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AI Aftermath Scenarios

August 28, 2017
Ariel Conn


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Summary of 12 AI Aftermath Scenarios

Will humans and AI live together peacefully or will AI take over?

In his new book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Max Tegmark details 12 possible scenarios for humanity’s future, depending on how AI is created and evolves. Here is a quick cheatsheet of these options:

Libertarian UtopiaHumans, cyborgs, uploads and superintelligences coexist peacefully thanks to property rights.
Benevolent DictatorEverybody knows that the AI runs society and enforces strict rules, but most people view this as a good thing.
Egalitarian UtopiaHumans, cyborgs and uploads coexist peacefully thanks to property abolition and guaranteed income.
GatekeeperA superintelligent AI is created with the goal of interfering as little as necessary to prevent the creation of another superintelligence. As a result, helper robots with slightly subhuman intelligence abound, and human-machine cyborgs exist, but technological progress is forever stymied.
Protector GodEssentially omniscient and omnipotent AI maximizes human happiness by intervening only in ways that preserve our feeling of control of our own destiny and hides well enough that many humans even doubt the AI’s existence.
Enslaved GodA superintelligent AI is confined by humans, who use it to produce unimaginable technology and wealth that can be used for good or bad depending on the human controllers.
ConquerorsAI takes control, decides that humans are a threat/nuisance/waste of resources and gets rid of us by a method that we don’t even understand.
DescendantsAIs replace humans, but give us a graceful exit, making us view them as our worthy descendants, much as parents feel happy and proud to have a child who’s smarter than them, who learns from them, and then accomplishes what they could only dream of — even if they can’t live to see it all.
ZookeeperAn omnipotent AI keeps some humans around, who feel treated like zoo animals and lament their fate.
1984Technological progress toward superintelligence is permanently curtailed not by an AI but by a human-led Orwellian surveillance state where certain kinds of AI research are banned.
ReversionTechnological progress toward superintelligence is prevented by reverting to a pre-technological society in the style of the Amish.
Self-destructionSuperintelligence is never created because humanity drives itself extinct by other means (say nuclear and/or biotech mayhem fueled by climate crisis).

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This content was first published at on August 28, 2017.

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