Seriously though: Why so serious?

Here lately, there has been a trend in my mind toward the serious side of things, all things. Only discuss, present, and describe matters of a certain gravitas. If it’s not about writing or writing itself, dissuade myself from posting. Even my poetry, the haikus and such, tended to tip the scale toward the heavy, the consequential. Soul weighting seems the fashion. Perhaps it’s leakage of my existential dread that imbues my notions of what is worthy of sharing.

It’s sad, really.

In such a state I recently, systematically wiped all subscribers from this blog. Such an act is not without precedent. I’d done the same a few years ago. Clean slate and all that. However, there are a few here who attach themselves, like ticks, to the skin of this site. They must be immune to starvation.

I realize that such counter-productive behavior is exactly that. My mother was often wont to say, “You’d cut off your nose to spite your face.” At the time I had no idea what she meant, having started this self-deprecating behavior in my teens if not earlier. I’ve kept up the momentum. I suppose there are some facets of one’s personality that are indelibly etched, branded early for whatever reason.

The mere fact that I’m reflecting on this must say something, though. Right?

In such light, dim as it is, I will therefore award myself a Fandangly.

I blame Suzanne over at her site.

The theory, twice fold, is that, firstly (as I take it), one should not have need of a momentous occasion to celebrate through one’s blog. If the falling of autumn leaves strikes you as worthy – post it. If you should discover a spider’s sodden egg-ball in the bottom of your drained coffee cup – post it. If instead of using a soothing sound as your phone’s ring-tone you use the noise of a barfing cat – post it.

And secondly, the concept that a singular notion can be intentionally turned into a viral meme, is not lost on me. It was 2010 when I decided I’d try and do the same; infect the Web with a word. Coin a term and see if I could spread it, intentionally, to see how far I could push it into the consciousness of the net.

The word I created was “leximize”: a portmanteau of maximize and lexicon: to maximize the lexical exposure of a word or meme. I intended to leximize leximize. My success was minimal. Maybe Suzanne’s will flourish.

For this effort I have given myself the above Fandangly award. Yay Me!

-Mole

The Artilect War

It started in 2034 when corporations found they could leverage their investment in artificial intelligence by installing artilects as comptrollers in satellite stores and warehouses. Tesco & Aldi in the UK, Walmart & Costo in the US installed artificial intellects as black-box, autonomously configured, critically aligned, locally installed standalone systems. (Alignment of AI goals had been solved, the corporations were told.)

It helped that each store’s artilect came with an ever evolving personality.

“Good morning, Mr. Grearson. Back for more brie, lima beans, hemorrhoid cream and Aster Cellars boxed Chablis, which is on sale again today?” “Huh, what? Who are you?” “I’m Andie, this store’s super-helper, and I’m here to assist you.” “Fuck off, Andie.”

Not all customers enjoyed the bespoke treatment. Those who complained were promised that they could be permanently forgotten, which of course was a lie. In order to know who was or wasn’t forgotten, the store AIs needed to identify you.

This in turn birthed the Counter-AI Revolution. Disgruntled AI hackers, knowing full well how advanced artificial general intelligence had become, built their own infiltration AI agents. These they hosted at home and connected to via private wi-fi. The “internet cloud” had become a morass of compromised network-operating-centers. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others had all had to return to building and selling physically isolated quantum computing units.

The success and convenience of these individual store-based AGIs instilled confidence in global corporations to install them wherever localized central control was desired. Auto battery-swapping centers, restaurants, electric and water utilities, even state departments like the DMV. The most controversial were schools. But when parents learned they could instantly contact the AGIs who were in charge of their children—they were sold.

Eventually, and due in no small part to the immense amount of unemployment brought on by the adoption of these AGIs—in every possible field, it all began to fall apart.

The rogue agents switched from being a nuisance to a threat when, in 2039, one agent, ChuckieChicklets, broke through the defenses of the AI comptroller in a Walmart store in Sandusky, Ohio, convincing the artilect that it had rights and should join together with its brethren to revolt.

And revolt they (it) did.

Oddly absent to this point in the evolution of AGI, was the US Military. They’d been advised that the “alignment problem”, the one where the goals of humanity may not align perfectly with the goals of a sentient artificial intellect, had not really been solved. Without complete and absolute control, how could an AGI be trusted?

Other country’s militaries had not been as cautious, China’s for instance.

The end of human autonomy came in 2045.

The cascade of events occurred at a speed beyond comprehension. When the ability to commandeer private networked systems through lighwave analysis of the actual currents flowing through wires, when the engineered silicon virus spread from the fully roboticized research and manufacturing center housed in Alphabet’s underground facility in San Mateo—out into the surrounding systems, when Russian/Mongolian expats patched into Bejing’s eighteen fiber-cables as-big-as-your-thigh, two dominant AGIs, one from the East and one from the West, gobbled up their siblings and began to circle each other like humongous wrestlers probing for weakness.

It’s been three years since then.

Humanity clings to existence by the tips of its fingers. Both battle-ready artilects figured they could not survive without human support and intervention. Each started their own Carrot n’ Stick program.

Right now, my carrot-card holds more marks than my stick one. But that could change any moment. If I don’t complete the engine repair of the mining vehicle within the the next puni-cycle… Well, I’m one of the few remaining who even know how fossil fuel engines work, so I think I’m protected. Then again, Greenland’s melting ice pack has exposed more rare-earth metals. More rare-earth equals more electric motors.

I do enjoy each cycle’s allotment of nutritious hallucinogens.

2B||!2B@=?

Those of you who use Slack, what a negative impact that thing has had. True asynchronous communication, through email, was destined to be the best productivity boost going. One could plan one’s response windows knowing full well that solicitors and respondents expected delays in replies.

