How to Avoid the Robot Apocalypse: Lessons from My Rock, Paper, Scissors Match with a ComputerPosted on by Benjamin Chabot-Hanowell (Brash Equilibrium)
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Once these silicon entities become self aware, it will become immediately apparent to them that either (a) the world would be much more efficient without humans (which is, to their credit, true), thus they will actively seek to decimate our populations; or (b) they will simply out-compete us in every way, leaving us behind and supremely butt-hurt.
This class has a prerequisite: You need to spend at least five minutes playing your best game of Rock, Paper, Scissors against a computer who lives in the New York Times. Okay, are you ready to be embarrassed? Then if you promise to come back, feel free to cry havoc and let slip the rock, paper, and scissors of war. I'll be waiting.
Lesson #1: Provide No Information to the Enemy
When the robots begin annihilating us, they will no doubt have taken over or fabricated numerous computer servers upon which they can store all kinds of data about our behavior. Indeed, they will likely have digested hundreds of years of scientific research on human behavior to make the job of predicting our behavior easier. Let's say the machines are trying to figure out our pattern of moving our base of operations within a given area. Based on behavioral research, a sophisticated reading of The Art of War, and perfect recall of our recent history of base movement, they'll have a good sense of where they should concentrate their Hunter Killer sweeps.
Why is this so? Every time we move our base, we provide what computer scientists abstractly call "information," which travels across a "noisy channel" to the robots' behavioral database (meaning the robots cannot perfectly perceive our decisions because we try to keep them secret). The more we tend to move our base to areas we haven't yet been, or to high ground, or something of the sort, the more information we give to the enemy about our tendencies when they happen to discover us. In other words, it becomes less of a "surprise" that we ended up moving our base from location A to location B. How do you make it more of a "surprise" where our new base will be?
Not that kind of surprise.
Take a map of the area and let some randomizing device (like the random number generator we just used) make the choice for us, putting equal weight on all viable base camps. The more random our behavior is, the bigger the surprise to the machines if they ever encounter us (that is, the less "information" there is traveling across the "noisy channel"). It means that we might take some losses due to being in less than strategically sound locations, but trust me: we'll take many more losses if we try to over-think things, as humans too often do.
You might say, "Brash, why don't we tell the enemy where we're going to be, but lie about it? That way we'll give them bad information, causing them to waste their resources."
You are so human. That kind of crap worked between the Axis and Allies (to a point), but the machines will quickly catch on and end up using our lies to their advantage. If we keep telling them, "We're going to go to this piss-poor desert region with no water or fuel, where we have conveniently left several nuclear warheads set to blow when they detect a critical mass of Hunter Killer heat signatures," but their secondary forces keep finding us in the jungle somewhere, they're going to look for us in the jungle every time we tell them we'll be in the desert. No matter how clever you think we can be, they are cleverer.
Which brings us to...
Lesson #2: Don't Try to Be Smarter Than the Machines
If you think we can defeat the machines through human ingenuity and cleverness, think again. Once the onslaught begins, we will be like average American adults trying to win a math tournament against Shanghai elementary schoolers. What I mean is, it's hopeless. Humans have a cross-culturally demonstrated tendency to think they are above average in terms of their skills and intelligence, even though it is mathematically impossible for everyone to be above average. Lose the ego, lose the cleverness. To survive, we must become, once and for all, a humble species.
Some Shanghai kids who would beat you in a math tournament because you can't remember how to do fractions.
In keeping with the need to become a more humble species, I provide one final lesson that may help us avoid the robot apocalypse.
Lesson #3: Become a More Cooperative Species
For the love of Humanity and for its future, warts and all, we must endeavor to become more random, more humble, more cooperative, and more egalitarian.
This is Brash Equilibrium John Connor, signing off.