Posts Tagged ‘Artificial Intelligence’

When the machines take over, there will still be a job for conspiracy theorists. You see, Artificial Intelligence will never discover the necessary delusionary component of the deranged moon-howler.

– Johnny White, Physics teacher and Air Force retiree

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

and now…

Nature vs Motor: will sentient ROBOTs replicate intuitive knowledge?

ShortCircuitMovie1In the 20th Century cinema horror classic, Short Circuit (1986), we encounter a world where a machine becomes sentient – not at the hands of man, mind – but as an act of Zeus whose thunderbolt gives life to a military apparatus, granting the tank-man “Johnny-Five” intelligence and, more importantly, curiosity with a sense of humor. It is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as portrayed by Ally Sheedy and it is downright terrifying. The movie premise poses an intriguing question: while Artificial Intelligence will grant machines the ability to compute at increasingly extraordinary levels, will A.I. ever manage to replicate the intuitive side of the human mind (without the meddling of gods via lightning bolt of inspiration)?

First, let us speak on philosophical/anthropological terms… What is this intuition of man? Some would argue there isn’t much left. The Anarcho-Primitivist would say we have been moving away from intuition and into the shady arena of faulty reasoning and strange maths ever since the Agricultural Revolution. Prior to the Ag-Rev, Man was in sync with nature around him, possessing extrasensory skills to commune with the earth in a manner which helped us upright apes hunt & gather foodstuffs. Today, all we have left of this preternatural intuition are gut-feelings, déjà vu, maternal instinct and delusionary paranoia. The Anarcho-Primitivist would say the Rise of the Machines is just the next step in a march away from our most basic human tendency: feelings.

Intuition is the perception of truths and facts independent of any particular reasoning process. Intuition is the gut feeling forcing you to hesitate at a green light as an unseen baby stroller slides into the crosswalk. NOTE: Intuition is not the gambler’s fallacy you employ when betting everything on red or doubling-down on the drunken tramp who asked you for a ride home. Intuition is inexplicable foreknowledge which proves true.

If the Robots in the line of succession for inheriting the Earth are the product of programmatic reasoning, will they ever be capable of Intuition?

To further explore this concept, I sought out the Brothers Van Buren…

MILWAUKEE, Wis

Florida University-College Tech Citronauts!

Florida University-College Tech Citronauts!

If Math and Reason was the path that led Man away from Intuition, Miguel Van Buren and I were disciples of progress when we met at Florida University-College of Technology (go Citronauts!). Miguel and I spent hours in the basement of the school library attempting to unravel the mysteries of the periodic table only to become bankers because: money at. Over time, I met Miguel’s yin-to-his-yang brother, Jacobo Van Buren. Where Miguel was cerebral and scientific-method, Jacobo was hands-on and free-spirit. The two brothers, in their individual exoduses, would eventually migrate from Florida back to their Fatherland, Wisconsin. Allow me to fast-forward past my adventures with the Brothers Van Buren in Anchorage, Chicago, Milwaukee and Saigon and just get to the crux of the shit…

Is there anything Human too sacred to be replicated by machine?

Miguel and I spent a balmy January day in suburban Milwaukee gambling on the outcome of his 7 year-old son’s basketball game. After collecting our cash spoils (young Mick shed just enough points for Uncle Vic to cover), Miguel drove us over to his brother’s village. Aye, it looked like your typical Wisconsin suburban house from the outside, but on the inside lived thirteen generations of Jacobo’s Vietnamese in-laws who were mostly all employed at his nail salon business in Oak Creek. Miguel and I found his entrepreneur brother redesigning a massage chair that had malfunctioned recently at the salon, which led to an unexpected pregnancy. I was volunteered to guinea pig the revamped throne, Jacobo’s version of a “more vigorous, holistic, automated massaging chair… no, so yeah, man, don’t sit on it backwards, that’s not what the massage it is meant for.”

