The most important questions are not about technology but about us. What sorts of future would we like? What role could AI play in getting us there, and also in that world? What is your own role in helping that happen?
A better future feels like an unrealistic fantasy from the distant past. For most of us, the future is unimaginable—except to imagine that it will be like the present, but worse. Futuristic AI doom is just one more dystopian scenario on top of pollinator collapse, microplastics, hyperinflation, and—actually—how about nuclear war?
Most progress seems impossible because present-day Mooglebook AI blocks any attempt to make things better. Deploying omnipotent superintelligence may seem like the only way to combat it.
If we free ourselves from AI’s malignant grip, we can imagine futures we would like. Flying cars would be fun, but they are not essential. I suggest that most people mostly care about society and about culture.
Society is how we relate to each other and coordinate activities. We would like a society in which we, and most other people, were well-regarded for doing useful things we enjoy, and in which we had reliable supportive relationships.1
Culture is how we make sense of questions of meaning, purpose, and value. Those are inherently nebulous but real and important.2 The future we build depends largely on the sense we make.
- 1.You might be an exception? I am an autistic hermit and never see anyone and mostly wish society would leave me alone so I’d get more time to write. So I empathize. Nevertheless, I write for you, and am glad if you find what I write useful or enjoyable.
- 2.I have written parts of a book about this, Meaningness, available online.