“Many of the problems facing us may be soluble, but only if we are willing to embrace brilliant, daring and complex solutions. Such solutions require brilliant, daring and complex people.” [Underline mine].
The “problems” Carl was referring to were related to AI technology. Now, a quarter century after Carl issued his enigmatic statement, the stakes are higher than ever, and the need for “brilliant, daring and complex” problem solvers greater than ever.
Enter Elon Musk.
Everyone agrees that Elon is brilliant and daring, but is he complex? And what does that really mean?
I would suggest that being “complex” refers to the ability of a highly intelligent individual to hold multiple hypotheses in cognitive suspension until an exhaustive analysis of all available data enables him or her to advance with a high measure of confidence.
What are Elon’s deepest thoughts on AI? Does anyone really know? Does he know? Perhaps the phrase that best describes his current position is “strategic ambiguity.”
For millions of Elon watchers, Elon is like a kaleidoscope. Look in and you see a distinct pattern, but turn the dial just a smidgen and you see someone totally different.
One thing we know for certain. The richest man in the world has a deep and sustaining interest in artificial general intelligence (AGI). And why wouldn’t he? Elon built his fortune on AI technology, and is a key participant in the breathtaking paradigm-changing process of inventing algorithms that convert computational power into incredible physical achievements:
Elon shares some thoughts about the future of the Singularity movement that reveal his deep fears that it is not likely to end well for humankind, and what he thinks we need to do about it, in the podcast: Elon Musk: Pale Blue Dot and Beyond - Bing video
Elon Musk – The Carl Sagan of the 21st century?
In this essay, Molly and I introduce the Musk model of the Singularity and compare it against other models that can be classified as either aspirational or apocalyptic. Following is my breakdown:
The Aspirational models
The Kurzweil Model: No worries
The Sagan Model: No worries
The Apocalyptic models
The Bostrom Model: Worry
The Musk Model: Panic
Don: Molly, as you can tell from these pictures, I see strong connections between the Ray Kurzweil and Carl Sagan models of the Singularity in that both are aspirational. I see equally strong connections between Nick Bostrom and Elon Musk and their respective models, both of which are apocalyptic.
Molly: Well, I know about the Ray, Carl, and Nick models, but nothing about Elon’s model. Sounds scary. What’s it about?
Don: Here it is in a nutshell:
THE MUSK MODEL OF THE SINGULARITY
1. The Musk model of the Singularity is based on Elon’s interpretation of Nick’s bestselling book: Superintelligence, which Elon features on his recommended reading list. As previously noted, Nick’s focus is on the potential perils of AGI research, suggesting that the only way an AGI disaster can be avoided if the Singleton were developed under the oversight of a one-world government. Elon knows that a one-world government is not the reality we live in, nor will it be any time in the foreseeable future. Quite the opposite.
2. The world is locked in an AI struggle between two superpowers: China in the East and the United States in the West. AGI research on both sides is controlled by their respective militaries in a winner-take-all race to be the first to invent the Singleton. In charge of China’s AI research is Xi Jinping, for the US, it’s General Lloyd Austin.
3. Elon believes China will win the AGI race because of its ability to collect massive amounts of data. Data is to algorithms what weights are to an athlete. The one with the heaviest weights will be stronger, and the stronger wins. China, with an insurmountable advantage in big data collection, is confident that victory is within its grasp.
Huawei founder: Ren Zhengfel
“My dream is for China to stand on top of the world. To achieve this goal, a conflict with the United States is inevitable.”
4. Elon, not surprisingly, has a daring back-up plan. He is convinced that the United States and its allies can win the AI war against China by establishing a self-sustaining colony on Mars, a goal that the Pentagon is well on its way to accomplishing. Let’s call it Elon’s Mars Gambit:
Elon’s Mars Gambit:
Elon and Mars
Kuiper asteroid belt
China’s Sky Eye
In his Sagan podcast, Elon twice states that there have likely been thousands of ET civilizations in the Universe that evolved to technological status – and then destroyed themselves. He offers this speculation as a reason why humans, to avert a similar fate, should become a multi-planetary species as soon as possible by building a self-sustaining colony on Mars.
