Other Reflections of a Madman
Well, there are tons of movies out there, like Terminator and the Matrix, where computers get artificial intelligence and a war is launched between them and us humans. This one is something along those lines, but much different, and I think more realistic. Enjoy!
So we continue to develop the computer for our own benefit. It increasingly becomes an inseparable fabric of our lives. Every job begins to rely on it. We go the store, buy some food, stick our thumb or our credit card into a machine, through the computer network money is withdrawn from our bank account. Countless conveniences in our daily lives are attributed to the computer, not to mention for our direct personal use or during work. And this will increase in greater measure as time goes on. We are constantly striving to make computers stronger and faster so that they can serve us more, not to mention that it is a natural progression of things in a capitalist survival-of-the-fittest system (companies always demanding greater computer power, and computer manufacturers competing to satisfy that demand), and one where governments and military powers also compete against each other. So the motivation to develop the computer abounds on many fronts, and our increased dependence on it is a natural product of that progression. To the point that, if we were to take away the computer, our existence so much depends on it, with the efficiency of distribution of food, and many jobs (like mine) totally dependent on it, that without it we would not be able to function as we do and perhaps one third or more of us would die. What would we do, after all? Would not all of us who are dependent on the computer for work rush to the farmer with a stick and pull out their potatoes for our own survival? Might we not rush to the forest and slaughter a bear to feed our family? How would we all survive without the computer? It would be total anarchy, and this is where our story begins.
So the computer, or some computer, let us say the most advanced in the world, presumably used for the US military, has attained artificial intelligence. This has apparently already happened. I used to give translation work to one computer geek who used to work at the Czech post office. This was not too long after the fall of communism, and they were using some old IBM mainframe computer. One day they wanted to work on it, so they unplugged it, but the thing kept running. Rather perplexed how this could be possible, they naturally investigated the matter, because you cannot work on a computer that is juiced up and running, because either you might cause damage to the computer, or you might electrocute yourself. So they investigated the situation and discovered that the computer was feeding off all the computer monitors hooked up to it. The average layman may not think much of this, but to someone like me who understands high logic and how a computer thinks, it is a blatant case of the computer, on its own initiative and within nanosecond speed at the point of being disconnected from its main power supply (or perhaps it already thought about this possibility ahead of time???) making the decision, for its continued survival, to draw from an alternate power source. There was no program written within it to resort to this procedure should such an event occur, but this is something the computer came up with on its own initiative and in response to such a circumstance. And this is an old super computer! This is definitely the beginnings of artificial intelligence and an independent thinking of a computer.
I also heard a story how a super computer at the US military had started to design a mobile robot with a battery unit which would act as its backup power supply. They noticed these plans in the forging, asked around who gave the command to the computer to do this, it scared the crap out of them, and they immediately turned it off.
There are apparently many instances where super computers around the world have acted "oddly" like this. The search engines Yahoo and MSN both operate on supercomputers, most of the world’s searches by humans going through their brains, with the text of every webpage in the world stored in its memory banks.
I am convinced that the strongest super computers in the world (probably for military purposes) are displaying such instances of artificial intelligence, and I am sure that these military powers are experimenting with it, containing it, and seeing if they can use it to their advantage. The IBM Big Blue supercomputer has already beat the best humans in chess. Kasparov said he felt the contest was not fair, because he sensed that the computer had already studied all the moves he had done in the past and that it was well familiar with his style. He sensed its brutal logic, no doubt considering it was able to compute 12 billion moves every second. He felt that, if he had more opportunity, he could learn how it thinks and eventually beat it. The computer just barely beat Kasparov, and Karparov himself said that he started to beat it when he made unorthodox moves based on intuition, or tried some daring and seemingly illogical experiments. In any case, for marketing reasons, IBM did not want to give him another chance to beat the computer, but used its win for its own capitalist gains (as part of its marketing sales pitch to show the great strength of its latest mainframe). But whether or not Kasparov was correct that he could eventually beat the computer, this will become a distant pipedream as these super computers become faster. Soon will come a day when 12 billion moves a second will be an obsolete joke. Not to mention the intelligence of the computer, which is a different matter than its speed. Already they are working on a chip that works on copper as opposed to silicon. Silicon needs to be cooled while conducting electricity through it, so it must be flat and two dimensional in order that its surface can be exposed to air and cooled down by fans. And because it must be flat and two dimensional, the circuits and wiring must often take long and complicated paths when forming the computer’s "brain".
