“Sorry to tell you, but there are no aliens,” said the intelligence analyst.
“The Tic Tac videos, balloons, UFOs – they’re not aliens,” he said. “We’re all alone here, it’s just us.”
For those of us who read Cixin Liu, China’s brilliant Sci-Fi author, the notion that we are alone is extremely comforting. Cixin turned me onto the Dark Forest hypothesis, which postulates that while there may be many alien civilizations out there, we see no sign of them because they are silent and paranoid, lest they alert others to their existence and invite invasion, annihilation.
“What we see is our next generation military technology,” continued the intelligence analyst.
“We all see what the Ukrainians did to Russia’s military using battlefield technology that we would generally consider obsolete relative to our state of the art,” he said. “But America’s actual state of the art is one or two generations ahead of what the public sees today,” he said, which was simultaneously comforting and terrifying.
“It is not in our interest to show our adversaries how far advanced our capabilities have grown.”
“Look carefully at this chart,” said the technology investor.
It was the kind of curve I’ve seen often, an upward sloping trend that accelerates through time. On the vertical axis was the computing power used to train artificial intelligence systems. The horizontal axis was time, going back to the early 1950s. “I know you’re thinking you’ve seen this kind of chart before, it’s a classic hockey stick. But here’s the thing, it’s a logarithmic chart, it should not curve upward. This kind of growth is almost impossible for the human brain to comprehend.”
ChatGPT has had the steepest adoption of any technology in history. It hit 1mm users in five days. Within 2mths, it crossed 100mm users. It is estimated to have 1bln users by the end of the year. It is a remarkable technology, and while we can have no certainty about how it will change the world, there is no doubt that the arc of its influence is only just starting. Governments will lag far behind in regulating it. We don’t yet know what will happen when it gets connected to the internet. And ChatGPT is 2-3 generations behind state-of-the-art AI.
“Time is the one thing that can’t be stopped. Like a sharp blade, it silently cuts through hard and soft, constantly advancing. Nothing is capable of jolting it even the slightest bit, but it changes everything,” wrote Cixin Liu, in The Dark Forest. “Staying alive is not enough to guarantee survival. Development is the best way to ensure survival,” said Cixin. “Do you know what the greatest expression of regard for a race or civilization is? Annihilation. That’s the highest respect a civilization can receive. They would only feel threatened by a civilization they truly respect.”