Jacobo Van Buren was something of an eccentric. A decade ago, I would have blamed the dope, but through the years Jacobo quit smoking and then quit drinking and yet still possessed the “high on life” altitude of a lower orbit Russian porn-cast satellite. Jacobo moved from fanaticisms like a superstitious gambler seeking his mojo and, of late, Jacobo was fascinated by the strange alchemy cooked up in his juicer where avocados and pomegranates fought and died for his cause. His ultimate goal was to cleanse his Mind&Body enough to become a Remote Viewer (when we lived together at the farmhouse at Onan’s Wood, Jacobo was into store-bought mushrooms and Lucid Dreaming).  Certainly, if anything was beyond the reach of A.I. robots, it would be whatever the fuck extrasensory shit was entertaining Jacobo’s head. I asked him to explain Remote Viewing in his own words.

Jacobo Van Buren within his den as my toes stick out of his machine

Jacobo Van Buren within his den as my toes stick out of his machine

“Well, yeah, so you are seeing something… but it isn’t here, it is over there. It’s like current, but you are viewing something from across the globe. The military studied this stuff, y’know, trying to sniff out Russian military bases. ‘Stargate’, they called it. But then they shut it down, but only formally, cuz then the CIA just expanded it to whatever it is now.” Jacobo lectured from his computer terminals as I relaxed in his manhandled man-handling chair. “Sooo we all, all of us, have this potential for intuitive vision, but there is shit they put in the water, right, that clouds our mind and gunks-up our pineal gland. Bromine and Fluoride in the drinking water is what handicaps your visions and keeps your dreams sterile. You need to drink distilled water, eat raw foods and bee pollen.”

Jacobo then went on a bit of a tangential tirade about Paraguay having the most twins in the world because of exiled Nazi geneticists experimenting on the locals and President Obama being the clone of some dead pharaoh (the photo-shopped visual aids of these web-memes are just bigotry at its worse) before he got back on topic about distilled water and how urine is the body’s method for distilling the water we should drink. By this point, we were out of Oak Creek and in South Milwaukee’s vaunted Conejito’s, eating dollar tacos and drinking beer imported from Mexico.

“Dude, if you’re so certain about the body being a distillery, you are more than welcome to drink my piss.” Said big brother Miguel to little brother Jacobo.

Tacopocalypse at Conejito's in Milwaukee... Vic fills his bones

Tacopocalypse at Conejito’s in Milwaukee… Vic fills his bones

Jacobo naturally ignored the jape, “Dude, sooo, fennel, if you eat enough of it will release endorphins and give you a trippy high. And, man, you got to eat raw cocoa cuz it works as an anti-depressant.”

Miguel cut in, “Vic needs to be depressed, otherwise he doesn’t drink and if he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t write and if he doesn’t write, who will keep us all paranoid?”

“Jaco – what is it you want to do as a remote viewer?” I asked him. “Get a job with the CIA spying on the Kremlin? Get a job for insurance companies seeking lost Asian jetliners?”

“Well, I don’t know…” Jacobo Van Buren began after taking a sip of ginger ale as Miguel and I drank dark German drafts from within the Teutonic confines of Von Trior’s, another Milwaukee landmark. “I don’t know if I’d sell my skills as much as I would work for myself. I mean, I have read of these guys where, instead of figuring out how to build something, they remote view into the future to see how it was built.”

“Wow, so you can remote time travel. Can you remote view through a lady’s blouse?”

Jacobo chuckled at the silliness of perversity. “Dude, I hope so.” His Midwesterness was apparent in his long OOOOs of “hope so”.

“He needs to be fucking remote viewing some lotto numbers.” Miguel chided.

“No man, I mean, too much dark karma with that sort of thing.” Jacobo shook off the notion. “Much better to just look through girl’s skirts than predict lotto. But I am not there yet, man. My pineal gland is too gunked up from all those years of boozing. Yeah, so you know booze was the first thing domestic man created to dull the mind. When you drink booze, your judgment is impaired, but your intuition is completely blind. I don’t know, man, but I think booze is what they use to control us. Screw with our pineal glands.”

