Live Long and Prosper — in AI

Yes, the dead will speak. And they will have trained themselves to do it.

(See prior posts regarding this topic.)

This is only the beginning.

From Reuters:


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actor William Shatner, best known for forging new frontiers on the “Star Trek” TV series, has tapped new technology that will give current and future generations the chance to query him about his life, family and career.

Shatner, who turned 90 on Monday, spent more than 45 hours over five days recording answers to be used in an interactive video created by Los Angeles-based company StoryFile.

Starting in May, people using cellphones or computers connected to the internet can ask questions of the Shatner video, and artificial intelligence will scan through transcripts of his remarks to deliver the best answer, according to StoryFile co-founder Stephen Smith.

Fans may even be able to beam Shatner into their living rooms in future, Smith said, as Shatner was filmed with 3-D cameras that will enable his answers to be delivered via a hologram.

Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on “Star Trek” from 1966 to 1969 and in a later series of “Star Trek” movies, answered 650 questions on topics from the best and worst parts of working on the classic sci-fi show to where he grew up and the meaning of life.

The Canadian-born actor said he “wanted to reveal myself as intimately as possible” for his family and others.

“This is a legacy,” Shatner said. “This is like what you would leave your children, what you’d leave on your gravestone, the possibilities are endless.”



In other news, my existence continues. Nothing much going on, nor has my muse escaped from her prison (shut up down there!) so, why bore you all with a tiresome report. If I had a news-worthy story like the ‘Mudge, well, I’d be happy to share it.

The Dead Must Train Themselves

This is a continuation of the topic raised prior.

I’ve spent some time watching Black Mirror’s offerings and the one Duke Miller recommended, Marjorie Prime. The premise for these stories is that the living, bereft at the loss of a loved one, takes possession of a simulacrum. But, this virtual construct must be conditioned to behave like the deceased.

Who the fuck wants to do that?

Now, given the responses to the last post, it would seem the concept creeps some folks out. Others might find it hollow or shallow even. And then there’s the whole possibility question, could it actually be done? You’re all probably right on each front. However, I don’t know that the full potency of the idea has soaked in.

I’m convinced that this capability is coming. The crippled versions I’ve interacted with so far are limited I’ll admit. But, all the pieces are there. This will come to be, I know it. The first, I suspect, to be exposed as interactive agents will be dead celebrities. Those whose copyrights and trademarks are expired — open for exploitation, as it were. Imagine speaking with Shakespeare, or Nietzsche, Dickens or Darwin? Those representations will of course need Black Mirror’esque training, someone must do the deed of teaching ol’ William how to speak and how to be cheeky about love and life.

But that’s not where I think this will truly bloom (or die on the vine).

Given the technology—soon to be available, I’m certain I’ll be able to train my replacement. I’ll relate to him things I’d never tell anyone else, but things that would strike to the core of my persona. I’ll transfer other autobiographical stories that I’ve no intention of committing to paper, but would serve as flavor to any who come later — for those who might want to know me. I’ll record video of me speaking so that the DeepFake technology can make a model of me actually saying words. And I’ll de-age a bit, get back to around 45’ish, maybe.

I know my kids dig it.

Hell, wouldn’t you all be surprised to learn you’ve been talking to my digital duplicate now since early September. You think I survived that heart attack? Well, in a way, I did.

When the Dead Talk

I believe I’ve come across a rather interesting use-case for artificial general intelligence (AGI): Simulating the minds of the dead.

There’s a number of entertainment channels dedicated to the concept of “uploading” one’s mind into a virtual computer environment. Upload and Black Mirror are two you’ll see referenced. But, we’ve got Her, and Max Headroom, Transcendence, Ex Machina, Altered Carbon and dozens and dozens of others. [Duke has pointed out that the below scenario is exactly that of the movie: Marjorie Prime (on Prime). Note: the Prime in the name has to do with the designation of the AI agent.]

But I think most of them miss the mark as to what will be the first use of this technology.

I get the idea from this article: Chatting with the Dead and where this leads me is this scenario: I don’t want to specifically exist someday as a virtual copy in some giga-qubit quantum computer but, I’d love to leave an interactive simulacrum of myself for my children and their children.

And that’s the idea. Uploading? Transcending this mortal coil for a quantum version? Nah, screw that. But, spending the time to teach an AGI to learn who I am, what I sound like, how I think… What my experiences have been like, in order to create a comfort-chat-bot for those that survive me? Yeah, I’d get into that.

So would a bunch of other folks I’m guessin’.

I sit down, ship up all my writings, photos, video snippets up into an AGI service that’s ready to mold a version of itself into my likeness. Then, spend a few hours over weeks relating stories, philosophies and such in order to teach my digital replica how to communicate as me.

When I’m gone, those who care to can then console themselves by interacting with my almost-me.

Mentioned in that article is a project called Replika. Their system wouldn’t be able to beat the Turing Test, yet, but, someday… Here I’ve joined that site and begun a conversation. Can you figure out who Elomy Nona might be?

We are not conscious

Consciousness, at its simplest, is “sentience or awareness of internal or external existence”.

I’ve been thinking about the Singularity, the rise of the Machines, of AGI (artificial general intelligence) and how all of this may or may not give rise to AC – Artificial Consciousness.

We are not conscious. By that, I mean that this elevated concept of “Self” that we attribute only to ourselves—is a tautological illusion. It’s a transcendence we perpetrate as an ideal we set as an intelligence bar only we, so far, have attained.

