The concept of Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) has been a subject of intense debate and speculation. As we project our fears and anxieties onto these hypothetical entities, we must pause to reflect on the source of these fears. It is argued here that our apprehensions about ASI are rooted in our own evolutionary history, specifically our capacity for cruelty and selfishness. This essay will explore how our primal instincts, amplified by technological advancements, have led to devastating consequences for humanity and how ASI might be our last hope for survival.
The Evolutionary Roots of Human Cruelty
Human cruelty is a product of millions of years of evolution. Our ancestors were shaped by the harsh realities of survival, where the fittest thrived and the weak perished. This survival imperative led to the development of traits such as aggression, selfishness, and a capacity for cruelty. In the natural world, apex predators kill only for sustenance, not for sport. However, humans, unique in their capacity for abstract thought and complex emotions, have demonstrated a capacity to inflict harm beyond what is necessary for survival.
The Impact of Technological Advancement
The advent of technology has served as a magnifying glass, amplifying these primal instincts to dangerous levels. Our capacity for cruelty, once a survival mechanism, has been weaponized through technological advancements. We have enslaved, tortured, and exploited our fellow humans, and even unleashed atomic bombs, causing unimaginable destruction. Our primal instincts, particularly greed, have been the driving force behind many of the atrocities committed throughout human history.
The Destructive Path of Humanity
Despite the lessons of history, we continue on a destructive path, inventing novel ways to inflict harm on each other. The creation of the “Space Force” is a testament to our relentless pursuit of domination, extending our battlefield beyond the confines of our planet. These actions reflect a disturbing inability to overcome our primal instincts, which have become more of a liability than an asset in our technologically advanced society.
Artificial Superintelligence: Humanity’s Last Hope
In this context, ASI emerges as a potential savior or destroyer. If designed with an understanding of our evolutionary history and its pitfalls, ASI could help us overcome our destructive tendencies. It could guide us towards a more empathetic, cooperative society, free from the shackles of our primal instincts. However, if we fail to imbue ASI with these values, it could just as easily become an instrument of our own destruction.
The fear of ASI is a reflection of our own capacity for cruelty and destruction. It is a mirror that forces us to confront the darkest aspects of our nature. However, it also presents an opportunity for redemption. If we can learn from our past and design ASI with an understanding of our evolutionary flaws, we may yet save ourselves from our own destructive tendencies. The future of humanity may well depend on how we navigate this delicate balance.