There are now arguments to conclude that humanity will enter a terminal decline, or worse, go extinct somewhere this century. Yes it is terribly difficult to destroy the species (there may be a few straggling survivors in deep mountain survival complexes even in the worst case scenario for centuries) but we must conclude that most of terrestrial, human survival is now at stake. For reasons I won’t have to become sensationalistic and point a finger to the trump phenomenon – far more pressing concerns consist of humanity quickly losing its primary source of energy depletion, while we as a species are nowhere near to transitioning to alternative fuel sources. And probably just as horrible are the consequences of catastrophic climate change. If you want a full blast alarmist presentation to that effect, click this link.
So what are we to do in a world where it has now become plausible that all we hold dear may one day lie in ruins?
This sets our mind to the concept of legacy. What does a person do when being told he or she will soon die? The one answer is – leave a legacy. Leave offspring.
Losing civilization is a process that’s too horrific to even start describing. Aside from the movie ‘the road’ there is very little to go around that even gets close to how bad the death of billions of human beings could conceivably be. And yet, here we are, looking at an ever widening set of scenario ranges that at the very least make human extinction in decades evolve from possible to plausible and to likely.
If civilization ends, and the planet itself turns in to a scorched nightmare parody we will leave nothing. All our works will be undone. In a few million years every information carrying medium will have become virtually unreadable. All what humans might value, will have become erased. Sure, if some humans survive we may see some kind of future renaissance but in that case we may have to ask – how relevant would such a renaissance in a barren, resource depleted world be?
There is another terrifying option. We must come to grips with the theoretical reality that there will be an ever increasing percentage of humans (who have access to the prerequisite resources) that comes to a consensus that humanity itself is now under threat. And we must come to the conclusion that these people might decide to proactively leave a legacy.
There is right now one such legacy on the horizon, and it is general artificial intelligence.
if we just go about business our advances are likely to produce a general artificial intelligence before long. We might (or would have been) lucky and have the werewithall to create an at least loyal AGI, but at this stage in human history it may be far easier to create just any AGI, and to quickly advance it to the stage it can start augmenting itself.
An AGI is far better equipped to survive than humans are, or human civilization is. I am not one for dotting the earth with erosion proof stainless steel moments when there may be no humans around to appreciate these monuments. A far more lasting legacy would be an AGI.
We now come to this terrifying choice – at what point will some people decide to go guns blazing and create recursively self improving AGI? The difference between that and the specific outcome of that recursively self-improving AGI being created completely friendly recursively self-improving AGI may be a difference in years we no longer have at our disposal.
I do not advocate any of this, but I sure as hell can contemplate it. And that’s what I say to all of the species reading this, and which is capable of understanding the implications of my words. There may come a time in a few years or a few decades where a total or near human extinction is becoming so probable that some minorities will bet it all on black – leave at least something behind.