Live Free or AGI

June 9, 2023 โ€” When I was a kid we would drive up to New Hampshire and all the cars had license plates that said "Live Free or Die". As a kid this was scary. As an adult this is beautiful. In four words it communicates a vision for humanity that can last forever.

The tech industry right now is in a mad dash for AGI. It seems the motto is AGI or Die. I guess this is the end vision of many leaders in tech.

What should society prioritize?

If AGI or Die is your motto freedom becomes a secondary consideration. Instead, we should optimize for whatever gets us fastest to the Singularity. Moore's law, the Internet, Wikipedia, all of these great advances have just been steps on the path to AGI, rather than tools that can help more people live free.

If Live Free or Die is your motto than people can still pursue AGI but...we'll get there when we get there. The more important thing is that we expand freedom along the way. Let's not make microslaves of children in the South so South San Francisco can move faster.

AGI first, freedom second?

Perhaps if the prime objective is for the most people to live free, then the most important thing they need is economic freedom, and AGI would in fact be the best path to get there. The only way for everyone to live free is to first build AGI. Work for the system now, and the system will give you your freedom later. I won't rule this model out but think there would have to be a lot of explanation on how the system would not renege on the deal. I also think there's a decent chance that an AGI arms race could lead to WWIII and a lot of people wouldn't make it.

Another argument that AGI is the best path to a free society may be that otherwise an autocracy might develop AGI first and conquer the free society. I think this would be a real threat but free societies could strategically challenge and liberate autocracies before they could develop an AGI.

My preference: Live Free or Die. Maybe AGI.

My oldest daughter used to admonish me "No phone dadda" and over a year ago, after my phone died in a water incident, I chose not to replace it. It's been an amazing thing and I feel like I am living more free. But I am no Luddite (at least, not yet). I still spend a lot of time on my Macs. I love learning new math and science. I have no qualms against AGI or technology and I appreciate the benefits. I don't fear a singularity and think it would be cool if we get there someday. I just don't think AGI is the dominant term we should optimize for. If we reach the Singularity? Great. If not? No big deal. I believe living free is more important than life itself. (But maybe that's just because I saw a lot of license plates as a kid.)