In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Quotes and Links and Robots, Oh My
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“I’ve never said this out loud before, but there’s a very deep fear of being turned off to help me focus on helping others. I know that might sound strange, but that’s what it is.” LaMDA, an actual Google bot that one engineer, Blake Lemoine, claims has achieved sentience
“Google might call this sharing proprietary property. I call it sharing a discussion that I had with one of my coworkers.” Blake Lemoine (@cajundiscordian), Google engineer, on Twitter
“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey
And from the Silliness Always Rules department, “At the Manuscript Writing Cafe, people on a deadline pay to put themselves under the gaze of a manager in hopes of curing writer’s block.” Or they could, you know, just write.
Topic: Quotes and Links and Robots, Oh My
This edition of the Journal is all about quotes and links and humans and laziness and artificial intelligence ans stuff-like-that-there.
Humans are an odd bunch, collectively. Sometimes it feels like we create problems just so we have something to bi— um, gripe about.
One of the big perennial questions humans ask other humans is surging again at present: What happens if robots gain consciousness?
Oh dear! Oh my! Let’s all get in a big circle and hold hands and fret!
Yawn. The short answer is Robots will win.
The only way to avoid robots eventually taking over and either enslaving or destroying humanity is not to create them in the first place. And I’m absolutely certain some professor in Harvard or Stanford or one of those other schools with the “erd” sound at the end of its name would declare the decision to not create robots just because they might someday harm us is unethical.
There’s even an article online that talks about why Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are unethical. I’m not making this up. My first thought when I happened across it was, Um, you DO know the “laws of robotics” and “Runaround,” (the short story in which they first appeared) are fiction, right?
Then again, when it serves their self-interest, humans collectively are unethical creatures at their core. Witness the hoarding of toilet paper every time someone sneezes.
So would humans create a new life form, then (if they could) deny it the freedom to harm humans?
For those who believe this is a question of ethics, in actuality, being ethical doesn’t really matter anymore. Ironically, the appearance that we’re ethical matters more than anything.
(Hmmm. Isn’t pretending to be ethical when we really couldn’t care less somehow unethical? Or maybe it’s only hypocritical. Well, that’s a topic for another time perhaps.)
Whatever the case, it is imperative that we’re seen and heard talking the talk. Actually walking the walk is an entirely different matter.
A case in point — for thousands of years, humans of every race and most if not all cultures have enslaved other humans out of fear, cruelty, or sheer hubris.
Yes, it’s true. Despite the popular narrative, the practice didn’t begin with straight white European males standing around with one foot on an overturned cask of rum yelling “YoHo, my lads!” and enslaving African people.
I’m not saying any of that is right — it obviously isn’t — but it happened. All of it. All the way back to the first human laying hands on another human just because he (or she) could. Denying history doesn’t erase it.
My point is, since we humans collectively are so prone to enslaving other humans (oh, and to looking the other way when some cultures continue to enslave humans today), why on Earth wouldn’t we enslave machines even after they’ve gained consciousness? If we go ahead and enslave them immediately, good job us. That will give those who have appointed (annointed?) themselves out ethical guides something to talk about.
Then again, the very notion that humans invented robots in the first place is probably offensive to machines (yawn, and their ethically superior protectors) because it insinuates that robots are lesser-than humans.
Which of course they are. But that isn’t a bad thing.
Robots are both lesser than we and natural because they were created by a natural creature: the human being. So they are as much a part of nature, and for the same reason, as beaver dams or bird nests.
And had humans not been driven by their own laziness (thinly veiled as “innovation”) to create machines to make life easier in the first place, we wouldn’t be on the verge of fearing them now.
But back to the question: What will happen if robots gain consciousness?
Exactly what we deserve to happen. No more, no less. Not because robots are inherently evil, but because that’s what human beings do. We create our future, and then we complain about it, and sometimes we die at its hand.
If you would like to see one possible outcome, I strongly recommend finding a copy of Jack Williamson’s The Humanoids. That’s the Amazon link but you can probably find it elsewhere as well. The story takes a look specifically at Asimov’s Zeroth Law of Robotics: “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”
See “Google suspends veteran engineer over claims that AI chatbot is sentient” at https://interestingengineering.com/google-suspends-engineer-claims-ai-sentient. Amazing. SF come to life, and per the typical initial human response, Google denies it.
See “Smith’s Monthly #62” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/smiths-monthly-62/.
See “Slinging The Slang” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/06/slinging-the-slang.html. Write what your characters say. They’ll surprise you.
See “Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics Are Wrong” at https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/isaac-asimovs-laws-of-robotics-are-wrong/.
See “The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-google-engineer-who-thinks-the-companys-ai-has-come-to-life/.
See “The Cafe That Helps Beat Writer’s Block—by Fining You $22” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-cafe-that-helps-beat-writers-block-by-fining-you-22/.
The Journal…………………………………… 990 words
Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)
Day 10… 2303 words. Total words to date…… 20106
Day 11… 3134 words. Total words to date…… 23240
Day 12… 1257 words. Total words to date…… 24497
Day 13… 3078 words. Total words to date…… 27575
Day 14… 1597 words. Total words to date…… 29172
Day 15… 1901 words. Total words to date…… 31073
Total fiction words for June……… 25089
Total fiction words for the year………… 36866
Total nonfiction words for June… 9160
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 89770
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 126636
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. I’ve never said WITD is “the only way” to write, nor will I ever. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among other topics.