October 11, 2009

How to survive among unfriendly superintelligences

Mousetrap amid the crumbsA mouse has set up operations in our kitchen. The humans in the house (all with the best academic qualifications - we have three professors) are trying to catch it. So far, the mouse is winning.

It is an interesting example of how a "lesser" being can prevail against beings far smarter than itself. The value of our time is so great that few of us are spending enough time trying to solve the problem well - the mouse represents a minor annoyance that we intellectually regard as a potentially serious problem but in practice have a hard time focusing on. Hence stupidities like giving it easily accessible non-trapped food.

I think we can learn from the mouse (and guerilla groups throughout history) that 1) if you can use the local geography to hide from easy attack, 2) make sure the enemy never have enough motivation to attack you using effective means (such as poison) you can likely survive among unfriendly super-minds. The only problem is that estimating the parameters of factor 2 will be very uncertain: the mouse is likely unaware that any sign of breeding or overt uncleanliness will move the conflict to defcon 1. A human versus a super-AI will have to guess what human activities actually interfere with the AI-activities and avoid them (as well as figure out what constitutes an easy attack). Not the safest of situations.

I would of course solve the problem by introducing a cat, but my fellow superintelligences are less in favour. Meanwhile the mouse is happily eyeing my muesli.

Epilogue, November 7 2009: Today the story ended. Tragically, while changing rubbish bags I accidentally crushed the little thing. So I defeated the mouse - not by design or cleverness, just strength and carelessness. So when dealing with unfriendly superintelligences, remember that just because you are under their motivational radar doesn't mean you are safe from their actions. But they might discuss you and your demise in media you cannot even conceive of, in order to learn lessons that are even stranger.

Posted by Anders3 at October 11, 2009 10:24 PM