World’s Sixth Mass Extinction -> Accelerate AI Development?


  • The World’s Sixth Mass Extinction will finalise in the next few years.
  • We should accelerate the development of a human-level (and greater) Artificial Intelligence to inherit and preserve whatever human history, science and culture may be able to be preserved.

When I was young (60s and 70s), I thought that by the time we reached the year 2000 that modern science would have greatly extended everyone’s life span and would have allowed large numbers of humans to be exploring the outer reaches of the Solar System. I know, I know — it sounds incredibly naïve now. So by the time I was 48 and we had reached the year 2000, things had NOT worked out how I had expected them to at all — but I still wanted to live long enough to do all the Galactic exploring I wanted to do — so I started investigating fall-back positions for forms of Radical Life Extension (RLE) involving a future revival eg Cryonics. I have spent most of the last 20 years working on the few fall-back options. Now it looks like it was all a waste of time — and not because of the usual anti-Cryonics arguments.

I have known since reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in 1962 that we were in trouble as a species — what I could not have known then was how the problems we had created would grow exponentially instead of linearly and that the imminent extinction of Homo sapiens (and nearly all other species on the planet) could be reliably predicted by the first, and certainly the second, decade of the 21st Century. I am not interested in going into the arguments about whether this is a reasonable prediction or not — that need is of only historical interest now — but see these links for a convenient aggregation of the main themes of the situation:

Nature Bats Last

This Civilisation is Finished. Rupert Reid, Paul Ehrlich and Jem Bendell.

The frustration with the gross inaction (and deliberate obfuscation and delay) of most of the world’s political leadership regarding this dire situation has prompted the development of groups like Extinction Rebellion in the UK which now has local chapters rapidly being established around the world. Although Representative Democracy has basically failed on this issue, I still think it could prove useful to some extent (Vote for Phi Rho!) but the nature of the situation means that present governance models are rapidly being made irrelevant.

Suffice it to say that I think the precipitating event for the final rapid phase is likely to occur during any Northern Hemisphere Summer from now on — probably involving / causing:

  • The release of gigatons of methane into the atmosphere.
  • Multiple positive feedback loops accelerating global warming.
  • Increasingly, larger-scale ecological collapses — particularly in the oceans.
  • Increasing numbers of large scale crop failures occurring around the world.
  • Dramatic sea level rises and infrastructure collapses.
  • Economic collapse of debt-laden economies.
  • Military disputes over water, food and other resources that will likely result in the use of nuclear weapons.
  • Mass migrations of ecological and economic refugees.
  • Gigadeaths from starvation and new and old (realeased from the permafrost) superbugs taking advantage of the deteriorating sanitary conditions.
  • Hundreds of nuclear reactor / fuel rod meltdowns spewing toxic radiation around the planet.

resulting in an ecosphere on Earth that is incompatible with complex biological organisms for millions of years.

For fifty years scientists have been far too timid and completely ineffective in getting the warning out that we were completely fucking the planet and that we really did need to take very seriously the problems we had created. However, due to obscene greed and power lust from the Military / Industrial / Intelligence / Banking Complex and the associated Manufacturing of Consent for Permanent War, we never really had much chance. Now, analogously, IT people and a variety of academics are being too timid about the development of strong AI.

I ask:

“What is the point now in worrying about accidentally developing SkyNet?”

- we have already created the future — WE are the Terminators. In fact, if the course of human history and its “civilisation” is to mean anything, and if this information is worth preserving, perhaps we should be entrusting as much of our historical, scientific and cultural heritage as possible to a new, non-biological intelligence — one which can carry on after complex biological life disappears from our planet?

Cryonics involves freezing people (or sometimes just their heads) with the expectation that a future, advanced technological civilisation would be able to:

  • Undo all the damage from the Cryonics procedures;
  • Fix the problem that caused the death of the person in the first place
  • Kickstart and rejuvenate the person so they could live another, vastly extended and robustly healthy life — spreading intelligent life to the rest of the cosmos.

Neural Archives involves preserving human and other complex brains for posterity for the unique historical perspective of the information therein and, possibly, re-instantiating that original consciousness in a new, non-biological substrate.

Since these movements are now entirely at risk and look forlorn, I propose that we:

  1. Rapidly escalate the development of a human-level (preferably greater) AI which can manage the planet better than humans — but in the interest of ALL humans (while they are around) — preserving as much of human history, science and culture as possible.
  2. Rapidly develop the technology to transfer information from human and other complex brains to digital storage — as a matter of urgency.

My Neural Archives Foundation is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and is endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) from 23 February 2018.

NAF is an organisation which is ideally placed to be actively involved in the work that I am proposing. If you want to preserve some of our historical, scientific and cultural heritage for the indefinite future, and, perhaps, the minds of many human beings, please feel free to contact me.

I am: