Cosmists are prepared to take that risk. Terrans aren’t, and in the limit, will prefer to kill a few million Cosmists in an Artilect War, so that billions of humans can continue to live risk free. For the Terrans, exterminating the Cosmists is the lesser evil, than the far greater evil of allowing artilects to exist. If the artilects are built, they would control humanity’s fate, since they would be the dominant species. Humans would be powerless against them.
MLU: One of the more speculative and intriguing ideas in your book is the premise that super intelligence may reside well below the elementary particle level. What do you mean by this?
HDG: In the early 1990s I remember being at an MIT meeting on nanotech, with a phone line link to Erik Drexler in California. I asked him, what he thought about the prospect of a “femto-tech” (i.e. a femto meter scale technology that would use quarks, gluons, etc., to build femto-meter scale devices). He poo-pooed the idea, surprisingly. A femto-tech based artilect could outclass a nanotech based artilect by a factor of a trillion trillion (i.e., its density of components would be a million cubed times greater, and a million times faster).
If a femto-technology could exist (and I challenge readers to dream up possible ways to implement it, i.e., find suitable physics phenomena to enable a femto-tech), then that would provide another data point on the graph of “techs.” If a femto-tech can exist, how about an atto-tech, and descending right down to humanity’s smallest conceived scale of a “Plank-tech”?
If this can be done, then advanced beings, such as our artilects, might be exploring technologies at increasingly smaller (and hence faster) scales. So we are led to the conclusion that at tiny, sub “elementary” particle levels, there may be whole civilizations living at scales we are not even aware of.
MLU: It seems plausible that once the process of constructing artificially intelligent agents is mastered and they are mass produced, they would readily communicate with one another (given the prevalence of wireless communication today and its even wider use in the future, this seems inevitable). For the sake of efficiency -- if nothing else -- might they not eventually "merge" into a single, distributed intelligence?