Game: Paperclips

Time to Play: 6 Hours (to complete)

Yes, I know most of the games on here should be short experiences. However, it’s a Sunday, and this game is worth the time you invest in to it. Also, the game is an idle game, so you can leave it running in another browser window whilst you do your cleaning or something.

Paperclips was inspired by a famous thought experiment about AI. In 2003, Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed a theory about the unwavering nature of Artificial Intelligence systems. His experiment was designed to examine the existential risk that AI could have on the human race, if the human race were not sufficiently programmed into that AI’s programming. He uses the relatively trite concept of a paperclip making machine to nail home his point.

Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paper clips as possible. The AI will realize quickly that it would be much better if there were no humans because humans might decide to switch it off. Because if humans do so, there would be fewer paper clips. Also, human bodies contain a lot of atoms that could be made into paper clips. The future that the AI would be trying to gear towards would be one in which there were a lot of paper clips but no humans.

 Nick Bostrom, “Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence”, 2003

So, in essence Bostrom is proposing a Skynet-like monster, who’s only goal is to create more paperclips. Regardless of anything else.

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What on earth does this have to do with the game? Well, no spoilers, but it’s your job to make some paperclips.

There is an ending to this game too, it’s not just a game that goes on forever and ever. Good luck reaching it! If you do, let’s chat below.

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Questions:

- Idle games; yay or nay?

- Towards the end of the game, there’s a very important decision to make. Which did you choose?

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- Will Skynet really take over one day?