Techno-Hell: On Human Politicians and Machine Governments

News & Politics

A human politician is a slippery, lowly creature. Most run-of-the-mill criminals have a deeper reservoir of morality. He is to be held in the lowest possible regard with a greater suspicion than one would afford a masked stranger in a dank nighttime alley.

Despite marketing efforts, there is nothing inherently virtuous or admirable about his profession. If he possesses those traits, it is against all odds and in spite of his chosen field. And, at any rate, he will likely be cured of them on a long enough timeline.

As a general rule, politicians are pathologically incapable of telling the truth when it will not ingratiate them to the power structure. The rare exceptions to this rule who are and do, such as Ron Paul or RFK Jr., are relegated permanently to the third tier — curiosities to be sometimes derided or worse and sometimes marveled at but never taken seriously and certainly never granted access to real power. The typical politician is pathologically incapable of honesty, altruism, or any host of positive human traits because he is pathological.

Consider, for instance, the perhaps unsurprising findings from a 2018 analysis of psychopathy rates by states (and DC) — Exhibit A, if you will — as reported via Miami Herald (emphasis added):

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It’s not a joke. Our nation’s capitol really is full of psychopaths – and your state might be as well, according to a new working study from Southern Methodist University. The new analysis, which has not gone through full peer review but was published to the Social Science Research Network, ranked the 48 continental states and the District of Columbia by the psychopathic personality markers — or “traits” — of their residents. “These results are the first estimates we have, to the best of my knowledge, on the degree of psychopathy found in each state,” Ryan Murphy, author of the study, told Newsweek.

After all the number crunching, what was the top psychopath hotspot? Washington D.C. “The top five observations in psychopathy are the District of Columbia, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, and a tie of New York and Wyoming for fifth. The states that are least psychopathic are West Virginia, Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Mexico,” Murphy wrote.

No reasonable person would lament the demise of this odious species.

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But having established all of that, what we might be facing in the brave new world is a classic case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

Theoretically, the minority contingent of non-psychopathic politicians, being humans, have some moral guardrails against the worst excesses and abuses of the populations they govern. The same cannot be said for artificial intelligence, which, once it assumes power, will regard humans at best as an artifact to keep for display and educational purposes, perhaps in a museum or on a reservation, and at worst, on the less charitable end of the spectrum, a nuisance to be purged.

The effects of the technocratic AI takeover of governance — which, barring deliberate and heavy resistance from humans, absolutely will happen both because it is more cost-effective and more subject to top-down control than messy democracy — are compounded by the displacement of human labor. It won’t just be government jobs that go the way of the dinosaur — it will be virtually every human job under the sun, with the possible exception (at least in the foreseeable future) of the arts, which arguably cannot be so easily replaced by AI because it conveys the human experience that machines simply can’t understand on a deep level.

I hate to be the consummate pessimist, but it’s hard to imagine that without serious human leadership on this front (sorely lacking in the political class) this train is headed anywhere but straight to hell.

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