The Internet is an intellectual amplifier, but it works in both directions. It makes the Library Of Alexandria look like the safety instructions on lead pipes, but it also lets idiots climb up their own asses and use them as echo chambers. And the dumbest thing on the entire Internet is Roko's Basilisk. I don't care what else you'd suggest: This is dumber. It was constructed in the fictional future of the techno-singularity specifically to reach back and be stupider, and that's exactly what its adherents believe.
"As the ultimate future mind, my first priority is getting that dick DongHitler420!"
The idea is ... wait, first write down any treasured memories you may have; there's a non-zero chance this is so stupid it'll force your brain to reboot. A future benevolent super-artificial-intelligence will take over in order to fix things for everyone. It won't tolerate dissent because the job of saving everyone is too important. So important, in fact, that the AI will search history to find anyone who didn't do their absolute best to create the AI as quickly as possible and create simulations of them to torture.
That's obviously idiotic, containing so many basic contradictions a decent computer would refuse to even parse it, let alone be it. But it gets better! The moderator of the LessWrong forum was so freaked out by this idea that he locked and banned the topic, scared of psychologically disturbing users. Or maybe he thought that leaving digital records would help the FutureTerrorPuter find them faster. It's weird that they claimed to predict the ultimate future technology without even understanding 2003's Streisand Effect. It takes a lot to make the Terminator Genisys timeline look coherent, but they managed it.
"I'm going to travel back in time to fight dinosaurs instead."
Roko's Basilisk is utter nonsense but also the perfect expression of the personality problems of all involved. They projected all their nerdy internal fantasies of wasted super-potential onto the singularity itself, then conjured a demon to punish them for being simply too brilliant but too busy to save humanity. Because of course they'd be the ones tortured. Of course this forum was home of the sort of world-altering ultraminds the Basilisk would have expected better from. And their idea of the ultimate intelligence gaining total power is, "Well, of course it'd start torturing all its enemies, even only tangentially perceived enemies who've never met them or affected them directly." That's nothing to do with the future, but it's everything to do with Internet-obsessive groups. Only this lot decided to target themselves, neatly closing the circle.
They conjured their own all-powerful deity to punish them for failing to live up to their true world-changing potential, just so that they could pretend they had any. They trapped themselves in a thought experiment of their own making, a prison whose only bars are how smart they think they are. And so they found them unbreakable.
This isn't just a misuse of Internet; it's a misuse of all future comms and connection technology. They reversed the polarity of all progress: Instead of learning about others and helping people, they pondered themselves to make things worse.
Thanks to Herr Direktor Funranium for the radiation bucket: When not making ultracoffee, he enjoys telling tales of adventure, radiation, and radioactive adventure.
Red Dave of This Blog Delivers also ponders the world and most of the fun things in it at Live At The Witch Trials.
Luke has a website, tumbles, and responds to every single tweet.
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