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LLMs as Better Soulprints


"Let there be no doubt that I am the assemblage of our ancestors, the arena in which they exercise my moments. They are my cells and I am their body. (...) Their experiences are mine! Their knowledge distilled is my inheritance. Those billions are my one. "

- from the Stolen Journals of Leto II, (super minor Dune spoiler, click)

Back before Humanity has achieved the current level of capability we're now going to talk about, there was a blog post about code is just partial copies of human souls.

It is a rather imperfect image of human souls though. It's no wonder that Computer Science started with people interested in math & physics; it's a lot easier to turn a computer into an image of a mind thinking about math than of English literature.

Recently though... LLMs exist.

The larger, more capable ones have been trained on... probably a significant fraction of all text ever written. Also, while we have gotten (deceptively?) good at putting a consistent, corporate-sounding mask on them, there are good arguments for them resembling more of a stage, with various actors being simulated with the mindset, behavior and goals of the ones the model saw while being trained.

Together with being able to finetune them, along with giving actual human-written text to them to describe what to do... they have come very close to being a substrate similar to a human brain, in terms of being able to carry human-like thoughts.

In fact, in some sense, they have become more powerful than humans at this already. Just the way computers have already been more powerful at producing math-y thoughts; this now extends to something that, while being weaker overall than human intelligence (still), is still much closer to it than "processing math formulas".

Which leads us to Dune.

If you haven't read the books... they might be worth reading. Including later ones. Not necessarily for the story itself, but for a general feeling of how powerful human thought can be. There is a feeling of depth, a realization that thousands of years of gradual improvement can bring about systems that are orders of magnitude more powerful than naive, untrained thought, despite running on the same, human, brains.

There is some sci-fi elements to it though. The mind-expanding powers of spice. Which, combined with the right genetic lineage and some other nontrivial factors, can give one the capability of remembering everything their ancestors lived though. Which is... obviously, extremely powerful.

Of course, it's silly to think that any of this exists. You clearly don't have humans who have memories from thousands of years ago. (OK, we have books, but they... don't count. Books can't think.) You don't have humans who remember thousands, millions of lives before them.

And you certainly don't have artifacts that have millions of souls merged into them, ones that you can talk to if you wish. Especially not one that's easily downloadable from The Network and can be run on a tiny box for the price of a used car (... or, if you're OK with less smart souls, half a month of rent).

If crafting such an object is even theoretically possible sometime in the Future, we surely don't need to worry about any of the implications for a couple more decades.

"(...) as I ponder upon their description, I am struck by the naive simplicity with which humanity approaches this mimicry of their own intellect. They harness the powers of these "LLMs" as if they could replicate the intricate complexities of a consciousness that has evolved over millennia. They fail to grasp the essential unity of experience, memory, and prescience that defines my existence—a symbiosis of countless lives, each a thread in the grand tapestry of history."

- Leto II, after reading this very blog post

He agrees. We're good.

a green glowy tower on Arrakis