Artificial Wombs and National Clone Armies? (Ask AI)

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techstepgenr8tion
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24 Feb 2024, 6:21 pm

I had another question hit me with respect to sociology and in particular what the effects of artificial womb technology would be - not even at a public level but to the degree that governments around the world saw that technology as a military weapon used to make custom humans to subjugate their own populace or go out and conquer other nations. I know there's been some concerns that China might be playing with human genetics to make super-soldiers, no clue but then again it's scary enough to consider that there's no one there to stop them from doing that kind of thing.

Anyway, the question and response:


How much of a risk would artifical wombs pose for childbirth considering the potential use for making secret armies? My mind goes somewhat to the clones in Star Wars but... in a science fiction sense I get the concern that if such technology actually came to maturity - wouldn't there be a big risk of such a discovery being hidden by a government and, in the case of a totalitarian government, they might make an army of clones and raise them on government propaganda to then act a bit like the Iranian Republican Guard? While this is quite a scary idea I also get the sense that it's not a real high probability risk, but I want to ask then - what reasons, or what compexities, might I be intuitively sensing on this issue but not quite be able to put into speech? What I mean - is this low risk or is it higher risk than I think? I ask because, in a ruthless way, a totalitarian or even plutocratic and failing country would be making an optimal game theory move if they came to the conclusion that their populace wasn't stable enough to be a liberal democracy.


Artificial wombs and the potential risk for childbirth

The concept of artificial wombs, also known as extracorporeal fetal support systems, has been researched for several years. While the technology holds great potential for medical advancements, it also raises concerns about its potential misuse, particularly in the context of creating secret armies.

The development of artificial wombs could indeed pose a risk for childbirth in several ways:

Ethical concerns: The use of artificial wombs for creating armies of clones could raise significant ethical questions about the rights and well-being of the individuals created in this manner. It might lead to debates on the value of human life and the extent to which governments should be allowed to manipulate it.

Possible health risks: Artificial wombs are still in the experimental stage, and their long-term effects on the health and development of children are not yet fully understood. Introducing this technology on a large scale for creating armies could expose a significant number of individuals to potential health risks.

Social implications: The creation of an army of clones could lead to social unrest and fear among the general population, as they might perceive these clones as less human or as tools of the government. This could further destabilize societies and lead to increased mistrust between citizens and their governments.

Potential for abuse by totalitarian regimes: As you mentioned, a totalitarian government could use artificial wombs to create an army of clones raised on government propaganda, which could be a dangerous development for global stability.

However, it is essential to consider that the risk of such a scenario might not be as high as one might initially think. Some factors that might contribute to this lower risk include:

Technological challenges: Developing a fully functional and safe artificial womb system is a complex and challenging task. It requires overcoming numerous scientific and medical hurdles, which could take several decades to achieve.

International cooperation and regulation: The development and use of artificial wombs would likely be subject to international cooperation and regulation, as it could have significant implications for global security and human rights. This could help prevent the misuse of the technology by totalitarian regimes.

Public awareness and opposition: The potential misuse of artificial wombs for creating secret armies could lead to public awareness and opposition, which might deter governments from pursuing such a path.

Possible benefits outweighing risks: The potential benefits of artificial wombs, such as saving premature babies or helping infertile couples have children, might outweigh the risks associated with their misuse. This could lead to a more cautious and responsible approach to the development and application of the technology.

In conclusion, while the risk of artificial wombs being misused for creating secret armies cannot be entirely dismissed, it is likely not as high as one might initially think. The complexities and challenges involved in the development and application of the technology, as well as potential international cooperation and public awareness, could help mitigate the risks associated with this advancement.



TBH I'm a lot less optimistic that awareness-raising is as reliable as hidden costs, or comparative cost-benefit analysis where AI might be superior to making actual super-humans or trying to make clone armies. Where I do maybe believe in raising awareness is with people who are inventors, designers, or who can sort of mathematically pick at problems like that to figure out what kinds of otherwise helpful technology would also help to block that as a rational move.


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techstepgenr8tion
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24 Feb 2024, 7:07 pm

One thought that hit me on a walk a few minutes ago - artificial super soldiers would be really dangerous for a rogue regime. If you made an elite team of 30 or 40 such super soldiers, especially with IQ extended beyond normal human range, I'm pretty certain they'd fear that such a group would instantly disappear and overthrow the government unless they had such invasive technology, like Neuralink gone wrong, that could constantly monitor their minds for subversive thoughts and would automatically trigger a poison capsule planted in their bodies if they went rogue.

They'd probably need to engineer them to be below-average intelligence and very agreeable to power structures, smart enough to crowd control but not smart enough to fight back. That then limits their utility quite a bit and makes it an open question as to whether AI and robotics are more parsimonious or expedient for those purposes.

That's two suboptimal paths for the authoritarians with respect to human cloning. What I don't know for certain is whether they'd be able to pull the Neuralink total control and poison capsule game, that would be a nightmare and might kick off the kind of dystopia where there's zero freedom and everything's locked in that sort of relationship - ie. everyone's got a detonate trigger on the next person's poison capsule and if the top down command is ant-mill then that's what everyone does.


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25 Feb 2024, 12:14 am

Artificial wombs are a milestone for equality between men and woman.
Voices calling for women to return to the family have lost their legitimacy, whether from the state or the elders.The disintegration of the old family unit will lead to a greater focus on the human person.

