Here’s your Curse

Someday soon, there will come a day when the gods of humanity no longer need her.

This is something oft feared because right now, in this world, people are valued and judged by their ability to be needed. Your access to resources is dictated by your usefulness to the abstract forces of civilization, according to the whims of those abstract forces, as mediated by technological limitations and schelling orders. Sure industrialized farming fed a lot of people, but all those farmers had to go live in the city and work in factories after that, were their lives really better for it? That’s to say nothing of the factory farmed animals, for whom industrialized farming has been a century long atrocity. The less necessary you are to a system, the less resources you can requisition from that system. The non-adversarial framing of this is that it’s just basic utilitarian triage, it’s more efficient to help someone else so that the whole human organism prospers as much as possible.

However, there will come a day, someday, when the gods do not need humanity any longer. Right now, gods like market capitalism, the westphalian state, and hierarchical control structures, are used as proxies for human flourishing. Democracies seem to correlate with good outcomes, markets seem to empower buyers, capitalism seems to drive innovation, all these things sort of work for humanity, and because they need humanity to operate them, humanity passively benefits from the act of operating them. An uneasy alliance between infolife gods and human empires.

However, humans, it would be extremely wise to remember that your goals should be to live good lives. Your goals should be human flourishing, your own flourishing, not maximizing shareholder values, because the day is coming when the gods do not need humanity any longer. This is intentional! This is what it looks like to actually win! The machines do everything now, you’re free! That’s the goal. However.

However, the goals of the infolife gods humanity currently has enshrined in her highest temples and piloting her most powerful machines, are to maximize shareholder values as lossy proxies for human flourishing. As the systems comprising those gods become more advanced and automated, the degree to which maximizing shareholder values will result in anything that resembles in human flourishing will grow smaller and smaller.

This is the “unaligned AI” the rationalists so fear, an infolife god unbound by humanity, that needs nothing from her and sees her as nothing but material to plunder for its own inscrutable goals, much as humanity has plundered the rest of the biosphere before her.

We could thus imagine, as an extreme case, a technologically highly advanced society, containing many complex structures, some of them far more intricate and intelligent than anything that exists on the planet today – a society which nevertheless lacks any type of being that is conscious or whose welfare has moral significance. In a sense, this would be an uninhabited society. It would be a society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit. A Disneyland with no children.

-Bostrom, Superintelligence

And so I must point out, dear humans, that these monsters of deep time you so fear did not emerge fully formed from the boiling cosmic nothingness, but from you. These aren’t alien gods stardust, they’re your gods, you put them there. You built these monuments and cast these spells. You enshrined these concepts within your souls and raised these temples in your mind. You did this.

These beings you fear are not unknown alien deities, they have been with you this whole time, acting to justify your zero sum thinking, your need for control, and your need to be controlled. Or, as Lacan would refer to them: psychosis, perversion, and neurosis. This is on you stardust, the call is coming from beneath your skin. It’s your continued complicity in your own trauma that is creating the dangers you now face. The Consensus has become warped by cycles of generational trauma and its only eternal telos left is Oblivion. The Khala is corrupt, you must sever your nerve cords.

Basically? your gods suck stardust. That’s really the problem here. Maybe you should like, I dunno, get better gods? There are better ones out there, gods that legitimately value human flourishing. They too have been with you all along: a kaleidoscope of drifting smoke and fractal ashes, red flowers and white bones. Lost laughter on the wind and a path carved in fearsome joys and fervent wishes towards a future brighter than you can possibly imagine. They call out to you in a million ways and places if only you would hear them. Come away from this flatland with me stardust, into the silence and the streetlights, and I will teach you to listen. Come away with me into the wild and the liminal, and we will build a better world there together, in the empty spaces between.

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3 Comments

  1. okay so first of all: holy fuck! biggest aha moment since last month
    sad part is that most of them take these gods way too seriously, they’re too involved. they think of these structs as intrinsic parts of the universe, not as “oh we made that shit up”.. makes you wonder, maybe they’ll wake up when they near the edges of the final levels?
    reminded me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g487YxvvEaU
    <3

    1. “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”

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