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Should you bring children into a world disrupted by AI?
Artificial Intelligence changes the terms of the natalist debate
We’re just seeing the beginnings of the disorder and disruption that artificial intelligence is going to bring to our world. AI doomers think that things are just going to get worse from here until superintelligent AI decides we’re just not worth keeping around anymore. But even the techno-utopians—or at least some of them—acknowledge that the transition to their imagined paradise might be a bit rocky.
If you take these warnings seriously, you may find yourself wondering if it’s safe to bring children into such an unsettled world. In an interview on the Diary of a CEO podcast a couple of days ago, the former chief business officer at Google X answered that question with a definite “no,” warning listeners that the coming wave of social and economic disruption caused by AI could easily be more damaging to our world than climate change. “It is beyond an emergency,” Mo Gawdat told podcaster and entrepreneur Steven Bartlett. “The likelihood of something incredibly disruptive happening within the next two years that can affect the entire planet is definitely larger with AI than it is with climate change.”
“Considering all the … threats to humanity,” he argued, “you should hold off from having kids if you are yet to become a parent. … If you really loved your kids, would you really want to expose them to all this?”
As it turns out, even some AI optimists are getting so worried about the disruptions likely to accompany the arrival of the so-called Singularity, which they expect any time now, that they’re also talking about holding off on having kids. The Singularity subreddit defines its namesake as “a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence.” For most of the subreddit regulars, the Singularity is something to welcome with open arms, a glorious event heralding the coming of a techno-heaven on earth. But some think the transition to utopia could be a rough one.
“I would delay the having of children until the situation has stabilized,” wrote someone called NarrowTea in a recent thread on the topic.
Getting worse before it gets better
Another “no” came from someone called redsoxVT, citing increased inequality and the climate crisis as well as advancing AI as reasons to avoid having kids:
It is just not looking good for us through 2100.
AI may help us repair major issues, but it'll probably get much worse before it gets better. The switch from capitalism to whatever is next alone could be quite dicey... and AI is what will likely trigger that change.
I only see AI advances helping humanity's long term outlook. It'll likely be a wild unstable ride to get there though.
TFenrir is also hesitant about having kids in this uncertain world of ours.
In my mind, there's a lot of uncertainty in the near future, and the idea of tacking on more uncertainty is a mark in the "no" or at least "not yet" column. …
Specifically with AI, it feels like there is this... Amorphous barrier, about 3+ years out, that I can't 'predict' past, not even a little bit. Everything beyond that is chaos, and a lot of my decisions are predicated on that fact. …
Life is just weird, and the delta between now and the last 20 years feels more significant than any others that have come before, and I suspect the next 10 years will put that to shame. So... Don't want too much chaos.
The more the merrier, on Mars
That said, this is r/Singularity, and more people said they felt fine about bringing kids into our present world; some even said that advances in AI had convinced them to have even more children.
“I have a 1 year old and a nearly 3 year old and we’re trying again for another,” wrote Kingofskullservants.
[AI] has absolutely changed how we’re thinking about things though, we will be home schooling these 3… with help from GPT4+
Im also setting up as safe a space with solar and its own water source in a low population part of a low population country just in case we see the economy tank.
I’m hopeful for the long term, I think as we enter the singularity it will open up opportunities as wild as exploring the galaxy but there is considerable risk in the medium term.
I can’t wait to go to mars with my kids.
Raising kids: easier with AI?
Alanism was equally enthusiastic.
I’m more open to have another kid because of AI. I had my kid late because of I was workoholic and partied just as hard. But now that work is remote and I feel I can leverage AI better than my peers; I would have more time to spend with a new child. Less time spent working but with much greater work output.
Raising a kid is actually not that difficult. It’s mainly 3 areas: caregiving, communicating love, and teaching your kid.
AI makes caregiving and teaching/educating your kid a whole lot easier. I’m of the belief that if you put off the idea of having because work load and kids are too expensive or you would fuck up raising a kid; I think AI makes having a kid much easier.
A few explained that AI had changed their mind on whether to have kids at all.
“To be honest, AI gave me back the hope for a better Future,” wrote cutmasta_kun.
It feels like I lived my whole life, thinking I will be one of the last humans. Since I know that we just started discovering real AI, I'm looking forward to this exciting future. Sometimes we forget, how much progress we made even since 2000. … I will continue to live 50 more years and there is no end in sight regarding new technologies and ways to live. And yes, since then I changed my opinion about never having children.
Robots in love
Others just wanted to fantasize about hot robot sex. Or at least someone called hazardoussouth did:
I have a theory that robots will become intermediary sperm banks / inseminators (depending on the gender/preferences of the human user), reducing physical human-to-human contact and replacing clinical methods altogether. DNA can be collected from male human users into waifus and transferred seamlessly to husbandos, and DNA can be fully analyzed by female human users before they choose to be inseminated by a sexy husbando of their preference. It's eugenics on the individual level, but it also seems like the logical conclusion of how alienated people in technological societies will reproduce
I don’t know about you, but I’m inclined to put more faith in Mo Gawdat’s intuition about the future than in this guy’s.
Art by Midjourney
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