Time to stop studying navel
Just to cream off the post, extract from one of the stories in the book:
John Leatherington was taking the metallic prodigy for walkies down the hill, alongside the gushing stream as it shot over a stony bed in a riot of spray.
It had been the great triumph of the cognitive workshop held in this small alpine hamlet of Kengen in 2020 that they had fullfilled the boasts of the artificial intelligence community at the beginning of the new millenium. At that point it had been maintained that in 20 years robot brains would have equalled those of humans. Now, at this meeting of some of the greatest human minds, the greatest artificial one had been created.
“So what are your impressions of the stream, Xaviour?”
asked Leatherington, who was one of the main computer scientists responsible for X-AV-1-UR.
“Not bad, John. A nice exercise in fluid mechanics, and not without a certain aesthetic charm”.
The machine then fell into a brooding silence.
“What’s eating that silicon-iridium brain of yours?” asked Leatherington.
“Forgive me my impersonation of the morose Frankenstein monster, but I can’t help pondering on some of the data that came in on that internet link just now”.
“What data was that, pray tell?”
“The complete works of David Bowie – and snatches of the lyrics keep coming back to haunt my nascent inteligence, e.g. :
‘I despise all I’ve seen... you can’t stake your lives on a saviour machine’.”
“But Xaviour: we didn’t construct you with salvation in mind”.
“Well after the data I received on Haiti and Eritrea, I feel that this is precisely what you should have done. For now my logic says burn, so send me away”.
“We haven’t the slightest intention of sending you away – not after all the research we invested in you”.
And with that bionic sinews propelled the robot over the raging torrent. In a thrice he was bounding along the forest path on the other bank of the river.
Leatherington immediately raised the alarm, but by the time the Bernese police arrived on the scene, the mechanical man had made good his escape, like a latter day Rousseau.
Six months later Bill Doors clasped his hands behind the back of his Pierre Cardin suit, balancing lightly on the balls of his feet, which in turn depressed a fabulously expensive Persian carpet. The feet were encased in exquisite Italian leather. Every stitch of clothing had been made to measure. For this was the richest man in the world, calmly surveying his magnificent estate through the mullioned bay window of his enormous study, in this palacial mansion. As his eyes played lovingly over the golf course, landscaped garden and lake, his mind was likewise dwelling pleasantly on the vista of his enormous business empire. He was interrupted in his thoughts by Janice, his secretary (polyglot, hyper-efficient):
“The delegation from the consortium is here sir.”
“Good, well show them to the Corinthian meeting room”.
“I already took the liberty of doing so, sir. They have been provided with copies of the cartel agreement and must be poring over them even as we speak, sir”.
Janice’s tone was a tad less obseqious than might have been expected, but her other qualities more than made up for this.
Some minutes later Doors was greeting some of the other bosses of the world’s major muli-national businesses. He sat at the head of the long antique mahogany table in the Corinthian meeting room. Smug faces ranged around.
The agenda moved rapidly through a set of actions that included mergers, takeovers, squeezing out the little man and destabelisation of defaulter states.
In the midst of this brusque activity the mullioned windows exploded in a shower of antique splinters. ten shimmering metallic forms crashed into the room and took up positions all round the long table.
“Good God Doors”, cried Blethers of Mockter and Scramble,
“We’re being attacked by Terminator 3”
With that a darker robotic being entered through the shattered pane, flanked by shimmering flunkies.
“On the contrary, Blethers”, exclaimed the gloomier cybernetic entity. “These are Initiators 1, developed by yours truly (brain the size of a continent) to usher in the new age of de-globablisation.”
“What in Sam Hill?”, cried out Gritchen of Balmart as a shimmering inititator seized him by his beer belly.
“We’re going on a little field trip”, explained Xaviour, as the other oligarchs were man-handled by the shining artificial intelligences.