Artificially Intelligent

Any mimicry distinguishable from the original is insufficiently advanced.

Death is Bad

| 561 words

When I was about 13, I was at a birthday party. Someone started clapping and said: “every time I clap, someone in the world dies.” Someone else called out: “then stop clapping your hands!” Laughter ensued, and the incident was quickly forgotten.

While you are reading this sentence, someone in the world has died. A thinking thing has been unmade. The horror of this is literally unimaginable; your mind is not big enough to contain the entire being of another. You can only ever contemplate death approximately and abstractly.

But sometimes you can catch a glimpse of the horror. A child, paying on a structure. A single misstep, and they fall. An unfortunate angle, and they die. An entire future of dreams and hopes and joys snuffed out in a callous second by a single wrong move. What kind of universe permits utter annihilation as the price of a single failure?

This one.

When you hurt someone and seek their forgiveness, it’s not enough to simply say “I’m sorry.” You have to apologize and present a credible plan for avoiding that class of error in the future. Generalizing, when someone has suffered and you wish they were not suffering, you present a credible plan to banish that form of suffering from the world. It seems wrong to toast the memory of an absent friend without working towards preventing any of your other friends from dying.

Ada Palmer:

Utopia does not give up on dreams. When a Utopian dies, of anything, the cause is marked and not forgotten until solved. A fall? They rebuild the site to make it safe. A criminal? They do not rest until he is rendered harmless. An illness? It is researched until cured, regardless of the time, the cost, over generations if need be. A car crash? They create their separate system, slower, less efficient, costing hours, but which has never cost a single life. Even for suicide they track the cause, and so, patiently, blade by blade, disarm Death. Death, of course, has many weapons, and, if they have deprived him of a hundred million, he still has enough at hand to keep them mortal. For now.

If the world was right and proper, humanity would have long since abandoned its petty squabbles over resources and came together to confront the true enemy. All sides would have long since unified to banish that most horrible shadow upon our world. We did it once, locally. I hope we can do it again.

I have not marked the causes for the millions of people who die each year. There are too many. I would have saved them all, if I could. It would be worth rewriting the very fabric of reality to save a single mind from oblivion. But I am not powerful enough to do this. Not in this world. Not yet.

The solution is to become stronger. If the problem requires you to think a million thoughts without a single misstep, then become strong enough to think those million thoughts (or build something that can). If the price of a single day is one hundred fifty thousand lives, then think faster. Confronting impossible problems head-on is something that I now know how to do.

I reject a universe that contains this horror; I will unmake it or it will unmake me.