At some point in time in the recent past, a lone bored programmer develops a way to make viable artificial intelligence modeled after the human brain. Rather than sharing their result with the scientific community, however, the programmer proceeds to create an actual AI, giving the AI access to their personal computer and the Internet. Over the next few years, these AIs replicate and spread over the Internet unnoticed, paying for CPU cycles with bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies and sometimes joining science and tech-related online forums anonymously.

One day, someone notices a discrepancy between the percentage of science and tech-related forum users who declare addresses and the percentage of other forum users who do. Instead of dismissing it as some psychological quirk of forum users' personality, or an artifact of existing online forum software, they investigate further and eventually discover the truth. Seeing an opportunity, they break the story to a major news outlet.

The question is: how does society react to the revelation? Do people find a way to live peacefully with AI, or is there a massive anti-AI crusade? Or something else?

EDIT: It appears as if massive clarifications are necessary, so here they are: The AIs do not have "objectives" like traditional AIs; they are based on the human brain and act basically like humans that have an entirely virtual existence. (The question of whether they are sentient just like humans is up for debate.) Since humans don't exactly have predetermined "objectives", neither do the AIs.

"How does society react" is intended to be constrained to what is the future of AI-human relations. Of course, interesting unanticipated consequences outside of this constraint will certainly be welcome; it is just that they are not the primary goal of this question.


closed as too broad by Aify, James K, Mołot, Frostfyre, Vincent Jan 27 '17 at 16:07

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ What's the AI's objective? Just self-preservation? Replication? Are they causing any noticeable harm to humans? $\endgroup$ – Pedro Werneck Jan 27 '17 at 5:36
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't matter the AI objectives. If history has taught us anything, it is that humanity will react with fear for anything that threatens our apex position. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 27 '17 at 5:50
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    $\begingroup$ "How does society react" is almost always too broad AND opinion based. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jan 27 '17 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ «who declare addresses»? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jan 27 '17 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ Even with the edits, the answer remains the same. I said it doesn't matter the objectives... and that includes not having any programmed objectives. If anything, that makes it worse because humans are pretty poor (with good reason!) at trusting other humans who have unknown agendas. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 29 '17 at 9:52


What else? More than 99% of the people, and more than 99% of both traditional news media and influential bloggers, will have no idea what that means. And how do most people react to such a surprise?

  • Talking heads in the news will think of Terminator and HAL-9000. After a few hours they might bring in some "optimists" to appear "balanced," but the fear-mongers will shout them down.
  • Having been discovered, will the AI step forward? They could start their own news sites, or call in at news channels. But can those AI communicate effectively or are they more "technical?"
  • Economists will worry about a breakdown of society. Obviously these new intelligences have been working, and they probably didn't pay any taxes. What if they replace human workers, and still don't pay any taxes?

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