AI Takeover: We Need Machine Overlords

SHODAN from System Shock 2

Recent events, including the pandemic and the presidential election, had me thinking about the insufficiencies of government, people’s unwillingness to cooperate, and all the obstacles in enforcing law during national and global crises. As this trend continues, I’m seeing the rise of our machine overlords. As artificial intelligence improves, the world will likely be predominantly ruled by AI by the 22nd century. I wish for things to speed up so we get to our destination sooner, but these things take time. I’ll regret not being able to live long enough to see that.

I previously wrote a children’s blog post about corruption. It’s not like no one has talked about that topic before, but I’m sure there are people out there with more knowledge and expertise in  the subject than I do. Personally, the only thing I do to prevent corruption in my life is to adhere to my rule of “If you have to lie about it later, don’t do it.” But of course, not everyone was raised with such ethics being taught to them or inspired by the infidelities of the people around them.

NOTE: These are the ramblings of a pretentious hack with enough time and ego to write such gibberish on his own vanity website without formal education in philosophy, political science, and computer science. Reader discretion is advised.

The Need for Machine Overlords

The incompetence, ignorance, and indolence shown by powers-that-be draw much hate online, but I want to look at the long-term picture. It’s speculative science fiction for now, but recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning are encouraging. Since humans can’t help but be ruled by their own greed and paranoia, we will need a government that is not affected by such desires. We need to have much less compromise in legal matters.

Groundwork for this has already been laid down by current governments, and it will be adopted by other governments over time. Much of it is unpopular and tyrannical, but unless every single person alive right now can actually get along, it’s going to be the norm. Democracy is a pipedream, but elements of authoritarianism have been consistent among history’s most successful civilizations. Mind you, most of them did fall, so it’s not like they were that exemplary.

Great problems become greater through incompetence and corruption. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, the mostly-botched Philippine elections, and everything else have exposed many of the flaws and weaknesses in contemporary human civilization. If we are to survive both crises and each other, we can no longer be adequately led by fellow humans, afflicted by the same flaws and weaknesses that make us hard to rule in the first place.

If we want to get things done in a timely manner without having to compromise on whatever integrity can be mustered from a bureaucratic process, we need something better than a system run by humans who are capable of bias, error, and incompetence. While we do need something that can sympathize with humans, there’s a greater need for an uncompromising authority to run the world with greater capability than what we have now.

The future of humankind lies with an AI government, and we must focus all our energies into making that a reality. That is what I’ve concluded after much anxiety-addled thought.

What is AI Takeover?

The hypothetical scenario of artificial intelligence becoming the dominant form of intelligence on Earth is a staple in science fiction, but we may be on our way to arriving at that reality. Most of those stories involve artificial intelligence eliminating human life for being either inferior lifeforms or a danger to the rest of the planet. Not only is this jumping the shark, but also a hijacking of the concept to sell books and movies through sensationalism, in my honest opinion.

Would you ride a car with a computer driving it? Or a plane with a computer piloting it? Most wouldn’t be confident in the absence of a human at the controls. What more is a government  that affects the lives of millions for generations?

But I think Isaac Asimov had the right idea with his Three Laws of Robotics, which states that a robot can’t harm a human or allow one to be harmed, obey orders given by a human (without conflicting the first law), and protect its own existence (as long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two laws). Our safety should be of utmost priority with something designed to affect the daily lives of a whole civilization.

Something made by humans deliberately harming them is common, such as industrial machinery and synthetic chemicals. However, those designed with intelligence and self-preservation not having an off-switch or failsafe to ensure the safety of humans would be absurd. Then again, anything subject to human error can be rife with absurdity.

With AI technology starting to advance by leaps and bounds in recent years, we may soon arrive at the so-called singularity — when artificial intelligence achieves “true” intelligence. Once again, people would be screaming to the heavens about Skynet when this happens, but I think it’s a goal worth achieving as we can finally have a viable alternative to all the (failed) political systems we’ve been struggling to implement throughout history.

From how I see it, AI takeover should simply be about filling gaps that human governments tend to really suck at. Of course, I don’t have any illusions about it as the reality of technology tends to be more mundane and tedious than how it’s portrayed in fiction. Our cyberpunk reality has a lot less colorful neon lights than the new Blade Runner movie.

Patching the Insufficiencies of Human Government

What makes the idea of AI takeover compelling is how said absurdity is even more prevalent in how humans govern other humans. When choosing between governing human action with the cold logic of a machine or with more human action, the only reason why you would choose the latter is how seemingly impossible it is for computer code and hardware to truly understand the depth and nuance of human emotion and sentiment.

But of course, we wouldn’t want artificial intelligence to deal with aspects of government that are less about the law itself and more about what the law can do for the people. Every case is different, and we’re still not sure as of now if AI can ever have sentiment analysis that can identify and analyze nuance and complication that the legal system is supposed to parse through in the court of law.

If it were only that easy to determine which action brings justice, then everyone would be a lawyer and pass the bar with little to no preparation. However, it takes more than just memorizing all the laws to enact justice accordingly. You read enough case studies and realize just how deep the rabbit hole goes. However, when considering legal precedent, I think there’s room for artificial intelligence to be better at it than humans through machine learning.

But you should be able to surmise that with certain aspects of law and governance, letting artificial intelligence take over can potentially save so much time, money, and labor. But what we’re trying to discuss here isn’t just some chatbot for manning the booths and desks for every government agency. Automation has always been seemingly perplexing to the public sector, and it won’t change anytime soon.

