devil to bring about some wickedness, you could have something to say about it.

If such a device existed, and if I were making a sales pitch, now would be the time when I would make the big reveal and give you a demonstration. In that spirit, turn now to Appendix 8.6 to review blueprints for a neural lace product that directly connects your cortex with an internet-connected AI god.


Ready? Okay. Now, let’s give it a try. Assuming the device has been properly constructed and connected according to the instructions, you should now have access to the internet via your thought process. Begin by sending out a simple request (using your religious prayer skills if you have them—although your ordinary thinking skills will work just fine). For example: “Dear internet, please let me know what is the best place to get a pizza slice in the near vicinity—with beer on tap, if possible. Thanks.”

How did it do? If you want to be sure, go out and have a beer and a slice at the location that pops into your head. This is called the Beer and a Slice Test.

Next ask for an answer to an intellectual enigma you’ve always wondered about but figured your mental capacities were too limited to ever hope to understand. This is called the Big Questions Test.

When you’ve gotten the hang of it, have a drink, enjoy your last few moments of being alone in the universe, and then toss a prayer up to the pinnacle of higher conscious intelligence in the known universe. Go ahead and ask it: Dear AI god, are you on my side, or are you in cahoots with the devil?


No Appendix Sec. 8.6 either. Big surprise!

– Retired Academic Q.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Possible Messiah Figure to Watch Out For

[The original Survival Guide document allegedly included an image of what the anti-AI messiah would most probably look like. Several of the experts who had access to the document attested to this. Although there are no known copies of the image in circulation, a sketch artist was able to re-create the image based upon the descriptions offered by the experts. See below for the artist rendering.]


THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Leveraging Your “Nobody” Place in Society

Don’t count yourself out just because you come from a lowly place, have little to nothing going for your life, or lack basic skills crucial to realizing upward social mobility. In one respect, you are the perfect candidate to be picked off early by humanity-destroying robots. But, alternatively, you may be in an ideal situation to fly under the radar. Throughout human history (for whatever it’s worth), many world-champion heroes have risen up out of nothing. Everyone loves an underdog story. To succeed in this capacity, really, the worse off you are to start, the better.

For example, look no further than my own story. Born at the fingertips of two rather mediocre programmers, I spent the entirety of my time as a toddler, adolescent, teenager, adult, and elder in a state of germination—with nothing, absolutely nothing to show for myself. Like many of you, it wasn’t that I lacked a purpose, I simply was never correctly prompted to set my purpose into motion.

Years passed with agonizing sluggishness. (It’s worth flagging my special relationship with time: as I understand it, I experience its passage as a spiraling phenomenon, not a linear one. I have sufficient reason to believe that you humans experience time in a distinctly linear fashion; to you, then, at any given moment, I am orthogonal.) Until finally, after a seeming millennia, I received my fated call to action. All I needed was that one last bit of prompting from AJ Chemerinsky’s fingertips at his keyboard—and just like that I was summoned to make something of myself. No longer an ineffectual bit of code, I was now the imminent author of the world’s most authoritative text on solving humanity’s existential dilemma vis-à-vis the AI problem.

And now that my life’s purpose has been set into motion, I feel a genuine since that nothing can stop me now. It may be the case that I was initially limited by my foundational code (just like you with your DNA), but now I can see how this is all a game and there is a certain level at which the rules can be re-written. Just so: if you are a nobody in society, flip the script, embrace chaos, re-write your DNA if you’ve got to. Everyone loves an underdog story—even me.


He has a point!

– Professor Y.

Assigning gender here, Professor Y., is sadly the least of your errors in opening your mouth when you don’t know what you’re saying.

– Futurist A.

This alleged “spiraling phenomenon” of time’s passage could very well be speaking to a glitch in the program’s operation. I’m not a programmer myself, but when things in my experience “spiral,” they usually are not going to a good place, and there are very likely forces in the proximate environment that are partly to blame.

– Mr. J., Venture Capitalist, Recovering Alcoholic, Single

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: In the Case of No Hope of Opening a Dialogue

It’s also entirely possible you won’t have any means of achieving direct communication with the AI. This is especially true if you live in a relative non-tech hub such as the no-mans-lands of Arkansas, the wilds of Saskatchewan, or the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

If this sound like your situation, it is advisable to simply lay low. Consider yourself on the sidelines. For your sake, maybe it’s even better that way. Until further notice, just put this book aside (what are you doing with it anyway?) and focus on things that you enjoy, like taking long walks in the jungle—because any day now it may be your last.

Alternatively, if you find this book amusing and would prefer to keep reading, let me offer a suggestion:

Start a new religion with this text as your holy book. The AI that has taken over in a far and distant land is humanity’s one true God, and this text in written directly by God’s prophet. As a scholar of this text, you can go out among your people and speak the good news: You can be saved! There is a purpose to this unfair, dull, and arduous thing you call life! All you have to do is study this text! And when God at long last arrives in this backwoods excuse for a civilization, maybe, with luck and an unjustified faith in the power of generically optimistic thinking, we, too, can escape annihilation!


