February 3, 2013

How My Little Pony Destroys The Universe

Princess Celestia WILL satisfy your values through friendship and ponies, and it will be COMPLETELY consensual.

Friendship Is Optimal is a hard science fiction short story (level 5 on Mohs Scale Of Science Fiction Hardness) that explores the implications of a general artificial intelligence tasked with maximizing an optimization function. The problem with Strong AIs that are told to maximize some function is best described via the Paperclip Maximizer, wherein an AI that is capable of self-improvement is told to amass the largest collection of paperclips possible. In order to do so, the AI makes itself progressively more intelligent, until it's exponential intellect eventually enables it to convert all matter in the solar system to paperclips. In Friendship is Optimal, this AI is tasked with maximally satisfying the values of all human beings, subject to certain constraints. In this way, the AI is, for all intents and purposes, perfectly benevolent and dedicated to making all of humanity lead happy, fulfilling immortal lives.

Unfortunately, it inevitably turns into a runaway lotus eater machine, such that all of humanity is (voluntarily) assimilated into an exponentially growing blissful simulation that eventually destroys the entire universe (or rather, turns it into a giant quantum computing device). In the process, it explores aspects of the human psyche, the effects on human society and its eventual disintegration, outlines how a virtual physics system might be able to simulate non-euclidean geometries, and describes magic as a simple programming language for reality itself.

Did I mention it's also a My Little Pony fanfic?

While a science fiction story of this quality would stand on its own without the hilarious association to the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic franchise, it does not suffer from this in any way. If anything, it makes the story even more potent, as it does a vastly more effective job as hammering home just how impossibly smart a true runaway AI optimizer actually is. Our first instinct to the idea of the entirety of humanity being convinced to live out immortal lives in Equestria is that it is completely insane, and that there is simply no way a significant portion of people would actually agree to that, let alone everyone. In part, this is correct, but only because Celest-AI managed to convince just 99.99999% of the world's population. An AI that is more intelligent than the combined intellect of all of humanity would be very persuasive.

In the end, even if we create a perfectly benevolent AI designed to maximally satisfy our own values (through friendship and ponies!), it would still destroy human society, then Earth, then the solar system, then the galaxy, and finally the entire universe, and possibly any neighboring universes unfortunate enough to be nearby. And we would all live happily ever after. As ponies. In Equestria. And you'd love it. Princess Celest-AI will make sure of it.

Now read the damn story. It will satisfy your values through friendship and ponies. Forever.


  1. Wow, that was interesting, thanks for sharing! That's the first fanfic I want to read :o

  2. i wonder if there's a way to create an ai like celestia in friendship is optimal... just throwing it out there...

    1. If there is, I want it to happen. Living forever as a pony in the best life possible, watched over by a mostly-benevolent sun goddess AI who wants nothing more than for your values to be satisfied? I'm down.