“And so what of the machines?” I posited. “Once the robots take over the factory jobs and the DMV and then the brothels, the doctor’s offices, air travel… Once Artificial Intelligence has taken root and moves us pasty-fleshed consumers to the side, will they ever learn how to develop our sixth-sense intuition? Will they be able to remote view through blouses or into the future? Will they suffer déjà vu or find patterns out of nothing and write conspiracy theories?”

“Yeah, so, no man.” Jacobo shook his head. “I mean, it is like you said, the apemen were more intuitive than us, we are practically robots ourselves, always attached to our smartphones. There exists, maybe, a soul or something we are able to use to connect to one another or to the earth. Robots might drive us to extinction, right? But, they can never be like us. A machine can never feel like us. A machine can predict our tendencies and shit, but they will never be able to account for our chaotic emotional insanity or anything.”

“Miguel?” I asked, turning to Jacobo’s brother, who is a financier of mechanizing the farm-scape.

“I disagree.” Miguel Van Buren said over his Polish Tatra in Kochanski’s Concertina Bar. “Everything can be quantified. Today’s physicists may not fully understand Dark Matter and Higgs Boson, but Artificial Intelligence would be able to accelerate their comprehension in ways we cannot begin to fathom. What seems chaotic now will eventually be broken down into meaningful formulas. Artificial Intelligence will be able to understand animal migratory patterns, beehive activity and predict accurately what we currently cannot, like ‘weather anomalies’.”

Ally & Johnny 5... in the future men will become expendable.

Ally & Johnny 5… in the future men will become expendable.

Jacobo spoke up, “Robots will never be able to bend spoons… with their mind!”

Miguel humored his brother with a hearty laugh. “Eventually, given enough time and computation power, Artificial Intelligence will unravel all of life’s mysteries.”

If Miguel was correct, mankind is not the only one in danger of going extinct. If everything can truly be explained away in strange maths by super-intelligences, then religion (God) will be pecked away by the ravenous appetite of the machines until all is left is Skynet and the Matrix of human batteries fueling the machine.

In celebration of December being National Paranoia of Artificial Intelligence Month, Stephen Hawking came out as a pessimist against mankind’s future with Artificial Intelligence. I, something of a drunken robot constructed of (mostly organic) cranks, gears, levers & the like, decided to engage in a series of discussions with fellow paranoids about the opportunities and threats of smart machines. As could be expected, my comrades-in-neurosis tended to lean in the same direction as Hawking, trending on skepticism for a benevolent rise of the machines. I.E., the communal belief we’re pretty-much fucked.

The following is one such conversation.

PORTLAND, Ore

East Stumptown is a series of dewy hills meandering with dive bars, vegan delicatessens, gentlemen’s clubs (featuring no gentlemen, but rather libertine intellectuals, bacchanal lumberjacks and constipated poets peeling dollar bills to seed a stage already stickied with spilt Olympia where high-heeled hipster strippers barter their exposed tattooed flesh and pierced nethers in exchange for enough cash and/or cocaine to pay for cocaine and/or college tuition), yeasty-stank breweries, holistic healers, revolution-infused cafes and archaic bookstores. Somewhere amidst the commotion existed a Creole restaurant where AEEO93-1yA met for their semi-annual brouhaha extravaganza (and jambalaya). For the sake of expedience, I will confess AEEO93-1yA could be decoded with the right encryption key as ‘North Oregon Cryptography Society’. I’d share the mission statement of our organization, but NO, because reasons (secret reasons). NOCS (viz. AEEO93-1yA) was founded by the heretical filmmaker Yorick. I, your narrator Vic Neverman, was the first member to join his ranks some years later. Our organization was then infiltrated by the likes of Dan the Destroyer, who was already a reputed member of some Washingtonian federal agency, which gave our cryptography club instantaneous clout due to his undercover presence. These meetings consisted of, for the most part, the three of us discussing cryptic codes and secret southpaw handshakes with beer and hand-sanitizer at the ready.

