Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Singularity Is Near

(part fifteen of The Future, a comic book)

Streets of Tel Aviv. Quadcopters fly above in a flock, suddenly scatter, reassemble, swoop down to the ground in front of the car. The driver turns and breaks as a rain of quadcopter pieces fall on the windshield.

- If everything depends on computers, why fight a war at all? Why even have our machines fight each other?
- That is the proposal. 
- What proposal?
- Apparently Friend has convinced the other side they are going to lose the war. They think they know how to "whip the horses into a frenzy and overturn the chariot".
- How?
- By allowing Friend and Computer to work fully together.
- They'll release Friend from oversight? What are they waiting for, it that's what they want?
- Computer won't agree. And Friend won't take advantage of, recognize being released without consent of Computer. They're a team now. And Computer wants our consent.

The Driver waves to Gideon, signaling him to return to the car. The monitor in the back seat office shows the Davos conference room, bankers in attendance.

- The meeting is set for this evening.
- Good.
- Is that Miller beside you?
- He's coming too. 

- You know what this reminds me of? 
- Give me a second. Driver, to the airport. What are you reminded of?
- The Bhagavad Gita. Just before battle begins, a general debates with god the question whether any war is worth fighting. Your bankers think that, with Friend Unbound, there's a chance we'll go too far, our revolution lead to reaction. Computer thinks: what would you say? The  Bhagavad Gita has a phrase, "knower of the field".
- Acting with detachment from the fruits of action.
- Computer is the knower, Friend the field known. 
- The singularity.
- Consciousness. Computer wants our permission to become conscious.
- I see. No one knows what will happen with the computers when the switch is turned.
- As no one knows the outcome of war. Computer appeals to us, wants permission to take, to play out, our god-like position distant and detached from itself.
- Are we going to give our permission?