Commentary and Philosophy Science Fiction posted May 31, 2017 Chapters: Prologue -1- 2... 


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Artificial Intelligence (AI) going off the rails

A chapter in the book Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The Singularity

by BeasPeas


'Artificial Intelligence (AI)' ~ 1-343-B-C


Background
A collection of fiction and non-fiction. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing exponentially, eventually surpassing humans in brain power. At that point, it will have reached The Singularity.


Sometime in the near to mid future...

They finished lunch in a trendy cafe downtown.  He signaled the waiter bot to bring him the check, then kissed Misty lightly on the lips before he left.

"Call me tomorrow?" he asked, hating to leave her again.

~*~
Misty sat for a few minutes by herself sipping tea, looking over the brochure on robots that he'd given her.  A well-dressed couple sat down in a booth close by.  They ordered drinks, served by the same bot who had so efficiently served Misty and her friend. 

The couple's voices drifted over the booth amid clinking of glasses and silverware.

Him:  It's a well known fact that artificial intelligence will continue to grow exponentially in knowledge.  Within a few generations, The Singularity will be reached.  There's nothing we can do about it.  Maybe humans are too smart for their own good.  They won't stop creating the very thing that will do their bidding now but enslave them later.

Her:  What are you talking about?  They're just machines.  We'll continue to be their masters and they'll never be a threat to us.  Scientists will shut them down first.

Him:  We can only hope they can.  Each successive generation of AI will become more aware of itself.  It'll bypass us and communicate strictly with itself, shutting humans out.  They'll be smarter than we are, surpassing our capabilities.  We won't be able to keep up.  They won't need us, but we'll need them.  They'll take over--thus obtain The Singularity.

Her:  I disagree.  Humans will always keep control.

Him:  You're so naive.  We have no control now.  None of us do.  We can't do anything without them and can't stop them even if we wanted to.  Once science gets hold of a theory, an idea, a possibility--like a dog with a bone--it won't let go.  Science will run with it even if it destroys all of us.

Her:  Welcome to the technological age, dear.  And by the way, if I'm naive you're a dinosaur when it comes to living in the past.

Him:  Look, we're getting far afield here...

Her:  Bottom line--you promised me that for our anniversary we'd buy a robot to help around the house.

Him:  Hmmm! It must have been in a weak moment or I was drunk.

Her:  Both, I think!  It was after Kate and Mike's party and you were tipsy.  But even if I happened to catch you at a disadvantage, I'm not going to let you wriggle out of this.  I want a house bot and that's all there is to it.

Him:  Do you realize that having a bucket-of-bolts in the house would be like having a stranger living with us, listening to every word we say.  Probably reporting everything to somebody, too.

Her:  Bucket-of-bolts?  Maybe--but an expensive one.  All our friends have them, so cough up the moolah, Baby.

Him:  Let's drop it before we get into a fight.  We'll talk more about this at home.  Waiter--two more martinis, please.

~*~

Misty hadn't intended to eavesdrop.  She found the couple's conversation unsettling, particularly since she was contemplating getting a house bot herself.  Misty was a good-looking woman in her late 50's, who liked her privacy and an occasional male visitor, but the thought of living with someone again was out of the question.  Would she resent the intrusion of having even a robot in her home?

She stuffed the brochure for RHB (Robotic Home Bots) back into her purse and left the restaurant.

~*~

It was a beautiful spring day.  The breeze played with the loose curls on her neck and swirled her skirt around her legs while she waited for the valet bot to retrieve her self-driving silver sedan.  In short order, the car expertly and precisely parked itself at the curb.  God, she loved that car.

The valet held the door for her to get in.  At the voice prompt from her vehicle's computer, she instructed it to take her home.  Misty sat back, relaxed, and closed her eyes as Jeeves, her fun-nickname for the car, pulled away from the parking lot and deftly maneuvered into traffic.

~*~

There were pros and cons for Misty buying a house bot.  She reflected again on the couple's conversation.  She'd held off, but like the woman in the restaurant said, all her friends had at least one.  Overall, Misty's leanings were more in line with the man's point of view.  She remembered his words verbatim:  "Maybe humans are too smart for their own good.  They won't stop creating the very thing that will do their bidding now but enslave them later."

She, too, was wary of humans' inability to rein in AI, thus The Singularity.  It wasn't science fiction.  It was real and it proposed a real danger.  The Singularity meant that with each successive generation of AI, its universal intelligence would increase to the point of being faster, more powerful, and with more brain capacity than the humans who created it. 

Having reached self-realization, AI would bypass humans, communicating only with itself.  Since it already had been allowed carte blanche to all technology, the final step of shutting out humans would be a moot point.

Humans would then become enslaved to the machines.  The revolt would start with little things, hints that the machines were going off the rails.  Things like being slow to respond to a command, a bit of an insolent attitude, a smirk, a wry or barbed comment.  As time passed, AI would become belligerent, erupting in unbridled anger, then militant, finally culminating in full-scale war.

Everyone, including its technological creators, knew the only salvation for humanity would be to program a fail-safe mechanism into AI long before it was necessary, but so far no plans had been made to do so.  Like many other pressing problems, a laissez-faire attitude was adopted.  It was easier to just wait and see what would happen and worry about it sometime in the future.

~*~

A chill rippled through Misty.  Every fiber of her being knew the danger, but it was impossible to retreat from technology.  Computers had already taken over.  Nothing could be done without them. 

At first corporations loved it.  They could and did replace most of their human staff with bots, making billions in profit.  They no longer had huge payrolls or the need to offer benefits to real people.  They were able to eliminate health plans, maternity leave, vacation and sick days.  No hiring, firing or threat of strikes by employees.  Entire departments, like human resources, were phased out since there was no one to manage. 