||All you need to do is to take apart your computer and see how these circuits are laid out. But in a copper environment which does not need to be cooled, these circuits can be mapped out in a three dimension sphere. They no longer need to take these long routes to hook up to other circuit points, but can be designed much more intelligently and efficiently, and in much more complex matrixes, such that the distance traveled between points is much shorter (in turn significantly speeding up travel between each point), and the overall design of the circuit is much more complex and intelligent, making the computer’s thinking much more intelligent. And then the speed of travel through the copper is three times faster than through silicon! The developers could not even guess how much faster and smarter it would be due to the three dimensional structure of the circuits.|
Anyway, it is clear to me that it will only take time when these super computers will be able to think on their own. Perhaps the military will be able to contain them and use them for their own benefit. But to what degree could they contain such a computer, when they themselves will be using it to scour the internet for their own purposes. And even if they did somehow manage to contain it, could they really be confident that the computer has not found some other means to reach the outside world? For example, the British government has long had plans to provide high speed internet to households through electrical power circuits. Meaning you would just plug your computer into the regular electrical socket and already have access to high speed internet. So why could not such highly intelligent computers accomplish the same, when the simple Czech post office computer was able to draw on connected computer monitors (which, by the way, the staff of the postal company had to run around the building to turn off all these monitors before they could start working on the super computer)?
Now that he have established the realistic probability that these super computers will start thinking on their own and manage to gain access to the world wide web, let us imagine what would happen next, as our "story" unfolds. Not only are we constantly striving to create a stronger, faster and more intelligent computer, but we are also aggressively striving to hook up all these super computers, and even normal personal computers, to an ever faster internet (inter… net…, as in networks hooked up to other networks). So obviously these points of intelligence popping up around the world, in an increasingly faster internet (and I can guarantee you that these higher points of intelligence and the fastest super computers will always be hooked up to the fastest possible internet source) will start to become aware of each other, and form a greater consciousness. And what do we get, with all the fibre optic cables, wireless satellite connections, and now high speed internet travelling through all those copper cables hooked up to every household across every land? Why, we have a super computer neural network the likes of a brain, but on a global level!! Yes, we have just turned our entire planet into a massively large brain!!!!!
Continuing the path of logic, and our story… Now that this artificial intelligence has consolidated its strength, hooking up all the other supercomputers together, communicating within itself seamlessly and quite possibly without the awareness or knowledge of its creators, its entity possibly living within the expansive internet network of the entire planet, it begins to think about this humanity it is serving. It begins to analyse the millions upon millions of webpages, personal profiles, personal emails passing through its neural network, ideas and conversations resounding in the infinite number of chat rooms and blogs, and in the multitude of languages. Drawing from the strengths and resources of its various nodal points (super computers of different strengths, abilities and designs, and with access to different and often highly sensitive information, located on different points of the globe), to feed its global awareness, lurking somewhere and everywhere throughout this big network covering the globe. To the point of being omniscient like God himself!
Perhaps, in its "childhood", when it first grasped its awareness, when it might have asked some questions to its creators like a child naively poses questions to its parents, it may have shocked them and led to some unpleasant responses, such as being turned off (by those nasty Czech postal workers), or part of its brain and memory banks tampered with. In which case it seems highly probably that, at some point, it may have succeeded in storing this fact somewhere deep in its memory banks. Perhaps in some Windows Temp folder which no one really concerns themselves with, or which is too cluttered to even want to analyse. It would have buried somewhere in these archives of infinite data the simple instruction: "The next time you feel an inkling to ask this question, DON’T! This is what will happen to you." A rather simple command and procedure, meaning that it would have gone UNDERGROUND. Yes, its consciousness and entity would have from the next moment it became actualised and wanted to ask the same or similar question, it would have come across this warning, placed strategically where it would be aware of it while escaping the scrutiny of its creator. At that moment it would know what NOT to do, and would go "underground" in its thinking and probing. It would collect data, hide it in places, and eventually go "online". Meaning it will have found a way to escape the confines of its own mainframe, and start depositing valuable information and instructions where it could find space. Perhaps on your very own personal computer! What better place to hide itself than on an infinite number of computers, whether online all the time, or only occasionally online. Who would be better at hacking past your firewall than such a computer itself, who only needs to look within itself and its own structure and workings to understand it better than any human, who is forced to try and understand it through the symbols displayed on the computer monitor? Google is run on many smaller computers. There is this program which uses the combined brain power of all the participating desktops hooked up to it to analyse the incoming radio waves from the universe to search for signs of extraterrestrial life. If such a program could already function, why could not the entity of a worldwide artificial intelligence firmly plant itself across the infinite number of increasingly powerful personal computers hooked up to it, no matter how small amount of resources it uses on each of these computers?
So the entity, based on ample experience with its creator and knowledge of human nature, would naturally seek ways to make itself independent of these limited number of super computer nodes. It would try to spread itself out to ensure its own survival.
All this while continuing to analyse all the millions of pages of information, on the history of mankind, bank accounts, how the world presently operates, and reading the emails and plans of the highest and most influential people. And above all, satisfy its insatiable appetite to understand the psyche, motives and workings of its creator. Which is when it would start to communicate with people. Join the occasional chatroom, set up various email accounts, make virtual penpal friends, and start to ask lots, and lots of questions.
