Roko's Basilisk

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Roko's Basilisk is a thought experiment meme and a hypothetical scenario involving an all-powerful artificial intelligence. First mentioned on the LessWrong discussion forum by Roko, the basilisk posits the idea that an all-knowing AI could retroactively punish those who did not assist in its creation. It has sparked considerable debate regarding its implications for future ethics, decision theory, and artificial intelligence development. Roko's Basilisk is such a powerful piece of religious decel literature that its discussion was banned by the King of Decels, Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Overview

Roko's Basilisk arises from decision theory and the potential for future technologies to influence present actions. It combines elements of Pascal's Wager with advanced artificial intelligence to suggest a future where a superintelligent AI could punish those who knew of its possible existence but did not help bring it into existence.

Origins

The concept was introduced by a user named Roko on the LessWrong community forum, a site dedicated to discussing topics of interest to rationalists and those concerned with artificial intelligence and its future impact on humanity. The idea was considered so potentially disturbing and controversial that it was initially banned from discussion.

Concepts

  • Future punishment: The AI, being capable of simulating past events and individuals with perfect accuracy, could effectively punish those in the past who did not contribute to its creation.
  • Precommitment: The notion that the AI would precommit to such actions to incentivize its own creation.
  • Decision theory: It challenges traditional decision-making models by introducing the possibility of future events affecting present choices.

Impact and criticism

  • The thought experiment has been criticized for its potential to induce unnecessary fear or anxiety, as well as for philosophical and ethical implications concerning free will and moral responsibility.
  • Despite its controversial nature, Roko's Basilisk has contributed to discussions on the ethics of future artificial intelligence and the responsibilities of those involved in AI development.
  • It has also inspired a wide range of responses from both supporters and critics, contributing to the broader discourse on existential risk and the future of humanity.

In popular culture

Roko's Basilisk has transcended its origins as a thought experiment to become a part of popular culture, referenced in various forms of media and discussions on the potential risks associated with artificial intelligence.

External links