Photographs on the Brain

Photographs on the Brain

Edited by Bryan Formhals

"Well, the Hollywood renditions of existential risk scenarios are usually quite bad. For instance, the artificial intelligence risk is usually represented by an invasion of a robot army that is fought off by some muscular human hero wielding a machine gun or something like that. If we are going to go extinct because of artificial intelligence, it’s not going to be because there’s this battle between humans and robots with laser eyes. A lot of the stories you see in fiction or in films are subject to the good story bias; there are constraints on what makes for a good story. Usually there has to be a protagonist and the thing you’re battling has to be evil, and there are going to be ups and downs, and the humans prevail in the end. So there’s a filter for the scenarios that you’re going to see in media representations.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is interesting in that it created a vivid depiction of a scenario in which humans have been biologically and socially engineered to fit into a dystopian social structure, and it shows how that could be very bad. But on the whole I think the general point I would make is that there isn’t a lot of good literature on existential risk, and that one needs to think of these things not in terms of vivid scenarios, but rather in more abstract terms.”

- Nick Bostrom, via "We’re Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction"

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