AI and the Climate Change Paradox

There seems to be a prevailing irrational psychology that man must work to solve the problem of securing our race from AI. The basic idea is that we know AI is coming and therefore we need to hurry otherwise it could take us over, make us slaves, or even make humans extinct.

This is comparable to the climate change paradox. Well its not really a paradox but it might be seen as such. The basic idea, sparing the reader a great debate, is that climate change scientists have decided that their data shows that the earth and its inhabitants are in danger because of man caused changes to the environment.

But this isn’t their conclusion.

Their conclusion is that we must apply socialistic measures (carbon tax) in order to save ourselves from total disaster and extinction (sound familiar?).

But there is a problem with this conclusion, these scientists aren’t economists. And if you ask any well read intelligent economist (Hayek, Szabo, Nash, Smith) they will tell you that socialism as a means leads to a disastrous end.

In other words, the climate change scientist steps outside of their role as a scientist as soon as they try to formulate a policy as a solution to the problem they are outlining. Often, like Bill Nye for example, this is done without calling attention to this fact, and is therefore done under the guise that it is a scientific conclusion when it’s not.

What does this have to do with AI?

Well all FUD aside, the truth of the matter is that propriety, our social norm, is a perfect mix of all the information humans have available. I’ll say this in a few ways because we have a cognitive bias against hearing it. What we are doing in the present is the best we can do.

Protesting and demanding change can’t make us progress any faster. Neither can carbon tax.

In fact it is often argued by economists that such taxes are ultimately counter productive to their intended goals.

The rational perspective here is to see that society is the best decision maker, far more so than the individual. This is difficult for some to hear, but its true and its based on market theory and Hayek.

Here is how he describes the complexity of society:

…the “data” from which the economic calculus starts are never for the whole society “given” to a single mind which could work out the implications and can never be so given.

The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.

This is where you always hear new or ignorant students of economics suggest that the markets are not always “correct” or rational. This is an insignificant point to make. The REAL point to be made is that there is no basis for objectivity that is more so than the markets.

Adam Smith has his way of putting this too which is basically that although we try to step in another persons shoes, we never wholly can. Szabo extends this to computer science and effectively explains that the complexity of each of our minds makes it impossible to compress and transmit the extent of each persons knowledge.

So there is always a limited perspective for the individual, but this is not so for the markets, or for society.

Society is itself such a market. It makes bids on ideas and it works together to stabilize truths. Often these truths get propped up as dualities, such as gun control, or abortion. One can easily find super heated debates on these subjects, and neither side ever realizes the duality isn’t actually solvable with conflict. They are locked in equilibrium and thus they themselves are suspending and sustaining the duality.

It is change elsewhere that is needed in order to move beyond such a duality.

Putting this together, and in regard to climate change, it is propriety, the decision of society which is the most intelligent response. This won’t sit will with some but it is the proper perspective.

Put another way, if there was an Armageddon sized asteroid coming at earth and we had 30 days to solve the problem before extinction, we would be very very good and attending to this problem. There wouldn’t be a significant duality stopping us from correct action.

This is what people are claiming climate change is. But if we understand what I am saying we understand that since society mostly doesn’t care, then I suspect climate change is not actually a problem that requires “scientist” led political agendas.

Information has been propagated and the markets have spoken. There is no room for a scientist to claim politicians are suppressing their work, that isn’t part of the climate change data.

In regard to AI we can say the same thing. And so it is easy then to so how wholly irrational it is to claim that we could possibly build a technology that makes us go extinct (and yes I have the same argument for nuclear weapons which helped secure some amount of peace through mutually assured destruction). If AI were to make us go extinct our society would realize this before we built it, and stop building it.

So there is still the problem to be solved in some sense, but there is not an actual fear of a future AI, its an irrational projection and not something to be reacted on.