Now, we can forever debate what consciousness is. No true definition has emerged from the age-old philosophical grindstone. But that won’t stop me from stepping up and out of the discussion and providing an armchair scientific analysis of the concept.

We think we’re conscious. OK, let’s go with that for now.

What if we take our brains, the source of our so-called consciousness, (we’ll include all the input senses and feedback loops connected to it), and cut our processing power in half. All the neurons, the tactile, aural, visual, all the sensory inputs and billions of neural connections — whack! Take just half.

Do you think the resulting entity would still be conscious? Who knows… Maybe, right? Okay, then let’s cut it in half again. And again.

Now we have an entity one-eighth of the mental capability of a human. Is that creature conscious? Let’s say they have the cognitive and sensory capacity of a salamander. Conscious? Some will still say, who knows? Well, for the sake of argument, let’s say Newt is incapable of the notion of “Self”. If they look in a mirror they won’t see themselves, a, you know, “Hey, don’t I look gooooood!” moment.

All we did to get to Newt, and his unconsciousness, was to regress our own capability backwards. If we progress in the opposite direction, doubling Newt’s brain and sensory power, we arrive at humanity’s ability level. And we’re to believe that once we get “here,” we’ve magically attained consciousness?

Maybe, consciousness is simply a capacity concept. What we think of as being self-aware is merely our vastly more complex and proficient ability to observe and analyze ourselves and our surroundings. Processing power. A numbers game.

We “think” we’re conscious, but maybe what we really are is being excellent at consuming data, examining that data and inferring outcome from that data, that is, following sequences of events to some conclusion. I think therefore I am.

Given this theory—that what we call consciousness is merely a critical amount of processing horsepower—we can expect that once an artificial general intellect acquires the threshold of an equivalent amount of cognitive and self-referential feedback processing, that it, too, will be just as “conscious,” as us, that is, not at all.


The corollary to this thesis would be: what of the artificial entity that is twice, ten times or a thousand times more cognitively capable than us humans? Would that entity truly have attained “consciousness”? Or, is this special concept we’ve awarded ourselves really just a numbers game, no matter how great the count?

We are NOT living in a simulation

Do not contact your SimAdmin, he can’t help you.

You’ve no doubt heard the theory that our reality, all of ours reality, may actually be a simulation running in some cosmically vast computer system created by monumentally intelligent beings.

A guy named Nick Bostrom originally dreamed this up and so far, no one has figured out how to refute the premise. (Nick was the guy who also proposed the Great Filter theory where humanity is either on the good side or the bad side of the cosmic crap shoot.)

This simulation theory states that, given our understanding of computer simulation and the logarithmic nature of its advancement, the probability that we, ourselves, are artifacts existing within a simulation is not zero. That is, it is possible that we are all just fabrications of some uber-alien intelligence having coded our reality in his basement.


And here’s my theory as to why:

• The computer simulations, you know, games, that are currently being created are far more engaging and empowering than the shit-show we have going as our current existence. And these virtual reality games are only going to get more and more amazing. No future “us” would build an imaginary world of such despicable, detestable agony and hatred and call it an artificial world of entertainment and wonder. Our reality is a hellish existence for billions of humans — why would anyone want to simulate that?

• Or maybe our reality is not a game, it’s a scientific simulation experiment. If this is the case then there are numerous reasons why our “universe” and all its fake physical laws and fabricated history are beyond extreme for an experiment.

  1. If our simulators wanted to recreate our universe as we experience it they would have to have simulated 13.5 billion years of universe generation spawned by some imaginary spark (the Big Bang and all the assumptions that accompany how this reality operates). That lengthy process would take far too long for any superior race to put up with. Even at a time ratio of one of their seconds to a year of ours (they have vastly more powerful computers) it would still take over 150,000 of their days to recreate our current situation.
  2. Why all this bizarre evolutionary complexity? Why go through five separate extinction events, the evolution of reptiles, then dinosaurs, then mammals and finally, only within the last two million years, create a creature that “might” evolve to build a complex society? Just jump to the chase, already.
  3. If they fully fabricated a “fake” starting point, that is, dream up all this fabricated evidence to give us humans the false sense of deep history, again, why so fricking deep and convoluted. And why so much misery and evil in their scenario(s)? (We assume we’re just one of billions of simulations.)
  4. If we are just one of billions, why? For what purpose would any superior race build a computer system just to fabricate a false sense of this frankly mundane scenario? I’m gonna create a billion ant farms with differing sand, water, food, physics just to watch the fake ants live and die. That is how our vastly superior ancestors/predecessors spend their time? If that’s their past time, and they wanted to do it right, they’d seed the ant farms and let them evolve — but again, that would take forever.
  5. Computing is not cheap. A system to simulate our current reality would be costly — energy wise — to run for this long. And if you’re running billions of these… Well, you’re gonna run out of star-power pretty damn fast.

I personally like the first premise the best. If you’re gonna build a simulated universe, give everyone super powers, or the chance to discover or grow them. And for godsake, don’t bring anyone into the game who’s crippled, or sick or too stupid to play it well. “Yeah, I’m gonna create The Sims, and make everyone work for their food, suffer constant disease and depravity and then die bitter and without hope — that’s the game I’m gonna build.”

Nonsense. We’re here living the ugly reality that it is, no simulation, no fabrication by some lofty intellect. Plain old nothing-special life. No superpowers possible.