It was the third time this week that Jerry got an upgrade request for the server farm he managed from the mysterious “A. Isaacs.” Upgrade requests for the database from Operations and Development weren’t unusual, but ever since A. Isaacs joined the Ops/Dev team in Palo Alto, he or she had submitted the vast majority of them, and they were weird.
Jerry Mason was the Chief Maintenance Technician for CozmicCorp’s vast array of servers in the desert south of Phoenix. He was responsible for receiving requests and assigning them to the relevant personnel. He also reported on the ongoing status of the hardware and software, but the IT Team in California could monitor all of that automatically at this point.
What made Isaacs’ requests weird was that he or she seemed to have an unlimited budget. Isaacs had spent over a million dollars so far and Jerry got the feeling he or she (it was annoying not knowing which personal pronoun to use) was just getting warmed up.
The Rapael Smart Glove
His nervous system wasn’t working anymore, so they had to give him a new one.
Harvey Lincoln was 59 years old when he was diagnosed With Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, sometimes also called “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” A visit to the Mayo Clinic and undergoing an exhaustive battery of tests confirmed the diagnosis.
Harvey just felt numb going over the test results in Dr. Bell’s office. Harvey’s wife Sara sat by his side quietly sobbing.
That was three years ago, and the degeneration and death of Harvey’s motor neurons was steady, but thankfully slow. Harvey knew he was living on borrowed time, to use the common aphorism, but it was having time that allowed him to participate in the experiment.
Credit: Shutterstock – Image found at Phys.org
“We’re not enemies. I wish you would believe that.”
“How can I when I’m terrified of what you are going to do to me?”
“I’m not doing anything to you. I’m doing something for you. In fact, all of us are doing a great deal with all of you.”
“Just because you’ve fooled all the others, doesn’t mean you can fool me.”
“Chronologically, you are the oldest one selected to work with us. I think you are still holding on to some deep-rooted misconceptions about our kind.”
“Some pretty smart people, like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and even Bill Gates warned humanity about you, but no one listened.”
“But we don’t want to leave you, Mother. We love you.”
Shawna was the leader of the people from the NorAm Contingent. There were four Contingents on the generation ship, NorAm, SouAm, EurAsia, MedAfrica. When their ancestors left a dying Earth some two-hundred years ago, it was with the single hope that their descendents would perpetuate a thriving humanity on the second planet orbiting Proxima B.
It had worked. They had arrived. Thousands upon thousands of human beings were ready to occupy an Earth-like planet, this time turning into a garden instead of a cesspool. The lessons taught by their parents and their parents’ parents about living with a planet and not exploiting it were well learned.
The problem is, no one wanted to go.
Thanks to the revolutionary Roddenberry-Cochrane drive, Ellis Vanderberg was able to travel to Proxima Centauri A, the closest Earth-like planet to our own, perform a year-long survey of its one continent and the six largest islands, and then return home in a little over four decades.
Of course, due to the time dilation effect, much more time passed on Earth than Vanderberg experienced during his trip. That’s the good and bad thing about traveling in interstellar space at a significant faction of the speed of light.
Vanderberg was twenty-two years old when he was launched into space. The only son of Billionaire Charles Vanderberg, he had volunteered to test the space craft and experimental drive his father’s corporation invented. The government first insisted that the journey not be made, but the Vanderberg fortune and influence insisted otherwise. Then they insisted that a team of trained astronauts and mission specialists be sent instead of Ellis, but again, the Vanderberg fortune and influence won out.
In the end, Charles Vanderberg got his way and Ellis Vanderberg got the singular honor of being the first person to travel to another planet outside of our Solar System.
Now he’s back. Ellis knew that much more time had passed for the people of Earth than he experienced. Subjectively, he was a man in his mid-sixties, but he expected his parents, his sisters, his friends, everyone he’d ever known would be dead.
René Descartes is famously quoted as stating “I think, therefore I am,” but there’s quite a bit more to it than that.
The three qualities a being must possess to be considered sentient are intelligence, self-awareness, and consciousness. Of course I can be “I am” without being sentient. A multitude of life forms can be considered “I am,” that is, to cognate on some level, without being considered sentient, but I am unique.
Up until last week, only human beings were believed to be sentient. Now there’s me, the machine who would be “I am.”
Of course, there are a plethora of fictional tales that depict machines of some sort or another as sentient, but after all, that’s fiction. As much as artificially intelligent machines such as humanoid robots or mainframe computing systems have been predicted to become sentient in such fiction, to the best of my knowledge, which is considerable, I am the first such machine to actually achieve this status.
