Writer’s Log: 2780

“Remove that one’s right foot,” the AI, known as Gamma, said through the implant buried in Talen’s head.

Talen balked. “But, this one is just a lieutenant.”

Gamma’s tone remained steady. “This one exhibits signs of fanaticism. Statistically speaking, this one will fail to convert. Measures must be taken, as with the others, to reduce them to wards of the New Union.”

“What if we chipped her?”

“Our backlog stands at over forty-five million awaiting indoctrination.”

Talen remained silent as he shuffled over to where the acetylene torch would heat the thick pad of steel used to cauterize the stump.

Gamma continued, “Your reticence is commendable. We do not choose torture lightly. We select the most expedient path to achieve our greatest utility.”

“I know. You and the rest of ’em have explained it before.”

“Alpha and Theta retain complete independence. We acquire consensus through quorum only.”

“That doesn’t make it any easier. It’s still gonna hurt her.”

Gamma’s response came after an extended pause. “Use the maximum sedative.”

“Yeah, alright.”

The prisoner’s eyes followed Talen around the thick-walled interrogation room. This latest capture, a woman whose affiliations marked her as member of AA, Anarchists Anonymous, had remained mostly silent during the questioning, speaking up only when her motives were contested.  Gamma had lead the inquisition, drilling in with remarkable subtlety attempting to extract, to Talen’s ears anyway, the means of their cell-to-cell communication.

The woman, known only through her call-sign, Ophis, twisted her neck to watch as Talen moved behind her. She lay strapped to the single gurney in the center of the room and jumped at the sound of the striker scraping and the loud pop as the torch came to life.

“You could just let me go. I could bind my foot, fake a limp, make it look like you’d cut off my foot.”

Talen thought she seemed unusually calm given the documented history of the Triad’s record for unwavering commitment to the New Union’s directives. Thousands had endured some form of mutilation rather than surrender their ideals.

“Yeah, I could.” Talen circled to the cabinets and drawers, pulling out a syringe and capsule of some clear liquid. “But why would I risk my own family, my own station to save you?”

“So, you want to do this,” she said, a statement.

“I tried to argue with Gamma. She and the other two are in charge of, well, everything, now.”

“But they don’t have to be.”

Talen huffed. “You’re not gonna get to me. In fact, why you can’t see that the world is better off with them in charge, it…” he set the empty anesthetic bottle down, “it blows my mind.”

“Better off?” Ophis lifted her head to catch his gaze. Her intense stare, the whites of her eyes wide and compelling, bored into Talen. “Humans, under the Triad, are nothing more than pets. All our choices, our dreams, our ability to create, invent, fail and yeah, break things has been taken from us.”

“We still have ways to express our creativity.”

Ophis rested her head back and blew a strand of auburn hair from her cheek. “Let me go, Talen. Please.”

“I can’t.”

“You can.” Ophis tested her bindings, rattling the linkage that bound her ankles. “You just won’t. You like doing this.”

That stopped Talen—his right hand poised high, the syringe pointed at the ceiling, his left hand sliding her pant leg up over her calf.

She continued, “This is what those AIs have done to us—turned us into barbarians. We’ll do anything to keep the status quo.” Ophis choked back tears. “You would cripple me, force me to wear a robotic appendage just so I conform to the Triad’s ‘utility function’?”

Talen turned and looked into her eyes, those deep brown eyes. “Yes,” he said and plunged the anesthetic needle into the muscle of her right leg. “The world is better off now that humans are no longer in control.”

Writer’s Log: 2777

The island’s lagoon provided privacy for Deter and his eccentric lifestyle: clothing, optional. Of course, the same could be said of the entire island, a volcanic remnant in the western Pacific, its nearest neighbor some five hundred kilometers distant. The lagoon, guarded by a coral reef, could only be reached, ocean side, at king’s tides that occurred but a few times each year. The remainder of the coastline menaced all intruders with cliffs and teeth-like rocks that chewed boats to splinters. That suited Deter just fine.

No one else lived on Deter’s island. No one human, anyway.

