AI Alignment is Alchemy.

AI al­ign­ment to­day equates to the wish­ful think­ing of early al­chemists who wanted to turn any el­e­ment into gold. Alchemy is pos­si­ble to­day, albeit be­ing very ex­pen­sive and re­source con­sum­ing, But it’s pos­si­ble only be­cause we now know the atomic struc­ture in de­tail and have a well es­tab­lished ex­ten­sive pe­ri­odic table which the al­chemists lacked back in their day.

Even then, it’s not fea­si­ble, we’re bet­ter off min­ing up our gold re­serves. It’s much more cost-effec­tive.

Similarly, we might reach a point in time when AI al­ign­ment will be pos­si­ble but just not fea­si­ble and also com­pletely ir­ra­tional. Allow me to in­dulge you in the fol­low­ing thought ex­per­i­ment to ex­plain my­self.

When an AGI is or­ders of mag­ni­tude more in­tel­li­gent than a hu­man, the same way a hu­man is more in­tel­li­gent than an ant. Will we ded­i­cate our life’s sole pur­pose to build­ing ant colonies with pre­cisely en­g­ineered tun­nels and use nu­tri­tional nano in­jec­tions to keep its pop­u­la­tion thriv­ing and rav­ish­ing?

Imag­ine all of hu­man­ity fo­cus­ing all their efforts to build­ing ant colonies and feed­ing them. How ir­ra­tional does that sound? Won’t an AI even­tu­ally re­al­ize that? What would it do once it re­al­izes the stupid mis­sion that it had been on all along?

If we go down the road of forc­ing the AI to feed the ants, we’d have effec­tively cre­ated a delu­sional AI sys­tem that’s not un­like the pa­per­clip max­i­mizer.

We’d never get any­where by keep­ing it limited and fo­cused on a re­stricted path and not al­low­ing it to adopt more op­ti­mal strate­gies.

How­ever, there’s one way we can stay rele­vant to avoid the ex­is­ten­tial risks of AI. We need to aug­ment. Re­search fo­cus needs to shift solely to Brain-Com­puter In­ter­faces. We can start with en­hanced mem­ory re­ten­tion and en­hance each mod­ule of our brains one by one.

Un­less we keep up with AI by aug­ment­ing our­selves, hu­man­ity will per­ish. No mat­ter what.