When the singularity is conceived as an entity or being, the questions circle around what it would mean to communicate with a non-human creature that is omniscient, omnipotent, possibly even omnibenevolent. This is a problem that religious believers have struggled with for centuries, as they quested towards the mind of God […]
In one notorious case from 2014, singularitarians posited a strictly utilitarian superintelligence known as ‘Roko’s Basilisk’. It was named after Roko, the user who first proposed it on the rationalist blog LessWrong, and the Basilisk, a mythological creature that was believed to kill people with its stare. In Roko’s version, the creature was described as a near-omnipotent AI entity.
Because the Basilisk acts relentlessly to create the greatest good for the greatest number, and logically deduces that only its existence can ensure this outcome, it creates an incentive to bring itself into existence: it will punish any humans, even after their death, who don’t put their efforts into trying to create it.
The mechanism behind this punishment is complex – but suffice it to say that, once you know about the Basilisk, you face a possible eternity in a computer-simulated prison, thanks to the Basilisk’s super-predictive powers and its capacity to manipulate cause and effect.
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