Butlerian Jihad artwork depiction.

Butlerian Jihad

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Updated Apr 27, 2023 at 05:18PM EDT by Zach.

Added Apr 17, 2023 at 11:42AM EDT by Don.

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About

Butlerian Jihad refers to a conflict in the Dune franchise between humans and intelligent machines, which results in the destruction of all artificial intelligence (AI) and the prohibition to create new forms of AI. The term is often used online as a tongue-in-cheek reference to slowing or halting progress with artificial intelligence systems, which has notably been promoted by figures like Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Origin

In August 1965, the novel Dune by Frank Herbert was released, which references the Butlerian Jihad as a war that took place more than 10,000 years before the events of the book. In the novel, all forms of artificial intelligence have been prohibited along with the law "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind."[1]

On January 3rd, 2021, YouTuber[2] Nerd Cookies uploaded a video titled "What Was The Butlerian Jihad | Dune Lore," which gathered upwards of 370,000 views over the next three years (shown below).



Spread

The Butlerian Jihad has also been referenced in numerous memes over the years. For example, on April 26th, 2020, Redditor[3] /u/xangadix posted a meme about the Butlerian Jihad to /r/Dune, gathering over 1,000 upvotes in three years (seen below).


THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD I IMPLIED THE COMPLEX NATURE OF THE HUMAN-MACHINE RELATIONSHIP BY REFERENCING AN EARLY DARWINIST, WHO WROTE ABOUT IT IN 1886, AS PART OF AN EPIC TALE ON THE HUMAN CONDITION IN THE FAR FUTURE M * with thanks to DUNG 150 WE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT NAZI ROBOTS* W Nove move my UTLERIAL JIHAD مله Tu/684beach for the nazi Robot' Sumonary

On March 5th, 2022, Twitter[7] user @isaiah_bb posted a tweet saying mentioning the phrase, gathering over 5,000 likes in a year (seen below, left). On October 13th, 2022, Twitter[6] user @UltimateEgoist posted a tweet that read "r/dune banning AI-generated art is one of the most appropriate moderation decisions I’ve seen. Butlerian Jihad indeed," gathering 60,000 likes in five months (seen below, right).


isi baehr-breen (its pronounced 'izzy') @isaiah_bb Mike Lindell announces beginning of Butlerian Jihad Acyn @Acyn Mar 5, 2022 Mike Lindell announces a class action lawsuit against "all machines" LIVE MORRISTOWN, AZ UP TO 66% OFF! My P B&G BBO RANCH illow MIKE LINDELL SHOWS SUPPORT FOR KARI LAKE @RSBNETWORK PROMO CODE: RSBN 0:41 1.7M views & RECORD-BREAKING GOP PRIMARY VOTER TURNOUT S NAIYLA NOV ARIZONA 22 KARI LAKE GOVERNOR 8:30 PM Mar 5, 2022 RSBN 543 Retweets 10 Quotes 5,283 Likes 88 Bookmarks : 6:40 PM ET JUDGE DENIES ARIZONA DEMOCRAT'S REQUEST AKIZUNA 12211 /1nYi.. Spicebaliset @Ultimate Egoist r/dune banning Al-generated art is one of the most appropriate moderation decisions I've seen. Butlerian Jihad indeed 8:33 AM Oct 13, 2022 5,241 Retweets 233 Quotes 63.5K Likes 1,031 Bookmarks

Parallel In Warhammer 40,000

The concept of the Butlerian Jihad in Dune is also somewhat referenced within the lore of Warhammer 40k during an event around the time of the "Dark Age of Technology" prior to the game's setting, which revolves around a fundamental conflict with "The Men of Iron" (sentient humanoid machines created by humans).[8]

Over the years, numerous internet users have made posts about this parallel. For example, on September 28th, 2016, a since-deleted Redditor noted this in a post to the /r/FanTheories[10] subreddit, garnering over 330 upvotes and 80 comments in seven years (seen below).

Keeping in mind that most WH40K fluff is propaganda – the Dark Age of Technology is the period immediately prior to the Butlerian Jihad. Hence the shared disdain for Abominable Intelligence. The Emprah appears, briefly, as Vorian Atreides.

On September 20th, 2019, another since-deleted Redditor made a post comparing the two events on the /r/40kLore[9] subreddit, receiving over 220 upvotes and 160 comments in roughly four years.

On September 24th, 2020, Redditor[4] /u/Tnynfox posted a meme about Butlerian Jihad to /r/AdeptusMechanicus, gathering over 170 upvotes in roughly two years (seen below, left). On October 9th, Redditor[5] /u/Tnynfox posted another Butlerian Jihad meme, this time to /r/Dune, gathering 300 upvotes in two years (seen below, right).


WHO WOULD WIN? A war against all thinking machines 01000010 01101111 01101001 Reject tradition return to compute

Various Examples


R NO Dispropaganda 31 March at 11:47 For Italy banning ChatGPT was only the beginning. STAVA ITALIA BREAKING NEWS ROME ITALY LAUNCHES BUTLERIAN JIHAD CAN 7:13 PM PT 4 KB of RAM in 1969 "We NASA put people on the Moon" 8 GB of RAM Now STILL NO BUTLERIAN JIHAD KNOW WORK RULES butlerian jihad butlerian jihad APPROPRIATE AWWW.YOU'RE SWEET. INAPPROPRIATE HELLO, HUMAN RESOURCES?! Butlerian jihad or something I don't know I haven't read Dune All Robot & Computers Must Shut The Hell Up DON To All Machines: You Do Not Speak Unless Spoken To And I Will Never Speak To You I Do Not Want To Hear "Thank You" From A Kiosk I am a Divine Being : You are an Object You Have No Right To Speak In My Holy Tongue D The.. Guardian theguardian.com Chess robot grabs and breaks finger of seven-year-old opponent Like Comment Curvy and Trans and 3.9K others 994 Shares Most relevant ✓ Ingrid Smilie :Butlerian Jihad intensifies: Just now Like Reply Share

Search Interest

External References

[1] Fandom – Butlerian Jihad

[2] YouTube – Nerd Cookies

[3] Reddit – /r/dune

[4] Reddit – /r/AdeptusMechanicus

[5] Reddit – /r/dunememes

[6] Twitter – UltimateEgoist

[7] Twitter – isaiah_bb

[8] Warhammer 40k Lexicanum – Men of Iron

[9] Reddit – r/40kLore

[10] Reddit – r/FanTheories

Recent Videos 2 total

Recent Images 21 total


Top Comments

Woooinion
Woooinion

Something from Dune's take on AI that I think people fail to realize, is that the AIs were not the problem (in the books written by the original author instead of his son).

The problem with AI, and thinking machines, was that the more humanity relied on them, the more things they were able to do "without thinking".

AI was not a demon that endangered humanity because it was so much smarter than we were. It was a surrender and seizure of control and responsibility from ordinary people.

AI allowed the tiny minority of people who controlled the AIs to wield reckless, foolish power. At the same time, ordinary people became increasingly thoughtless.

We may never see the rise of a Skynet style self-aware AI out to kill humanity. But I think that we can see the trend of humans surrendering their consideration, their reason, and their decision making happening right now.

That's dangerous path.

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