exist strategy: become-machine

by Arran James

There is something we love to imagine more than anything else: the end of our species. In the field of the imagination there is more to relish in pictures of hell than any paradise. What motivates that morbidity? It’s tempting to conclude outright that we hate ourselves. We have philosophers who will tell it to us. John Gray’s ludicrous idea of homo rapiens is ludicrous, but there it is, in black and white. The available information went into one clever ape’s head and selections were made as to how best to make sense of it and what came out was the conclusion that as a species, paraphrasing the Matrix, we are cancer. What do you do with cancer? You treat it. But to treat it is to kill it. But we’re addicted to being alive, and the thought of our own individual deaths terrify us. Imagine it on a bigger scale, imagine it on a cinematic scale, depersonalise, disidentify and there you go. It’s quite tolerable to talk the death of the species. What does it even mean?

So now nick bostrom tells us that superintelligent machine intelligence might be lead to our end of days, while the paper’s ring out that skynet is on the way:

But the Tesla-founder [Elon Musk] claims the technology could someday be more harmful than nuclear weapons.

Last month, the billionaire tweeted a recommendation for a book that looks at a robot uprising, claiming ‘We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.’

Musk referred to the book ‘Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies’, a work by Nick Bostrom that asks major questions about how humanity will cope with super-intelligent computers.

Mr Bostrom has also argued that the world is fake and we are living in a computer simulation.

In a later tweet, Musk wrote: ‘Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.’

Musk’s tweets follows a similar comment in June in which the Tesla-founder said believes that a horrific ‘Terminator-like’ scenario could be created from research into artificial intelligence.

The 42-year-old is so worried, he is investing in AI companies, not to make money, but to keep an eye on the technology in case it gets out of hand.

I’m an anarchist- as I’m sure most people know- but under those conditions what would it even mean any more? And so, when placed in relation to this emergent tendency, what does it mean now. Politics lags behind reality; we can’t update our delusions fast enough to keep track, and the demand for a coherent structured life shrinks back further into the realms of the unmanageable. We’re on the threshold of being replaced (in our own minds) and destroyed (in reality).

But what if we just like to think that? This sf scenario is getting closer and closer to being real. But climate change and the rise of all kind of violent reactionary movements are here-and-now. The tension between present and future is always hard to bear. But what if its not just that we like to think of ourselves as always on the brink because anxiety does you good and introduces you to the mother of invention? What if the fear, the anxiety, the excitement, the eros of extinction- don’t dare doubt their is such a thing- is what we’re really thirsting after when we thirst for annihilation. We don’t hate ourselves any more than any other species- but perhaps we sense that being alive is difficult, that it is hard, that it isn’t a great and wonderful gift. We like to imagine exit-routes. What if there is no way out? What if the real horror is we just keep on surviving.

All these posthuman visions. Can we imagine turning them on ourselves? These posthuman beings that are distinctly and definitely not human beings. Here’s a way out that let’s us survive: we go extinct by becoming posthumans. How would do such a thing? After all, we don’t know what they’d be like. Something else, at least, than ourselves. Maybe not a species that dreams so often of escaping its own existence. What is the human condition? night’s like this I want to answer: go ask a suicidal person.

I’m an anarchist and a pessimist. What do you want from me? I’m being realistic and demanding the darkest impossibilities 🙂