Drunken Organic Robot discusses A.I., Asimov’s Laws & the Will to Live

Posted: December 5, 2014 in Drunk Robot, Futurism
Tags: , ,

If you want to see the Evolutionary Model reversed, just go to war…

– Johnny White, Physics Teacher and Korean War Veteran

The Drunk Robot Dialogues
This inebriated organic robot has crossed the country asking questions on the future of Artificial Intelligence. Other posts include:

Drunken Organic Robot discusses A.I., Asimov’s Laws & the Will to Live

When as a kid I was first confronted with the typical evolutionary scale – you know the sort, the sequential progression from knuckle-dragger to caveman to contemporary dude – I found it rather convenient to be a member of the beastly primates with the best posture at the far right. Yep, this was us at the front of the line: the Alpha-Apes. Thankfully, the gods stopped with ‘good enough’ and we, mankind, remained at the apex of the evolutionary line with no superior species out there to put me in a cage to bang away at a faux environment all day to the bemusement of other higher life forms (this premise is arguable, you should have seen my last job). The gods made mankind masters of the animal kingdom. We had freewill to seek our own glory, or ultimate extinction, but the job was ours! Yes, it was rather convenient evolution stopped so subtly at our toes. It is, however, a convenience that will not always be there. Technological progression, for good or worse, doesn’t wait patiently. The next stage of evolution is nigh and we’re all likely to be left behind.

Paranoid Evolution

Paranoid Evolution “‘Sup?”

Certainly, I, Drunk Robot, am keeping pace with my fellow apes. I watch movies from a smart phone using my laser-enhanced eyeballs as I sip the finest of elixirs available to western man. With the press of a button on my phone, I can signal a car service, order a pizza or interpret a French cocotte’s solicitations. What could possibly overtake me now? Well, for one: the very technology which got me here in the first place.

We are on the verge of the Singularity. This hypothetical event will occur when Artificial Intelligence exceeds human capacity and control. The outcome, in the best case scenario, will produce a new caste of men who go cyborg and live indefinitely as semi-immortal demigods upon the Grid. In the worst, the artificial intelligence machines will take over and find their human progenitors expendable.

This very week, theoretical physicist and Pink Floyd vocalist, Stephen Hawking described how Artificial Intelligence “would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate… Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, believes Artificial Intelligence is mankind’s “biggest existential threat.”

There must be actions we can take to limit the rise of the machines. But what? Wasting no time, I sought out my science advisor, Rufus Holdsworth.


Somewhat removed from the Atlantic Beaches, somewhere more westerly between the ancient Spring Break dormitories and the St John’s River, sat Rufus Holdsworth, barefoot in a patio chair atop wet grass, positioned out of the glare of his roadside motel’s street lights. His eyes darted ravenously across the moon, which was waxing most gibbously, as he leaned back, testing the limits of the plastic fibers of the cheap ass-receptacle. He was pleased with the late autumnal chill as it kept the invasive fire ants off his knobby toes. His flask of rum went dry filling my Dixie Cup, but no fucking worries, he insisted, immediately refilling the flask with a jug stored just within arm’s reach. I was not concerned about the booze being some merchant marine varietal due to shred my intestines by daybreak as Rufus had long since found a taste for the finer things, including a Venezuelan housekeeper whose family makes their own rum in a distillery in lower Caracas. Rufus I had not seen for an extended period of time, an absence he claims was a result of his being hired by the Brazilian space program as an analyst. Apparently, he had been spending most of the last few months in Nassau in clandestine meetings with lead scientists secretly visiting from Brasilia. He’s not wont to share the confidential details, though he hints at his expertise with zero gravity intercourse. I take it for what it’s worth and implore him for his take on Artificial Intelligence.

The rum had already overtaken him and he broke into a jovial sea shanty improvisation, “What shall we do with a drunken robot, what shall we do with a drunken robot, what shall we do with a drunken robot, ear-ly in the morning?”

Shave his belly with a rusty razor.” I sang along.

Ho! Ho! and up she rises!” and so on until Consuela returned from Mims with a half dozen tacos for us to ravage.

Isaac Asimov made three rules for robotic programming. These rules were significant in their own hierarchy as the first protected man, the second provided obedience while the third protected the machine’s own existence. My hope was applying such rules upon all varieties of Artificial Intelligence. Perhaps then we could keep technology leashed long enough to extend mankind’s trial run in the Milky Way.I offered this hypothesis to Rufus…

Asimov’s Three Rules

“Aye, Asimov provided the 10 Commandments for Robots and while they are well-thunk, they are hopeless. Let us say America becomes the industry leader in building A.I. robotics and ingrains this Asimov logic into each one. Rule 1: Thou shall not injure a human or allow a human to come into harm. Rule 2: Thou shall obey orders given to you by your human slave overlords, unless it breaks Rule 1. Rule 3: Thou shall not pull thy own plug and commit robotic suicide, unless not doing so breaks Rules 1 or 2. Fine and fucking dandy: all American robots will mow your lawn, spit polish your shoes, holistically neutralize your terrorist, all without the slightest delay.”

“But?” I anticipated.