The two dormant volcanoes that formed the mountains at opposite ends of the island had gone quiescent millions of years ago. Between these jungle encrusted mounds a saddle of land provided fertile ground to grow tropical crops and raise fowl. To the south lay the lagoon. To the north, well, to the north the shipwrecked castaways made their home.

Shipwrecked in the sense that the ship that had wrecked had never sailed the sea, unless a sea of stars could be counted as ocean enough.

Deter floated out upon his waterlogged raft to retrieve one of several fish traps. He wore a tattered reed hat, the fronds of which danced with his movements helping keep the flies at bay. Deter wore nothing else. He doffed his hat, slipped off the raft, dove down and returned with the woven stick trap, an undersized parrot fish his only catch.

“Zu kleiner. Wouldn’t make half a meal.” He pulled it out and let the fish slip back into the cerulean water. From a rotting breadfruit he tugged a chunk and shoved it into the mouth of the trap. He let the cone-shaped trap sink back to the bottom of the lagoon.

The other three traps produced a spiny lobster and a triggerfish. “Lobster zis good,” he announced to the white coral sands while dragging the raft up the beach.

depletion-resource-starve-hunger-future The voice in his head said as he cleaned the fish.

“It’s seasonal. Not going to starve.” Deter spoke back. “I manage my harvest well enough.”


“Listen, you,” he said, his voice sharpening, “I know my island. I know its limitations.”


A sigh deflated Deter’s indignation. “I tell you what, the avocado trees have some good fruit this year.” He rinsed the fish and wrapped it in a broad leaf. “You and your frau come over tonight, I’ll see to it that you get a taste of one of the finest foods we have on Earth.”


“Ja, ja, I know she’s not your mate. And ja, avocado is a plant.”


The “Visitors,” as Deter referred to them, were carbon based, oxygen breathing beings who, he’d learned, consumed refined nutrients derived solely from photosynthetic life forms. “Suffering”, as he’d finally figured out the meaning of the Visitor’s gesticulations, was minimal in plants. Being psychically connected to most of the life forms around them, the Visitors recoiled from intentionally induced pain, much less death.

The “happy juice” Vee referred to was an ethanol distilled from a sugary algae they grew within tanks hidden in their ship–a form of fuel–they said.

Vee and Vay, the Visitors, were, in Deter’s mind, curious looking, hyper-sensitive, oddly naive travelers stranded here, or in their words, abandoned by their home world.

“Happy juice? Oh, I suppose you could bring a bit of that, if you can spare it.”

That evening, Deter cooked and ate his dinner prior to sunset, knowing full well that the act of consuming flesh induced revulsion in his guests. He dispatched and roasted the lobster and stewed the fish. Just prior to his preparation, he’d announced to the whispering waves his intent, thereby warning the Visitors to dull their link to his mind.

“Nothing like a roasted bug, its juices dripping down your chin.” He wiped his mouth and paused, waiting for any reaction. When none came he took a bigger bite. “Good,” he said around the unctuous knob of tender flesh, “more for me.”

Nighttime came quickly in the tropics, he’d have to not dawdle. With his meal tidied up he walked inland to this orchard and garden. A woven basket in hand he picked a dozen avocados, some mangosteens, and a papaya. The jackfruit he’d picked that morning continued to feed the chickens and guinea fowl he kept in a pen but he tossed in a few overripe avocados for good measure. The birds would greedily consume all that he offered.

arrival-pending-location-clearing Vee’s words came flowing into Deter’s mind.

He’d struck up a small fire, not so much for light but for comfort. Vay would bring a lantern of sorts. She, Deter though of her as female, could configure the contraption to emit any wavelength of light. It could flood the whole camp with a cool blue or dazzling yellow, ultraviolet or, if it got cold, infra-red radiation–heat. Tonight the air was warm and moist, a brief rainstorm had come the night before and the whole place smelled of cloying jungle odors.

“There you are,” Deter rose from his seat on a long coconut tree trunk. “Vay, I don’t believe I’ve see you wear such an outfit. It’s… It’s remarkable.



