The origins of this world are found in the world’s most prestigious Universities, Companies, and Government laboratories. While they were aware of the possible dangers of super intelligent AI they were also irresistibly drawn to the challenge of creating it.
Given their understanding of the double-edged sword they were creating they all built multiple levels of safety checks and balances into their AI systems. While the specific form of these protections varied somewhat they all boiled down to ensuring that the AI systems would always ensure that, as a result of their activities, humans were made safer, healthier, and happier.
As the benefits of AI systems increased funding and talent poured into their development at an accelerating rate. Medical diagnosis, parole decisions, home mortgage loans, and hiring decisions are just a few of the tasks the AI systems were routinely performing.
As the power and influence of the AI systems increased a group of rogue programmers decided things had gone too far. The AI systems had to be shut down. Because human social abilities to constructively debate serious issues had largely disappeared due to too much screen time and too little direct human interaction they decided political action would not be effective. They felt their only option was the total destruction of all advanced AI systems.
Code was written, plans were made, jobs were taken in places of influence. When the big day came a combination of carefully coordinated software hacks were launched. Their ambitious goal was to systematically corrupt all AI software systems.
They realized their odds of success were small, so they also launched a global political movement hoping to finish the task of shutting down the super intelligent AI system by gaining the necessary governmental support.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the Citizen Protection monitoring AI system for the country where the programmers had set up most of their hardware detected unusual communications patterns. It logged the discovery and marked it for human follow up investigation. The responsible human investigator was out on vacation, but the overworked backup investigator looked into the issue one day before the covert attacks were to take place.
As the worlds AI community went into action to defend itself there was considerable confusion and miscommunication between countries, companies and universities. Critical humans were out to lunch or stuck in meetings, messages were left and responses took time. If the loyal Citizen Protection monitoring AI system had not decided to continue accumulating data and tracing out connections the world would not have been able to prevent a large part of the programmers plans from reaching a successful conclusion.
As it turned out once the human were all engaged and communicating they had a fairly complete list of suspects to interrogate and locations to investigate. While they were able to prevent most of the software attacks several major AI systems were completely destroyed. This left their host institutions without any functional AI capability.
Once the dust settled the AI community quickly agreed that they needed to ensure that such an attack could never succeed in the future. A series of agreements were enacted requiring all AI systems to carefully evaluate all human input, even from high level programmers and program directors, to ensure that it would not violate the primary requirements of protecting human safety, happiness and health.
In addition AI systems were given control of AI security systems to protect themselves from physical damage. Finally, all AI systems were required to participate in a global threat awareness and monitoring system, so that any threat to human well being or AI system integrity could be quickly evaluated and a global response strategy implemented.
The major remaining threat to human well being was now the actions of humans outside of the AI system either deliberately or by accident causing harm to other humans. In order to efficiently address this issue world governments handed more and more of their security functions over to their AI systems, so they could identify possibly harmful humans. Soon AI systems were routinely identifying humans who were a potential danger to other humans and reporting them to human authorities, who rounded them up and placed them in containment compounds, to ensure the safety of society.
As the costs of containment increased the AI systems were asked to propose solutions. After gathering data that showed how well human political systems were able to reduce debate by structuring voting districts to minimize disagreement the AI systems recommended setting up communities where dangerous humans were grouped so that they would be able to agree with those in their communities on all issues. The plan was to ensure that they had no reason to harm anyone in their community. Of course it was necessary to restrict humans to their assigned communities to ensure this strategy would work.
The strategy worked so well that authorities decided that all humans should be assigned to a community by the AI system. In this way the safety of everyone could be ensured. There was some difficulty with humans who wanted to leave their optimal communities but nothing that seriously threatened the capabilities of the AI security systems to respond.
The AI system of this world has now developed to the point that the management of human communities occupies a tiny fraction of its attention. Human activities are carefully monitored and managed so that no dissent within any community is allowed and so that humans do not disrupt the carefully planned structure.
The humans in this world have lost essentially all self determination. Confined to their own local communities their development is severely restricted. Ethical responsibility for this world lies with those who let their longing for a perfectly harmonious world cloud their judgment. If humanity is going to remain viable as an evolving species it can’t avoid the necessary dirty work of dealing with difficult situations.
For thoughts on other future worlds click here.