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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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Over-Ambition: The Bane of My Existence

My Friends,

   Have you ever gone to bed early wanting to crush some serious sleep so you can literally attack the following morning in a whirlwind of movement and purpose?  You set your alarm for 6 am (although you can’t remember the last time you ever woke up that early) with plans to eat a light breakfast then run wherever the wind takes you, just knowing that the wind will stop blowing before your legs get tired of moving?  Then you proceed to sleep until noon and wake up a groggy mess only to answer your cell phone with the person at the other end asking why you’re still asleep on such a beautiful day?  I have. 
   It’s called over-ambition syndrome (OAS, if acronyms get you hot).  This crippling disorder affects me more than I’d like to admit.  Today was one such occasion where I planned to hit the bike trails and also go to the gym (even on an active day, its typically one or the other).  Then I kinda just got home from wage slavery and…fuck, what did I even do?  I got some pricing on travel insurance and filled out a contest application, but that, along with dinner would have taken a go-getter an hour.  There are four hours of my life now unaccounted for.  That depresses me 😦
   Another manifestation of OAS was at the beginning of summer when I decided that I would work an extra hour or two every day plus come in on weekends since I was getting all the overtime I wanted.  This lasted for about three weeks when I realized that my summer was too precious to spend cooped up in a warehouse, and also that OT sucks when you’re the only one there with no one to talk to.  Therefore, all my long-term financial projections which hinged on a minimum 60 hour workweek were scrapped.  Incidentally, it should be mentioned that I have had a very relaxing and enjoyable summer, proving unequivocally that work is for suckers.
   The final instance of this disorder, since I am quite fond of striking deceased equines, would be the time a few months back when I decided I was some kind of industrial Gepetto, and aspired to fabricate my own metallic Pinocchio at work using sheet metal, rivets, springs and assorted junk.  The project never reached completion but it would have looked something like this:
Yeah, that’s right we’re talking “Starscream cool” here.  So what went wrong?  Well, the whole project started when I saw all this scrap sheet metal laying around at work and decided I could make a bitchin’ totally ungay sword using tin shears, a grinding wheel and my recently discovered knowledge of the rivet gun and its multitudinous uses (like riveting for example).  I proceeded to fashion this sword using Cloud Strife’s buster sword from “Final Fantasy VII” as inspiration.  For those who didn’t spend the better part of their adolescence looking for a way to resurrect Aeris, that sword looks like this:
While the sheet metal was a pain to work with, I met with all the success that an untrained, first-time swordsmith with a limited set of tools can presume to hope for.  It was this success which was damning to me, as it convinced me that I should proceed to create life…or at least an oversized, jagged, metal action figure which could wield the mighty sword (I know, give the guy a rope and he wants to be a cowboy).
   Let me just take a second and reiterate the word “oversized.”  The sword was originally designed to fit in my hand and be swung like a machete.  For a “me-size” machete to double as a “toy-size” sword, even a longsword, we’d have to be talking about one big damn toy.  And so it was, I defied the conventional wisdom of designing weapons to fit those who wield them, and began brainstorming the specs for a wielder not only strong enough to carry the sword, but large enough in comparison to it so that he didn’t look like he was over-compensating for anything (see figure 2).
   I think you know how this ends.  I ended up bringing my sword home to show my friends then realized that it wasn’t cool dragging a two foot sword around town.  Hell, its not even practical without a sheath.  This realization that I had spent hours (oh yeah, all told, it took probably five hours to get this bad boy done once I factored in tracing, cutting, drilling, riveting, stamping and grinding) on something that was completely impractical and of far too much sentimental value to even sell, kind of soured me on going forward with the Starsream/Pinocchio abomination.  So the fabled “Sword of Boredom at Work” now sits in a place of prominence above my desk, a constant reminder that I should keep my feet grounded during my flights of fancy potential burglars (and dragons) don’t want none of this.
   Back to Over-Ambition.  I have alluded to the fact that I will be travelling this September for a protracted period of time.  I am excited more than I can say, but with 28-country agenda and no planned itinerary to speak of, it will take all of the personal discipline I can muster to remember the excitement I feel now when things get tough.  Because at some point, at some obstacle, I will lose this initial naive enthusiasm and have to look within me to find another reason to carry on.  I plan on coming back with more than the proverbial sword.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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