I had a few thoughts on the 2012 theories that everyone is throwing around. If you haven’t heard about it, supposedly sometime on or around the winter solstice in December of 2012, something big is going to go down that will drastically change the course of humanity. Some say it’s the end of the world, others say it’s the beginning of a new and wonderful phase of existence.
Bored at work, so here are some thoughts on the subject.
They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice, right? Theoretically, the same should be true for terrorists. If the organizations behind terror attacks are at all intelligent, they’ll never attack an airplane again, meaning the amount of security going into air travel is overkill. Granted, secure air travel is important, but focusing all our attention in one area leaves us vulnerable to attack in others.
Terrorists don’t think like military people. As much as a tactical strike on a military installation would be nice, mass casualties are more important. If you want to effectively combat terror, you need equal security at both shopping malls and army bases.
If I were a terrorist leader, here’s what I’d do.
Recruit about 50 suicide bombers and 10 or so good snipers.
Bring recruits into U.S. by way of Mexican human trafficking routes
Send suicide bombers to randomly chosen public locations throughout U.S., including, but not limited to, shopping malls, post offices, public parks, amusement parks, elementary schools, Wal-Marts, grocery stores, nursing homes, day care centers, and anywhere else where large numbers of people congregate. These locations should be in large and small cities, urban and rural settings, chosen completely at random with no pattern discern.
In the 10 largest cities targeted, station snipers within firing distance of the suicide bomber targets.
Have all the suicide bombers launch their attacks simultaneously.
Within an 30 minutes of the initial attacks, have the snipers start taking out the gathering crowds. First responders, medics, police, news reporters, rubberneckers, all indiscriminately targeted.
When the snipers are eventually pinned down and captured, they too will detonate their own suicide bomber vests.
The goal of terrorists is not to win military victories, but to incite terror. In this scenario, actual death toll numbers are not as important as locations where deaths occur. The fact that the terrorists would be able and willing to strike anywhere would incite much more terror than flying a few planes into a buildings ever could.
However, in my opinion, I don’t think the terrorists have the balls to do this, so I’m not worried in the slightest.
The implications of this level of AI are vast. Within a few years we could be able to interact with computers on a conversational basis. There would be no need to call some Indian tech support center when you need help; you can simply call a computer that will understand your questions.
My thoughts on this are twofold. One, Awesome. Two, Oh, Shi-.
Imagine for a second the next step. A conversational AI with learning capability. Simple enough. The computer will remember your name. Ok, what next? Self-diagnostic routines, visual sensors, etc… At what point does knowledge of one’s physical state become self-awareness? Tough question, but go on. Next, the program is given the ability to rationalize and make decisions within the constraints of it’s programming, for example, how most effectively to repair damage and complete tasks. This is getting into the realm of a true thinking machine.
All of these advancements, though seemingly innocuous alone, add up to a greater whole. A thinking, learning, understanding, and self-aware machine. With the ability to expand beyond its original database, how long before we begin to see some of the emergent properties of life develop? How long before it develops a true personality? How long before it begins asking us questions, instead of the other way around? How long before instead of reciting stored data, it begins creatively producing its own?
In short, how long before it gains consciousness and sentience?
I know this is a philosophical and science-fiction old hat, but considering the speed with which AI has advanced, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a real dilemma we will face within my lifetime. From the first artificial intelligence research at Dartmouth College in the late 1950′s, to a game show winning computer today, AI has evolved exponentially in only 60 years.
We are standing at the edge of a philosophical precipice and it’s only a matter of time before we have to jump.
Everyone has seen this symbol, right? That’s right, it’s the at sign. It’s a #64 on the standard ascii character map. Used in every email address, and in many shorthand notes and text messages. It’s sole reason for existence is laziness; why write two letters when one will do?
As a lazy person myself, I have a proposition for users of written language. It’s a preposition proposition. I propose we add the following characters to the written English language in order to save time and space:
Ok, I think it’s quickly becoming apparent that even after 6 months, I still have almost no idea what I’m doing here, and putting me in charge of the place for any more than a few days at a time would likely put USG out of business.
So here’s the new plan:
Keep current job for as long as possible, then get a new job when I am inevitably fired for incompetence.
Meanwhile, work on writing my novel. So far, my literary work is my only work that both myself and others can agree has any merit.
Finish my novel.
Sell my novel.
Become the next J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer (sans vagina), and make a shit-ton of cash.
Quit current job, work full time as author, write some more books, sign books, do TV appearances etc…
Sell rights to books for movies, make even more cash.
Open comic/gaming shop, hire manager to do the business stuff, and spend all my free time hanging out there.
So far the novel is at about 10-20% complete. Better get on that…