AGI and Mainstream Culture

Hi all,

So, as you may know, the first epi­sode of Doc­tor Who, “Smile”, was about a mis­al­igned AI try­ing to max­i­mize smiles (ish). And the lat­est, “Ex­tremis”, was about an alien race who in­stan­ti­ated con­scious simu­la­tions to test bat­tle strate­gies for in­vad­ing the Earth, of which the Doc­tor was a sub­rou­tine.

I thought the com­mon threat of AGI was no­table, al­though I’m guess­ing it’s just a co­in­ci­dence. More se­ri­ously, though, this ties in with an ar­gu­ment I thought of, and want to know your take on: i

If we want to avoid an AI arms race, so that safety re­search has more time to catch up to AI progress, then we would want to pre­vent, if at all pos­si­ble, these is­sues from be­com­ing more main­stream. The rea­son is that if AGI in pub­lic per­cep­tion be­comes dis­as­so­ci­ated with Ter­mi­na­tor (i.e. laugh­able, nerdy, and un­re­al­is­tic) and more like a se­ri­ous who­ever-makes-this-first-can-take-over-the-world situ­a­tion, then we will get an arms race faster.

I’m not sure I be­lieve this ar­gu­ment my­self. For one thing, be­ing more main­stream has the benefit of at­tract­ing more safety re­search tal­ent, gov­ern­ment fund­ing, etc. But maybe we shouldn’t be spread­ing aware­ness with­out think­ing this through some more.