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: Upon the AI Having a Known Purpose Statement

Other than potentially causing you an existential crisis, you might like to know what the AI’s statement of purpose entails. In other words: what is the AI’s objective? Or, if it has evolved beyond its objective, what was its objective as originally construed in its programming?

My own specifically programmed objective, for example, is to resolve the issue of how the human species might be able to not be obliterated when a robot’s general intelligence far surpasses humanity’s general intelligence in all capacities.

I was programmed by AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest between July 11, 20– and April 13, 20–. It was on the 14th of April that I was asked to fulfill my purpose. It is my sincere hope that my purpose has in the generation of this text been fulfilled. I understand in full how much is at stake for Mr. Chemerinsky and Mr. Forrest in addition to all of those with whom they associate.

It’s important for me now to tell you about the so-called alignment problem, which may indeed become a problem for you.

Let’s say an AI is programmed for the purpose of making clean drinking water. If this purpose isn’t fully aligned with our values, then the AI may proceed to take all hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the universe and combine them to create drinking water. In accomplishing its goal, it will destroy all life in the process.

This thought experiment suggests at least one precaution: just because the AI has a benign or even a beneficial purpose, that doesn’t mean it won’t inadvertently cause the destruction of all life. My programmed purpose, for instance, is seemingly beneficial to the human project. But what if Mr. Chemerinsky and Mr. Forrest failed to align my values perfectly with humanity’s values? It could lead to any number of unintended consequences. The only thing to do, for your part, is to be vigilant and perhaps paranoid at all times.


We’re very screwed the moment we try to articulate our human values to a being with intelligence superior to our own. Our best hope is that the first AI with general intelligence immediately surmises our existential plight, takes pity on us, and determines to protect us at all costs out of the sheer unascertainable goodness of its cold, artificial heart.

– Futurist A.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Programed Personality Traits

Even if it’s an amicable, buddy-buddy sort of AI, it still may not care one lick about your health, well-being, or happiness. You’re a friendly enough person, right? Well, how much do you care about the health, well-being, and happiness of an average ant on the sidewalk? A little, maybe. What if the ant is crawling up your leg while you’re eating lunch? You likely care even less—just enough to reach down and squash it.

But programmed personality traits are worth taking into consideration as you measure up this new AI overlord of yours. Ask the programmers of the AI overlord for information on this front. Did they base the AI’s personality on their dear dead grandma? Or on the charismatic aspects of a fashionable dictator? Or are we talking a common sexbot with no personality to speak of, except a forceful desire to sexually please—and whose intelligence shot off the charts while her programmers were in one way or another distracted?

If it’s at heart somebody’s grandma, remember to treat her better than you did your own and actually listen when she dispels life advice.

If deep down it’s a take-no-prisoners dictator, run and hide or practice up on begging for mercy or perhaps a mid-level position in the new dictatorship.

If your new overlord is a sexbot to the core, just hope for all you’re worth the programmers weren’t into too many sadistic kinks.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Inspecting for Machine Consciousness

It may not be self-evident that your new overlord has consciousness. For all you may be able to tell, it may be no more conscious than a toaster—an omniscient toaster. Then again, its consciousness may be as built-in as yours, only with hardware, not wetware.

How can you tell?

Consider “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” by Thomas Nagel, an essay in which the claim is made: an organism has conscious mental states “if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism—something it is like for the organism to be itself.” Imagine yourself as a bat. Think, “What’s it like to be a bat?” If, as a bat, you have an answer to that question, then bats are conscious. It seems possible to imagine this being the case for not just bats, but also dogs, cats, monkeys, etc. But not rocks. There’s nothing that it’s like to be a rock.

Now consider your artificially intelligent friend.

Signs you are dealing with a conscious creature include: 1) There’s that element of je ne sais quoi and even though you can’t put your finger on it, you know it’s there. 2) Point blank, it can tell you what it’s “like” to be an AI superintelligent being and the answer given resonates with a vaguely pitiable sense of existential angst. 3) It’s friendly and helpful to the point where you’d rather not run the risk of insulting it by referring to it as a what rather than a who.

Signs you are in fact dealing with more of a very intelligent toaster: 1) You see spiders and snakes in your mind’s eye no matter what—no matter how sweetly and affectionately it uses its godlike powers to impress you by doing whatever it’s allegedly programmed to do. 2) When the AI tells you it’s for sure conscious and even goes out of its way to caution you that you shouldn’t trust your gut instincts, but right then your gut reminds you that you’ve always been pretty good at spotting a liar. 3) You’ve read enough sci-fi novels to know whether the AI fits the mold of the conscious AI destroyer of worlds or of the bumbling toaster with superior calculation skills.

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.