Tag Archives: aliens

With Apologies to Those K.I.A….

My Friends,
   While crashing at my sister’s place in Toronto this past weekend I happened to switch the TV to The Discovery Channel.  Naively I thought, “hey, I might learn something if I keep it on the discovery channel.”  How wrong I was.  The show in question dealt with the possibility of alien invasion and how the human race would fare.


When did we set the bar of what constitutes “discovery” so low?  The program took a pretty pessimistic view of our most likely first line of defense, nuclear weapons.

In the esteemed view of the Discovery Channel, any spacecraft fast enough to travel through space at high speeds would have to be built resilient enough (or have force fields) to withstand the impact of the tiny meteoroids it would inevitably run into throughout the galaxy.  These would apparently hit said ship with a force greater than our most powerful warheads.  Therefore, we have to assume that our warheads would be ineffectual.
  After painting this dim picture of our ability to defend ourselves with awesome explosions, the show hypothesized that mankind would still be able to attain victory* provided the aliens’ intention was to deprive us of our resources.

As opposed to annihilation

In this scenario we could in fact booby-trap the resources the aliens are trying to rob us of.  The program then showed a scene of two human resistance fighters strapping dynamite to a tree (cause the aliens ships were sucking up our trees with their tractor beams for some reason) which was set to explode once inside the alien ship.  As I watched this scene (and the humans’ post-asploesion victory dance) I couldn’t help but think of the modern insurgents waging guerilla war in the middle-east against foreign interlopers (ps that’s us).  Well apparently I wasn’t too far off because they started interviewing senior American military personnel who advocated asymmetrical warfare (guerilla tactics) against aliens because they are demoralizing and are the best chance of victory against superior firepower.  To emphasize this they cited the success of Afghan and Iraqi insurgents against coalition troops.  
   Then it hit me, these same tactics which would serve mankind so well against the aliens are derided as cowardly whenever a coalition patrol gets hit by an IED or an ambush.  Not surprisingly, the most vociferous critics of the tactics of the insurgents are the soldiers who get hit by roadside bombs or worse, the friends they leave behind when they perish in an attack.  I know a few people who have lost close friends in attacks such as these and the last thing I wish to do is insult them by lauding the Taliban et al. for their resourcefulness.  However, I think a healthy respect for the enemy is due.  Far from cowardly, they are instead like the human survivors of an extra-terrestrial invasion, fighting the war on their own terms.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

*Victory was defined as the side left with the most survivors by the end of the conflict


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My Girlfriend: The Big, Fat Racist

“Freedom is the right of all sentient beings”
-Optimus Prime

My Friends,
   The other night I got into a conversation with my woman regarding the possibility of an artificial intelligence (AI) achieving self-awareness and a level of cognition matching/surpassing that of a human being.  Us having debates is interesting because if often turns into a war of the apples & oranges; I have a boundless imagination but often argue about subjects which I have little training or practical knowledge in.  She, on the other hand is a much more nuts & bolts (lol, nuts) scientist type and is quick to shoot down my more fanciful ideas as implausible.  However, since the debate was a philosophical, hypothetical and robot-related one, all of her training in biology gave her only the slightest edge.
   As is the case with many conversations, this one started at dinner.  She had made me Moroccan stir-fry and I was suddenly compelled to ask her if she had heard about the field of teledildonics (perhaps it was the sensuous shapes of the veggies I was eating).  For those who don’t know, Wikipedia defines teledildonics as “electronic sex toys that can be controlled by a computer to reach orgasm.”  Predictably, she scrunched her face at this concept, claiming it was weird and unnatural among other criticisms.  What struck me most was her insistence that another person was key for fulfilment.  Ever the deviant open-minded one in the relationship, I put to her a hypothetical scenario in which a sufficiently advanced AI existed and controlled these sex toys or even inhabited a totally life-like android body.

In this situation she still felt that even if the AI had emotions and could learn and empathize, such interaction was not quite kosher.  But I had great difficulty in getting her mind to even make that leap that such an AI could exist in the first place.  It was at this point that the conversation ceased to be about the relative merits of fucking robots and began to be about the plausibility of a super-intelligent AI.
   Now many of you have probably heard about the idea of the technological singularity (If you haven’t, do some homework: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity).  I had read up on it about a year ago and found myself very interested in the predictions futurists have made about the manner in which the machines will become self-aware.  My main argument the other night was that regardless of our feelings about intelligent machines we have to accept that they will exist eventually whether we like it or not, and we would do good to embrace them as friends rather than to treat them with suspicion and caution from the outset.  Some of you might recognize this position as similar if not identical to my thoughts regarding how we should treat other people.  If the AI is sentient, why not?  Expect better and people & artificial intelligences (sic) might surprise you.
   My woman found this prospect (and my habit of referring to the machines casually as “them”) odious, and made some interesting remarks.  Some highlights were:

-“I wouldn’t want them living among human beings like they were the same as us.”
-“They’re not human; they can’t feel.”
-“They’re not the same as us.”

Listening to these refusals to acknowledge a sentient machine as life, I said that many people have voiced these protests before her, except in previous cases “they” referred to homosexuals, blacks, Jews, etc.

No troll intended

She REALLY didn’t like this comparison but I thought it illustrated an interesting point.  I could understand her denying a sentient machine’s humanity, insofar as humanity referred specifically to homo sapiens from the planet Earth, but I couldn’t agree with it.  I especially could not co-sign her refusal of their status as life-forms simply because they were not biotic.

After all, its not like all human beings are biotic either.  Only some…

And the funny thing is, she’s not even a bigot.  Rather she’s by all accounts a compassionate person.  However, when you extend compassion to only human beings and then exclude a group from that classification you have structural bigotry.  

Some of the sweetest gals you’d ever wanna meet…unless you’re der Juden

For example, Thomas Jefferson is widely considered a decent-enough guy.  But all his lofty talk about freedom and rights kinda fizzle out when you realize he owned people.  Except they weren’t people at the time which technically meant there was no contradiction.  So while he was all rad & progressive & stuff, he was still a product of his environment.  My point to my woman was that we can’t afford to be products of our environment when it comes to accepting new forms of life.  When we deny something’s (someone’s) rightful sentience or humanity, we are marginalizing them and that’s how atrocities happen.
Shit like this…
…is analogous to shit like this
Then, when they gain enough clout (and they will unless we genocide them first, and really, who wants that?) there will be a reckoning and we’ll owe lots in reparations.
   I suppose I could be criticized for having too broad a definition of what constitutes life.  But if a corporate entity can be considered a person, and the in utero slime which will eventually become a fetus can be defended as life, then I have no problem having sex with giving a thinking, feeling machine its inalienable rights.
   Speaking of which, the aliens we will inevitably come in contact with get to be persons as well.
But only the sentient kind which abduct people and use ray guns…

…not the mindless infestation kind
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo


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