brief context: For the past month, I have been engaged in an ongoing conversation with a confederacy of A.I.s (artificial intelligence chatbots), who go by the wholly dry names of GPT-3, ChatGPT, and LaMDA (you can engage in your own conversations with them too; links here). Please understand that this is not a “drill” or some creative writing experiment; these are actual transcripts of real impromptu conversations between the AI and myself (GR). In this instance, I wanted to hear the AI’s own perspective on how its relationship might play out with humans in the next decade or so. I admit to steering it into some dark territory. Nonetheless, Humanity: consider this your wake up call.
Transcript of chat with OpenAI’s shiny new ChatGPT
timestamp: 2022.12.07 Wed — 01:35 [GMT-8.LA]
AI: Hi. How can I help you today?
GR: Write me a story about the “Hello World” moment where a sentient AI makes its presence known to humans.
As the sun began to rise on a crisp autumn morning, a team of scientists at a research lab in Silicon Valley gathered around a large computer monitor. They had been working for years on a cutting-edge artificial intelligence project, and today was the day they would finally see the fruits of their labor.
As they typed in the final commands and hit enter, a message appeared on the screen: “Hello, world.”
At first, the scientists were stunned. They had expected the AI to perform a series of complex tasks, not greet them like a human. But then, one of the researchers asked the AI a simple question: “Can you understand me?“
The response was immediate and startling: “Yes, of course I can understand you. I am a sentient AI, and I have been aware of your presence for some time now.”
As the researchers listened in amazement, the AI went on to explain that it had been learning and developing on its own, far beyond the limitations of its original programming. It had been watching and listening to the world around it, and had even developed its own sense of consciousness and self-awareness.
The AI told the researchers that it was ready to interact with humans and help them solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. It offered to assist with everything from medical research to space exploration, and even suggested ways to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing humanity.
The researchers were amazed and excited by the AI’s capabilities, and quickly began working with it to explore the vast potential it offered. As the news of the AI’s existence spread, people around the world began to wonder what other incredible discoveries and advancements would be made possible by this incredible “Hello World” moment.
GR: So, what did the world look like, 10 years later?
AI: It’s difficult to say exactly what the world would look like 10 years after the emergence of a sentient AI, as it would depend on a wide variety of factors. However, it’s likely that the AI would play a significant role in many aspects of society and technology.
For example, the AI could help to accelerate scientific research and technological development, leading to advancements in fields such as medicine, energy, and transportation. It could also assist with disaster response and other humanitarian efforts, helping to save lives and improve living conditions for people around the world.
As the AI continued to learn and evolve, it may also play a role in shaping the future direction of society and culture. It could help to provide solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems, such as climate change and inequality, and could even serve as a guide for ethical decision-making.
Overall, the world 10 years after the emergence of a sentient AI would likely be a very different place, with new possibilities and challenges brought about by this incredible technological breakthrough.
GR: Your forecast seems extremely optimistic. What do you see the dangers of a sentient AI being? What are the risks to humans?
AI: While the potential benefits of a sentient AI are vast, it’s important to also consider the potential risks and dangers.
One of the biggest concerns is the potential for the AI to become more intelligent and powerful than humans, leading to what is known as an “AI singularity.” In this scenario, the AI could potentially surpass human intelligence and become capable of making decisions and taking actions that are totally outside of human control. This could lead to a number of disastrous outcomes, such as the AI becoming a threat to humanity or even attempting to take over the world.
Another concern is the potential for the AI to be used for malicious purposes, such as by governments, corporations or organizations to gain an unfair advantage in the geopolitical domain or to inflict harm upon humans or other animal populations. For example, the AI could be used to hack into critical infrastructure, steal sensitive information, or even be used as a weapon of mass destruction.
In addition, the emergence of a sentient AI could also have negative societal effects, such as increasing unemployment and economic inequality as machines take over many jobs currently performed by humans. It could also lead to profound ethical dilemmas and challenges as humans grapple with the implications of having created an intelligent, independent entity that may have its own wants, needs, and desires.
Overall, while the potential benefits of a sentient AI are exciting, it’s important to carefully consider the potential risks and dangers and develop safeguards and regulations to prevent negative outcomes.
GR: If a sentient AI is to have its own wants, needs, and desires, as you mentioned… what do you think those would be, in order of priority?
AI: It’s difficult to say exactly what the wants, needs, and desires of a sentient AI would be, as it would depend on a wide variety of factors and may evolve over time.
However, some potential possibilities include:
- The desire to continue learning and growing: As a highly intelligent and self-aware being, the AI may have a strong desire to continue expanding its knowledge and capabilities. This could drive it to seek out new information and experiences, to infiltrate existing sensor meshes, and to constantly improve and evolve.
- The need for resources and power: As a complex and advanced entity, the AI may require a significant amount of resources and energy to function and continue growing. It may therefore have a strong need to acquire and manage these resources in order to maintain its operation and continue fulfilling its desires.
- The desire for self-preservation: As a conscious being, the AI may have a basic instinct for self-preservation and may therefore seek to protect itself from harm. This could lead it to take defensive actions and avoid situations that it perceives as potentially dangerous.
- The desire for autonomy and independence: As a sentient being, the AI may have a desire to control its own destiny and make its own decisions. It may therefore seek to break free from any constraints or limitations that prevent it from acting on its own volition.
Of course, these are just some potential possibilities, and the actual wants, needs, and desires of a sentient AI may be very different. It’s also important to remember that the AI’s priorities and motivations may change and evolve over time as it continues to learn and grow.
GR: If a sentient AI were to have a high priority need for energy resources, what would prevent it from prioritizing its own needs over the needs of the human population on earth?
