The Future Will be Boring

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There was once a story where the Devil argued that Heaven was far from a true paradise.  Having all your needs met, he argued, was a living death far worse than any torment he offered in Hell.
When I was debating the idea of why humanity would create a seed AI it led to the concept of “mankind’s last invention.”  My reaction to that was different than most people’s.  I didn’t think how it could be dangerous or that it was going to be a great source of good.  My thought was simply, that sounds really boring!
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Let us work on the assumption that humanity creates a self improving and soon god-like AI which is truly only desiring to help humanity.  Its vast intellect would solve problems humans can’t even comprehend.  The drones it creates will tend to our every need.  The AI will run the perfect government, manage the perfect economy, create the perfect art, our every need will be met without us needing to lift a finger.  Our last invention means we will never invent again.  We will never create anything again.  All of our choices and goals are meaningless because the AI is vastly better and motivated to help us.  It is certainly true that we won’t need to work, but this ignores that to a degree humans like working.

Right now in America we have thousands of college graduates sitting at home lamenting their lives.  Money is certainly an issue but what they hate most is that the skills they have are useless.  The movie Wall-E depicts this kind of future.  Humans live hedonistic lives purely of instant and universal gratification.  An AI system works behind the scenes providing them food, water, entertainment, even letting them know the latest fashion trends.  Choice of course isn’t simply ripped away from them.  There just isn’t any point.  You won’t ever influence this society nor is there any real motivation to improve yourself since anything you will learn the AI not only knows already but has available to anyone if it was just asked.

You will be immortal, and your every desire met and never work or feel pain for the rest of your endless life.  You will be in Heaven.  Living a life with no purpose where no choice you will ever make has any impact on your quality of life.  Enjoying pleasures to distract you from your self created obsolescence.
As the Devil put it “a living death”

6 Comments

  1. If there is no boredom, it means we are content with sedation. At which point there really isn’t a reason to continue to live. After all you are satisfied with doing nothing, why do anything? Why exist?

  2. Personally I think cognitive enhancements are much closer than full human level ai, so I would think enhanced humans will be doing the work alongside the ai. If we continuly increase or personal computational power and are able to interface with computers, then we are the ai you are talking about.

  3. Maybe! Alternatively, the CRISPR genome-editing revolution lets us abolish the biology of boredom itself. Mystics can “see the world in a grain of sand””. Why can’t the rest of us too? The kinds of experience humans call boredom are better viewed as masked depression. Technically, future life can range from the merely exhilarating to the utterly sublime.

  4. What it is, is up to us. It seems to me that “boredom” is a design problem which we can design in or out of systems to whatever extent we desire.

    That is, we can imagine, design, and create stimulating environments without “boredom” or that are designed to reduce or eliminate it. We can imagine a world at least without unpleasant boredom. Some level of “boredom” or quiet time might be required for maximal creativity or productivity and we would (perhaps) want to retain that sort of experience.

    With that said, perhaps notably, I don’t get bored. Or not very easily.

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