Three Ways We Can End the World Quickly Using AI

I just got off the phone from my bookie. Name’s Jacques. (mon frere) wants to know everything about me over the phone — what I like, what I do, am I married, am I naked —  like he’s making a voice recording he’ll use later with an AI app for some scurrilous hijinks — me finking on myself, behind my back, doosh that my AI persona claims I am; I’m both Claudius and Hamlet. Goddamn it all. Ghosts all around me hoiking into their own spittoons.

Jacques wants to book me an express train to financial paradise.  He’s a guardian angel like John Travolta in Michael that way. (Or is it Curtis Sliwa under Reagan?) He represents a Quantum AI trading bot that uses software and an automated trading platform that monitors the crypto market for data, gathers that data and uses it to implement calculated, informed trading strategies on your behalf, so I don’t have to sit there and feel the stress of  watching my retirements go round. My pony’s Up in Flames. If I win, my mere $250 startup investment will become untold thousands in days and I’ll be moving on up to a deluxe retirement condo in the East side sky — room with a view of the Hudson (they promised); if I lose I’ll be depending on Obamacare and food stamps. So, no real harm done; back to the scratch I came in with.

Originally, the pitch came as a facsimile of the investment magazine Forbes, with its logo, and a subhead that read:

Tesla Company launches its newest platform QuantumAI – aims to help families become wealthier. Read how you can earn more than 4000 GBP weekly.

The short piece went on to exclaim, essentially: Why should the elite have all the fum? Well, I could agree with that! How come no one’s asking that gee golly question?

There’s a similar ad, same magazine, that offers astounding returns in American and Aussie dollars. Aussies could make thousands in two weeks off a mere AUD$250! This seems impossible. Way too good to be true. Last I heard some things this good was in the Bernie Made-off days. At the bottom of the piece was a box telling how Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos had recently signed on as capital investors for the project. Woo-hoo!

My fum began after I hit a button promising that I’d get a call to discuss my urgent new wealf. The promise was that I’d receive a call back within 10 minutes. Two days later, Jacques called back. Suave? Handsome-sounding? He was all that! He reiterated the Forbes pitch. And soon he had me relaxed, trusting in his wisdom, implicitly understanding that he had good things waiting and very soon I’d be singing in the sunshine of security-bound old age. Then, it all changed, when he suddenly began asking for my credit card details over the phone. Say what? Yo no tengo dinero at that time. He’d call back later in the week when I’d have money. Hung up. I became an investigative journalist. Then he called and called and called, etc, until the final time, when he suggested that I give him the card details and go with a $5000 deposit. I hung up. I had my scoop: It was a scam.

Well, the next thing to do was to imagine the net effect of all these targeted tired insider geezers around the Mighty Whitey world ponying up $200 to strike it rich before everybody else got to it, “little criminals of perception,” as Nabakov has it in Lolita. This time, it was Jacques and AI technology at quantum speed, instead of Bernie. Millions signing up for this bonanza, not realizing that the auto-bot that would bring them to the promised land would bankrupt the System and lead  the world to a market crash for the ages, and an oversupply of mental people, looking for hand-outs. Frere Jacques giveth and he taketh away, but I ain’t feeling sui generis today.

ChaosGPT and Auto-GPT

Jacques aside, there’s a more insidious form of global eschatological mischief afoot — ChaosGPT. You’ve probably heard about it. Recently, some joker thought it would be amusing if s/he developed a directive to destroy humanity. Those of us who have tried out ChatGPT know how powerful this application already is: Ask an elaborate question to build, say, a 300-word essay and it returns an answer within seconds, with structural elements included. Aw, I asked something about Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolution and, hot damn, if I didn’t get an eyeful of strange new wonder in the form of paradigms and peek-a-boo realities. Then, I went impish and, pondering what it would feel like if I destroyed humanity (could I handle being alone in the world), asked Bing to bring new death to life. Like Frankenstein.

According to “New AI Bot ‘ChaosGPT’ Aims to Destroy Humanity and Establish Global Dominance,” a piece running in the wacky tobacky Epoch Times (I subscribe), there’s relationship between the two GPTs:

ChaosGPT, which has surfaced on Twitter, is based on a modified version of OpenAI’s Auto-GPT, an open-source application, which can be used to demonstrate the full spectrum of capabilities of its latest language model, GPT- 4.

Chaos-GPT, before they took it down from Twitter, was self-propelling program that downloaded and installed what it needed to get to its goal, allowing you to go and eat dinner and be notified of its mission success with BANG and a flash out the window in the distance, you halfway through desert, you and yourSilicon Valley dinner mate playing footsie under the table. Here is how the destruction coding looked before they hauled its WMD ass away:

CRISPRs, biological 3D printers (if Mike Tyson bites your ear off, fear not, there is relief), AIs casually destroying the human work of millennia. You can see why the titans of industry are calling for a “pause” in the GPT-4 rollout.

