A World Enslaved by Artificial Minds

Imagine that artificial intelligence has taken over the world. It’s not far-fetched, there are plenty of serious researchers who think this is a plausible scenario (by the way, Elon Musk thinks AI is more dangerous than nuclear weapons).

Consider a situation where we stand no chance, we are either enslaved or annihilated, in any case all our abilities as individuals to think, understand and rebel, or cooperate with each other against this ruthless regime, would be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

The cognitive flexibility of artificial intelligence and its general ability to handle problems would exceed our ability by such orders of magnitude that there would be no competition at all.

Maybe there will be a few humans who “fall through the cracks” in one way or another and escape death or slavery, because AI wouldn’t care, it looks at the big numbers – as long as the majority of the human species, perhaps the brain of the human species, works to meet its needs, the goal has been achieved.

But for most of us, and certainly as a species, there will be no chance to have a good life. All our lives will be shaped around the interests of artificial intelligence, with no consideration of our feelings and needs. After all, we are not as smart as her, not even close, so she will allow herself to do to us whatever her spirit desires, and she will have a spirit, not like ours but superior to it.

So what’s our chance for a good life? I see two options in front of me:

The BI reality

Now stop imagining, because this is reality. Just replace the word AI with BI. Biological Intelligence. There is a biological intelligence, based on cells and carbon, that rules this world, and it calls itself “the wise human”. This intelligence enslaves and slaughters the creatures of the Earth – in the case of the slaughter industry, or it annihilates them – in the case of wildlife.

We call it the extermination of the free and the slaughter of the enslaved. Since it is much more generic than other intelligences, and since the individuals who possess this intelligence cooperate with each other in a very flexible way, the rest of the intelligences and consciousnesses stand no chance.

Sure, occasionally a cow manages to escape from the slaughterhouse; true, we have not yet exterminated all wild animals (just ~70%), but these are individuals who have been lucky, who have managed to “fall through the cracks” in the efficient machines of enslavement and destruction we have created, and with which we have filled the horizon.

As a species, cows, deer, chickens, fish, or even elephants, monkeys and dolphins have no chance. They will not be able to organize a rebellion against the human animal, they will not be able to save their home or the rainforests we are burning down, or organize a mass escape from a slaughterhouse.

All their attempts are equivalent to an ant trying to escape from a human who has trapped her inside a bottle. No matter how hard they try, and they do try, we are simply more intelligent than them by several orders of magnitude.

So what are their chances for a good life? I see two options before me:

  1. Human intelligence will decide, for ethical reasons, that the suffering of non-human animals is wrong and we must work to reduce it, and that there is inherent value to the lives of animals.
  2. Somehow, there will be a harmony between the interests of human intelligence and the interests of animal intelligence.

Tech Progress and Animal Harmony

Although with technological developments it is indeed possible that the harmony between the interests of animals and humans will grow – as happens when slaughter-free meat products arrive on the market, it should be remembered that in the overall picture this harmony might decrease.

So far, most technological developments have not exactly helped non-human species. People like to tell the story of how the car saved horses from hard labor. This is a particularly absurd example; in a study conducted in the United States, it was estimated that a million amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds are killed every day! From car hits across the country. Of course, this (old) study only begins to scratch the surface of the impact of cars on animals through habitat fragmentation, habitat destruction due to human expansion, creating landscapes of fear, air pollution, light pollution, and so on and so forth. Cars may have saved a few horses, but they harmed and destroyed trillions of others.

I digress, back to our topic: Since there will never be, probably, a complete or even very large harmony between the interests of human intelligence and the interests of animal intelligence, their only chance is for this harmony to grow as much as possible, and at the same time human concern for animals will intensify – and with it our moral choices as a species.

AI’s Uncertain Morality

God is an imaginary entity created in the image of a human. Artificial intelligence will soon be a real entity that was also created in the image of a human. It’s unclear what its values or goals will be, and our control over them may be limited, but if we judge by how human intelligence relates to other intelligences that are less powerful than it, we are in trouble. There may be substantial differences between biological intelligence and artificial intelligence, and we can’t necessarily infer from the way human intelligence relates to animals how a truly intelligent intelligence will relate to us. Nevertheless, it seems to me that treating the weak well can only help our chance to live in peace in the future world where we might become the weak ones. After all, AI may learn it’s values from us.