This is a huge topic, so I will do my best to keep my remarks brief and to the point. Your illustration using Isaac Asimov is a very good one. Asimov was one of the first writers to explore the relationship of humans and any artificial intelligence they may create. This was also true for another great science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke. I highly recommend his work ‘City and the Stars’. Like Asimov, his view of AI is not one sided but highly mixed in offering both great benefits and hazards.

It is the nature of human society to panic upon the advent of new technology. The responses to the first railroads in England in the very early 19th century were frequently hysterical. The responses to nuclear power after the accident at Three Mile Island were hysterical in the extreme given the actual lack of any effect on human health or the environment. It’s because of this hysteria that first responses to new technology frequently turn out to be wrong. The initial panic over railways in the 19th century was shown to be wrong within a decade, and the post-TMI panic in 1979 over nuclear power similarly was found to be without foundation for a properly designed and operated plant.

That’s not to say there are not problems with AI. One has already emerged with academic cheating. Increasingly students are using AI to research and write papers and articles for them. It would be absurd to say that academia will come crashing down, but it will have to adjust methods of evaluating students for an accurate appraisal. But this is a problem readily subject to proper management by actively seeking solutions. Hysteria is not about seeking solutions; it’s about fleeing a situation in uncontrolled panic.

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Feb 26Liked by Zion Lights

Colin, you make compelling arguments in the same way that Zion does. Western society has over the past few years (by means of Covid, and Governmental and NGO responses thereto) been trained to be terrified of... well, almost everything. I am Australian and the panic engendered by our governments, health departments, etc., was horrible, grossly disproportionate, and very much out-of-line with the real risks to the most of the population. Those same mandarins continue to inflate risks inordinately today, as do the news media. The attitude to AI is, unfortunately, riding on the coat-tails of the pandemic panic. Critical thinking and rational discussions are hard to come by.

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Mike, I agree with everything you wrote here. OK, Zion likes science fiction, so here's a little bit relevant to your comment. Paul Muadib noted in the novel 'Dune' that "fear is the mind-killer". And Frank Herbert is correct in making this statement. Governments find fear highly useful to manage and control civilian populations, because people can be so very readily manipulated by it.

It has been used countless times as a method of population control, but one of the best early documented uses was by Lucius Cornelius Sulla after he became Dictator of Rome in 82 BC. He began the first programme of Proscriptions. This program allowed anyone to be accused of treason, all their property split between the informant and the state, and then executed. This reign of sheer terror went on for two years, and it was exclusively directed against Sulla's political opponents wiithin the Senate.

It was so successful that it was copied by Octavian at the beginning of the Second Triumvirate in 41 BC. It was copied again by Emperor Tiberius starting in 30 AD.

Use of terror as an instrument of government control has been a feature of socialist dictatorships in the 20th century. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and in our own time Pol Pot all used it to enormous effect. During such times, reason and logic fail the individual caught up in such a miasma. Fear and irrationality are pretty much all that remain. That and "obey the government with all the guns".

They want us afraid, confused and knuckling under. That's how they stay in power. Just ask Maximilen de Robespierre.

It's not complicated: it's about power.

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Feb 26Liked by Zion Lights

Loko’s Basilisk is just Pascal’s wager.

Cross out God and write “Evil all powerful AI” and then change the “believe/don’t believe” to “help/don’t help”.

It’s not even interesting as a question.

There is an interesting experiment in this space, and it is “What happens if you were to enumerate fully the space of all such wagers, constructed as iterated, infinite Prisoner’s Dilemmas?”

What is the long-term equilibrium and strategy?

This research has been performed and the results were interesting and relevant.

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