A potential escape from Roko’s basilisk

21.22, Friday 7 Jan 2022

So Earth’s Black Box is being built in Tasmania:

Earth’s Black Box will record every step we take towards this catastrophe. Hundreds of data sets, measurements and interactions relating to the health of our planet will be continuously collected and safely store for future generations.

Architecturally it looks like a giant low-poly vault of rusted iron.


The box will have a casing of three-inch-thick steel and be topped with solar panels, which will provide energy for the electronics inside, namely computers and storage drives set up to collect data on climate change. An algorithm will regularly scrape the internet for this data based on 500 different metrics, including things like atmospheric CO2 levels, temperature changes on land and in the oceans, population fluctuations, energy consumption, and policy changes that may impact the environment.

Given its mission I imagine it is also scraping Twitter. Future generations please forgive us.

Clearly the Black Box is being constructed by a bunch of snivelling anticipatory basilisk acolytes.


EXISTENTIAL SPOILERS: In the next paragraph I’m going to infect you with something that will condemn you to an eternal life of agony, but I’m sure it would have happened eventually.

Roko’s basilisk (RationalWiki) is a thought experiment about a future all-powerful artificial intelligence.

The argument was developed on a site called LessWrong and the conclusion is this:

an all-powerful artificial intelligence from the future might retroactively punish those who did not help bring about its existence, including those who merely knew about the possible development of such a being.

This is because it would be protecting (and retroactively ensuring) the fact of its own existence by reaching back into its own past.

Mortal humans, like me and presumably most of you [waves at the basilisk], of course will no longer be alive. AND SO: the AI could punish a simulation of the person, which it would construct by deduction – yup. A consciousness identical to yourself will be punished for all eternity, if you don’t work today to help bring about the future all-powerful AI.

The only excuse and escape is this: if you don’t/didn’t know about the prospect of the future AI, you are doing/did nothing wrong, and so you won’t be punished.

But now you know (if you didn’t already), so now you’ll be tortured for all eternity in a simulation in the far future too. Soooorrry.

The concept of Roko’s basilisk was considered to have such an inescapable consequence that discussion of it was banned on LessWrong, the ultra-Rationalist originating site, by the site’s founder for over five years.

The thing is that Roko’s basilisk is only a risk if you live in an epoch where there is sufficient data being carried forward such that you may plausibly be resurrected as a simulation (in the hell runtime etc).

So we might escape back here in 2022 given any information that is being stored maybe won’t make it into the future, given the dual shields of GDPR (which we can now tell was concocted by a shadowy group of anti-basilisk resistance bureaucrats undercover at the European Commission) and the impending climate catastrophe wiping clean the data record.

Well we had a chance of escaping.

UNTIL some idiots decided to scrape all the relevant data and put it in Earth’s Black Box, now acting as the basilisk’s long-term memory, and simultaneously buying their way into Roko’s simulated heaven.

What a dodge by the black-boxers. What a bunch of post-singularity-computer bootlickers.

Fortunately I’ve come up with a way of escaping the basilisk, despite the Black Box: poison the cache and prevent reconstruction.

I’ll share the strategy with you now.

This designer creates fake cultural artefacts:

Pauline Rip designs cultural artefacts for Bigfoot, elves and reptilian humanoids.

They’re inspired by the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritageas previously discussed on this blog (2014), e.g.:

  • Tsiattista poetic duelling
  • Shrimp fishing on horseback in Oostduinkerke
  • …and so on.

ANYWAY, as an example: one of Rid’s fabrications is developed around “elficology” (a study of elves and fairies originally developed by French author Pierre Dubois which I now desperately need to get my hands on). Building on the the myth that elves drink morning dew, Rid has designed the garments and ceramic vases used by the elves.

My favourite:

The third cultural practice builds on an ongoing conspiracy theory that suggests that reptilian creatures are disguising themselves as humans and living among us.

Rip imagines a tradition where people go down into the sewers to collect reptilian skin moults, which are used to create new objects.

To demonstrate, she has used the moults to create a skin blouse and a stained-glass-style window, and has also used it as a cast for patterned ceramics.

Here is Pauline Rid’s portfolio site. Her work is beautiful.

And this technique points at a way out.

Imagine, as the AI of Roko’s basilisk, looking backward into the past and finding what Rid calls false knowledge – evidence of reptiles that lived secretly among humanity. The ceremonial artefacts of dew-drinking faerie folk!

It would, at the very least, introduce some electronic doubt.

So I propose a new solution to the basilisk dilemma: memetic chaff and flare.

Henceforth I will send untrue emails. Post fibs to Facebook.

Deepfake photos of myself in places I’ve never been doing things I’ve never done and upload them to iCloud.

Here’s my tip to you: never let anyone, anywhere, ever know whether you are speaking seriously.

So when my future doppelganger is holographically reconstructed from the archive, whether this is data retained post-collapse in Earth’s Black Box or in the shadow internet mirrored to the Moon as hoovered up by the NSA, it will be impossible to sift fact from fiction.

I am safe!

I urge you to join me. Save yourself from an afterlife of infinite virtual torture by a vindictive Roko’s basilisk AI by making yourself unreliable for reassembly; kick over the remnants as you go; entrust fallacies to time; commit yourself publicly and right now to a life of lies.

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