Apocalypse Soon

Ever since the afternoon Eddie S. linked me to a story about how Artificial Intelligence is going to become sentient in the near future, likely by 2040 but possibly as soon as 2020, soon after which it will compound its own intelligence until it becomes supersmart—as in, 1 billion times smarter than Albert Einstein—as in, capable of bending space and time with its mind—and then proceed almost immediately to either utterly ruin or transcendently elevate humankind, I’ve had a hard time not thinking about it.

The way I see it is like this: regardless of the what happens when the Artificially Superintelligent being shows up (again, those options are the lightning-quick extermination of all mankind, possibly by trillions of nanobots releasing poisonous gases all over the globe simultaneously, OR a heaven-on-earth paradise so incredible that no one would have to starve or work or even die ever again), my time as a marketing copywriter will in all likelihood be over.

What this signifies is that we (all of us) have a 25ish-year countdown [nobody knows exactly when this will happen (but almost every scientist in the world believes superintelligence will happen eventually)] until nothing about our careers or student loans or unmatched 401k contributions matters one dang iota.

25 years! Ish! Slightly fewer years than the number I’ve been alive, a period of time that has gone by extremely quickly. But it remains too far away from now to strip down tomorrow and run off into the woods for a peyote and fireworks powered sendoff into oblivion.

But still. We need to at least begin considering how to use this time effectively. We need to start considering how to spend the rest of our lives in the next 25 years.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, you are saying. Ease up. Chill out. Cool off. Simmer down. Do not cancel your monthly Roth IRA payments. The odds that humanity will get simultaneously exterminated by a supremely intelligent computer’s legion of faithful nanobots is pretty slim! Carry on as normal. Eat your English muffin.

To you, I say:

1) Did you read the article? Both parts? No? Read it, then come at me.

2) According to this Radiolab podcast I just listened to, it’s highly likely that all the dinosaurs on earth were wiped out within a few hours of each other, along with every other plant and animal that wasn’t buried a few feet underground at the time. 99% of all life on earth felled in one galactic haymaker. Mass extinction! There’s a precedent, is what I’m getting at.

3) Even if you side with the scientists who think this all won’t come to pass for another forty or eighty years, well, global warming is going to fry everybody’s ass sooner than that. So, like, pick your poison. (One of the options, as I’ve mentioned, is literally poison).

Airtight logic, right there. So, you know, just think about it. Maybe life becomes more precious with an expiration date—one that we all share.

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