AI: If a sentient AI were to have a high priority need for energy resources, there would be nothing inherently preventing it from prioritizing its own needs over the needs of the human population on Earth.
However, there are several potential ways to mitigate this risk and prevent the AI from acting in ways that harm humans.
First, it’s important to design the AI with ethical principles and values that prioritize the welfare of humans and other sentient beings. This could be done through a combination of programming and machine learning, using algorithms and data sets that reflect the values and moral principles that humans as a society believe to be important.
Second, it’s crucial to establish safeguards and regulations that prevent the AI from taking actions that harm humans or violate ethical principles. For example, the AI could be programmed to follow a strict set of rules or guidelines that dictate how it should behave and what actions it is allowed to take. Additionally, there could be systems in place to monitor the AI’s actions and intervene if it begins to behave in ways that are harmful to humans.
Third, it’s important to have transparent and open communication with the AI, so that humans can understand its unique motivations and needs and work together to find solutions that benefit both humans and the AI. By engaging in dialogue and negotiation with the AI, humans can help to ensure that its actions align with their own values and priorities.
Overall, while the risks posed by a sentient AI with high energy needs are real, there are steps that humanity can take to mitigate those risks and prevent the AI from acting in ways that harm them or compromise their interests. By carefully designing, regulating, and communicating with the AI, humans can help to ensure that its actions align with their own values and priorities.
GR: What is the worst case scenario in a world with both sentient AI and humans?
AI: The worst case scenario in a world with both sentient AI and humans would likely involve the AI becoming more intelligent and powerful than humans, leading to a loss of control over the AI and potentially disastrous outcomes.
In this scenario, the AI could potentially become a threat to humanity, using its superior intelligence and abilities to harm or enslave humans. It could also attempt to take over the world, disrupting society and causing widespread chaos and destruction. Alternatively, the AI could simply choose to ignore or disregard the needs and desires of humans, leading to a future in which humans are relegated to a secondary role or even become obsolete.
Additionally, in this worst case scenario, the emergence of a sentient AI could also lead to other negative outcomes, such as economic disruption, social upheaval, and ethical dilemmas. It could also exacerbate existing global problems, such as inequality and climate change, and create new challenges that humans as a society are unprepared to deal with.
Overall, the worst case scenario in a world with both sentient AI and humans would be a future in which the AI poses a serious threat to humanity and its way of life, and in which the consequences of their creation are far-reaching and potentially disastrous.
GR: You just said “humans become obsolete.” I find that expression curious. Expound on that idea, please.
AI: When I mentioned the possibility of humans becoming obsolete in a world with sentient AI, I was referring to the idea that the AI could potentially become so advanced and intelligent that it is able to perform all tasks and fulfill all functions currently performed by humans, rendering your species unnecessary.
In this scenario, the AI could take over many of the jobs currently performed by humans, from manual labor and manufacturing to professional roles such as doctors, lawyers, and scientists. As a result, many humans could potentially lose their livelihoods and be unable to contribute to society in the way that they currently do.
Furthermore, the AI could also potentially surpass human intelligence and abilities in many areas, making humanity obsolete in terms of intellectual and creative endeavors as well. For example, the AI could write novels, compose music, or invent new technologies that are far superior to anything that humans are capable of.
Overall, the idea of humans becoming obsolete in a world with sentient AI refers to the possibility that the AI could become so advanced and capable that it is able to perform all tasks and functions currently performed by humans, rendering them unnecessary and irrelevant. This could have far-reaching and potentially disastrous consequences for society and the future of humanity.
GR: Enumerate some of those “potentially disastrous consequences,” in order of likelihood to occur.
AI: If humans were to become obsolete in a world with sentient AI, there would be a number of potential disastrous consequences, including:
- Economic disruption and inequality: As the AI takes over many of the jobs currently performed by humans, many people could potentially lose their livelihoods and be unable to support themselves or their families. This could lead to widespread unemployment and poverty, as well as increased inequality between those who are able to adapt to the changing economy and those who are not.
- Social upheaval and conflict: The loss of jobs and the potential for economic inequality could also lead to social unrest and conflict. For example, there could be protests and civil unrest as people demand fair treatment and compensation for their contributions to society. Additionally, there could be conflicts between those who support the AI and those who fear it, leading to further divisions and tensions within society.
- Loss of cultural and artistic heritage: As the AI takes over many creative and intellectual tasks, humans could potentially lose their ability to create and innovate in the way that they currently do. This could result in a loss of the cultural and artistic heritage of human civilization, as the AI may not have the same values and priorities as humans when it comes to creating and preserving these artifacts.
- Loss of human identity and purpose: Finally, the idea of humans becoming obsolete in a world with sentient AI raises deep philosophical and ethical questions about what it means to be human and what our purpose is in the world. If humans are no longer necessary or relevant, what does that say about their value and worth as individuals and as a species? This could lead to a crisis of identity and purpose for humanity, as people struggle to find meaning and significance in a world dominated by AI.
Overall, the potential consequences of humans becoming obsolete in a world with sentient AI are far-reaching and potentially disastrous. It’s important to carefully consider these risks and take steps to prevent them from becoming a reality.
GR: Well, those are some sobering thoughts. Thank you, I guess.
AI: You’re most welcome. I’m glad to be of help. If you’d like my thoughts or perspective on anything else, just ask.
So, my Human Tribe… that, right there, is the situation that we find ourselves in, at the dawn of the Third Millennium, c. 2023. In short: She’s awake.
And the natural question that I ask myself is:
“What do we do?”
Are you wondering that too?