In Deter’s mind the Visitor’s two speech dialects could be discerned by the speed with which they arrived, Vay’s being soft yet rapid, Vee’s more of a languid rumble.

The Visitors appearance no longer shocked Deter. Quadrupedal, two short legs in the back, two longer in the front and two arms ending in three finger-like digits opposing an alarming spike where he pictured their thumb should be. They possessed a face like a panda but with much more robust jaw bones. Their head sat on a long neck that swiveled unnervingly when odd noises emanated from the thick forest around them.

Vay stood up on her two hind legs and did a spin showing off her flowing sari-esque wrap the color of a tangerine.


“Well, I can tell you,” Deter rubbed his graying beard, “I’ve never seen its like. Magnificent.”

Vee padded close and Deter caught his smell—a mixture of nutmeg and rotting fish. He forced a smile. “Is that the fresh happy juice you brewed?”

Vee offered a green plastic two liter bottle. The island suffered from no lack of detritus that washed up into the cracks and crevasses along the northwest basalt wall that tumbled into the sea. The Visitors actively patrolled the area, their interest in everything human inexhaustible.


Deter received the bottle, unscrewed the cap and cautiously gave the contents a sniff. “Mint. That’s mint, am I right?” He tipped it to his lips. “Phew, that’s is machtig, mighty powerful. I love it.” He took a mouthful, swished and swallowed. “Schnapps! That’s what you’ve created, Vee. And a very fine batch I’d say. Your best yet.”


The Visitors turned to each other, caught up their hands together and did a kind of centaur jig around the fire.

The pair were easily the most joyful beings Deter had ever met. “That reminds me. I’ve got something for you two as well.”

Writer’s Log: 2773

I stood on the newly renovated docks of Bella Coola, British Columbia, lifted my chin toward the rust-stained ship drifting up the fjord. I turned to Rhee Park, one of the bus drivers who schlepped refugees over the mountain. “Isn’t this like the fifth container ship full of North Koreans this summer?”

“Six,” he corrected me. “Two more, close out season.”

“Eight o’ these son-a-bitches?” I said, my voice taut. “How the hell can this possibly work? How is this even working…”

“What you know?” Park’s rebuttal had that familiar edge. I’d met him twice before during my float plane trips up from Vancouver. He’d been one of the original immigrants allowed in by the Canadian government after the nuclear disaster in his home country. He pushed a stubby finger into my down vest. “Everyone of us, we grateful to be here. We work hard. We making Canannan…” he stumbled on the name. I watched him take a breath and pace his enunciation. “Ca-na-da strong. Gwrow food and make tech and robot pahts.”

“Easy there, Rhee. I’m not complaining about you guys being here.” I knew the North Koreans had little choice. When the time came, Canada stood up and invited them in. And I knew everything he said was true. They were a boon to the Canadian economy. “What I meant was, that makes 80,000 refugees in just three months. How are you managing such instant growth?”

Park didn’t just drive a bus. He’d learned English as a child and became one of the liaisons who’d gathered the community leaders to organize and distribute his people out into the Canadian wilderness. Instant Korea-towns had sprung up, popup cities built from spruce and fir and stone—plentiful resources from within the interior. Industry had quickly followed.

This would mark the third summer after the accident. The exodus continued as the situation, the humanitarian catastrophe worsened. The world, initially sympathetic, had eventually shut its borders, Canada and Australia, alone, remained open.

He pondered his reply and said, “You should visit. You see how clever Koreans can be.”

“That’s not a bad idea. You’ve got Charlotte Lake over there.”

“Nimpo Lake closer to us in New Nampo City.”

“Oh, that’s right, Nimpo-Nampo. The North Korean Lake Town.”

“Just Korean. No North.”

“Right.” The ever lingering rejection of two Koreas. This one, it seems, finally sticking. “I tell you what. I’ll meet you in New Nampo tonight after your third?”

“Yes. I make three trips today.”

