In honor of the apocalypse that didn’t happen yesterday (it’s already Saturday morning in my timezone), I though I’d answer a question that’s near and dear to the hearts of many people of my generation: what would you do in a zombie apocalypse?
[There's a cartoon I wanted to use to illustrate this post with a caption something like, "where you think you'd be in a zombie apocalypse / where you'd actually be," but I can't find it. If someone can find it for me, I'll add it to this post.]
My answer to that question begins with what Nick Bostrom called “Good Story Bias”:
When was the last time you saw a movie about humankind suddenly going extinct (without warning and without being replaced by some other civilization)? While this scenario may be much more probable than a scenario in which human heroes successfully repel an invasion of monsters or robot warriors, it wouldn’t be much fun to watch. So we don’t see many stories of that kind. If we are not careful, we can be mislead into believing that the boring scenario is too farfetched to be worth taking seriously.
Or, put more concisely, Luke Muehlhauser tells the story of being asked if rogue AI would be “like Terminator.” “Worse,” he says. “How could it be worse?” “All the humans could be dead.”
Zombie movies have led us all to greatly overestimate our chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse. So instead, my plan is to organize a giant orgy, and see if I can get my hands on some heroin. Not that I would ever do heroin under ordinary circumstances, or even that I would shoot up right away. Just something to have on hand for when the zombies close in. Because (1) “you’re not going to live long enough to experience any of the negative effects” seems like a good occasion to try heroin for the first time, and (2) I’m fairly certain heroin is a powerful enough drug to make getting eaten alive by zombies not hurt so much.
P.S. – This is also my answer to Robin Hanson’s question of why I don’t pack away that extra bag of rice.