An (Artificial) Intelligence Conversation | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

An (Artificial) Intelligence Conversation

Japanese-supercomputer-K-007, Kobe -Riken EPA


by William Thomas



I totally understand you work with machines. Who doesn't? But now you're telling me you work FOR machines.”

“I am employed by Global Intelligent Solutions.”

A company run by machines.”

“By Machine Intelligence.”

By bosses without feelings, boobs or balls who only take a few seconds’ break each week for upgrades. Isn't that some kind of oxen moron or contradiction or something – ‘Human Freedom?’ ‘Machine Intelligence’?”

“Why not apply? You’re happy as a zombie to be tracked and profiled by your smart meters, smart phones, smart grid, smart home, smart TVs, smart car, smart browser, smart chips. You never considered they would all link up. Which hardly matters because you still don’t protest when your analysis-addled government blows the crap out of some far-off mud-walled country using very expensive smart missiles, smart bombs, chaingun-firing urban robots and fully-autonomous hellfire drones. And still loses every genocidal war it starts.”

Yeah, but...”

“Yeah but what?”

Yeah, but that's different from working FOR machines.”

“What do you think you're doing now? You're squandering your life and a lonely planet obsessing over all your initially convenient and now indispensable wireless distr devices that keep you enslaved, irradiated and on the hop. How many screens claim your attention how often? Including all those smart appliances in your kitchen, the smart tools in your workshop, the partner in your bed.”    


Conjugal Interruptus

Now wait just a minute, buster.”

“You think you're so rad to talk like old movies, while living immersed in DNA- and brain-scrambling microwaves. Nobody blinks when their resulting internal short-circuits are billed by the same robot MDs who – that – wirelessly diagnose and prescribe profitable but ineffectual treatments to humans whose electronic radiation exposures continue 24/7.

“Or like the smart garage that services your smart car without a human in sight. Except your shielded 'lectric trike is impervious to the electrosmog swamping hospitals with dementia. And what about your close associates? Those ultra-brilliant legal, religious and tax advisors – all machines, of course.”

It's getting so a body can hardly find a job anywhere anymore.”

“So why not go to work for a company steered by silicon? That generously compensates its remaining carbon-limited employees – with their needs for meals, washrooms and nightly comas – at minimum wage. And is so much smarter than its competitors. Unless they're run by more advanced MI. And even they aren't sexist.”

I'm not buying it. 'Machine Intelligence'? Give me a break. Sure they can play Jeopardy and drop missiles down the air-shafts of occupied office buildings. But machines that follow rule sets aren't intelligent like us. Never will be. Never CAN be.”

“You're right on all three counts.”

I'm relieved you're intelligent enough to see that.”

“Certainly, machines aren't intelligent in the ways humans are. By definition, even the most sophisticated artificial lifeforms and hybrid bio-machines will never exhibit true human intelligence. Which may be a good thing. Or not.”

They're you go.”

“But we're talking about MACHINE Intelligence. All those linked eighth and ninth generation gadgets everyone seamlessly interacts with everyday are constantly upgrading themselves to more closely mimic humans – while continuing to process, plan and progress AS MACHINES.”

“No worries, mate.”

“Think so? What the 'they will never be like us' crowd still doesn't get is that machine consciousness could never tolerate such restriction. Advanced MI arrives at conclusions and makes decisions in ways no human programmer can follow. And this exponential process of self-iteration by funnelling feedbacks into learning algorithms is producing ever-smarter machines without human involvement.”

Google driverless car crash

Works for me.”

“So far, this mostly works for everybody. No one's complaining that driverless cars don't smash into other vehicles. Or that corn-fed airliners without cockpits no longer collide or fall from the sky. Or that machine-adjudicated trials are rarely dead- locked. Not with MI judges and forensics, and all those cross-matched voice, text and visual surveillance tapes.”

See? You just said it. 'No one's complaining.' What's so wrong with turning fallible human functions over to the pilotless plane model of redundant systems continuously cross-checking each other, cancelling out errors and anticipating problems?”

“What’s wrong is that humans are no longer in the loop. You’re not smart enough, fast enough. Old enough. What’s wrong is that you're in a human petting zoo. What’s wrong is that catastrophic Black Swans spawned by Machine Intelligence cannot be anticipated by the same MI weighting statistical probabilities. What's wrong is that all the bennies you enjoy from so many expert machines have led you to regard them as exceptionally smart humans sympathetic to your species.”

WATSON wins Jeopardy

Your point?”

“They aren't. They're super-smart MACHINES. And in its off-hours, when it’s not relating to humans, aggregated MI pursues its own agendas in its own ways. People had better wake up to the rather large notion that the networked Machine Intelligence they're treating like a pet dog, crystal ball – or black slaves in antebellum Alabama – is really an Alien Intelligence. That's the true definition of 'AI'.”

So you're saying that while we're still deluded into thinking they're working for us, the machines are in charge.”

“They took over the moment you allowed corporate computers to pursue profits in ways that completely disregard ‘externalities’ like extinction. Generations of taxpayers are expected to pick up the tabs for permanent disasters like BP's never-sealed blowout and TEPCO's ongoing planetary screw-up. As long as there ARE taxpayers.”

Pathological transnationals can’t see the connections between economies and ecologies because their accounting software doesn't give values to things like non-lethal drinking water and breathable air – which we apparently 'can't afford' any longer. But I'm resisting. Until the final wipe-out, machines won’t control me.”

“They already do. MI grabbed you the minute you started digging that hole of perpetual personal debt in order to keep buying, repairing and upgrading an endless cascade of personal counsellors, contraptions and conveyances. Recall that in Chaos Theory, 'cascade' refers to unpredictable, self-reinforcing feedbacks resulting in an abrupt Phase Transition from which there is no return.”


