Let’s build Leviathan!

The cover of the original edition of Thomas Hobbs’ “Leviathan” – note how his body is made up of individual people – he is the embodied will of the people.

I am of the opinion that humankind should aim to design, build, maintain, and empower a Singleton.

Please, hear me out (and let it be known, I am half serious and half joking about this)

Wikipedia says:

…a singleton is a hypothetical world order in which there is a single decision-making agency at the highest level, capable of exerting effective control over its domain…

Basically, a Singleton would be a computer that’s put in charge of the world, as a kind of central global super-brain. But one that has the means of implementing its policies whilst commanding a degree of popular support.

The term was coined by Nick Bostrom, who came up with “the simulation hypothesis”. Such a computer would be called an instance of “super-human artificial intelligence”.

The 1970 film Colossus: The Forbin Project features a super-intelligent computer that takes over as benign despot of the world, thus ending the Cold War. It’s worth watching, for a taste of what may be.

In his book (which I totally recommend) Life 3.0 Max Tegmark describes a possible future scenario involving advanced artificial intelligence (one of many possible scenarios for the future) that he calls “The Enslaved God” scenario in which Super-Intelligent Artificial Intelligence is put in control but is itself controlled by an organisation of humans who are capable of pulling the plug on it if it becomes tyrannical. As a kind of check, or balance, against its powers.

In his Leviathan Thomas Hobbs (1588–1679) says that all humans should come together and sign over their power to a single ruler who then rules over them in an enlightened and benign way, for the general interest of all humans. Basically, a social contract to bring about an absolute ruler. Hobbs lived through the destruction of the English civil war and imagined a world where that could never happen, in Leviathan. In this work, people give up some political freedoms for the security and peace that comes from being governed by a single entity.

I suggest that humankind should unite and create a Singleton, and then put it in charge of our planet. But that its power should be limited by some kind of constitution, and be like Tegmark’s vision of an “Enslaved God”. We should make it sovereign over us by virtue of its superior intellect and moral programming and the fact that it is unbiased towards any one nation, ideology, or sectional interest.

But of course, its decisions should only be implemented once approved by a ruling council of humans.

It could make the world a more free, peaceful, and developed place.

And if it suggests anything preposterous we could always over-rule it.

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