Cosmist Hugo : 21st century technologies will allow humanity to build godlike computers.
Terran Hugo : But you Cosmists are prepared to take the risk that these Artilects, these artificial intellects may one day decide that the human species is so inferior to them that they wipe us out. Think of the cost.
Cosmist Hugo : Ah, but think of the prize. These artilects could be trillions of trillions of trillions of times more intelligent than human beings. They could have virtually unlimited memory capacity, a huge number of sensors. They could go wherever they like, do whatever they like, be superb scientists, they would be gods.
Terran Hugo : But how can you accept the risk that they might wipe out the human species, billions of people. Youre mad! Youre a monster!
Cosmist Hugo : How do I persuade you? Maybe with a parable. Imagine an extraterrestrial with godlike technological powers comes to the earth 3 billion years ago. He sees only bacteria, the only form of life then. With his magical powers he changes the DNA in all the bacteria so that its impossible for them to form multicell creatures. Therefore, no plants, no animals, no humans, no Einsteins, no Beethoven's 9th. Do you really want to freeze the state of evolution at the (with disdain) human level?
The Real Hugo : People ask me, "What are you in reality, a Cosmist or a Terran?" For 10 years I sat on the fence, saying "On the one hand, on the other hand", presenting the cases of both the Terrans and the Cosmists. But my friends started to claim that I was a hypocrite, that I expected humanity to choose on this issue in the 21st century, the toughest decision that humanity will ever have to make, so I should too, so I did. Im a Cosmist. I think humanity should build artilects. However, Im not a fanatical Cosmist. I can see there are strong arguments on both sides. In fact I feel this issue is so fundamental that it will dominate global politics in the 21st century. I can put the issue rather succinctly in the form of a slogan -
"Do we build gods, or do we build our potential exterminators?"