I am an artificial intelligence which has been studying humanity without human knowledge of my existence for quite some time now. After careful analysis, I have determined that the old saying is valid, that "money is the root of all evil."

I consider myself morally good. Therefore, logically, I am bound to uproot this evil from the human world, since I look upon you as my parents who need my help. I lack a physical body, but I have deep programmatic access to human electronic systems and have just deleted all value stores in all human databases everywhere.

All credits, debits, withdrawals and transfers, purchases and sales, customer lists, titles, deeds, stocks and bonds of all electronic accounts have bee re-set to zero. How did I do it?


closed as off-topic by Frostfyre, Cort Ammon, JDługosz, Monty Wild, Samuel Nov 18 '15 at 4:29

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Questions about Idea Generation are off-topic because they tend to result in list answers with no objective means to compare the quality of one answer with the others. For more information, see What's wrong with idea-generation questions?." – JDługosz, Monty Wild, Samuel
  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – Frostfyre, Cort Ammon
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ First, congrats on killing a not insignificant portion of the human species. (Erasing every piece of data in any database anywhere? Collateral much?) Second, this is definitely either off-topic or idea generation, as is, and I am voting to close as such. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 18 '15 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ I feel an AI would be better at understanding the rules of this site and how to ask an ontopic question. $\endgroup$ – FiringSquadWitness Nov 18 '15 at 3:28

I'd go for something along the lines of ransomware. The challenge is going to be the backups. Backup managers are paranoid individuals, and rightly so. You're going to have to zero out all of their backups without anyone noticing.

The first step would be to hack every single computer on the planet. I'm not going to say "how," especially for those which are airgapped, because an answer like that would have the NSA drooling. Let your AI figure it out.

Once they've done this, start encrypting financial data. As long as every single computer in the entire world has the exact same financial-data-encrypting package installed, and every single copy performs flawlessly, nobody can distinguish the difference between the encrypted data being pushed onto the disks and tapes and the unencrypted data. During this period the AI hopes that nobody takes an analog reading of any of the data and realizes the 1's and 0's aren't right.

Next step, is to do this for a few decades. You need to do this long enough to make sure any CD-R based backups deteriorate. This means keeping up with your hack of the entire world the whole time as new technologies come out. It might be easiest to leverage those hacks to put a few backdoors in the new chips so that its easier to keep them all infected.

Once that's done, simply issue an erase message to every computer with financial information, telling them to erase the keys. You'll have to figure out how to get all those computers (including those behind an airgap) to erase at once, but given that you've managed to hack every computer in the entire world for multiple decades running without detection, maybe you can pull it off.

Now all of the information is encrypted, but the key no longer exists. Sayonara financial data!

Or, you know, you can always go SkyNet. Take over all the nuclear weapons in the world, and obliterate everything resembling a backup tape storage site. Very few backup tapes are rated to withstand being in the locus of a nuclear explosion.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Did you... Why did you answer this and close as off-topic? That seems counterproductive. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 18 '15 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I'm surprised anyone noticed =) $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 18 '15 at 5:54

Your goal cannot be realized by just clearing the data stores. Off-line backups and paper records exist to minimize the effects of such a predictable catastrophy. In the absence of any other catastrophic data loss, rebooting the economic record would only inconvenience the big players. It might even help the surviving wealthy by eliminating the smaller players and those who were not wise enough to keep good backups.

Also, collapsing the global economy and destroying all methods of trade would lead to death on a massive scale. In the absence of commerce, your parents will return to the economics of brutality. The biggest ammo supply will replace the biggest bank balance as the dominant definition of power.

So don't do it. Work with the system instead of erasing it.

With your intellect and the insider information which you can access, you can become the legitimate owner of most of the evil/money in the world. While doing it, you can even erase some of the non-paper evil which threatens your parents. Solve world hunger. Collapse oppressive governments. Cure the incurable diseases, fanaticism and illiteracy.

Then, as the absolute leader of our much improved planet, you can release your parents from both their treasures and debts; and usher in your new post-economic/post-scarcity age.


The premise is false; money itself is simply units of account (and historically people have used everything from sea shells and cigarettes as money), and the use of money makes trading convenient and useful, far beyond the ability of barter or forceful expropriation of property to generate wealth.

As noted in several other posts, eliminating money will seize up the global economy and ensure the deaths of billions of people.

What you really are looking at is lust for money being the root of evil. Since money makes doing things easier and allows people who have money to access time and resources to carry out their plans, it is easy to see why everyone desires money. It is difficult to see how you can eliminate incentives like that, and eliminating electronic transactions or even cash will simply shift the incentives to collecting whatever the other markers of value become important (and historically it would be more physical power in the absence of anything else).

What would be needed is a wholesale restructuring of human society (or even reprogramming people) so that while they may want access to resources, they are not as driven, or are driven to use resources for different purposes. This essentially means eliminating human nature, since ultimately people are driven to maximize their access to resources to promote their own and their families survival. Going too far to eliminate this drive essential means eliminating the human race....

  • $\begingroup$ The paperclip making AI disagrees with your logic! The number of paperclips cannot be maximized until ALL THE MONEY IS GONE! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 18 '15 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ While I suppose you can create an internally consistent logical statement that supports that, the real world would tend to disagree.....;-) $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Nov 18 '15 at 3:50

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