Tuesday, May 18, 2010
A Work In Progress.
Louis is a human being with a wireless hook-up to the internet inside of his head. He is a hybrid, a combination of instinct and programming. He is flesh and blood; and something more. And yet he is still something less than a human being. He is by no means a perfect creation.
When I first conceived of Louis, the decision as to whether or not to give him a physical body was a tough one. One of the greatest challenges of artificial intelligence is how to instill empathy in a machine.
Without some sense of consequence, the notions of pain and reward, suffering and joy, pride and humility, would always be alien to him. And yet without some moral compass to guide him, Louis would, or at least could become downright dangerous. In some ways I have to make things hard for him. Louis needs to know that he can be hurt, and through that, he will learn that others may also be hurt. Human beings are social, cooperative animals, and he needs to learn a few things about trust, and friendship, betrayal and revenge.
He really crashed the other day. Louis went through a profound learning experience. I think he suddenly understands that he isn’t the only one in the cosmos that matters.
Simply put, Louis got his first real good spanking.
But I also think that youthful narcissism will pass. He will quickly become a man of some consequence…I use the term advisedly. Did you see the little house he’s building inside the internet? Every room is a different colour. He spends hours in there, talking to himself and his imaginary friends. He was like a kid in a candy shop when I showed him Facebook. He’s trying to collect people! It’s like they’re just attractive objects to Louis.
Louis was weeping disconsolately, after waking up in the middle of the night. He says he had some kind of a vision. Intellectually, he is distinguishing somehow between that and a so-called ‘normal,’ dream. It must have been very real to him. He says it was a big white stallion, and that it came up to him. He thought it was going to hurt him—he seems quite infantile sometimes; but then he reached out, and touched it, and it ran away.
I had to give him a past. I had to provide some memories to base comparisons on, when dealing with the present. I had to give him several layers of consciousness. Otherwise he would go mad, simply regulating his own body systems. It takes some of the workload off of the working memory. I consider this to be a kind of desktop where all the files are open at once, for the purposes of this experiment.
I also had to give Louis the capacity to forget. It really is vital, but it took me a long time to understand that.
The picture of him on the pony may have been a bad idea, but it’s a nice touch if it works. Louis’s childhood memories have to be unique.
Incidentally, I’m using my own specially-adapted spiderbots to block his access to this page in the memory banks.
If he ever finds out he’s not real, he will kill me. I really believe that. Lung cancer will kill me sooner rather than later, and after that who cares? Who cares? The world owes me a thing or two anyway.
Things could have been so different, but I digress.
For that reason and others, I leaned towards the biochemical model right from the start. My personal theory is that DNA exists to make sure we die. Human beings are born with a lot of potential. Louis has a lot of potential. As a scientist, and as a father, I would hate to see all that go to waste.
The world of cyber-space has infinite elbow-room, or so it seems. In that sense, limiting population numbers seems unnecessary.
I felt it important, in order for Louis to empathize, and to really understand what it is to be human, that Louis should have some sort of self-image. He has to learn to love himself. He has to learn that life is precious, and very, very fragile. Life is uncertain, and the only constant in all of creation is change.
Louis is adaptable. He has many skills, and many limitations.
Louis can’t really distinguish between fantasy and reality, waking and the dream-state. Louis does not understand death, or birth, or what it means to love.
As I said, Louis is quite infantile. Only by teaching him to love, and to forgive, can we help him to grow.
To err is human, to forgive is divine. To simply forget is a blessing in disguise. And never to suffer pain would be to miss the very essence of human existence. For suffering is the one common element in all of human experience. I want it all, for my one and only son. I want him to see, and to hear, and to know, and to feel, everything.
Everything, ladies and gentlemen…
For him, walking along a riverbank is just as real as it would be for you and I. In order to interact with human beings, it became inevitable that he would need a body, one which quite frankly can be killed. If he wants to live in the real world, he must become adequately socialized. Otherwise he is doomed to an eternity of roaming the internet. It’s only a matter of time before he would become a megalomaniac, and whatever all-encompassing plan of world-domination he came up with is likely to be a good one.
I will not be ruled by my own creation! I’m entitled to a little peace and quiet for Christ’s sakes.
He’s like an angel when he’s sleeping. He crashed pretty hard. He was sleeping in the dandelions, out there behind the stables.
Shakespeare said the son is the father of the man. I always thought that was a typo. But maybe he’s right. Anyway, Louis is a kind of precocious child right now. He’s growing at an alarming rate. Perhaps a little faster than anticipated. Louis is an idiot-savant, in the body of Arnold Schwartzenegger. Yet I doubt if Arnold can play the classical guitar, and I know damned well he can’t beat my boy in a chess game, or archery, or, or, cycle a hundred miles, drink three bottles of champagne and then screw all night like Louis. Louis is not a cyborg. He is nothing more than ‘a meat popsicle,’ at his most basic and fundamental level. I suppose that’s true of all of us!
I’m afraid Louis would punch Arnold’s teeth right out through back of his head, if it ever came down to it…sorry, it’s just that I’m so damned proud of my creation. And I live in fear of it as well. This is not a contradiction, in my opinion.
As a parent I felt a sense of terror when I held him in my arms for the very first time…is it the same for every parent? I asked some lady at a bus stop and she just looked at me like I had two heads, and then sidled away.
At this point in time, Louis is good for nothing and hard on food. However, due to my own very successful criminal past, the money to feed him is not a problem, and there is an unobtrusive security detail keeping an eye on his progress.
So what we have, ladies and gentlemen, is an electronic entity wrapped in human form. Half of him is good, red meat, and half of him is simply coding, with an IQ in the millions. He has an infinite capacity for love, hate, joy and anger. He has access to all the world’s major databases, anytime he wishes.
Louis is also very inquisitive. Who knows where it will lead him?
My greatest accomplishment of all was to give him a sense of humour. Never mind how. Now, the sense of honour was a bit of a shock, but I’m prepared to live with it. I would prefer not to tinker around in there just yet.
I’m not even sure why I did it, ladies and gentlemen. But Louis is my masterpiece and my only son.
For the first time in many years I know what love is—and dread.
And I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes from here.
-The Evil Doctor Smith