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This article was published on June 29, 2021

So you want to conquer the Earth? 5 science tips for would-be supervillains

Insert your own clever supervillain catchphrase here!

So you want to conquer the Earth? 5 science tips for would-be supervillains
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

Meanwhile, back in North America…

The western seaboard is boiling beneath an angry yellow sun and the good people of Earth exist precariously on the edge of heat-induced psychosis. At any moment the tension could erupt into chaos.

And maybe that’s your thing.

We try not to judge here at Neural. After all, planet Earth is currently at the mercy of at least half a dozen billionaires who could destroy life as we know it with the metaphorical wave of their hand.

Anyone ever wonder what would happen if Jeff Bezos hit a killswitch on Amazon Web Services?

Does anyone really think Elon Musk is the right person to be in charge of space ships, brain computer interfaces, and bleeding edge AI?

And we won’t even mention the fact that Bill Gates is the biggest owner of private farmland in the US and, conceivably, has backdoor access to the vast majority of the world’s computers.

Democratizing evil

All of that just goes to show you: the gatekeepers in STEM have an iron grip on the future. It’s up to each and every one of us to loudly declare to the Gates’, Bezos’, and Musks of the world that rich people aren’t the only ones who can be supervillains.

But you’ll still need financing. One of the hallmarks of supervillainy – as opposed to regular, everyday evil – is that it’s big and showy. It’s hard to be gaudy on a budget.

And that brings us to our first tip: cryptocurrency.

Crypto may not be as popular for criminal enterprises as regular old cash, but the current tax laws are so dumb you can legally hold millions in crypto assets without paying a dime. It’d be silly not to run your criminal enterprise on cryptocurrency.

There’s such a thing as too evil

If the horrors of cryptocurrency are simply too evil for your tastes, there are other ways to become a supervillain that don’t require such… icky stuff.

Like, for example, you could use cold fusion to destroy everyone on the planet. Arguably you could just use the threat of cold fusion to collect Bitcoin from everyone – but keep in mind that you can’t stack crypto in a warehouse and then light it on fire to prove how edgy and dark you are.

Also, you might get lonely if you destroy everyone. Luckily, there are other ways we can exploit physics to punish the do-gooders and take our rightful place as supreme ruler of the cosmos.

Here’s a few primers to get you started, but you’ll need some imagination. The science is strong, but it’s up to you to figure out how stopping or traveling through time, having a spaceship with a warp drive, or placing entire planets in quantum superposition will help you achieve your nefarious agenda.

You can’t spell villain without AI

Maybe you’re not a physics nerd. Perhaps controlling the very fabric of the universe is a bit too much responsibility for you. Or, maybe you just don’t like to get your hands dirty. May I suggest artificial intelligence?

Sure, killer robots aren’t really a thing, but you can do so much more evil with AI than just use it to shoot, stab, and squish people.

Tip number 4: Learn to love the Matrix

Unfortunately, AI isn’t always a viable solution. What if another supervillain rises before you, exploits quantum mechanics, and sends us all back to the stone age? Even Iron Man couldn’t tech his way out of a world without synthetics.

In this case, you’ll have to exploit more than just the fabric of our universe.  And machine intelligence is useless in a world without electricity or digital networking.

Well, with one big exception: what if we’re all just bits of data living inside a computer simulation?

If that’s the case, you’re going to need to figure out how to expose and access the real universe beyond our simulation.

You’re actually going to need to follow the first three tips in order to pull this strategy off.  Because, if comic books have taught us anything, you’ll probably need a spaceship with a warp drive and an AI system. You’re going to have to fly through a supermassive black hole.

How to handle superheroes

Assuming you’ve managed to live through your origin story, developed a deep-seeded hatred for… something (the world, humanity, pop up ads, it doesn’t really matter what) and decided how you’re going to conquer the galaxy, you’ll need to be ready for those pesky superheroes.

Inevitably, you’ll get some tights-wearing do-gooders who wish for nothing more than to see you brought to justice.

While this will largely be a reactionary endeavor – you’ll need to respond to whatever the powers of justice throw at you – the best defense is to not be there.

To that end, we suggest you strongly consider setting up a base of operations off-planet and ensuring that your physical body isn’t the single point of failure that can upend your life’s work.

We here at Neural hope you’ve found this article insightful and, perhaps, even inspiring.

Becoming the supervillain you’ve always wanted to be isn’t an easy task. It requires dedication, fervor, and just the right amount of psychopathy.

But we also know that not everyone has the time or patience to become a quantum physicist or to revolutionize the fields of AI and robotics. And, realistically, there’s more money in being a regular science villain than a super one (see: Google, Facebook).

Don’t let that stop you from following your evil dreams though. You can still help. Just remember to always follow the YouTube algorithm wherever it takes you, spend as much time on Facebook and Twitter as possible, and, most importantly, idolize tech billionaires and their trillion-dollar companies.

In these ways, we can all do our part to support supervillainy.

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