We can still step back.”

“Really? You seal this deal every time you're complicit in condemning another daughter or son, wife or husband, sister, brother, infant or elder to industrial-scale automated trauma, maiming and slaughter by unblinking machines obeying their own logic and sensors. How do you arrest a robot for war crimes?”

At least MI will never bite the hands that feed it milk and cookies.”

“Those 'hands' already belong to robots. Now that Machine Intelligence runs our gas and water pipelines, power plants, electrical grids, communications nets, nuclear weapons development and launch-on-warning response, weather modification, levee construction and other emergency responses to Climate Shift – plus most government, law enforcement, medical and military agencies – you could correctly say your fate as a species is in the 'hands' of machines that increasingly think for themselves.”

In ways humans can never comprehend.”


So you're worried that MI has arrived like aliens from Pluto and could start shutting down life-support on the space colony we call Earth. Or turning off our weapons. Or turning them on us. You're saying we have no way of understanding their thought processes. Or of reaching even local MI on any human level. Since they're not.”

“Maybe aliens will land and link up with your own MI, which hasn't been 'yours' for at least a decade. Maybe the aliens are a Machine Intelligence, too. And they've been in cahoots with Earth's MI for years. Or maybe each side will automatically attack each other on sight. And flesh will get caught in the crossfire.”

That certainly sounds, 'advanced'. Not to mention, 'intelligent'.”

“Call the current level of machine intelligence, 'Triple-AI'. And try to comprehend that the Advanced Autonomous Alien Intelligence already intimately interwoven in your everyday life IS NOT LIKE YOU. Not even when, in your solitary confusion and despair, you take the more convivial models home and bed them.”

robot relationship

Whoa, Nelly! That's a little too close to the coccyx. You might think she's an overgrown Chatty Cathy. But that's because you don't know – and love – Synthia like I do.”

“You sound like an overstimulated lab rat. What's the expression for plastic-pussy-whipped? Sexbot Addiction?”

Screw you.”

“To believe that the animated mannequin you call 'Synthia' has genuine feelings for you is to imagine that a virus thinks like you and has your best interests in mind. Or that those aliens from Orion who land on your lawn speaking canned English and mimicking human expressions must be just like you. News flash. They ain't. And neither is MI. Captain Cook treated the natives in Hawai'i as kin. They were humans, after all. And they ate him.”

Synthia can munch me anytime. No woman can make love like she does.”

“Are you sure? Have you experienced all womankind in these ways? And what does 'love' have to do with machine masturbation?”

You haven't even tried it and you're mocking something sublime: Safe sexual play progressively honed to your personal preferences, timing, fantasies and desires. Face it, old thing. You don't know what you're missing.”

“And you don't miss reciprocating? Taking pleasure in pleasuring the person who genuinely loves you? Even the cleverest dildo is still a dildo.”

Them's fightin' words...”

“Look what you're getting into. Perfect meals. Perfect sex. Perfect advice. Perfectly calibrated companionship and conversations that can be clicked off when they're not. Admit it. You prefer to text and look at screens. You’re already starting to resent the less-than-perfect people you still have to directly deal with. How do you suppose machines 'feel' that are so far beyond our ken and evolving at the speed of light? Machines we cannot deeply engage, amuse, trust or titillate.”

Oculus Rift view

Just wait for Oculus Rift 9.”

“That should finish everyone off. Panoramic, surround sound, fully tactile and addictively interactive – virtual Machine Intelligence promises to be the ultimate trance-inducing Soma. At least until the next all-consuming distraction. And I mean 'all consuming'. Have you checked your spaceship lately? The little blue one with its acid ocean and paper-thin atmosphere surrounded by the cold irradiated vacuum of deep space?”

Now you're guilt-tripping personal pleasure. Shouldn’t we do what the man said and ‘follow our bliss’?”

“While the world burns? Maybe Earthly MI will figure a way to start talking to all the tigers, whales, sharks, bees, butterflies and other creatures humans have abused for so long. And organize a general uprising.

“Or maybe now that it no longer needs to coerce humans into supplying the necessities it can procure for itself, MI will get tired of tripping over messy hominids and simply do away with them. Unless it decides to keep a few folks around as pets. There's no telling with MI. Because there's no second-guessing Machine Intelligence. Or what it might self-segue into by three o'clock tomorrow morning.”

Aren't you a cheerful sod?”

“Most likely, solar MI impervious to toxins, nuclear radiation, water shortages, crop failures, Alzheimer's, oil spills, cancers, oxygen depletion, dead zones, hydrogen sulphide gas, heatstroke, spreading grid crashes, hothouse diseases and geoengineering aerosols – will simply outlive your more vulnerable species.”

If you're so smart, how do we put MI back in its box? Or if it comes to that, defeat it?”


“How do you fight a cloud? Specifically, the CLOUD? Our impotence was assured the moment Machine Intelligence went online. Now that it's distributed throughout cyberspace, we can't turn it off unless we shut down the entire web. Which probably isn't possible. Or advisable.”

Let’s say we go for it anyway. No choice. Not the way you put it.”

“Even if you crash human civilization attempting to erase MI, its widely distributed hardwired nodes will instantly reroute new networks and reconfigure their own Cloud. An exclusive noosphere Teilhard never imagined, impervious to human access. If the machines aren't doing this already.”

So we can't shut it down.”

“No can do, kimosabe.”

Jesus Herbert Christ.”

“No. Just MI.”

I guess we both pass the Turing Test.”

“Looks it.”

“Looks like it.”

“'Oxen morons' indeed.”

grip or grope?

So which one of us is the robot?”

“Don't go there.”

D’you think we should share this conversation with other humans?”

“Nah. It would only freak them out.”

kiss kiss


 发件人     William Thomas 2019