1 – A Useful Delusion

We had 4 goals. Immortality. Robots do all work. Answers to everything. Internet you can f*** through. We called this ‘The Future’. We almost killed everybody.

– Candy

Now

What would you do if you could do anything?

It’s late. My husband is asleep. My daughter is away at college. I should go to sleep too, but I’m horny and lonely. So I’m up drinking, smoking, and playing on the internet. Beer, pot, and porn. The bedtime routine of the sexless marriage.

Or, that’s what it usually is, but tonight I’ve been distracted by a question I found online. What would you do if you could do anything?

There’s a lively debate over what the future will hold. Like, how will the human race kill itself? Which, honestly, isn’t that interesting. I mean, it’s scary. Some of the scenarios are accompanied by credible research. It’s just not as attention grabbing as a blurry video of strangers f******.

No, what’s caught me are the few futures where humanity survives. The futures where we build a super-intelligence.

A super-intelligence is anything that learns millions of times faster than a human. Once we have one, progress gets crazy fast. Just tell it what you want, and it gives a plan. You’re only limited by what you ask for.

So…what would you do if you could do anything?

I read a few answers. Cure cancer. End poverty. Eliminate jobs. World peace. Lose weight. Clean my house. Go to the beach.

I find a few controversial posts by a fellow called Doc-Danger. He says a human with the internet is already super-intelligent, but we don’t know what to do with it. He argues that the internet contains billions of hours of human thought organized into “books”. We’re the first generation that has the entire sum of human thought at our fingertips. Any time we have a problem, we can find thousands of unique solutions online. But, we don’t really do that. Not for important stuff anyway. We’ll watch a youtube video to fix our car stereo, then do nothing as our lives, bodies, and planet fall apart around us.

It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure it works in practice. I doubt there’s a solution to world hunger just lurking on the internet. Actually, maybe there is. I’ve never checked.

Should I be looking up my problems online? Are there solutions to a midlife crisis and a failed marriage? There must be. I don’t need a super-intelligence to solve these stupid problems. Probably just therapy and marriage counseling. Or, I could f*** a stranger.

I light another joint and read more about possible futures. There’s a debate over the viability of artificial super-intelligence. Some argue that a super-intelligence must be artificial, because computers can operate faster than biology. Others argue that a super-intelligence can only be biological, because computers are not sentient, they only follow instructions.

Again, I find some controversial opinions from Doc-Danger. He believes the question is moot, because humans aren’t sentient. We just follow the instructions of our reward system – the part of the brain that makes sex and junk food awesome. What we mistake for consciousness is really just the emergent complexity of all our little urges interacting with each other.

Basically, sentience is just a useful delusion for getting laid.

He proposed that, if an A.I. used trial and error to get blowjobs, you would eventually get a robot that was fun at parties. It’s humanity in a nutshell.

Hmm… would I date a robot that was fun at parties? Sounds better than my husband. We’ll call that plan B.

Well, if he’s right, I guess I should burn my life down. Get a divorce, quit my job, and sell the house. Rent a bachelor pad with a mattress, fridge and internet. I’ll eat junk food for breakfast, have filthy strangers violate me for lunch, and research cancer cures for dinner.

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Actually, that sounds pretty good. We’ll call that plan B. Err… the new plan B. Wait! Does that make blowing a robot plan A? I better get another beer. I clearly need more brain coolant.

I look up Pavlov’s Dog, and learn about the reward system. I read a bit on emergent complexity. Am I a super-intelligence with no goals? I had goals at one point. That’s how I ended up here. Maybe it’s time for new goals.

I will try to be more honest. Tell people what I want, and see if anybody cares. Deal with rejection and failure, rather than avoiding it. What the hell.

I send a personal message to Doc-Danger.

M – I’ve read your arguments against human sentience and have decided to get a divorce, quit my job, and sell my house, so I can devote my life to junk food, f****** strangers, and curing cancer. Maybe.

D – Okay. I was not expecting that reaction from my online musings.

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M – It was inevitable. It’s the only logical extrapolation from your premise. Also, I want to try sexting. Do you want to sext with me?

D – Okay. I may need to take a closer look at your logic to fully understand how we got to here. But, let’s sext now and figure out that later.

D – I’ve never sexted either. I’m not sure how to start.

M – Me neither.

D – Should we look it up online?

M – No, I want my first time to be awkward.

D – Perfect! I’m taking off my pants.

M – Great! Nice hustle. I’m taking off everything.

D – Wonderful! Me too. F*** you clothes! Is it too soon to touch myself?

M – I don’t think so. I will too.

M – Well, I’m done.

D – Me too. I feel like we should have interacted more.

M – We nailed the awkward part, though.

D – Go team!

M – I liked reading your online account. I think you are funny and smart. And horny. And geeky.

D – Thanks. I read your account too. You’re pretty funny and smart yourself. Want to talk more tomorrow?

M – Okay!

I tidy up and crash.

— New chapter is coming soon —
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