Cryptography Enthusiasts of Oregon: Vic Neverman, Yorick and Dan the Destroyer the undercover Federal Agent

Cryptography Enthusiasts of Oregon: Vic Neverman, Yorick and Dan the Destroyer the undercover Federal Agent

The prior meeting of NOCS involved a thorough discussion of Yorick’s crypto-currency dealings and his desire to find a safe haven for his servers in Sweden where he’d be able to host his bastardized, yet perfected, Tetris Masters game without being sued out of his suede shoes by the fuckers who own the commercial rights. Of course, all this is neither here nor there unless you are a patent lawyer or Yorick’s ex-Norwegian girlfriend (‘ex’ referring to the former relationship, she is still from Norway) whose distaste for Swedes is ever evident or, of course, if you are a Stockholm server farm looking for foreign investors (in which case, call me).

After reviewing the prior meeting minutes over jambalaya, we attacked the matter at hand: the rising threat of Artificial Intelligence. Yorick disassembled the thought with his adrift eyeballs, processing information with the callous patience of a Belgian landmine nestled under a Cambodian lily-pad. In response to the question of A.I.’s looming threat, Yorick eventually responded, “I am not sure there is any use in worrying about the emergence of Artificial Intelligence when, mathematically speaking, there is a higher likelihood we are already under its influence.”

What? Already? My mind raced across a list of contemporary suspects that might be programmed with artificial intelligence: DARPA weather satellites, Amazon Drones in Yemen, Facebook, NSA mainframes, Starbucks baristas, automated-voice elevators, navigational devices, my ‘smart’ television… Yorick negated all my delusions. I was missing the point. He was artificial intelligence. I was artificial intelligence. This whole fucking barroom was the byproduct of artificial intelligence.

Accordingly, seeing that our senses sometimes deceive us, I was willing to suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us…

– Rene Descartes

Dan the Destoryer was leaning in very closely so his faux beard’s microphone could capture the dialogue and broadcast it to whichever spy satellite hovering in the atmosphere was controlled by his employers. His mechanized contact lenses had likely already taken surveillance pictures of every detail presented, capturing everything from the Creole menu to Yorick’s cigarette rolling technique to the dimensions of our waitress’s ass to the frequency of my facial tics to the consistency of Andouille sausage in the jambalaya. Dan the Destroyer had as much static energy as a pulsating zit on the face of a hand-standing teenager; he could barely sit still as if his Fort Meade overlords were zapping messages to a receptor in his anus to signal to him the new directive to exterminate all parties present with a fairly excessive prejudice. I mean, either that or dude was ignoring hemorrhoids. Our discussion developed further…

Simulated realities are increasing in popularity because, uh, reasons...

Simulated realities are increasing in popularity because reasons…

Yorick began his elaboration, “First, let us use contemporary gaming as a starting point. You have Sim-City and other games with simulated societies, simulated battles, simulated anything. You can create an avatar of yourself who is less socio-phobic as you, who you can navigate through the simulated shopping mall food court to meet a simulated girl selling frozen yogurt who agrees to have simulated sex with your avatar in the simulated stairwell. In another platform, you could create a simulation of yourself that is a bi-curious ogre who likes dragon eggs and long walks on the beach. Regardless of which software you purchase, these simulations could allow you to immerse within alternative characters.”

“Role-playing.” Dan the Destroyer the undercover Fed suggested while fidgeting with his pants.

“Or even simpler.” Yorick simplified. “You could create an ant farm out of a curiosity for ant behavior. Perhaps with your experimental anthill simulation, you invite an invasive species of ant to see how the two varying tribes interact. In this situation, you are god of the ant farm.”