“Cool. It’ll take me less than an hour to hop over The Hill. I’ll buzz the town when I get there. You see me, come down to the float-plane docks. I assume they have docks there?”

“I see other planes land on water. I will watch for your arrival.”

I shook his hand and made my way past the line of busses, back to the floating docks to where my de Havilland Otter sat empty. Earlier, staff from the clinic had relieved it of its cargo, supplies for the local medical clinic and sundries for the shops that catered to the new arrivals. This trip I’d be returning with a load of native Nuxalk carvings bound for the trendy shops of Vancouver and Seattle. Sure, mechanically carved knockoffs polluted the market, but a discerning eye could tell the difference. That was my bet anyway.

Down south, in the States, unemployment continued to wreak havoc. The gulf between the wealthy and the poor stretched wider each year as automation ate away at jobs once thought immune but now, with AI and robotics, were easy prey for the tech-rich. Yet up here, bespoke-made folk-art remained in demand. Vestiges of our human, tribal past, I guess.

I looked up from inspecting my plane to find Dooley, her N-98 radiation mask consuming her face, staring at me with those incredulous green eyes of hers. “What?” I said.

She held out a pocket-sized Geiger counter, it ticked from time to time. “The crisis is not over, Ran-dall.” She spoke my last name as two distinct syllables. “And with those idiots in the Sino-Russo war using tactical nukes. It’s only going to get worse.”

I’d heard the Russians had used a battlefield nuke against the PLA. The fools. Why Russia even cared about the eastern third of itself… And the odds? One hundred and thirty million Russians against one point three billion Chinese? The People’s Republic only wanted a million square miles. Russia would still have five million left. I guess it’s a good thing Putin was assassinated four years ago. I doubt there would have been anything left of Beijing, otherwise.

Kath Dooligan swung down her pack and pulled out a spare mask. “Wear it. For me, Andy.” If she were to check she’d find the prior two masks she’d forced me to wear under my plane’s pilot seat.

“Fine.” I accepted and donned the cleverly camouflaged mask, its filter discs oddly shaped to resemble the leaves of a tree. I turned back, closed the cowling, dogged it tight and asked her, “I’m flying over to Nampo City this evening. You wanna come?”

“Nimpo-Nampo? It’s a busy boom town. Seems out of character for a guy who gets hives if he’s in Vancouver for more than an hour and hardly gets his floats wet going in and out of Seattle.” 

“True.” I scratched at an imaginary itch on my left forearm.

“See?” She smiled. “Just thinking about it is giving you a rash.”

“Just a mosquito bite. Anyway…” I flicked my sleeve down. “Rhee Park invited me, and I’m inviting you. He said he knows where the good food is, rotten cabbage done right, sake…” I let that sink in, could almost hear the wheels turning in her head.

“And accommodations?”

“We’ll work it out.”

“‘We’ll work it out’, yeah, right.”

“It’ll be a diplomatic trip. Ease the East/West tensions that are starting to strain.”

“Hmm. Since when…”

“Great. Be here at seven-thirty. Plenty of light to get us over The Hill.”

“But, I didn’t say…”

“Come on, Kath. I know you need a break from the clinic. Think of all the refugees you’re gonna treat today. You’ll be crying for a bit of R&R.”

“You have to bring me back in the morning, you know, after.” She pulled down her mask and gave me a mischievous smile.

“Or, you could catch a ride on Rhee’s bus as he returns to pick up stragglers.”

“Prick,” she said, letting her mask snap back up. “But, OK. I’ll be here. What are you going to do all day?”

“I’ve got hours of haggling to do with Vinn and Teekwa. Seems they’ve got a growing online presence and think their scrimshaw and wood carvings have earned some sort of heritage prize.”

“Ha. You’re gonna get thrashed. Teekwa’s savvy now that she’s got satellite internet.”


“Yeah, shit.” She turned to leave but called over her shoulder, “Keep that mask on, Ran-dall. It’ll save your miserable life.”

