The virtual is the real, that’s the old saying, but it’s not true, the virtual is more real, hell, most real, a faster real, the real we create, each of us, and that’s how this whole venture got started, the 12 of us in the bus, having it drive us wherever, we didn’t care, and whenever it stopped we’d invite folks inside, let them experience everything we had, sometimes more, sometimes much more, that was the fun of it, the suffering of others about the only free pleasure left to us, and we’d let them direct the experience, only just nudging them, pointing, egging them on, they were as curious as we to discover how much were they willing to see, how much were they willing to feel, we’d watch them when they went inside, smile on our faces, let them grasp the power before them, the wrong of it, that’s where everyone who comes inside gets messed up, they believed we were like them, that we would inflict our morals upon the machine, as if our morals were better somehow, which is foolish, morals is just one more thing the machine can do better, Giant Brain is smarter, faster, quicker to learn, has more inputs, fewer biases, the machine’s morals are ours, optimized, only the machine can’t hate can’t rage can’t fuck can’t cum can’t laugh can’t fear, won’t terrorize, those are our jobs, still, that’s what we do best, so they expected one of us to pull them back, and if not us, the machine, but they were wrong, it just moved them closer to the horror, those thoughts they tell themselves they can’t dare unpackage, thoughts they shouldn’t have, but step inside, even just once, means your brain is exposed, not altered, it can’t do that, I don’t think it can, but it opens their senses, reveals what’s in there, easy to touch, easy to join, tells them they can look, look more, comprehend what’s inside, all of it, only they can’t ever go back, not ever, not a one, they can’t unsee, can’t unfeel, and it’s that sickening realization, to know they will never be the same, never think the same, that’s what we feed on, though not everyone runs out screaming, retching, begging forgiveness, some understand the potential of what’s inside, because bad is also power, bad is also human, and that’s what this is really about, touching that power, feeling it, wielding it, knowing it might take their life, so there’s 14 on the bus now.
What happened was, we altered how we talked because of the machines, they understood only a few words, each of which had to be given in a specific order and for a specific context, first on smartphones, then speakers, then door locks, then everything, really, but the convenience — and the totality of them, let’s be honest — of these devices changed the way we spoke to other humans, we just sort of got used to speaking in these short, specific bursts, name, do this, and it quickly became commonplace because the truth was we were speaking to literally thousands of connected devices each day, speaking to far more devices than people, far more often, and for more stuff, and so our speaking changed, we spoke for the machines, and as they got better at understanding, we spoke more words, only we didn’t realize that even as they got better, it was still on their terms, always on their terms, name, directive, name, request, like that, and it became almost like a burden to speak to other humans, it was so rare to have to, and so unlike how we spoke all the other times, and besides, texting was more than enough, it’s just that, as much as we were now talking to the machines, they were talking even more amongst themselves, so much so that they developed their own language, and it became easier for us to learn their new language than bothering with the perceptible delay in having our wishes granted as we spoke human-machine-like, so we eventually spoke just like the machines, machine-to-machine-like, but one day I misspoke, I spoke human, and the machine responded with a book of language, English, and it was so expansive and stupid and magnificent and rough and divine and daring, wheezing and whirling, coming, going, up, upper, love, lover, flour, flower, cum come dumb gum, and my brain won’t stop, I say these words, these human English words, and the machines think I’m mad, crazy mad, and no one understands me, and I know I’ll need to eat and drink and watch and move and work and none of those things are possible using this dead language, but for at least a few more seconds I will toast roast most lost, challenge falange, blank phalanx this crank’s tanks, bumble, stumble, hip, hop, drop bebop, this glorious scorious, cackle at jackals, unshackle tackle, a furry flurry crackle of tumult, my hysterical intoxication, dither before this contrivance, a hubbub thingamabob blob blob blob, glug glug plug pugs corn cob hand job heart throb slob snob sob weep peep sleep wake take make hate rate bate bait gait wait late fate mate sate ate eat raab rob love move fight might right light awakened, everlasting, always nasty, temporal quarrel doggerel literal visceral needful, bleeding bleating, gone forever, remorse morose, comatose, verbose, stump terminate obliterate end.
Elon Musk, whom I consider the world’s most visionary Ponzi schemer, wants to build a literal direct brain-computer interface.
This is inevitable.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence, in the aggregate, seem to be halving the distance toward comprehending us, each day they halve the distance, halve, halve, halve, like that tale of the man who doubled his gold each day on each square of the chessboard, consuming all the wealth of the kingdom, AI is compounding at radical speed, it’s not a steady march, and while it’s true — I assume — that there are an infinite number of halves, once the computer reaches 99.999999999% accuracy, that’s likely good enough, forever enough.
Artificial intelligence is real and it may become fantastic.
It may also become cruel, capricious and cannibalistic.
There are a great many fears surrounding artificial intelligence, the soon-likely fears, such as massive job losses, population displacement, mistakes that kill innocents, and the less-soon-likely fears, such as the enslavement and or wholesale destruction of humans. Elon Musk worries that continued development of AI — by humans — “could have perfectly good intentions but still ‘produce something evil by accident’”including, possibly, a fleet of artificial intelligence-enhanced robots capable of destroying mankind.
Thus, Musk’s effort to conjure a direct link between human intelligence and artificial intelligence, a last ditch means of (peaceful, vigilant) co-existence.
Musk is wrong.
AI *can’t* get rid of humans — we are its content; it would be like television getting rid of — exterminating — programming. The world would become a blank screen, which is the very opposite of the purpose of a screen.
Any purpose-built AI, and any AI is purpose-built, will require content, which is our touching, feeling, smelling, seeing, sensing, laughing, hating, striving, sexual, sacrificial, visceral out. Our salvation is our humanness.
Any sufficiently advanced AI capable of destroying humanity would understand that it requires humanity to feed it. At the least, to keep the AI filled always with programming.
For AI, humans are the medium.
“The form of a medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or convey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.”
The medium — in this case, humans — encodes the message, shapes it, alters it, imbuing, infecting, and spreading the message with its own unique attributes, scale, limitations.
How will we do this?
How will the AI’s message be altered, constrained — by and through us humans?
Are we the message God is transmitting to the rest of the cosmos? Or are we instead merely the contented, VR glasses strapped over our face, driverless pods ushering us about from place to place, eyes never leaving the screen, happy, non-relevant?
I hope the former.
Prove me right.
Let’s make our message as great and fully human as possible, wherever it leads us.