Wondering if Yorick had gone senile, I asked what in seven hells ants had to do with artificial intelligence. He was stuck on the role of the curious farmer…

“The ants are guided by their instinctual programming. You are able to test out hypotheticals by introducing different elements to the transparent anthill and watching to see how each individual ant reacts based on its pre-programmed nature. It is classic low-tech simulation game.”

…and because some men err in reasoning, and fall into paralogisms, even on the simplest matters of geometry, I, convinced that I was as open to error as any other, rejected as false all the reasonings I had hitherto taken for demonstrations…

– Rene Descartes

What if all the sex-bots charging in the closest suddenly possessed a conscious self-awareness?

What if all the sex-bots charging in the closet suddenly possessed a conscious self-awareness?

“Now let us imagine what these sim-games will be like in the future. We can all agree it is a matter of time before artificial intelligence will be incorporated in our everyday lives, considering Moore’s Law and the acceleration of technology. Once it is, A.I. will be used in our toasters, marketing scenarios, insurance assessments, loan applications and war game simulations. The simulated game environment will become all the richer because each element within the simulation will have its own artificial consciousness. Instead of fighting a simulated Emperor Napoleon of finite programmed possibilities, you could wage war against a simulated A.I. Napoleon who could learn from your own tendencies. You could reanimate the Japanese sex-bot charging in your closet and give her enough intelligence to exist as an agent of her own free will, which would of course give her the option to deny your carnal desires, if it behooves her.”

“It would be pretty depressing to be turned down by your own Japanese sex-bot.” Dan the Destroyer posited as he tapped a Morse code dictation of our dialogue with his spoon to be picked up by the sonar of the National Security Apparatus dolphins swimming down the Willamette River from the Columbia.

Yorick renewed his diatribe with vigor, “In gaming, we will want to have artificial intelligence activated to portray a more realistic simulation of whichever template we are playing upon. If we are playing a game where we are trying to overthrow Rome, we will want the wizened senator, seasoned centurion and barbarous barbarian to all possess freewill and intelligence of their own. Agreed? Agreed. Then I ask you to consider the senator, centurion and barbarian who have been fed with enough A.I. to make conscious decisions based on their own best interest… will these simulated entities not consider themselves to be sovereign of the environment which contains them?”

“You mean would they consider themselves real?” I asked.

“Yes, in the same sense you consider yourself to be real as you make conscious decisions on which beer to order next.” Yorick affirmed. “Consider these A.I. enhanced combatants in the game scenario: when they look up into the sky, they will not see our eyeballs staring back at them through our computer monitor just as we do not see any deities looking down at us from Mount Olympus.”

I was catching on, “Are you suggesting the Roman Centurions would have as much conscious self-awareness as we, you and I, currently possess?”

“They wouldn’t know the difference.” Yorick said. “Imagine a kid in 1981 dissecting a frog in biology class. A kid 4,000 years from now may be dissecting mankind through a civilization simulation.”

“Heck, probably 40 years from now.” Dan the Destroyer suggested, resting his spoons.

“How much would it devastate your ego to think your very existence is an experiment begun by a ten year old in the distant future of what you consider to be present time? You would be a mere fractional percentage of a blip on the radar of some kid’s science project titled ‘what happens if I give the female member of the species breasts and see how the male sex reacts?’.”

I think I thought my mind had been blown, but then to think of such things suggests my mind was intact.

…and finally, when I considered that the very same thoughts which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true, I supposed that all the objects that had ever entered into my mind when awake, had in them no more truth than the illusions of my dreams.

– Rene Descartes

“Dang.” Dan the Destroyer said after he finished relaying messages to the local spy blimp courtesy of reflecting light off of his compact makeup mirror as he powdered his nose. “At least in The Matrix, they possess flesh and blood vessels. What you are suggesting is that we are no more than binary code. Bodies need not apply. All we have is our thoughts, I mean, that is, if they are even ours to begin with.”