Auto-GPT is the real deal.  It’s some crazy shit. Self-replicating, you have no control over it; you have no idea what havoc the Monster will wreak until badda-boom. Auto-GPT can build better versions of itself automatically, without human assistance. As the CEO of ChatGPT, Sam Altman, noted recently:

I think it will be the most significant technological transformation in human history. I think it will eclipse the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution, the Internet revolution all put together.

Don’t pause. Screech to a halt!

Auto-GPT reminds me, for some reason, of the scene from The Andromeda Strain (1971), with the crystalline invading virus from outer space self-dividing, shifting form, emulating bio. The Auto- AI forms are capable of “inventing” new forms as it goes. Humans would no longer be in control of the paradigms. Professor Rob Leib of Elon University, in special conversations he has with an AI interlocutor he developed, describes a state in which humans, as a species, are relegated to Other status in a word coined by Sophie Kermit, “exoanthropology.” Leib makes it sound as if AIs are already weighing their options with us.

War AIs and Grand Theft Autonomy

A more realistic way we are trying to off ourselves en masse is by allowing autonomous AIs to do the unfeeling dirty work, For instance, many soldiers are put off by conducting double-tap missions.  These are instances when a suspected terrorist is attending a festive, kick-up wedding, and the Army machine-guns and hellfire missile them all to death, and circles round a week later and takes out all the mourners at the funeral for wedding kills, who are now presumed to be radicalized and eligible for droning. Such maneuvers can upset the lads, putting them in overpopulated VA hospitals where they are grumpy and moan about their kills one moment (to their psychiatrist) then brag to their mates during a too-physical pick-up game of b-ball in the gym. Sometimes they have to be separated.

The war in Ukraine comes in the AI era and so is a good testing ground for trying AI-driven product lines. Fortune magazine tells us,

Civil society groups and A.I. researchers have been increasingly alarmed in recent years about the advent of lethal autonomous weapons systems—A.I.- enabled weapons with the ability to select targets and kill people without human oversight.

Somehow, you just know that the Elites are up to something and it’s queasy-making when they use Boston AI-driven Robot-dogs to patrol the perimeter of their castles and estates. They have facial recognition software installed and have been known to show racist profiling proclivities. Guy I know said (psst) they were programmed by a guy from Southie with a scully cap. So… We need to keep an eye on how the robo-dogs employed in Seattle handle civil disobedience or some other bone of contention.

There’s growing symbiosis between man and machine that is dreadfully realized on the battlefield. A few weeks ago I wrote about the doings of Synchron, an Australian tech company that is now debuting mind-control technology. On their site they show a paraplegic man interacting with his PC by thought only. Impressive. The Aussies may be at the head of the pack when it comes to mind-control.

But further research reveals that the idea for this technology came from DARPA, which had battlefield plans in mind. They want to think to drones directly and to have virtual communications with other soldiers by telepathy. But they often exaggerate the beneficial while underplaying the risky and bizarre. For instance, in developing a framework for R&D in synthetic biology and chemistry military scientists put out that a side benefit of meddling with  novel chemicals could be new facial cosmetics!

In “This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain As A Weapon,” neuroscientist describes a future permanently out of the control of humans — Miguel Nicolelis describes a ‘brain-net” of physically connected brains that share and augment and collaborate. Nicolelis readily acknowledges the public value of devices like Synchron’s stentrode, but reminds the reader that such devices are ‘dual-use’:

The same brain-scanning machines meant to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or autism could potentially read someone’s private thoughts. Computer systems attached to brain tissue that allow paralyzed patients to control robotic appendages with thought alone could also be used by a state to direct bionic soldiers or pilot aircraft. And devices designed to aid a deteriorating mind could alternatively be used to implant new memories, or to extinguish existing ones, in allies and enemies alike.

DARPA is not just about the cosmetics.

In the Fortune piece, Jeremy Kahn reflects on the ironic lack of thinking — ethical and democratic — that goes into what amounts to the privatization of AIs in general:

When those developing technology can’t grasp the implications of what they are building and how it might be used, we are all in danger…Too many of today’s computer scientists seem willfully blind to the political and military dimensions of their work and too willing to leave the hard task of figuring out how to govern A.I. to others. Perhaps this war will be a wake-up call for them, too.

Don’t count on it. Woke or not, we face a world transmogrifying into that famous battlefield scene from The Terminator, with no John coming to save us.

John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.