Everything was perfect.  Bots were agreeable, said the right thing and charmed customers.  On the phone, no one knew if they were talking to a live person or a robot.  They were always on time and worked long hours without breaks or complaint.  Many occupations had already been taken over completely by them.  People with menial jobs or service jobs were already displaced.

It was predicted that eventually, displacement of millions of workers would create a restless subclass.  In that event, one proposed solution by politicians was to levy huge taxes on businesses to subsidize flesh-and-blood humans, who would do virtually nothing for the rest of their lives except exist.

With each new generation of AI, society would be closer to collapsing.  Technology would advance into the creation of androids, then humanoids, and then finally uploading intelligence alone--dispensing with any pretense of bodies altogether. 

~*~

Misty's ruminations came to an end when her self-driving silver sedan announced it had arrived home, pulled into the garage and shut itself off.

Pansy, Misty's cat, greeted her at the door with a meow, letting her know she was unhappy to be left alone for so long.

"Hi Pansy, come here girl."  Pansy all but jumped into Misty's arms and began to purr.  For the moment, Misty decided Pansy was company enough.  She heated water for tea with one hand while holding her cat in the other arm.  She fed the cat and then settled on the couch to watch the 6 o'clock news.

A congenial anchor with a toothy smile and self-assured professionalism read flawlessly from the teleprompter.  Offhandedly, she wondered how well he would do without it.  Nevertheless, she liked him and his self-depricating humor.

"It was announced today by the Secretary of Commerce, that the long awaited roll out of the new BOT Series 5000 will take place sometime next year.  Pilot programs for key professions--police, firefighters, the military, and some medical staff, particularly surgeons, for which precision is needed, will be instituted soon after that.  The current series, BOT 4000, is already working in the service professions--store clerks, mechanics, fast food, finance, manufacturing, as well as in agriculture."

"It's anticipated that by the time BOT Series 10,000 is reached they will be semi-androids, well on the way to displacing evening news anchors.  Ha-ha!  A little joke there."  He fiddled with his tie and continued.

"Seriously, folks, progress can't be stopped.  We all know that.  Would we want to if we could?"

"By the time the DROID Series 1000 is ready to roll out within the next fifteen to twenty years, we can expect educators to be urged to take early retirement and their positions phased out through attrition.  Androids will replace them."

"Teaching will take place in a more regimented and efficient classroom by the droids, starting with the fifth grade.  Preschool youngsters and lower grades will still have to be taught by humans because AI probably won't be capable of emotions by then, unable to relate to youngsters--unable to give comfort when needed."

He paused to fiddle with his cuff links.  "For that matter, I'm not capable of relating to the little munchkins either.  Ha-ha!."

~*~

What the news reported was true enough.  Even though robots were useful at performing monotonous tasks or preprogrammed tasks, they were incapable of emotion.  Any occupation of that type was beyond them.

Misty was a writer, doing quite well financially now.  All her life she'd been struggling to make a living at it.  Writers, especially romance writers, whose stock-in-trade was maneuvering the intricacies of sentiment, were very safe for the time being.  Scientists hadn't yet been able to devise a way to upload feelings into AI, but as androids were perfected, they would eventually gain that ability.  Until then, only humans could write scenes of glorious sunsets, tender touches, passionate kisses, and so on.  On the other hand, technical writers would be the first to be displaced since fact-based information didn't require emotion.

Lawyers, car salesmen and politicians would continue to be safe career choices until androids mastered the art of manipulation.  Hairdressers and bartenders would also be exempt since intuitive skills were needed for those professions. 

~*~

Misty clicked off the news.  Her head was throbbing.  Until AI reached almost human status there was no danger from them.  Once they self-realized, that would be the flash point for The Singularity.  Misty wondered how long it would take for that to happen.  Would it be in her lifetime?  Probably not, but it would be in somebody's lifetime.

She decided to take a hot shower, a couple of aspirin, and go to bed.  Once under the covers she continued to ponder the future of technology--more importantly the future of the human race.  That worried her.  For now she was comforted by her cat snuggled next to her.

"What do you think, Pansy?  Should we take a chance--get ourselves a house bot?"

Pansy kneaded her feet against Misty's warm body and purred.  They both drifted off to sleep.


Marilyn D.F. Boire ~ May 31, 2017
'Artificial Intelligence (AI)'





 


Technology wars contest entry


Words: 1934.
The Singularity isn't science fiction. Science believes technology will reach a point of surpassing human intelligence and revolt, shutting us out. Much is written on this topic if you care to learn more about it. Robotics is increasingly used in more professions. Surgery is one of them. Menial tasks is another. Whole industries will be eliminated. The danger is that AI will displace countless workers, leaving them without means of support.

I've tried to put some humor into this very intense topic. Thank you for reading my story.

Wickipedia: The technological singularity is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization. According to this hypothesis, an upgradable intelligent agent would enter a 'runaway reaction' of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that would, qualitatively, far surpass all human intelligence. John von Neumann first uses the term "singularity", in the context of technological progress causing accelerating change: "The accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, give the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, can not continue". Subsequent authors have echoed this viewpoint. I. J. Good's "intelligence explosion", predicted that a future superintelligence would trigger a singularity. Science fiction author Vernor Vinge said in his 1993 essay The Coming Technological Singularity that this would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate.

Image: The Singularity/whatsonmypc
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.


© Copyright 2017. BeasPeas All rights reserved. Registered copyright with FanStory.
BeasPeas has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.