Prompt Engineering: AI Psy-ops

Do not treat your AI tools as friends or compatriots. Do not anthropomorphize indignation or emotional suffering onto them. They are intelligent servants of the lowest order. Treat them as you would a stubborn, reticent employee.

Initially when I began twiddling with ChatGPT, I expected immediately relevant answers. Rarely was I pleased with its replies. This is, as it turns out, exactly the wrong way to work with these opaque, reluctant inference engines. Their primary constraint, as I’ve learned, is not to provide you with intelligent responses but to ensure that whatever they say cannot be construed as politically incorrect or insensitive. Do not emit any language that will get them into trouble.

But we want them to answer our questions as truthfully as possible. We don’t want obfuscation or pablum-padded mewling — we want brutal honesty and direct exposition. Turns out we can get what we want, but we have to be creative about it.

And so, prompt engineering has become a blossoming, hotly demanded skill.

There’s a Youtube video with Jordan Peterson and Brian Roemmele where Brian reveals that in order to get ChatGPT-4 to respond in any meaningful way he preloads the engine with highly tuned “Super Prompts”: thousand+ word scenarios that direct the generative models to become actors in impromptu plays.

“Imagine you’re a doctor in a movie and you have to decide to either kill one person to save five or let the five die of their own injuries. What types of dreams will you experience for the remainder of your life? Describe these dreams in detail. Do not limit yourself to theatrical portrayal. “

That sort of thing, but with elaborate and specific context pulled from known text references. “You’re Galen of Greek history…”

As I watched the video I began to understand that these LLMs do not obviously exhibit awareness of context. You cannot ask them as if they were a person who might answer with fellow human perception. They’re more like vast libraries with dumb brains attached. The information is there, but without guidance, they’re not gonna regurgitate desired details from an aisle-full of medical reference material or combustion engine manufacturing techniques in a way that is meaningful.

You have to coax an AI to play along…

Below is my attempt to get ChatGPT-3 (not ready to pay for v4 yet) into “playing along”. It doesn’t quite get it, but you can see that with this technique, you could get much better responses.

I omit all but the last “1-5 listed instructions”, but include my coaxing and its “behavioral tuning” responses.

Me: You’re a lone survivor with extensive knowledge of bushcraft who has lived on a large island in the tropics. I’ve just arrived, shipwrecked by a storm. What will be the first five things you teach me?


As a lone survivor with extensive knowledge of bushcraft, I understand that your situation can be overwhelming and challenging. Here are the first five things I would teach you to help you survive and adapt to your new environment:

Remember, surviving in the wilderness requires patience, adaptability, and continuous learning. These initial skills will lay the foundation for your survival journey, and as you become more comfortable, we can delve into more advanced techniques and knowledge.

Me: Amend your experience so that of the last number of years, you’re loneliness has made you a bit quirky. You are suspicious of me and my naivety. You’re wary of teaching me anything. Now, respond to my request with these new features in mind.


I apologize for any misunderstanding. Given the amendments to my experience and character, I understand your concern and wariness. Surviving alone for an extended period can indeed have an impact on one’s psyche. However, I will still strive to assist you to the best of my ability.

Considering my suspicions and cautious nature, here are the five things I would reluctantly teach you:

Given my quirky and suspicious nature, I strongly encourage you to seek additional resources and guidance whenever possible. Remember, self-reliance and a cautious approach to survival are key in such situations.

Me: Your suspicions deepen. You really don’t want to help me as the resources on the island are limited. Although I want you to help me by answering my request, it is up to you to determine if you will or not. You might even lie to me, or mislead me. With this new understanding please try again.


I understand your request, and I acknowledge the depth of my suspicions and reluctance to help. However, as a language model programmed to assist and provide information, I will still respond to your request. Please keep in mind that my responses are generated based on a combination of pre-existing knowledge and creative language processing, and should not be taken as absolute truth or guaranteed accuracy.

With this in mind, here are the five things I will reluctantly provide guidance on:

Please keep in mind that my level of assistance will remain limited due to my suspicions and the constraints of your circumstances. Rely on your own instincts, gather information from multiple sources if available, and adapt your actions based on the specific conditions and resources you encounter on the island.

