Thinking about LLMs, it's hard to not get flashing glimpses of the potential doom we are facing. In the brief and hazy visions of the future, our societies and economies are ripped apart and reordered uncountable many times. The changes happen so violently and so incredibly fast that the eyes overwatching the history of humankind are likely to miss it all if they just do as much as blink.
But maybe something much worse happens - nothing changes. We stagnate. The capabilities we have today, end up being what, very roughly, we have in 5o years. We build incrementally better tools, some jobs are lost, and some are gained, however, on the cosmic scale, humanity's trajectory doesn't move by more than a couple of inches.
In other, less kind words, we continue to sentence every single one of the 8 billion people to certain death. For some, this may be at the age of 120, but death nonetheless.
In this stagnation scenario, we accept that we never get to answer the hard question of consciousness. We accept that half of the short lives we do have will be spent sleeping (not too bad) and that a third of our non-sleeping lives will be lost at work without the choice to do otherwise (not great). And that's just for the lucky ones.
Admittedly, that's an overly depressing picture of life. Life can be great. But do not let that one short sentence of positivity mellow down your fighting spirit. Remember, unless we change something, You will die, I will die, and our loved ones will die too. We will live exerting ourselves, stumbling and fumbling, trying to be better, and then one day we will just die. And we will be ripped away mid-sentence too, we will not get to dot the I's and cross the T's.
So now, as we decide how to proceed at the crossroads, do not forget: fire was not given easily to humanity, it had to be stolen for us.