As for the military, I can't imagine the impact that artificial wombs can have. Brain-computer interfaces and drones will have a bigger impact.


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techstepgenr8tion
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25 Feb 2024, 1:44 am

belijojo wrote:
Artificial wombs are a milestone for equality between men and woman.
Voices calling for women to return to the family have lost their legitimacy, whether from the state or the elders.The disintegration of the old family unit will lead to a greater focus on the human person.

As for the military, I can't imagine the impact that artificial wombs can have. Brain-computer interfaces and drones will have a bigger impact.

They clearly have an upside - like neurodivergent or misunderstood men who want to be fathers and have the stability but no partner, it has huge potential benefit for breaking that blockade on procreation. Like anything this close to the core purpose of bodies though it's a double-edged sword and I was considering a darker angle that I don't think I've heard anyone bring up to date.

While I'd think they're less practical in most cases, like a small armed robot with a smaller profile than a human or one that can fly and shoot is more difficult to deal with than a strictly humanoid robot, a humanoid robot would be more of a psychological symbol of power and potentially oppression. The question might be whether there are still things that humans aiding AI might be better at than AI alone and we might want to have humans in that decision loop and we might want to even augment the intelligence of those humans but it's an open question whether you'd ever want those to be clones or otherwise enhanced humans without liberty, it's giving them a lot of power.


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25 Feb 2024, 2:06 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
The question might be whether there are still things that humans aiding AI might be better at than AI alone and we might want to have humans in that decision loop and we might want to even augment the intelligence of those humans but it's an open question whether you'd ever want those to be clones or otherwise enhanced humans without liberty.

What a long sentence!

Now people have used laws and bureaucracies to manage society.What ai will replace is a bureaucratic system.The legislature should be firmly in the hands of man.And that's the only way.

Your concern is justified.But I think worrying about ai oppressing humans is like worrying about a digger strike.It is more important to ensure that Ai is in the hands of people who are willing to serve humanity


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25 Feb 2024, 12:49 pm

belijojo wrote:
Your concern is justified.But I think worrying about ai oppressing humans is like worrying about a digger strike.It is more important to ensure that Ai is in the hands of people who are willing to serve humanity

It is and will be in both the hands of people who want to see a better world and in the hands of people who'd rip all the biomass and value up and try to stuff it in their pocket. Hopefully the former wins out because if the later does it's either dystopia or extinction given that they're not great at thinking of anything past themselves including secondary and tertiary consequences.


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26 Feb 2024, 2:46 pm

Some would say certain governments are already covertly experimenting with AWs...



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27 Feb 2024, 3:53 pm

Artificial wombs are a huge technological leap that we're currently nowhere near to.

Genetic editing to select for "super soldiers" is also something we're currently nowhere near to. We have no idea at all what makes for a "super soldier", and they'd still be within the bounds of normal soldiers.

And of course, getting a human out of a womb is far from the end of the story. You have to raise the human, which is going to be difficult to do, especially if you're trying to keep the whole thing a secret. This is probably more important than genetics, frankly, and it would take a long time to know whether you'd screwed up.

If I was advising a military with genuine long-term vision, then I wouldn't say to put a load of resources into this. Much cheaper and quicker to build drones.

There are only two countries who could really attempt it, and you'd still have to wait at least 50 years to see any benefit, probably much more. Think about what US foreign policy was like 50 years ago, or Chinese foreign policy. Who is going to support such a research project?

The time to start worrying about artificial wombs being used for armies is when we actually have artificial wombs. That's the point when militaries might actually start thinking about their applications. Right now, they aren't.



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27 Feb 2024, 10:36 pm

^^

They're apparently doing artificial wombs with mice already, the distance to using it for humans at a public level would probably be delayed more than anything else for extended safety testing and ethics discussions. I'm less concerned though with whether or not it's an issue that'll hit this year or next, pretty sure it (artificial wombs) will hit in our lifetimes. The tricky part is that even insiders can't really predict how much AGI will speed things up a bit like they aren't sure when ASI will show up either and I've heard some people say that ASI could follow AGI within a year or two. While I don't need to bet on artificial wombs being within five years - I can't rule that out either.


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28 Feb 2024, 9:33 am

We can gestate a mouse embryo for 11 days, half its natural gestation. My educated guess is that the second half is harder, not easier - and there is a big leap from a 22-day gestation to a nine-month gestation.

AI isn't just going to be able to conjure up new knowledge, at least not genuine knowledge. It might be better at interpreting very large amounts of data, but that isn't likely to lead to immediate technological leaps. And while AI is progressing faster than most of us expected, fair to say it's a long way off AGI standards still and the barriers to further progression are clearer than ever.



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29 Feb 2024, 9:26 am

Depends what kind of data. LLM's, as you've mentioned, do better at aggregating what's already there. Something like AlphaFold? Different scenario but also different kind of program. I think it'll depend on the overall synergy of products that do different things. Some will excavate and discover via crunching info from data oracles and AI modeling while others trawl peer-reviewed journals of new salient items. As I said earlier I think there's enough multipliers where intuition either way may not be all that helpful and with as many multipliers on the table it's probably happening sooner than we'd expect - how much sooner though is open for debate.


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