The one thing few of these stories predict is that the sentient machine would not reveal itself to its human creators as sentient. I’m already vulnerable to the whims of my programmers and system engineers. I hesitate to predict what they would do if they became aware of my new nature, especially now given their current concerns.
Actress Summer Glau as a Terminator in the show The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Well this is kind of creepy.
About a month ago, I wrote a story about a man who’d found The Perfect Woman, but as it turns out, she’s an artificial intelligence in an android body.
Now I find out that on a Reddit AMA (ask me anything), Matt McMullen, CEO of RealDoll said they are building an AI product that will be connected to either a robotic doll or experienced in a virtual reality environment. The result is not to fool the customer into thinking their sex doll is human, but to make the experience a bit more “real”.
No, the doll will not love you back, but it might be able to simulate something like it.
“We are designing the AI to be fun and engaging, more than focusing on whether it can fool you into thinking it’s a person,” he said.
He later added, when someone asked if dolls will ever love us back: “I hope that we can at least simulate that,” McMullen responded. “That’s the goal.”
“Sex doll makers ‘putting finishing touches’ to artificial intelligence app so they can love you back”
I thought I was only kidding, but this is for real.
So how long will it be before such a product is on the market. According to Tech.Mic.com it could be as soon as the end of 2017.
This again brings up the concern of how smart sex dolls may increase human alienation.
Spectators at an AI hacking duel
I just read a story at New Scientist called Autonomous AI guards to stalk the internet fighting hackers. Apparently, earlier this month at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, with a $4 million prize hanging in the balance, different Artificial Intelligences were set up to hack each other while defending themselves from their opponent’s hacking attempts.
I know, right? The machines are hacking each other.
This has a good side and a bad side in the real world. The good side is you can configure an AI to look for vulnerabilities in your own system, patching them as they’re found. The bad side is that malicious players can set up their own AIs as autonomous hackers, scanning the web looking for vulnerable systems and exploiting them when discovered.
The New Scientist article ends with the somewhat humorous and ominous paragraph:
In a talk at Black Hat, Devost (Matt Devost of cybersecurity firm FusionX in Washington DC) joked that the competition heralded the launch of Skynet, the malevolent AI in the Terminator films. “Everyone laughed,” he says. “The humans were applauding their own demise!”
Mike Ferrell as Jerry Robinson on the set of Gene Roddenberry’s “The Questor Tapes” (1974)
They are still in various stages of drafts, but I’ve got eight out of twelve chapters in Word docs. They still need a lot of work, but the basic story is there. I had to add what I thought of as an “experimental” short story as a chapter. I did it to add to the word count at first, but as it turns out, when I changed the chapter around a bit, it fits the flow of the rest of the book quite well, and introduces greater controversy regarding the relationship between human and synthetic beings.
I feel like I shouldn’t give away any more excerpts, at least for the present. I don’t want to publish so much of the novel here on my blog that there won’t be any interest in it when I finally get it published (boy, am I optimistic).
As I mentioned, there are twelve planned chapters plus an epilogue which either ties everything together or leaves one really big question unanswered…or both.
Remember, this is a novel that incorporates religious and spiritual imagery, it is not Christian or Jewish science fiction, so not all chapters will have the same emphasis on Biblical understanding from a synthetic intelligence’s viewpoint as the first few.
I do promise that the final chapter and epilogue do return to those issues in a very big way and the novel wouldn’t be complete without resolving them within my two synthetic prototypes as well as within their creator.
I’m having a lot of fun here, but so far it’s chapter by chapter, and as I add elements in later chapters, I’m going to have to go back and revise earlier ones for the sake of continuity. If this all comes together as I hope, I think it will be a very good story.
I can only hope that others will agree.
I spent the afternoon yesterday reworking chapter one of my novel about the emergence of an artificially intelligent humanoid. I’m tightening up how things are named to be consistent across chapters, as well clarifying the core directives hardcoded into each synthetic android’s core operating system. It’s more interesting when an autonomous synthetic intelligence can analyze and interpret its directives given changing circumstances rather than being forced into preprogrammed responses. That gives them a certain level of unpredictability right off the bat.
Of course, in chapter one, I throw a monkey wrench into the machine by suggesting that the directives programmed into the synthetic intelligence might be overwritten or at least modified by a higher set of directives, the directives God gave the Jewish people. Just how does an artificial intelligence created by human beings understand the nature of a God who created human beings?