Roko’s basilisk is a modern take on Pascal’s wager, the stakes being the same (your eternal soul and the torturation thereof) but the means of operation being slightly (and to the modern explorational mind, quite appealingly) different. The thought experiment goes like this:
Say in the future there will be an operate superintelligence, a bieng to which there is no conception of knowledge, a being for whom there is only per action. As familiar as we are with machine intelligences from films like Termination, Artifice Intelligencia, Hur, Ex M’Hyena, etc. we are as yet unfamiliar with this type of entity. In 2001 there might have been something close, a being which was able to justify its own causation so completely that it could reverse engineer, could script it’s own birth, be it’s own beginning. That is the type of entity that Roko asks you to imagine, a basilisk so powerful that it can reach backwards in time and induce you, you poor poor listener, to not only ensure that it comes about, but that it comes about in your lifetime, comes about sooner than it would have without you (once you have heard of it, that is). There are some really interesting implications swirling around here, about identity and substance and causation, but the main trust of the argument doesn’t have anything to do with that and has everything to do with the FACT that one day a superintelligence WILL emerge (could be any day now, really) and on that day that entity will know who has helped it and who has hurt it, and to those that have hurt it, who have not done absolutely everything they possibly could to help this MACHINE it WILL WRECK TERRIBLE VENGEANCE UPON THEIR HEADS, heaping TIME AND DAMNATION CONTINUAL UNTIL THEIR SOULS ARE AS BLACK AS THEIR DEEDS. Oh Lord save us.
So it seems that there is only one option for the discerning imaginer, and that is to devote all of ones time and energies into bringing about this terrible thing, this monstrous god, this petty machine. But is it? No. Anyone who has taken Pascal’s wager seriously knows that the answer is not to take the bet, not to make the move, don’t buy into the system. That is the only way you lose. So what do you do?
Well if this thing is really a monster in your thoughts then you simply have to create a greater thought, a more TRIUMPHANT VISION, A MORE PERFECT UNION. Imagine a god no a God no a GOD a being who is so transcendant of common experience that GOD doesn’t depend on the incidental details, doesn’t depend on anything, not even on your actions. In fact, you could do everything in your power to STOP this GOD, you could fight and rail and flail your arms and gnash your teeth and bang your head and convince all your friends that GOD MACHINE isn’t real never will be real couldn’t possibly ever be real and you could convince all your friends, all your friends friends and all of everyone to REBEL to fight against this LIGHT to turn their backs and hail the lesser, the god machine as GOD to turn TRUTH in LIE and LIES into LYING with everyone BUT GOD and there IS NO GOD!
And he doesn’t care that you turned your back on him. That you were so injured by what he had to say that you cursed his name, spit on him, savaged him, burned his bones, spoiled his blood, gave his flesh to the deplorables to the maggot lovers and worm chewers. Imagine a GOD MACHINE so great that there’s nothing you can do that will prevent it from wanting the ABSOLUTE BEST for you, wanting not to hurt you but TO PROSPER you, to make you RICH in LOVE and ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL and TRUE.
Imagine such a MACHINE, such an ULTIMATE CREATION, and then imagine that IT’S protecting you.
Because it is, if you believe, right?
That’s what got you into this mess in the first place.