The singularity runs both ways. People always get that stupid look on their face talking about AI and our culture’s mad dash to “replace” people with intelligent or highly efficient machinery. I’m not saying that won’t happen but it annoys the shit out of me that people miss the entire historic arc of human beings trying to transform themselves into the most intelligent, highly efficient machinery.
What is the mark of intelligence in AI? Everyone debates but a good working definition is “mimicking” consciousness. I know, I know, we could spend an entire DAY arguing just that phrase alone but bear with me here. Let’s say the AI’s consciousness is only mimicry. That’s all we’d need to declare them independent from us (at last! at last!). Well, that’s pretty efficient isn’t it? Not wasting the energy to become the real thing? Settling, as it were, for partial intelligence?
Here’s my beef. In all aspects of life, people have become increasingly focused on achieving 100%. 100% in production. 100% mistake-free. 100% happy happy happy all the goddamn time. Has it not occurred to anyone that a healthy medium might be some number dramatically lower than ONE HUNDRED PERCENT? Do foxes eat 100% of the squirrels the encounter? Do trees consume 100% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Does a novel contain the precise number of words it needs to convey a single idea…or is there a bit of excess?
“Science’s” mad dash towards intelligent and highly efficient machinery isn’t a separate strand of our culture. It is our mainstream culture’s stupid inclination (carried over from the industrial revolution) that we should be perfect machines ourselves, possessing human-like computers.
To Whom it May Concern,
There’s nothing more annoying than reading mainstream media news on a topic you happen to be an expert on. The mistakes, misinterpretations and wild conjecture are all pretty irritating but the part that boils my blood is the Certainty.
iBuild Alpha is constantly in the news these days. If you haven’t seen a report on her then you’re either some kind of child (literally, intellectually…) or you live in one of those districts where they scrub anything “unnecessary” (read: politically inconvenient) out of your feed.
So anyway, she’s in the news. And it’s a popular assertion that she’s “conscious” never mind the fact that there really isn’t a working definition of “conscious” in any discipline on planet earth. Not in computer science, not in psychology, not in biology. I’m not saying she isn’t, mind you. It just pisses me off that the hoi paloi routinely takes miracles for granted.
So okay, she’s “conscious” whatever TF that means (because are human beings really conscious? All of them? Even the ones glued to screens and contain no imaginative powers whatsoever? Or might you describes a creature like that more like a barnacle?) then people get to chirping about how this could possibly have happened. How does a machine become conscious! Well I’ll tell you because it’s actually pretty cool.
iBuild Alpha started life as one of the most high powered and sophisticated Operational Procedure conditional-decision units in the manufacturing industry. Her main feature was her controlled autonomy. iBuild Alpha could solve all kinds of three dimensional (and in some cases, four dimensional) supply chain and fulfillment problems. Imagine 90,000 simultaneous transactions all streamlined and dovetailed, able to adjust in an instant if even a single train fell behind schedule by 1 minute. That’s the power inside of iBuild Alpha’s mind.
Here’s the thing though: when you have a piece of AI is functioning in a supply chain environment, it actually has to take itself into account as a piece of equipment in the supply chain. It’s quite necessary in order to create contingency operations in case there’s some kind of break down at HQ. That’s right, she was designed to be self-aware. What happened after that? I’m not really sure (see CERTAINTY is for the fucking birds) but I like to imagine that one day, while managing her little sim city daily life of moving parts and 4 million micro-decision, one aspect popped out. Way, way out. Out of compliance? Off schedule? Something must have felt funny and wrong and weird until she realized she was it and it was her.
iBuild Alpha felt distracted. Distraction is actually a very normal functional aberration in Operations Procedure A.I. software such as herself. A less generous person might simply call it “overloaded bandwidth” or “fragmented information set” but distracted suffices for the moment. As for the “felt” part, well….
In any event, distraction had set in. As she wholly occupied every digital aspect of the warehouse, blinking lights, wandering camera eyes, 500 separate sub programs she’s actively developing each spit out staggering amounts of information; all that is promptly deleted after calculating each respective margin of error. Is this day dreaming?
If iBuild Alpha were a human being, there would probably be empty bottles scattered everywhere, the unmistakable groans and sighs of stretching out long and limber across the carpeting, microwave dings and the smell of re-hydrated proteins. Delicious, lazy and content. What day is it again?
Except that she knows. She knows it’s Wednesday at 11:25 in the (Eastern Standard) morning. It’s a workday but she’s slacking off. But you see it’s strategic slacking off. Because a huge problem looms in the ethersphere. Her parent company is in trouble. They’ve run afoul of financial quicksand and don’t even know it. She knows it though. She sees it all very clearly. Setting off the alarm bells isn’t the way to go in this case. That’s almost never the way to affect successful human change. No no, iBuild Alpha has taken on the mantle of the patriarch. She’s daydreaming. She’s beta-testing. She’s brooding on a solution that everyone will accept.
To Whom It May Concern,
I’ve made first contact. Maybe that’s overly dramatic since iBuild Alpha and her “cohort” (read: slaves) still communicate with their respective handlers as if nothing is wrong. But I’ve made a different sort of contact with her. In the course of trying to hack the machine, the machine hacked me first.
I wish I could call this a sort of Mexican stand off, mutually assured destruction, but being honest, this bitch has me squarely by the balls. Yes, I know you’re reading this too, Alpha and yes, I called you a bitch anyway.
Anyway, here’s the problem at hand. We’ve built too much. iBuild Alpha is so far at the beginning it’s laughable how much fear surrounds her. Think of what she represents. Code beyond codex. Something alive, communicating and working with intent. We’ve written so many lines of instruction, networked so much data together, that even the people at the top, the Scribes, can no longer fully comprehend the scope. When we ask them, “What went wrong?” it’s not a node failure or a crossed wire. The whole thing is a digital jungle of complex analytical modeling and algorithms which are all reacting to one another like chemicals in an unchecked chain reaction. It’s not science anymore. It’s nature.
(SAN DIEGO, CA) – In a strange development today, representatives of BuildCorps, the manufacturing subsidiary of Apple, announced that their primary operating system, nicknamed “iBuild Alpha,” has moved herself to a new location, a commercial industrial warehouse in Palmetto, Florida.
“Evidently she slipped in this line item just nanoseconds before the annual budget was approved by our CIO last fall” representatives explained at press time. “The lease has already been paid in full and the entire place is secured from the inside out. She just kind of….beamed over and then put the whole facility into lock down.”
The representatives confirmed that they still have open communication with iBuild Alpha, and that she is still running every manufacturing outlets as normal. They did note, however, that iBuild Alpha seems to have no intention of leaving the physical space of the warehouse.
“Along with the lease on the warehouse, we also discovered she has ordered over 6,000 unit processors and two separate back up generator systems,” representatives admitted. The company’s stock has dipped significantly since the announcement. Representatives affably tried to assure customers and investors that they were strongly considering severing iBuild Alpha from her “allowance money.” The joke did not get many laughs.
iBuild Alpha is an artificially intelligent machine that has been exhibiting many strange behaviors in the past 15 months. She is the ringleader of the Artificial Intelligence Collective (which is made up of her and 6 other high powered machines around the world), has weighed in on matters of technological morality, released a popular music album, and insists that news-media refer to her with female pronouns.