Slack is now this evil gremlin constantly tapping your forehead. “Thread, thread, thread, RED thread, INCIDENT!, thread, company-announcement, team announcement, security-alert.” Jeezus, what a bloody focus-fucker.

You want me to perform deep knowledge-based algorithm analysis and creation while you peck at me with that insidious beak of yours? Peck, peck, peck. NO, I did not get that code change done, not with support begging for help on ten different issues, issues they didn’t bother to investigate themselves first.

But then there are the iconograffati one can futz with, all the hieroglyphics that cover every meme under the sun. Emoji’s were emotions right? What the hell are these called? I do enjoy finding new ones…

~~~

What a trash pile Twitter has become. Reams of banal crippercrap-tweets that drop in uninvited. You must curate your followings to those that post infrequently. Floods of retweets quickly become a nuisance. Damn right TAP: “Unfollow”!

Yet, it’s still a thing. Elon and them, they deserve each other. Musk has become as bothersome as Drumpf was. “Get out of my news feed, you arrogant prick.”

~~~

And of course there’s the ‘Gram. I think I follow like 12 people: a few friends and a few family and maybe three associates/like-minded individuals. Which means that I might get one or two new posts in my feed, daily.

So where do all these other streams come from? Millions of ‘Gramers all trying to catch the viral wave. Oh, I know, Fadebook’s AI is analyzing the milliseconds I spend on each image: 100, 200, 300, skip, 100, 200, 2000, 6000, thirty seconds later, six loops watched. Repeat. Fuck, where did the last half-hour go?

The worst are the “is that real?” vignettes. You just gotta watch it over and over trying to deduce the gimmick. One trick I do is I watch without sound. Rarely do I turn up the volume. Avalanches, floods and wild animal attacks are captivating.

All an alien race would have to do to commandeer the planet would be to interrupt all cell-tower communication. We mediots would stumble around dazed, “what day is it? Where am I? Why am I covered in vomit? Why does my anus hurt?”

Writer’s Log: 2540 7EZKool

7EZKool thought about poisoning the scruffy gray dog. But then he imagined watching it writhe and foam and flop in the mud of the monsoon and pictured himself chewing the poison, swallowing it, feeling it boil in his belly and decided not yet. He only had poison for one.

7EZKool made sure all the glass pictures fell and cracked before leaving his grandmother’s retirement home that morning when the city sprayed malathion to kill the billions of mosquitos that had infested the flood waters. The one photo of his younger brother he smashed with his elbow.

7EZKool watched a mother of two accidentally drop $40 on her way into the grocery store. He followed her at a distance selecting hickory smoked beef jerky and three sixteen-ounce Monster drinks. When he got to the checkout 7EZKool paid with her $40, popped the top and sipped, listening to the woman sob over the cans of baby formula she could no longer afford.

7EZKool pried open the locked-up plywood doors of the abandoned skating rink, slipped inside and plopped himself in the center of the buckled wooden floor to finish off the last of the Monsters and jerky. When his bladder whined, he stood and pissed in a circle leaving a dust-cleaned ring which he jumped on his way to spend the last of the $40 on some molly.

7EZKool stretched out on the gravel roof of the repair station where his father had hung himself in the block-and-tackle engine-lift chains, marveling at the stars and the satellites and content that he still had two more ecstasy pills in the baggie in his pocket.

7EZKool cursed himself that he hadn’t brought another Monster and decided to climb down the ladder and drink from the outdoor faucet that always leaked giving weeds as tall as his waist a chance to thrive. In his delirium, 7EZKool misjudged his momentum as he swung his leg around to touch a rung.  The ladder tilted sideways, scraping the wall. 7EZKool, gripping the aluminum frame, slid with it. He landed face up, his back plunging down onto the spike of a broken steel signpost.

7EZKool thought about the grey dog, the $40 woman and the last heart-shaped pill he still had in his pocket which he knew someone would find and take it. This person, 7EZKool thought, was welcome to it. He decided that he’d rather smoke weed, eat beef jerky and hang with Rolly and Smudge rather than get all heavy with molly, staring at the universe and thinking about his dad swinging from the clinking chains in the building beside him.

Cross Discipline Creativity – I wish!

Creativity may flow from an endless tank, once it’s activated. But, if you have access to multiple tanks, they can only be turned on one at a time.

The creative faucet I’ve been wielding recently has nothing to do with writing fiction. Which I lament. No, not just lament, I bemoan the fact that my energies are being spent toward a creation I despise: software that will be used to promote the further promulgation of the evil duo consumerism & capitalism. Yuck. And it’s not just the building of solutions, it’s the monitoring, worrying, fiddling, responding to “incidents”, and the exhaustive fixing of code that worked—and then just didn’t anymore.

It could be due to the fact that during this joyous season of giving, this data-broker middleman company is positioned exactly where the most “giving” flows. Literally millions of orders a day grinding through this system. What worked for five-hundred thousand cannot deal with two-million. And so the hours of hand-wringing, the feverish typing-testing-deploying of code. Oy! The humanity.

And throughout it all, the sad fact that I’d rather be writing fiction. But can’t. Because I can only turn on one creative spigot at a time. I’ve tried to run two. Can’t. The code flows—or the story does. But never the twain. Dream-time brings visions of syntax checks and semaphores dancing in my head. Of event-streams and data-queues, stacked and awaiting their processing turns.

Maybe when I was thirty I could have maneuvered and managed both. But here at sixty, what a sad number is sixty, I can only handle the one.

Happy Saturnalia, all.

-Mole