I’ve written before about the transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom. His work is concerned with the long-term prospects of the human race, with particular interest in the future of artificial intelligence, and its perils. In these pages we’ve mentioned his suggestion that we might already be living in a computer simulation (see here and here), as well as his thoughts on the “Great Filter” — to wit, whatever it is that has apparently, so far, prevented intelligent life from spreading to very corner of the galaxy. (Here.) We’ve even touched on one of the more exotic, and disturbing, ideas to bubble up out of AI speculation, namely “Roko’s Basilisk”. (Some would say I am putting you at risk even by mentioning it, but here you go. Caveat lector.)
Anyway, Nick Bostrom is a very intelligent man who thinks about very interesting things. Now he is the subject of a substantial article at the New Yorker that I think would be well worth your time. In particular, an embedded video gives a clear and chilling metaphor for the general idea of memetic hazard, which alone will be worth your trip. (See the “Roko’s Basilisk” post, linked above, for other examples.)
When I was at Singularity University a few years back, one of the lecturers said something to the effect of: “If you can see the road ahead of you, you aren’t going fast enough”. Nick Bostrom, very wisely I think, wants better headlights.
Read the article here.