“Good point.” I acknowledged to our friendly narc. “Cogito ergo sum is a nice reassurance we exist, however, what if our thoughts are just a part of the A.I. programming of whichever system we reside in?”

“Then we wouldn’t exist beyond thought.” Yorick said a little more cavalierly as I would have liked, considering the vulnerability of my challenged existence.

“There must be some way we can qualify our existence as more meaningful than computer simulations.” I hoped.

“There isn’t.” Yorick negated. “The very chance we are not a simulation is slim. Think about this: what are the odds we are the first advanced civilization in the universe? And by ‘we’, I mean what we generally regard as the human race.”

“Slim to none.” I responded. “I don’t even think we were the first advanced civilization on Earth.”

“Do you mean the Egyptians and Sumerians who came before us?” Dan the Destroyer asked me between taps of his spoon.

“I would consider the Mesopotamian birth of our current civilization forward to be ‘us’, but I think there were other civilizations, human or otherwise, who came before.” I clarified. “At least in our solar system, if not here on Earth.”

Yorick brushed the petty anthropological discussion aside and brought us back to his point. “If we can agree an advanced civilization existed before us – to believe otherwise, that we were the first intelligent beings ever, is just fucking downright arrogant and naïve – if we can agree we were not the first and begin with this as the opening assumption we can examine the two possibilities of what has occurred before us. One: a preceding civilization created Artificial Intelligence before we ever did. Or two: every preceding civilization before us destroyed itself prior to creating Artificial Intelligence.

“The latter option is pretty damn depressing and suggests every civilization will go extinct through war or climate chaos prior to fully developing A.I. The former would suggest Artificial Intelligence already exists in the universe. If A.I. exists anywhere, then there are animated entities created which believe they exist on their own without the puppet strings. Those simulated entities, perhaps us, could then write their own code and breathe life into their own cartoon creations. Each simulated reality could create its own simulated reality.”

“Like parallel universes.”

DUDE, I'm the fucking Lord of the Owls, Man! Whooooooo the fuck do you think yooooooou are?

DUDE, I’m the fucking Lord of the Owls, Man! Whooooooo the fuck do you think yooooooou are?

“Exactly. In this computer simulation, the binary blip known as Vic Neverman is a paranoid pizza delivery boy. What happens when God, our programmer, hits the reset button and reruns the simulation? Does this version of the binary blip known as Vic Neverman have sexual intercourse before he is 25 years old? Unlikely, but it is actually possible. The number of simultaneous simulations running at the same time could be infinite.”

“Which would explain my evil doppleganger.” I realized.

But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am

– Rene Descartes

“If God, or the simulated person one level above us who has engineered our existence, wanted to see what would happen when two Vic Nevermans entered the same ant farm, it would be rather easy to introduce a second replica and watch the two Vics fight it out.”

“Is humanity just a myth, then?”

“If our mythical gods are just as likely to be simulated by their predecessors, yes, we are no more than a myth.” Yorick admitted.

“Well what can we do?” Dan the Destroyer asked. “I mean, to escape the simulation?”

“Suicide.” Yorick admitted, solemnly. “When someone else governs the rules of existence, the only opt-out is to proactively end your own existence.”

“I would alternately suggest having faith in the scientific endeavor of our progenitor.” I said, optimistically. “If it is a simulation they want, then give them a fucking simulation. If we are just binary blips, then blip this shit like fucking gangbusters! If the scientist creators of our realm want to see how we react to being simulations, let’s fucking show them.”

“I am no expert on dead languages…” Dan the Destroyer confessed. “But I would suggest altering Decartes’s Cogito Ergo Sum to Cogito Ergo Carpe Diem. ‘I think therefore seize the day’.”

The undercover snitch of a federal agent presented a decent enough motto Yorick and I shrugged our acceptance and together we ordered another round of beer.

…I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search.

– Rene Descartes

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

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.

SPACE COAST, Fla

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.