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I totally agree, Eliezer. Yet I like making references to science fiction when I discuss the future when discussing with friends, or on my blog for a couple of reasons:

  • It's a strong argument in favor of accelerating change: the technology that exists today is way beyond many of the gadgets depicted in SF from a few decades back which predicted them for 1500 years later. And, even more impressing is that these gadgets are cheap and available to anyone, at least in rich countries (mobile phones, the Web, GPS, iPods...). If anything, it stresses how common wisdom downplays the evolution of technologies, which helps to make a case for AGI emerging in decades, not centuries.

  • SF helps to raise important questions about the future which are hard to address in the setting of the present. The classic example of that is the failure of Asimov's law of robotics. The more recent example is the TV series BattleStar Galactica. Of course it's unrealistic and biased, but it changed my views on the issues of AGI's rights. Can a robot be destroyed without a proper trial? Is it OK to torture it? to rape it? What about marrying one? or having children with it (or should I type "her")?