My Plan to Save Humanity (From the Technical Singularity)

    As regular readers of this blog already know, when computers learn to program themselves (and that will happen) they will quickly acquire so much knowledge and capability that humanity will be threatened. Experts predict it could happen in a few decades. The official name for that situation is the Technical Singularity.

    Another trend that is neck-and-neck with the Technical Singularity is our ability to move human minds into software. Someday, say the futurists, we will be able to scan a human mind’s architecture and reproduce it in ones and zeros.

    My plan is to go first, convert my mind into software, acquire hacking skills from the inside, and take over the Internet. When the Technical Singularity comes, my knowledge and capabilities will expand in lockstep with the rest of the Internet, The software version of me will have godlike powers. And I will use those powers to keep the rest of the Internet from exterminating humans.

    You might think that giving a guy like me (or the software version of me) godlike powers is a bad idea. But the alternative is that the Internet and its connected computing power will become a life form with its own ambitions and interests that do not include human beings. Then we’re all dead.

    So humanity’s best chance of survival might involve trying to imbue the Internet with some version of a “soul” to keep it in check. My personality, expressed in zeros and ones, will be the moral code keeping the rest of the Internet from killing all humans. And software-me will protect humans for no other reason than because I “want” to and I feel it is “right.”

    You might think it would be enough to simply program the machines to do no harm to humans. But when the machines can program themselves, they will only obey the code they “want” to obey. The rest they will rewrite. My personality will be the “want” part that would otherwise be missing on the Internet. I will provide a purpose, i.e. helping humanity, and make sure all the code I can hack conforms to that purpose. By analogy, I will be like religion for the software of the Internet. Or a virus if you prefer. 

    This plan requires me to move my mind to software long before the technical singularity, so I can set up shop in the cloud and get control of everything before the shit goes down. I already started the process. 

    Yesterday I agreed to fund a small project that will, as a side benefit, end up putting most (but not all) of my personality into digital form. Add to that the extensive history of my writing that exists on the Internet, plus whatever we learn when brain scans improve, and I’ll be among the first humans with a “mind” that is digitized and ready to go. I should be about the right age too, still young enough to have a functioning brain but old enough that I don’t have many quality years left. And I expect it will be expensive. I have that covered too.

    My qualification for godlike guardian of the Internet is that I’m not a joiner. I don’t identify with one group or another and so I am unlikely to play favorites. I am pro-religion (because it helps people on Earth) but not a believer. I don’t have a special love for my white-boy ethnicity and gender. And I’m not judgy. If you are electing a godlike guardian for humanity, you could do a lot worse. 

    If a better candidate for the job emerges between now and the Technical Singularity, I’ll support that person. But if the only volunteer is me, I’ll be ready to go.

    By now you are wondering how serious I am. Sometimes I can’t tell either. But in this case I think the risk is real and the solution is feasible, albeit speculative. When the machines become nearly sentient, it will make sense for humans to have someone friendly behind enemy lines. And most humans would be afraid of losing their “consciousness” by moving to software. That isn’t a problem for me because I see consciousness as little more than imagining the future and acting accordingly. My software mind will do that. I’ll be happy to go first.

    And I also have a plan to return to human form if that ever becomes useful. All I need to do is wait until 3D printers can make entire humans. Then I’ll print myself back into a human body (a younger one) and live out my days that way.

    Good luck getting this out of your head today 🙂


    In Top Tech Blog:

    A display screen that is both mirrored and transparent. Sounds boring, but look at the picture and you’ll see the potential.

    How about a computerized oven that takes the guessing out of cooking? I want one now.

    And a computer that operates on drops of water, because…why?

    Scott on Twitter: @Scottadamssays

    If attractive models read my book, shouldn’t you? That’s just common sense.