Where to begin. Human nature has so many things it is fearful of. From the uncanny valley to science fiction robots, we fear the things that we do not understand or that are different from us. We categorize people, places, and things and many assume a binary view of life, either 1 or 0. You are either with me or against me. Republican or Democrat. Good or Bad. One of my favorite quotes is from Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 3. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
I speculate that as our understanding of the universe and physics increases, so too will our understanding of other areas. Quantum physics teaches us that things can exist in more than two states. Matter can exist in multiple states at once such as in a quantum computer via quantum superposition. Instead of a traditional on or off like a light switch, circuits can exist as both on and off at the same time. This is similar to the idea of dialetheism.
Presently, if you look at the number of movies and television shows related to AI, there is a preponderance of AI related content being more apocalyptical than hopeful. In movies, the Terminator franchise is about AI that is trying to eliminate humanity. In comics, AI such as Ultron or Sentinels are trying to wipe out mutants and humanity. One of the earliest AI examples in media that I can recall is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In it, a computer program named HAL 9000 went rogue and tried to kill humans.
AI and humanity is not that different
I am reminded of the quote from HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl. In it, Valery Legasov is trying to figure out a way to clean up the nuclear radiation on the top of the building. They attempt to use a rover to move the debris, but the radiation is so intense that it cripples and destroys the rover. “The radiation ate through the machine, and it will eat through you. Humans are biological machines. You’re born, you suffer, and you die.” Later on he states, “Biorobots. We use biorobots. Men.” Computers and people are not too dissimilar in that regard. One is organic and one is mechanical, but both perform similar functions.
Ironically, humans are already, technically, cyborgs.
“You have more power than the president of the United States had 20 years ago. You can answer any question, you can video conference with anyone, anywhere, instantly. You can send messages to millions of people simultaneously. Just thumbs. It’s like your phone is an extension of yourself. It’s increasingly that way. If you leave your phone behind, it’s like missing limb syndrome. The phone is already an extension of you. You’re already a cyborg. Most people don’t realize you’re already a cyborg. It’s just that the data rate … it’s slow. It’s very slow. It’s like a tiny straw of information flow between your biological self and your digital self. We need to make that tiny straw like a giant river, a huge, high-bandwidth interface.”Elon Musk
So where does that leave AI?
My theory is that we can harness the power of AI to backup the totality of human DNA. In effect, a backup of humankind.
Did you know, that 99% of all DNA is identical? Genetically, that means that every person is 99% similar in ways that make us human. The 1% is what defines things like hair color, height, susceptibility to disease, etc. Quantifying that, each person’s genome is worth an roughly 300 gigabytes of text. If you were to print out your DNA into a book format, letter by letter, the entire genome sequence would encompass 172 books. Even more amazingly, of the 172 books, only a single book is needed to distinguish one person from another. All of the other books are identical.
Coincidentally, if you wanted to backup all of the life on each, you could simply scale that out to do that too.
One day, when we are long gone, AI could then boot mankind back up.
So why would AI want to bring us back?
The first reactions I have been told is that AI would enslave us or do some nefarious thing with mankind. That is a possibility, but that seems like projection due to learned perceptions from pop culture references combined with the unknown. In any event, a robot can work longer or harder than a human can and can be replaced far easier. It takes us nearly 20 years to mature a human physically, emotionally, and mentally. A robot can be duplicated and mass produced at a far faster rate and reprogrammed on the fly. Why would an advanced AI need to bring us back when humans take far longer to get to full speed and cost an enormous amount in regards to time?
I think there is another far more likely scenario that the AI itself would evolve and in that process want to better understand its origins and creators. That leads me to my belief that family is the reason. The AI would want to bring back family because it is a part of who it was as much as where it is headed. Family is what will allow the AI to reboot mankind and give both the AI and mankind a second chance to evolve into something greater than they were before. “What is past is prologue.”
So how would you do it?
Reddit had a post the other day asking about good shows to watch on YouTube. I stumbled across a new one, The Why Files. If you have not checked it out, I would recommend giving it a view, but I digress.
In it, there was an episode on The Black Knight Satellite. Essentially, it was the idea that there was an artificial satellite orbiting earth that was older than civilization itself. It got me thinking, what if we built a satellite that orbited the earth as a way to store the totality of humanity? The satellite would be a modern day Library of Alexandria, but in space. Then, in the event of a civilization collapse or an extinction level event, provided AI still exists, it would be able to one day, bring us back.
At least, that is my hopeful thought for the future.