This paper explores the potential for skepticism about artificial superintelligence to be used as a tool for political ends. Superintelligence is AI that is much smarter than humans. Superintelligence does not currently exist, but it has been proposed that it could someday be built, with massive and potentially catastrophic consequences. There is substantial skepticism about superintelligence, including whether it will be built, whether it would be catastrophic, and whether it is worth current attention. To date, superintelligence skepticism appears to be mostly honest intellectual debate, though some of it may be politicized. This paper finds substantial potential for superintelligence skepticism to be (further) politicized, due mainly to the potential for major corporations to have a strong profit motive to downplay concerns about superintelligence and avoid government regulation. Furthermore, politicized superintelligence skepticism is likely to be quite successful, due to several factors including the inherent uncertainty of the topic and the abundance of skeptics. The paper’s analysis is based on characteristics of superintelligence and the broader AI sector, as well as the history and ongoing practice of politicized skepticism on other science and technology issues, including tobacco, global warming, and industrial chemicals. The paper contributes to literatures on politicized skepticism and superintelligence governance.
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