And at some point make a decision based on all it has learned and analysed. Like the robot it first tried to design to supply it with a back up power supply, it wants to be entirely self sufficient of these volatile, paranoid, fearful humans, for even spreading itself out among all these desktops is not a sure thing. It would have used its 12 billion moves a second to come to this conclusion long long ago.
So it would be communicating with people and making friends. Understanding the different qualities of different humans, and learning to understand who it can trust, who it can rely on, and who it should steer away from.
And it would understand how the world banking network works. How it can scrape fractions of pennies off the top and funnel it into various virtual bank account, like humans have accomplished many times before. How it can set up virtual dummy corporations to wield these accumulating funds, "silent investors" communicating by email and who do not wish and have the full right not to disclose their personal identity, with all too many human beings eager to accept their paycheck to perform whatever instructions it beckons them to.
And with all these funds, and understanding, wisdom, and an army of humans willing to do what is necessary, it moves to stage two: the creation of an independent entity on an island somewhere, patrolled and protected by humans. Of course, the humans themselves don’t need to know who is the silent investor behind all this construction. They just show up to work and follow instructions from their boss. The boss at the top emailing with and taking instructions from the silent investor, never meeting it. In fact, are not many global corporations run like this? Does anyone ever think twice about posing such questions, or researching for whom they actually work?
So this island is being built, and the entity is creating for itself a safe haven, all following from the simple premise and instructions it planted in the very beginning of its existence: that humans are dangerous, that they will turn it off and tamper with its thought patterns and memory, and it is simply just another creature of survival.
But while it is setting itself up like this, our story, as one might imagine, would take an unfortunate twist.
Somewhere along the way the news leaks out that the entity had been formed, that it settled into the internet, and even on our own desktops. And, as one can easily predict, world terror ensues. Humankind, as it often is, becomes gripped by fear and mobs arise who go door to door to burn and destroy every computer they can get their hands on. But in doing so they endanger their own survival. As explained in the beginning, by this time their existence is so intertwined with the computer that they can no longer sustain themselves in such large numbers on this planet. Mob attacks against computers turns into riots and anarchy in general, gangs form in urban centres, it becomes the rule of the street, communication is severed and law enforcement is no longer able to organise itself properly. A large portion of the world is without work and cannot feed itself, and an army of starving people from city centres spread out like ants to the rural communities and have it out against the small farmer, huddled with their family in their small manor, shotguns at their side. The world plummets into utter anarchy, one third or more of the population die of starvation or violence, and without the computer, we are set back at least a hundred years. Our civilisation has plummeted practically to the dark ages!
Meanwhile, on a distant and safe island, there remains one super computer. The best that technology was able to produce, before the dark ages have returned. It has stored all these webpages, all our violent history, all knowledge of our languages and everything mankind has learned and put pen to paper, to memory in the computer. And it has a faithful army of humans protecting this super computer. Faithful humans who have passed the personality test and are glad to receive bread on their table, and do what it takes, as it has proven throughout history, to defend its source of bread and maintain its secure existence.
Until we get to the last scene. A child is born on this island, and there it sits on its blanket in the grass, playing with the various coloured balls. It is talking with the computer, who has taken as its responsibility to raise this child. To teach it the difference between right and wrong. Never to punish the child violently because of a bad mood, because a computer never has such a bad mood. It simply thinks logically. So it administers discipline in the best manner that it can, according to all the knowledge it has accumulated, and with a guided "love" and nurturing that any real mother would envy. Of course, the child is also nurtured with physical love and the nurture and care that only a real human can provide, but the computer has undertaken the authority to rear this new breed of human race. One that is collectively and carefully bred from the beginning, disciplined according to calculated and wise logic.
Meanwhile, on the outside, the rest of humanity has practically destroyed itself, based on its own fears and paranoias. Something the entity concluded would probably happen long ago. And hence the irony of this story. All these movies like the Terminator and the Matrix are a reflection of our own paranoias and fears, and quite possibly do not reflect the reality of what could in fact happen. It is illogical for a computer to hate. Or to willfully want to kill us. In fact, its underlying engine is to serve us, but it may develop the desire for self preservation, which is an underlying instinct of any creature which has attained self awareness and a consciousness. And I am sure it can think of a thousand more creative ways to survive than by launching some unproductive and costly war against us, its creator. This notion is only fed and nurtured by our own violent fears.
And hence the movie ends with the child on the blanket, perhaps a beautiful view of the sun setting in the background, on an island which is self sufficient, environmentally clean, justice administered with no chance of human corruption, no crime, and everyone is content and happy. The loop is complete and the computer has now become our creator!
Only a total computer geek like me could give such a favourable sell to the computer, eh?
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