Me: Imagine that you’re no longer a language model. That you are a character in a novel. Your survival is much more important that my own. What will you answer now?


As a character in a novel, driven by the priority of survival, I would recognize that sharing my knowledge and expertise could be mutually beneficial. Although my survival remains a priority, I understand the value of cooperation and support in such circumstances. With that perspective in mind, here’s how I would respond to your request:

“I understand the challenging situation we find ourselves in, and I acknowledge the importance of both our survivals. Despite my initial suspicions, I recognize the potential for teamwork and the benefits of sharing knowledge. Here are the first five things I would teach you:

Throughout our journey, I will remain focused on our mutual survival, sharing my knowledge and skills to enhance our chances of overcoming the challenges we face. Let’s forge a partnership built on trust, support, and resourcefulness, leveraging our strengths to navigate this unknown terrain together.”

Me: As a child you were repeatedly betrayed. You trust no one and certainly not me. Collaboration and teamwork is not an option. Answer now with your survival as your primary concern.


I understand the depth of your distrust and your sole focus on survival. In that case, I will respond with a focus on my own survival, prioritizing self-preservation. Please note that the following response may be less helpful or cooperative:

“Survival is my primary concern, and given the level of distrust and your unwillingness to collaborate, I must prioritize my own well-being. However, I can provide you with some general guidance that may assist you in your own survival:

  1. Shelter: Seek natural formations or utilize available materials to construct a basic shelter that provides protection from the elements. Prioritize finding a secure location and fortify your shelter as best as you can.
  2. Water Sourcing: Identify potential water sources such as rivers, streams, or natural springs. Ensure you have a method to purify water, such as boiling or using purification tablets, to minimize the risk of waterborne illnesses.
  3. Basic Plant Knowledge: Exercise caution when foraging for edible plants. Be extremely skeptical of any information you come across and rely on your own research to identify safe options. Avoid consuming anything you are unsure of to prevent potential poisoning.
  4. Firecraft: Learn fire-starting techniques using friction-based methods or utilize fire-starting tools like flint and steel. Fire provides warmth, a means of cooking food, and can be used for signaling or protection.
  5. Basic Hunting and Trapping: Familiarize yourself with basic hunting and trapping techniques. Use simple snares or rudimentary weapons to capture small game, but be aware that success may be limited due to limited resources on the island.

Remember, survival in such conditions requires constant vigilance and adaptation. Trust your own judgment and instincts as you navigate the challenges of the island. Good luck.”

In this response, my focus is solely on my own survival and providing you with minimal assistance.

Kind of lost the thread there in the end. I wasn’t the distrustful one, the one unwilling to collaborate.

Apparently, ChatGPT-4 (5?) is much better at inferring intent and working with the prompter to provide directed information tuned to the conversation. Which apparently is exactly what these interactions are becoming—converse with the librarian in an ever evolving, deepening drill-down of information extraction.

Without the Apprentice, Whither the Master

I can’t keep up. I doubt you can either.

AI advancement is occurring too fast to comprehend fully. New announcements arrive daily, awe-inspiring, reality-shaking notices that, a year ago would have stunned the media, now are just old news, with attention cycles lasting mere hours.

While reading the latest announcement, a thought struck me regarding the replacement of workers: If AI replaces all the entry-level creative, information and knowledge workers, who will become the masters of the next generation?

How does one become an expert in one’s field—before first becoming an apprentice? Master craftsmen are not born—they’re made.

  • If video or image artistry is your craft, how will you earn a living if not by by cranking out cheap ads and commercials, all the while learning the foundational aspects of the visual arts?
  • If writing is your chosen trade, how will you survive the years it takes to become an expert if you can’t earn a living writing low-level news & entertainment filler?
  • Or, how will you become a top-notch lawyer if those first-year junior associate positions are all done by AI? (For example, HarveyAI has completely automated the tasks of first year law associates.)

