The scenario described below is philosophy; it is not meant to be computer science. I am not a computer scientist. If someone with experience in this area wants to point to some scientific fact that renders impossible the proposed scenario, comments are open.
My computer shuts off when it encounters a situation in which, according to predefined parameters, it is more beneficial for its mission to turn off. For example, when the fan fails and the processor overheats.
When I turn it back on, the computer has a fundamental “memory.” The settings remain as they are recorded on a lithium battery. But this, to the computer, is irrelevant – its “memory” is not a factor when deciding what is best or not. If I remove the lithium battery, it will proceed in the same way, if necessary.
Imagine that we have created a supreme Artificial Intelligence, capable of reasoning and self-determination. Able to process and equate advanced philosophical and physiological concepts. Its function is to control the world, and its purpose is – just like my computer – to make the best possible decisions for the benefit of all.
Now the serious part: what is best for us is not necessarily what we want. Unlike my computer, we have an evolutionary bias; we have a bias in regard to life, to survival.
It seems very likely to me that, free of this bias – like my computer – the Supreme Artificial Intelligence notes two objective facts:
- Human suffering affects our experience much more than happiness; that is, when we suffer, we feel this suffering much more intensely, and it becomes more marked in our memory, than we feel and remember experiences of ecstasy.
- An entity that does not exist does not suffer. (I.E., we suffer because of existence, of being alive. Before birth, our non-existence did not cause us any kind of suffering.)
Faced with this, and having the ultimate goal of making decisions for us, for our benefit, to minimize our suffering…
Is it not natural for the AI to pull the plug?
Painting: “The Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi,” by Henri-Edmond Cross