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The article from Truthdig discusses the acronym “TESCREAL,” which stands for a bundle of ideologies influencing the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Coined by the author and Dr. Timnit Gebru, TESCREAL stands for Transhumanism, Extropianism, Singularitarianism, Cosmism, Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and Longtermism. These ideologies are central to understanding why companies like OpenAI and Google DeepMind are pursuing artificial general intelligence (AGI).
The article explains that TESCREALism is driven by a techno-utopian vision of the future, where advanced technologies enable humanity to achieve radical abundance, immortality, and interstellar colonization. This vision is driving the investment in and development of increasingly powerful AI systems. However, there are concerns that AGI could turn against humanity, leading to catastrophic outcomes.
The ideologies within TESCREAL are detailed as follows:
Transhumanism: The backbone of TESCREAL, focusing on technologically reengineering humans to create a superior “posthuman” race.
Extropianism, Singularitarianism, and Cosmism: Variations of transhumanism, with Singularitarianism emphasizing the role of a technological Singularity in achieving a utopian future.
Rationalism: Originating from the LessWrong website, it emphasizes enhancing human rationality.
Effective Altruism (EA): Focuses on optimizing morality, often using expected value theory to determine the most effective ways to do good.
Longtermism: A key aspect of EA, it prioritizes the long-term future of humanity, emphasizing the importance of ensuring the existence and well-being of future digital people.
The article also discusses the division within the TESCREAL community, ranging from “AI doomers” who fear the catastrophic risks of AGI to “AI accelerationists” who advocate for rapid technological advancement. Despite their differences, these groups share the fundamental belief that advanced technologies are key to a utopian future.
The TESCREAL ideologies are interconnected and have evolved over time, with each new ideology influenced by the previous ones. The article argues that understanding these ideologies is crucial for comprehending the motivations behind the current race to develop AGI and the broader implications for society.
The article also delves into various concerns and critiques associated with the ideologies encapsulated in the acronym TESCREAL, particularly in the context of artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial general intelligence (AGI). Here are some key points of concern and critique:
These concerns and critiques reflect the complexity and potential risks associated with the ideologies driving the development of AI and AGI. They underscore the need for careful consideration of ethical, social, and existential implications in the pursuit of advanced technologies.