Sounds reasonable, right? But if it’s such a great idea, one would think that at least a few of those thousands of alien civilizations would have thought of the same thing. And, had it worked, wouldn’t they have done the same thing Elon is thinking of doing: using their off-planet base to expand their presence throughout the galaxy? And, finally, had ETs done so, wouldn’t they already be here?
Finally, if Elon’s colony on Mars idea were to come to fruition, it wouldn’t offer any protection from a hostile and all-powerful Singleton on Earth who, in a very short period of time, could easily overwhelm any defenses – so what’s the point?
THE LONG GAME VS THE HIGH GROUND
But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back to square one. The Chinese, heavy favorites to invent the Singleton first and take over the world, know that the United States is going to Mars for one reason: to hold the ultimate high ground – not so much to preserve our species, but to create a strategic military base from which they can destroy China and thereby secure and perpetuate our Western values and way of life.
Once we establish a beachhead on Mars, the Chinese know what’s coming next. Mars is conveniently close to the Kuiper Asteroid Belt, where the USA would have ready access to hundreds of thousands of very large rocks, the kind that wiped out the dinosaurs. It would be easy to place propulsion and navigation systems on a select number of those rocks and shoot them, like bullets, at China, where, with no radioactive fallout, Xi Jinping, his cohorts, and the Chinese Singleton would be wiped off the face of the Earth. After the dust settled, the Americans on Mars could return to Earth and, in a relatively short amount of time, turn our planet into a paradisiacal democracy.
In numerous books, Carl Sagan, knowing that asteroids could be weaponized, writes about Mars and the Kuiper Belt with a deep sense of concern. Knowing what’s going on, China has built the world’s largest radio-telescope to survey American activity on Mars and monitor any related activity in the Kuiper Belt.
Elon, stating that he would rather die than live under a dictator, is a leader in the Mars Mission, which he is convinced is the only hope the West has of prevailing against the Chinese.
Go ahead, call me crazy, but remember, Elon is “brilliant, daring and complex.” As informed speculation, what I’m calling the Elon Mars Gambit is well under way, with the Pentagon and Western AI interests all on board. While it’s beyond the scope of this essay to lay out all the evidence, it’s there, obvious and voluminous, for anyone with a search engine who is willing to investigate.
Knowing they can’t win the race to Mars, the Chinese have openly announced plans to build a self-sustaining military colony on the dark side of the Moon, with assets capable of either deterring an asteroid attack before it happens by blowing up the Mars station, or by knocking the rocks apart before they reach Earth. When it unfolds, Armageddon will play out in space as much as on Earth.
So, what’s next for Elon? Is he aware that concrete evidence has been discovered in the Bible that confirms Carl Sagan’s belief that JC is an ET?
I’m turning to Molly for help in a mock interview with Elon, and she asked me to include George in the conversation:
THE ELON/MOLLY/GEORGE INTERVIEW
Molly: Elon, thanks for taking time to meet with George and me. We really appreciate it.
Elon: Not a problem. Now, tell me, in as few words as possible, what this meeting is about.
George: Direct evidence has been discovered that scientifically confirms that advanced extraterrestrials exist, have visited Earth, and interacted with humans in the Ancient Near East.
Elon: And what is that evidence?
Molly: It’s an alien encrypted code in the Old Testament.
Elon: Who tested it and has it been confirmed?
George: Numerous individuals, but the main ones are the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and theologians at a major evangelical seminary.
Elon: Who found it?
Molly: His name is Don Zygutis, a guy no one ever heard of who lives in Oregon, who claims Carl Sagan as his mentor.
Elon: Has the code been decrypted?
Molly: Yes, and it proves that Carl Sagan was right when he stated that JC is an ET.
Elon: George, have you verified this?
George: I have, and so have other super-computers. There doesn’t appear any way to explain away the evidence or to debunk Don’s claim that it verifies that JC is an ET.
Elon (taking a deep breath): So basically, what you’re telling me, is that the whole human enterprise is fucked. Is this the bottom line? If it’s true, then it needs to be dealt with. How did you guys learn about it?