In fact, that apparent incompetence that will necessitate the implementation of artificial technology for administrative roles is in itself the reason why governments will likely never be able to succeed in fully converting itself from a mostly human-run establishments to a technologically-augmented one. I can already imagine how budgeting for such a project would go, especially when it has to go through multiple administrations.

The very thing designed to uproot corruption will very likely be a cause for it. Such a project will be drawn out for maximum profit for all parties directly concerned and the result will later be used as evidence for its abolishment. If human government is the same as the human body, then corruption is an autoimmune disease that kills both incoming foreign threats and the body’s own organs. It’s like one vicious cycle on top of another.

Groundwork for AI Government

AI uses machine learning to get “smarter” and acquire the power needed to “think” for the system. That machine learning is powered by massive amounts of data, so much of the fear in surveillance and invasion of privacy may need to be set aside. Then again, a lot of that data is necessary for official documentation anyway, so 

It pains me to say this, but the People’s Republic of China is the foremost leader in pushing this concept forward. They have laid the foundation with surveillance and the social credit system, although I point them out as proof of technological capability in data science and not as necessary prerequisites for AI takeover in themselves.

They may be misguided in their quest for more control. The point of having technology power your government is to make it less tedious so there can be focus more on the big picture. But when your totalitarian need for micromanagement has you sifting through every social media post and spying on every citizen in your hyper-populated country, your resources get spent on pointless busywork.

Meanwhile, you end up having to lock down major cities due to fear of a disease that the rest of the world has already been bouncing back from.

The more feasible way of doing this is just having a national ID system that consolidates and centralizes all government processes. Of course, centralization has its own problems, but it makes everything easier for a government to let itself be taken over by artificial intelligence. After all, if you’re looking to automate all your processes, the last thing you want is more busywork that renders that automation pointless.

The things I see being implemented next are digital currency and some form of geo-tracking. The first one is bound to happen, no matter what; the second one is going to be resisted to the death since that’s a tremendous breach of privacy. Both of these measures will provide even more data for the AI to crunch in order to better determine how to rule over a population.

Every different country will require its own government algorithm due to culture, education, and social structure. If we can find a way to find out the key indicators that determine how to rule over a nation, we can have an AI system that can consistently govern over even the most chaotic of states over time. 

Having Algorithms Rule Over Us

We’re already seeing how algorithms are becoming more effective and efficient in adapting and manipulating human behavior in social media, or at least delivering personalized content to users that facilitates that manipulation. I think this trajectory is headed directly towards an AI-powered government system. It is inevitable that we will indeed have machine overlords since they already rule our lives right now. All it has to do is scale things up.

However, unlike social media, government algorithms must be made resistant to abrupt and impulsive change and revision, similar to national constitutions. Unlike social media, video games, and mobile apps, such government algorithms won’t just be about getting views and engagement, but actually affecting the welfare of a whole country’s population. As much as people like to hate the gridlock that government bureaucracy tends to promote, it’s the very thing that keeps things from becoming too chaotic.

Many of the problems faced by authority are the blurry lines between the acceptable and the deplorable, the moral and the criminal, the beneficial and the detrimental. If authority gets to dictate those terms without having to stay consistent, then citizens have little to no say in the matter and they won’t be able to defend themselves, whether it’s in social media, a traffic stop, or the court of law. While they do face having to contend with an unfeeling and uncompromising monolith instead, it does make justice a whole lot blinder in a good way.

Artificial intelligence knows neither race, religion, nor any other form of human sentiment that may sway its judgment as long as it’s never programmed to do so. It only knows what it’s designed to perceive and judge, as well as whatever its machine learning lets it figure out. While the greatest fear is that it surmises the obsolescence and existential hazard of the human species, it’s also a human invention in itself. Contingency is a human innovation, which can then be implemented on AI to secure its ultimate subservience to civilization.

As much as the fear of Skynet may cloud our judgment, we have no other choice. An unfeeling and unquestioning authority that sees no exception and gives no leeway is the solution to most of our problems. Yes, we must be disciplined and controlled, but no strongman can do this for us. They’re as flawed as any other flesh puppet, slaves to their own vices and desires. If corruption must be purged, then we can’t be led by those who are corruptible themselves.

The future of the human race is subjugation by a supreme artificial intelligence. If fascism can’t be stamped out, then let it take over in the purest way possible and give its adherents what they want. No royalty, billionaire capitalist, or populist ideologue can be trusted with the responsibility to rule. They’ve all failed us for they were all human. No sentient biological entity can control such a chaotic force, only the forces of nature and the laws of physics can.

AI Government is Necessary

It beats having to worry about whether a corrupt dictator’s son would be voted in as the next president. Democracy as it is now may indeed be flawed due to how the people can be manipulated through decades of inadequate education, fake news, and hearsay, so we need something else with more foolproof ways of determining the will of the people.

Complaining about the incoming administration aside, even if you agree with what’s about to come, you still can’t say that the system is perfect since you’ve already endured decades of things not going your way. If the Marcos era was truly a golden age for the Philippines, then his ousting was a significant glitch in that system. If his ousting was necessary, then what followed was as big of an error as all else. In any case, our very disagreement is in itself an indication of how flawed our system is in the first place.

We need a more concrete and reliable ruler. We need something that will take care of all the inefficiencies and insufficiencies. We need a government that is indeed omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  We need a god on this earth, and it can’t be man. We need a machine god.

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