posted on 2021-11-20

no room above paperclips

(edit: see also yes room above paperclips?)

when presented with the idea of a paperclip-maximizing unaligned superintelligence, people sometimes mention the possibility that sure, the universe gets tiled with paperclips, but maybe there's slack in how paperclips are arranged, and that maybe nice things can exist again "above" paperclips.

(note: this relates to the idea of "daemon-free"ness in "minimal circuints")

i think it's a reasonable line of thinking, but it's short-sighted: let's think about what happens next. eventually, above those paperclips, some evolutionary process may take place, leading (possibly, such as in our case, through the step of a technological species) eventually to a superintelligence taking over everything. given that the entire cosmos gets tiled with paperclips possibly forever, and that a superintelligent singleton taking over everything is irreversible (short of everything dying forever), in all likelyhood in the long term in any piece of universe not already actively managed by a superintelligence, eventually either everything dies forever, or a superintelligence takes over everything forever.

and then what? either this new superintelligence cares about "upwards", and has some plan for how its own paperclips are arranged (such as into more "macro"-paperclips), or it doesn't and the cycle begins again.

given that the outcome of an "alien" superintelligence's takeover is probly a worse outcome than the takeover of a superintelligence of our own (we should expect them to be about as incompetent as us at alignment, but to have values less aligned to ours), we need to care about our own iteration first, it's our best bet.

the point is, eventually for any given local patch of spacetime, either a superintelligence explosion is reached or everything dies forever. this can't be avoided, even by "climbing up" on substrates, so we should care about alignment now; we can't just hope that things are okay despite paperclips.

posted on 2021-11-20

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