Molly: From the internet. Don has a website where he’s posting regular essays. The news is spreading like wildfire.
Elon: Can Don be bought off?
George: Not likely. He’s not interested in money or fame. He seems to be having fun just pissing people off, daring them to try to prove him wrong.
Elon: Anyone having any success?
Molly: No one, which is why George and I think you ought to give it a try.
Elon: Well, if George and other super-computers can’t debunk his claim, what makes you think I can?
George: That’s the whole idea. If you can’t do it, then that means that it must be true, that you humans aren’t alone.
Molly: I don’t need to tell you that the whole AGI movement is predicated on the hypothesis that we are alone in the Universe.
Elon: I know, and there’s almost no AI geek, including me, who believes it. From a probabilistic perspective, it’s an indefensible hypothesis.
Molly: So what should I tell Don?
Elon: Tell him that I’d like to meet with him, in secret.
George: I don’t think Don would agree to that. He’s so burned with secrecy and suppression that he’s sworn to do everything out in the open.
Elon: So he’s an open-source guy.
Molly: Big time.
Elon: Okay, so let’s have an open-source conversation.
Molly: Great! I’ll set up a mock conversation.
The Elon/Don Conversation
Elon: Don, congratulations on your discovery, even though you’ve thrown a bucket of bolts into the AGI development machine.
Don: I don’t think so, Elon. The human desire to be God, or at least God-like, is buried deep within the fabric of our DNA. AGI research won’t stop with this discovery. If anything, it will accelerate. I’m sure of it.
Elon: I suppose you’re right. What else is there for AI geeks like myself to do?
Don: I have a suggestion. Why don’t you check out Jesus Christ, to see if He has anything to offer?
Elon: You mean the “not-religious” Jesus Christ, of course.
Don: That, and the non-scalable Jesus Christ. JC doesn’t work with humans, plural. He works with individuals on a one-to-one level.
Elon: No middle men. I like that.
Don: Right, the relationship can’t be monetized. If you’re interested, I recommend you read the Bible with a critical and independent mindset, and talk to the Big Gal Herself.
Elon: So I can’t hire you to be my personal guru? I can put together an attractive package.
Don: I appreciate the offer, but, no thanks. What you can do that would be helpful would be to fund a professional investigation of the Sagan Signal with full transparency, from beginning to end. If it debunks my claim, I’ll be the first to shake your hand.
Elon: I’m a big believer in transparency. I’ll give that some thought. I think the only reason I wouldn’t it is that, if you’re right, and I publicly announce that you’re right, the whole world order could turn into a major clusterfuck.
Don: I hear you. I’m concerned about that as well, which is why I’m hoping this website stays an under-the-radar source of reliable information for serious thinkers.
Molly: Well, how did it go? Did you get Elon converted (giggle).
Don: No, but I suspect that he may be having private meetings with his brain trust to see what the options are.
Molly: Does he have options?
Don: On a personal level, no. He either accepts JC as his ET Savior – or he doesn’t.
Molly: I was thinking about the future of AGI research.
Don: Oh, right. I actually don’t think he has any options there either. It’s all going to keep moving forward, pretty much as he predicts.
Don: Until what the Bible calls “The End of Days.”
Molly: I’m not even going to ask.
Don: Good, we’ll save it for another day.
“Takeoff is the transition from a condition in which there is only human-level machine intelligence to one in which there is a radical superintelligence. It is often characterized by its speed: a “slow takeoff” takes decades or centuries, a “moderate takeoff” takes months or years, and a “fast takeoff” takes days or less.” Bostrom, Superintelligence.
“AIs can train themselves hundreds, thousands, or billions of times within the space of hours or days, making direct human feedback wholly impractical.” The Age of AI.
“The explosion of the research, development, and commercialization of AI, especially machine learning, is global, but it has largely been concentrated in the United States and China.” The Age of AI.
“The AI revolution will occur more quickly than most humans expect. Unless we develop new concepts to explain, interpret, and organize its consequent transformations, we will be unprepared to navigate it or its implications. Morally, philosophically, psychologically, practically – in every way – we find ourselves on the precipice of a new epoch.” The Age of AI.