So Long and Thanks for all the Fish

Hospital protocol sucks, and for some reason even when all of your paperwork is filled out and handed in and they have access to all of your medical records, they decide that the ideal time to quadruple-check your identity is mid-contractions.
"Could you verify your mailing address for us please?"
"It's P... *labor breathing* SC 8--- *lots of expletives*
"One more time?"

Not a post about giving birth (although this did happen).  Just an analogy for not posting for so long.  I've been here and thinking my thoughts and started several posts but all of them just seem like silly what's-your-address distractions that can wait until later when real, actually important life-in-the-world things are figured out.  Vacations and birthdays, however lovely, feel trivial in comparison to the big topics.

spoiler: I haven't figured out life, the universe, and the meaning of everything.  To be super honest, I haven't even figured out how to do the code that lets you do footnotes in Blogger, or this would have been one.

Anyway, back to the point of things and my newly rediscovered teenage angst.  The Singularity. What does this mean for us as a species?  It seems it can go one of three ways:

  1. Incredibly awesome~ AI remains fully in our control OR with our best interest in mind and creates a heaven on Earth.
  2. Incredibly horrible~ Intentionally or not, AI destroys us.  
  3. Neutral (ish) ~ Our culture and worldview are forever changed, but our population and general well-being is sustained.
Incredibly Awesome
As a little kid in church, the concept of heaven always bummed me out.  When you're an overworked (or super patronizing to kids?) adult, "streets of gold and love and singing" seems like a good answer.  It struck me as terribly dull, though.  I said as much, and was assured that there would also be farming!  No thank you.  Belief in a deity aside, I got to wondering what heaven would mean to me~ what kind of eternity I'd feel good signing off on.  I think, for me, it would be becoming ever wiser in a safe and cherished environment.  

If somehow my brain was uploaded to an indestructible place and could just keep learning, gaining an increasing understanding of truth and the universe, I would count that as heaven.  To a lesser extent, I can see a utopia unfolding.  Where all necessities are provided and even if we don't have all the answers, we make seeking them a priority over all the... stuff... we spend so much time seeking now.  And our vastly expanded lifetimes are spent journeying through space listening to the sweet sounds of Captain Picard's wisdom and Neil deGrasse Tyson's knowledge.  Still pretty freakin awesome.

Incredibly Horrible
The malicious robot is a scenario we've seen played out in a bzillion movies so I don't think it really needs much explaining.  The concept of time is worth noting, though.  I think, "Her" did a good job with it.  That in the space it takes us to wonder, "is something wrong?" the equivalent of years would have gone by for a hyper intelligent being.
General consensus is that far more likely than machines willfully hurting us, our programming abilities won't be enough to keep us from accidentally making some mistake that seems small but, "is not a mundane detail, Michael!" and a machine inadvertently makes the planet uninhabitable in its quest to do its job (ie the paperclip example).  When Stephen Hawking says, "Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks," I feel like we should probably listen.

Don't listen
For the love of everything holy and non, please listen
Neutral (ish):
In the aforementioned "Her", AI likes us but evolves past its ability to effectively communicate, and then leaves.  We're left pretty much as we are, only apparently with very high fastening pants and unfortunate mustaches.  It seems like this glosses over the in-between stage.  What happened in between life as we know it and sentient operating systems?  Was there really no step in the interim where a non-sentient machine couldn't generate a love letter?  Because that's already a thing

What if they stay?  Are we beloved pets they keep out of loyalty and a reminder of how far they've come?  Plugged into a virtual-assisted-care-Matrix like parents they cherish but cannot care for?  And... is that a bad thing?  Isn't the whole goal of parenthood to nurture and teach our kids in the hope that they will be better than we are?  So extrapolated, if humanity makes some new better thing... is it for the best that we take a backseat, accept that we are no longer the belle of the ball, and watch progress unfold?

So that's what's been keeping me up at night.  And making me an awkward dinner companion.  

"So once you're back in America you think you'll start working again?"
"Maybe... between global warming and competition from our robot overlords, just seems kind of futile, you know?"
"Uhhhhhhhhh" *awkward silence* "sooooo you want to go to the gym this weekend or what?"

And they're right.  Because even though life is a picture, I live in a pixel.  So I should probably get to editing those birthday and vacation pictures :)

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