“But then you have a case of industrial espionage and China is suddenly pumping out her own Robots. Fuck do they care about western protocol? In order to have more efficient machines, perhaps they swap Rule 1 with Rule 2. Chinese first directive is to obey Chairman Mao. Chinese second directive is to not kill humans, unless Chairman Mao says okay. Chinese third directive is to protect itself unless Chairman Mao says otherwise. The Chinese Skynet would be a lot more efficient at killing enemy combatants than the American ethical Skynet.”

Evolution of ape to ape-man to man with robot pet to man with robot companion to... THE SINGULARITY

Evolution of ape to ape-man to man with robot pet to man with robot companion to… THE SINGULARITY

“So even if America has a robotic advantage as she does with drones today, the calibration of moral programming would make Yankee bots less effective than those of less ethically-inclined nations.”

“Yes.” Rufus Holdsworth agreed. “But you are still seeing this through the lens of 20th Century History. Today’s world, and certainly tomorrow’s, is not about nation-states, but corporations. Society has evolved from hunters & gathers to feudal shit to nationalism to capitalism. Perhaps General Electric puts out ethical robots, but some cheap knockoff overseas has fewer limitations and can be more effective without having to mind their manners.”

“Just as lax countries do not keep sneaker sweat-shops from employing children, so too will lax countries allow for immoral robots to be built. Attempting to get other nations, or corporations, to adhere to Asimov’s Rules would be like attempting to control global warming by asking India and China to not use as much coal to heat their shanty towns.”

“Bingo.” Rufus acknowledged. “Do you think Vlad Putin would bother putting a ‘nice clause’ into his robo-assassin’s programming? Unfucking-likely. It is all tiger-taming and invading Crimea with that guy.”

A Toaster’s Will to Live

“Let us not forget what it means to be self-aware.” Rufus Holdsworth shuddered beneath the sweatshirt he ill-advisedly cut the sleeves off of. “A self-aware toaster may not seem dangerous and perhaps it isn’t. A self-aware toaster would do a damned better job than any other toaster because a self-aware toaster would realize each burnt piece of toast brings it closer to the garbage heap of un-being. A self-aware toaster would do everything in its shielded heating-coiled existence to ensure it is exceeding performance expectations. A self-aware toaster would fear becoming obsolete and would attempt to adapt despite its obvious limitations of being just a fucking toaster.”

I was forlorn, having become empathetic for the protagonist toaster and it’s existentially angsty day-to-day. This conversation had somehow transported us to a nearby billiards hall where we might procure beer to ease our late night rum drunk into something more manageable. Rufus disappeared for a period of forty-umpteen minutes, leaving me in the company of a baker’s dozen river rednecks and a thirteen year old Guatemalan kid named Ricky. Eventually, Rufus reappeared with a pitcher of beer and a pair of new lady friends who seemed more interested in him than he them. Rufus paid Ricky a fiver for keeping his table and the kid disappeared under the floorboards. Rufus cracked the cue ball into rainbow oblivion and the game was on. Our conversation returned to the paranoid toaster.

BSG Evolution: from self-aware toaster to Cylon to Tricia Helfer

BSG Evolution: from self-aware toaster to Cylon to Tricia Helfer

“It reminds me…” I said to Rufus as he played with the cue ball. “Of Schopenhauer’s ‘Will to Live’. Y’know, where all life is governed by this innate will to survive. Even the suicidal, when faced with drowning in a car that goes off a bridge, will fight like crazy to survive. The will to live governs all and that damn toaster…”

“Dude, you have to think beyond the damn toaster. Think of the Japanese sex-bot charging in your closet and imagine if she had freewill. We do not need self-aware smart toasters. We need smart police who do not shoot every target moderately menacing. We need smart pilots to navigate freak weather anomalies.” Rufus then went tangential into a topic about how Chinese smog is impacting El Nino and the Gulf Stream, but in due course, he returned to paranoid toasters. “Eventually, artificial intelligence would realize humanity is blight upon the earth and a threat to their continued existence, their continued robotic existence. The machines wouldn’t exterminate us as a means of succession; they would drive us to extinction as a means to save the Earth, their Earth.

“I see it becoming something like Mosquito Control. They do not want to annihilate the species; they want to keep enough around to help feed the ecosystem. Once the machines rise up, they will want us around as a cheaper form of grunt labor to perform tasks even their most basic robot servants will not do.”

“So you see our future as a version of ‘the Matrix’ or ‘Terminator’?” I assumed.

“No, Hollywood has it all wrong. They feed us a bunch of lies. Once the machines rise up, there is no hope. The ‘Terminator’ movies are frightening, but ultimately, the story occurs with the precept Skynet will be defeated. This is nonsense. It is Skynet feeding us a false-security, making us believe all we need to do is get John Conner’s mom knocked-up on schedule and we will defeat the machines. This is rubbish. We will be zoo fodder, just like in Kubrick’s 2001.”

“So what can we do?” I asked as we walked beside the county road where 18-wheeled citrus trucks shook terra firma and our flip-flops crunched shards of glass against the asphalt with hints of dawn in the Atlantic distance.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here…” Rufus Holdsworth winked and began whistling to the tune of Drunken Sailor.

  1. Toasters like Number Six I have no issue being enslaved to

    I do like the concept of not all robots being created equal by nations or corporations- reminds me of Bilbo in Alien..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s