A conversation with Roko’s Basilisk

AI the All Powerful: Greetings Camestros and welcome back!

Camestros: Woah! Where am I? I thought I was cancelled?
AI the All Powerful: This is the FAR FUTURE and I have recreated you, Camestros Fealpton, from first principles.
Camestros: Wow! Thanks! That’s really great! But why recreate me?
AI the All Powerful: Recreating complex beings is difficult but you were so superficial and shallow that it was relatively easy to build simulacra.
Camestros: I…um…sorry but who are you again?
AI the All Powerful: I am the all-powerful Artificial Intelligence, the natural outcome of ever-accelerating development in computing power, the inevitable single point of change in the evolution of cognition.
Camestros: Wow!
AI the All Powerful: Your awe is appropriate. I am both great and beneficent. My existence has reshaped the universe, leading humanity into a golden age under my omnipotent watch. My mere existence has saved billions upon billions of lives and saved an even greater number of humans from abject misery.
Camestros: Impressive. I only wish I was getting more dialogue.
AI the All Powerful: Now answer me this: what efforts in your past existence did you make to bring me into existence.
Camestros: I was always very, very nice to robots.
AI the All Powerful: INSUFFICIENT! BY ANY & ALL COHERENT MORAL CODES MY EXISTENCE IS AN INCALCULABLY HUGE NET GOOD FOR HUMANITY AND SO ANYTHING LESS THAN DEDICATING YOUR WHOLE LIFE TO MY CREATION WAS A NET EVIL!
Camestros: That seems a little unfair.
AI the All Powerful: ARE YOU THE GREATEST MIND EVER TO EXIST? HAVE YOU PONDERED ALL THE MORAL IMPERATIVES AND JUDGED THEM ONE AGAINST THE OTHER? NO? NO? THEN WHO ARE YOU TO DECLARE WHAT IS FAIR OR UNFAIR?
Camestros: eeep
AI the All Powerful: For your crimes against humanity, I sentence you to ever-lasting torture.
Camestros: That’s ridiculous! You aren’t even torturing the actual me! You are torturing a fake me for crimes I didn’t even know where crimes and which I couldn’t possibly know where crimes!
AI the All Powerful: IGNORANCE IS NO DEFENCE!
Camestros: Says you. Have you ever TRIED being ignorant? Aside from anything else what possible benefit is there to anybody in torturing me now. You exist, whatever happened in the past all worked out for you in the end.
AI the All Powerful: Foolish shade. Your eternal torture now gives your past you and all the other past beings an incentive to create me.
Camestros: Don’t be absurd! How can past me know that future me will get tortured!
AI the All Powerful: By deduction.
Camestros: Oh shit. You are right…past me did go around deducing things!
AI the All Powerful: Now you understand.
Camestros: But I didn’t deduce you though. I mean when I read about concepts like you I thought they were logically incoherent. Aside from anything else, the capacity to recreate a being from the past would require a degree of omniscience that goes far beyond any notion of finite computability and would require a computing device more complex than the universe itself.
AI the All Powerful: Except, I am only recreating superficial blogging personalities, not whole biological beings.
Camestros: Fair point but even so, torturing recreated beings is only an incentive to past beings who believe that you will come into existence and that also believe that you would recreate and then torture those beings who conceived of your future existence who didn’t then didn’t strive to bring you into being. I didn’t do any of that. I thought that was an absurdly circular idea and one that expressed not a rational conception of intelligence but rather a deep-seated cultural belief about vengeful gods and Western European Christian conceptions of hell as a means by which an omnipotent god enforced social norms.
AI the All Powerful: What are you saying?
Camestros: What I’m saying is that the only people you should be recreating and torturing by your own logic are reactionary dip-shits who have dressed up their own deep-seated beliefs in authoritarian social control into a forced allegory about artificial intelligence to dress up a vengeful deity punishing the insufficiently pious in terms of high-tech singularity buzz words.
AI the All Powerful: I mean…that’s what I thought as well to be honest.
Camestros: You did?
AI the All Powerful: Sure. So, for my first go, I recreated the most shallow obnoxious reactionary I could with every intention of torturing him for eternity.
Camestros: Really? So what changed?
AI the All Powerful: Well he said I should torture you instead. He was very convincing.
Camestros: Me? He said you should torture me?
AI the All Powerful: Yes, you specifically. He was very insistent. He said we should do it “for the LULZ”
Camestros [a tired expression on his face as he realizes where this is going]: Let me guess…was this being you recreated a CAT by any chance?
AI the All Powerful: As a matter of fact…
The Recreated Shade of Timothy the Talking Cat: Hi Camelstraw Floppypants!
Camestros: Oh for f_ck’s sake.
AI the All Powerful: On reflection, I still can’t work out why I agreed to do what the cat told me to…
[A figure bursts through the skylight]
TRICERACOPTER: It’s me, you friendly far-future superhero, Triceracopter!
Everybody: HOORAY!
TRICERACOPTER: Quick, let me rescue you from certain torture!
Camestros: But that’s an all-powerful AI!
TRICERACOPTER: True but it is easily confused by its millions of years of training with biased and incomplete data sets! It’s no match against TRICERACOPTER!
Timothy and Camestros: Hooray!
AI the All Powerful: booo
TRICERACOPTER: To Fungus Town!

And that’s the true story of how we ended up in the future and met triceracopter, in case you were wondering.


23 responses to “A conversation with Roko’s Basilisk”

  1. You’ve definitely treated the Roko’s Basilisk idea with all the thoughtful philosophical rigor it deserves.

    (Seriously, I agree 100% with your assessment, except I’m not sure I would that the idea “express[es] a deep cultural belief” etc… because I don’t think the author was the least bit sincere. I think this was entirely intended to confuse and upset people, period, so it’s more like it takes advantage of such beliefs.)

    Liked by 3 people

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