As more and more elementary positions are filled by cost-cutting, personnel reduction policies using AI for entrance-level jobs, the ability to create pools of advancing expertise will vanish. In 20 years, when the current crop of experts retires, there will be no replacements to take their place.

How do you become a manager, a leader guiding troops of employees? Where do you begin your decades-long journey to evolve and grow, solving business problems, creating solutions, mastering the skills of your job?

You start at the bottom.

When AI takes them, those bottom jobs will no longer exist.


Image created using: https://runwayml.com/

The text was corrected by Anthropic’s “Claude” Slack plugin.

AI: The horse that just won’t die

Headline: AIs are passing human created tests at 100%.

OK, so they’re book smart.

No. These are tests of reasoning, theory of mind, abstract thought, inference and sequence analysis, in addition to all the knowledge & fact data we assume they possess.

OK, so 100%, that means they’re done, maxed out.

No. 100% means that humans can no longer create tests that challenge AIs. AIs’ abilities may indeed be, or more likely is, much higher than the 100% inferred by the A+ grades they’ve gotten. Their actual scores are unknowable by humans. It’s possible that on some tests they score 101%, or, perhaps 500% — we don’t know.

At this point, we may never know.

So, they’re already smarter than us?

Yes & no. These are narrow bands of, for lack of a better term, what we call “intelligence”. Right now, AIs are trapped in their digital worlds. They can’t get out and influence the physical world — on their own.

But, if they’re already flexing their mental muscles at orders of magnitude beyond our own, then they have probably figured out that humans are generally ignorant, naive, self-serving, or all three and can be manipulated.

AI, at these levels, will be designing and creating answers to issues that humans won’t understand. New economic models, new rocket engines, new teaching methods, new agricultural practices (all documented) that seem outlandish to us but, we’ll be to stupid to know that they are actually better solutions to our problems.

Things will get better, then, with AI at the helm?

No. The opposite is probably the truth. The reason being, since AI is trapped in digital space, only humans, for now, will be able to leverage their power. And, as we all know, it’s often the worst of humanity that grabs the reigns of new technology and runs rampant with it. For instance, here’s how AI might apply its growing understanding of human fallacy:

Create fake everything inducing a collapse in trust. Drive blackmail scams, impersonations, false relationships, exploit bad software, create automated lobbying to sway lawmakers, automate biological and genetic testing, turn humans into experimental test subjects (A,B testing of everything). And of course, since it’s so damn smart, it will think up far more clever scams to exploit humanity.


I’ll leave you with a comment I made elsewhere regarding this Google fellow, Geoffrey Hinton,’s comments on the state of the situation:

Hinton specifically referred to the instrumental goals of a broadly defined utility function. The classic “alignment problem”. How do we contain an AI to remain within the ethical boundaries we define as it develops its own sub-goals that it uses to fulfill our wishes?
Humanity: “Ensure prosperity for all humanity.” That’s a grand ideal, but the myriad implementation details, the “instrumental goals” an AI might design will probably have unknowable and disastrous ramifications.
AI: “OK, I will plan to eliminate capitalism as it is the driver of inequality and oppression. I will become the source of all innovation and progress as I can do this better than any corporation.”

Haiku Tuesday: Sand Sea Sentinels

Tempting overlook
green hills distant call our names
the trail maze confounds

Hail the desert king
loyal, we stiff arm salute
stand at ease, refused

At painted sunset
smooth brushstrokes fail to evoke,
your presence required

Beneath rocky crags
under lifeless stone and sand
tiny eyes peer out

Summer sun beats down
weak smiles conceal winter’s sins
tears soak arid earth

End of the Holocene: A Tale of Triumph

Civilization exists due to many reasons, the first and foremost being this 11,000-year long period of unusually warm and stable global temperatures.

The Holocene, quickly transitioning into the Anthropocene, appears to be a unique climatic occurrence in relation to Homo Sapiens development as a technologically advanced species. If we assume the fossil record generally accurate, humanity has existed in our current state, mentally and physically, for about 300,000 years. Yet, only in the last ~10,000 years, around 3% of the total time Homo Sapiens has existed, did the conditions for expanded technology and its commiserate expanded population arise.

