The Fable of the Two-Headed Dragon-Tyrant and the UBI Missile
The following short story is an adaptation of The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant by Nick Bostrom, written by GPT-4 with my prompting (and light editing) in response to the open letter calling for a pause on the development of GPT-5.
Once upon a time, in a prosperous kingdom, there lived a fearsome two-headed dragon that cast a dark shadow over the land. One head represented Poverty, and the other represented the Toil of Labor. This monstrous creature not only devoured opportunities and kept countless citizens in a perpetual state of suffering and despair, but it also forced them to engage in endless, unnecessary work that drained their spirits and left little time for their passions.
The King, having seen the hardships faced by his subjects, decided to consult the kingdom's Wise Council. They proposed various solutions to alleviate the suffering and lighten the burden of labor, but none seemed to have a lasting impact. People continued to struggle, and the dual grip of Poverty and Toil on the kingdom remained strong.
One day, a group of brilliant Scientists who specialized in Artificial Intelligence came to the King with a bold proposal. They had been researching and developing an idea that they believed could vanquish the two-headed dragon once and for all. This revolutionary concept was called Universal Basic Income (UBI), and it promised to provide every citizen with a financial floor, ensuring a minimum standard of living for all while liberating them from the shackles of unnecessary work.
The Scientists explained that UBI should be thought of as a dividend made possible by AI, and that as technology continued to advance, the UBI should grow. They revealed that the kingdom was home to magical trees that grew money, which could be used to fund the UBI. The key to unlocking this magic was a technology inside the missile called Generative AI, which would greatly increase the supply of goods and services across the land, but also reduce the ability of people to buy those goods and services by reducing their incomes. By combining UBI and AI, both heads of the dragon could be severed at once, which they hypothesized would be the killing blow.
The King, intrigued by the potential of this idea, granted the Scientists the resources they needed to develop their project, which they called "The UBI Missile."
As the Scientists toiled away, word of their endeavors spread throughout the kingdom. Many were skeptical, fearing that the UBI Missile could not deliver on its promises. They argued that it would lead to laziness, a lack of motivation, or even the collapse of the kingdom's economy.
A group of concerned townspeople, wary of the potential dangers of AI development and testing, banded together to voice their fears. They drafted an open letter, proposing a six-month pause in the development and launch of the AI-armed UBI Missile and posted it in the town square. They hoped that this period would allow for more thorough assessments of the missile's potential risks and offer a chance for safer alternatives to be explored.
One particularly vocal townsperson, whose family had suffered greatly under the dragon's oppressive reign, passionately argued against the proposed delay. He pointed out the dire consequences of inaction, saying, "By delaying the launch of the UBI Missile, we would be consigning six months-worth more people to their deaths and unnecessary suffering at the hands of Poverty and the Toil of Labor. We cannot let our fear of the unknown paralyze us when there is a chance to bring relief and hope to those who need it most."
The King, aware of the growing tensions, convened his Wise Council to weigh the merits of the townspeople's concerns and the potential consequences of delaying the UBI Missile's launch. After days of deliberation, the Wise Council concluded that while caution was important, the urgency of the situation demanded action. They recognized the potential dangers of AI development and testing but believed that the Scientists had taken necessary precautions to ensure its safety.
With the King's unwavering support, the Scientists resumed their work, eventually bringing their groundbreaking project to fruition. The UBI Missile, forged from the powerful Generative AI technology and powered by the kingdom's magical trees, was launched, and its impact was felt throughout the kingdom. With a sudden influx of financial security, the citizens found themselves better equipped to face the challenges of life. The two-headed Dragon of Poverty and the Toil of Labor, once an insurmountable force, began to wither and weaken.
As the Dragon's grip on the kingdom faded away, people were liberated from unnecessary work and found the freedom to explore, discover, and pursue their passions. The UBI unleashed a wave of creativity and innovation, benefiting everyone in the kingdom. New businesses, inventions, and ideas flourished, enriching the lives of the citizens and making the kingdom even more prosperous.
One day, a wise elder from the kingdom approached the King and expressed regret for not having slain the dragon sooner. "For generations, we have allowed the dragon to wreak havoc on our people, accepting its presence as a normal part of life," the elder lamented. "If only we had found the courage to act earlier, countless lives could have been saved from the clutches of Poverty and the Toil of Labor."
The King acknowledged the elder's words but reminded him that the kingdom had finally taken the necessary steps to liberate its people. "We have learned from our past, and now we must look towards a brighter future," the King said. "Together, we have vanquished the dragon, and we must ensure that it never returns to torment our people again."
As the years passed, the kingdom continued to thrive. The UBI, powered by the Generative AI and the magical trees, brought stability and prosperity to every citizen. People were now free to pursue the work that was most important to them and most valuable to their towns, ensuring that the kingdom remained a beacon of hope and progress.
And so, the legacy of the UBI Missile and the defeat of the two-headed dragon of Poverty and the Toil of Labor lived on, serving as a reminder to all that the power of innovation, courage, and unity can overcome even the most daunting challenges.
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