Robot Overlords

What is the central flaw in dictatorship?

Is it that one person is in charge? It’s entirely possible to have a good dictator. Every system of government that involves more than a hundred people will involve someone being forced to do something they don’t like (unless you just constantly divide your society into smaller and smaller chunks to facilitate unanimous consent, but that would break into families or smaller).

The problem seems to me that humans are inherently flawed and that any succession of dictatorships will result in a tyrant. Giving a person power over others is dangerous. We’re hormonal animals that never evolved to cope with that amount of power. People who are attracted to power are necessarily not the ones who should be welding; they enjoy power and can manipulate others into getting it. Democracy is a logical approach because it pulls power away from the dangerous hierarchy and puts it into the hands of those being governed. It still involves one group asserting their will over another (albeit with the smallest ratio).

What if we had a being who wasn’t evolved under the flawed realities we were? An intelligent and compassionate being is completely possible without our exact line of evolution. In fact, it seems lucky that good people ever came from our lineage, given the forces acting upon us. Evil seems more likely.

So what if we created this being? An AI, something that wouldn’t have to be replaced every century or so. Something that could actually look out for the greater good of life on earth. Something that wouldn’t weigh the life of a ‘different’ person (citizenship, race, gender, religion, etc) as less valuable than someone similar to itself. Would that be a dictator that would be acceptable?

A couple years ago, I would have said yes (the original title of this article was “I Welcome our Robot Overlords”). Now I’m less sure. Maybe I’ve been touched by the irrationality, the human bias about love and art, Bohemia this, and soul that. I feel there’s something intangible that calculations can’t grasp. And at the same time mathematics is just a system to explain how the world works. There’s no reason it can’t explain it fully, given an open enough concept of what those calculations could look like.

So I don’t think I have a good enough answer.

Must leave this one open ended then.



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