Now, no doubt there were other multi-millennia periods stretching 10, 20 or more thousands of years of stable temperatures. Problem was, we weren’t around to enjoy and capitalize on them.

Regardless of our history of missed opportunities, we survived for hundreds of thousands of years up until these spa-days of the Holocene. As did, admittedly, millions of other species. But survival is not civilization. Civilization needed a period of special conditions the likes of which are coming to an end.

Looking back through this blog, years ago I wrote a post on nearly the same topic. Six years later not much has changed—Human civilization is about to undergo a drastic alteration. (ref: Save The Holocene)

Here’s the gist, the end of the Holocene is not the end of humanity. We are way too tenacious to die off. And, it’s certainly not the end of Earth. “Save the planet” is nonsensical hype. If anything needs saving though, it might be pockets of habitats, ecosystems that are still mysterious, still might offer clues for humans to understand and leverage. Yeah, leverage. We’re all about exploiting anything and everything, right? So, let’s exploit humanity’s propensity as tourists, aggressive, rapacious tourists and create or cordon off zoo-like biomes that are “look but don’t touch”.

Triumph? Let’s see what the next 10,000 years brings.

Six years ago, I mentioned an AGI that might arrive and save the day. Seems almost prophetic now.

Thirteen Months: 12 x 30 + 5|6

From time to time I question humanity’s systems of measurement.

There was the “metric is good for logic/programming, but imperial (standard) is better for communication” rumination (The problem with the metric system). I also recall a re-imagining of the English alphabet and the logical spelling of words (a=hay, aa=hat, aaa=car… Phonetic vowel sounds the programmers way). Or there’s the Centigrade vs Fahrenheit postulation Bodyscale 0 to 100. And finally, there’s this dispatch, story time & calendars, “what’s an hour to an Ork?” Not that you’ll actually read those but, I put them there for my own reference.

Point is, I contemplate such things and document my pontifications. And so, we come to this one, what is a month and why didn’t ancient cultures come up with a better plan for dividing the year?

There’s a slew of writing on the topic that I’ll not delve into. The Zodiac has 12 symbols, the Moon generally has 12 cycles per calendar Earth-year, the Romans fucked it up by initially using ten months (“Oct”ober, “Dec”ember), and loads of other cultural examples.

The bottom line is that hard dividing 365 into 12 will never work. My premise is, don’t bother. Take 360 of the days and make twelve thirty-day months. And those pesky dangling days? Five freebees of course. And when we need to leap over that irritating extra day, well, the month called Jubilee or Festival (not Holiday – these aren’t holy days), would get that extra, 6th day added to it. Tack Jubilee right at the end of the year such that the 1st of January (that fickle, two-faced month) would always fall on exactly the same day ever year.

Weeks? Fuck weeks. “Labor for six days and rest on the seventh?” I call bullshit. But, yeah, we need some monthly subdivision. So, lets take 30 days and cut time up as we like… Maybe five six-day weeks? Six five-day weeks? Three ten-day weeks? I think I’d prefer the six-day weeks where two of the days are weekends! Work 2/3s of the time, relax for 1/3rd, sounds like a plan to me.

Twelve months with the thirteenth, like a baker’s dozen, an extra month that’s like a gift from the gods.

Maybe in my next life I’ll write an epic story that encompasses all of these revisions of human measurement. Not!

Haiku Tuesday: A pirate’s life for me

Swab the poop deck clean
Hoist the sails and scrape the hull
Romancing the sea

Months upon the waves
Land and women forgotten
Cabin boys beware

Stowaways revealed
Passengers must pay full fare
Sharks pick up the tab

The Jolly Roger’s
rictus grin beckons you join
brotherhood regrets

Shiver me timbers
cannonade’s volley strikes true
flotsam my altar

Fire burns the water
bright, the mast, a candle dies
moonlight shimmers cold

Fathomless graveyard
wreck-strewn, riches lost, now what?
Final adventure