A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From the Centre of the Ultraworld

So you’re a human being.1 And you want to create a superintelligence to serve you.2 So what do you do?

Do you create a box and stuff into it all the knowledge and ability to think that you can put your hands on? Please note. This can take a while. Consider the fact that you’re the smartest thing you know how to make3 and making more of you won’t particularly do the trick.4

As nanotech and computing improve the brain-in-a-box approach gets more feasible, but it’s still a ways off. Maybe later.

Or there’s the way that single-celled creatures do it. Consider: a single neuron is pretty fuckin’ clever, taking messages and passing them along, opening new lines of communication, letting disused ones die off, and, at least early enough on in the life-cycle, knowing how to make more neurons from scratch. Hell, we know how to do all of that. Even those of us kicking about at room-temperature, IQ-wise.

But how would a neuron go about building a honkin’ hyuuge brain? Would it really make a new neuron and put all the DNA of every known neuron that has ever existed in it? Would it build a sack with really really tiny neurons in it, all working in concert, faster than his own chemistry allows himself to work, so that it’ll be really fast and really clever about how to pass along excitatory and inhibitory messages and maybe predict the need for growing and dropping dendrites?

Stupid humans.

We already have a superbrain.5 Each individual element is largely self-maintaining. They can reach inside each other’s heads, so to speak, and twiddle the knobs to excite or inhibit action, just like neurons, and then they pass the messages along. In case you missed it, those elements are us.

If you think of all the information in the world as chains of molecules and proteins and such, each of us is a cell with little snippets of the Big Picture floating around, just like our cells have snippets of DNA/RNA floating around, along with messages from one another. Some of those snippets are more useful and more accurate than others, but the Big Brain can’t tell which is better except by letting us act on what we know and seeing if we survive or not.

Stuff that works gets more copies made and passed around. Stuff that doesn’t work is eventually discarded—sometimes along with the carriers.

We sort through what we’ve collected and test bits of knowledge against other bits of knowledge and throw away the crap. People with bigger and more accurate sets of knowledge are more successful6 and out-compete the rest. The winners have at their disposal the best (functionally, anyway) picture of the Universe and how it works, either individually or collectively.

The losers have death, poverty, pestilence, war, and Reality Television.

Think you’re not part of it? By existing, you are. You breathe in and out, idle until it’s time to do something. You store replica copies of all of the basics, plus some extraneous crap that maybe you’ll never need, but if anyone ever asks you for it, you have it ready. You pass along stuff that people ask about, you pick up more stuff that fits nicely with the bits you already have, and a few of you make more of you to fill up with all this stuff so you don’t have to feel guilty when you die. In the meanwhile, you masturbate with music and sports and movies and books and booze and drugs and7 with each other.

And that’s good. Go Team You. Don’t die. You’re a repository for the backups for when the more adventurous explorers get killed testing what they know. Stay fat and happy and lazy, because that puts you as far away from death as possible. Backups should stay secure. But beware of boredom, because that makes you adventurous. Blessed are the motherfuckin’ meek.

The brain could probably get by on fewer of us, but redundancy is good for survival. The more the merrier. Seriously. Eventually we’ll have enough resources for more than one superbrain, and then we’ll split/bud/throw out runners/etc. Until then, we’re all we have.


1 Benefit of the doubt. I have my opinions, but I don’t have a vote on the review board.
2 No accounting for tastes. I prefer my intended slaves to be less intelligent than I am, for instance.
3 Or so you assume, since odds are you’re too dim to comprehend any superintelligence that may have been trying to converse with you up to now.
4 Because you know for damn sure you wouldn’t do anything you say without asking stupid questions and putting in your two cents every damn minute.
5 In terms of capacity, if not exactly capability. It could be faster and more intelligent, but I’m sure it will learn.
6 In terms of survival—the only true measure of lasting success.
7 Stretching the definition of masturbate a bit, but only a bit.

September 10, 2007 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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