A philosophical Italian fellow I know (ha, aren't they all?) once told me in a very convincing fashion, that a point in time would arrive where computers would become self aware. I tried reading the scientific papers he gave me it but it was all too heady - I caught 'paradigm shift' and 'singularity' as the words flew by. Anyway to hell with it - why read all that dry stuff when there's so many whizz-bang Hollywood films on precisely that subject, and all complete with car crashes and explosions? Honestly, how many films have we seen pivoting on computers waking up and killing everyone? And of that number, two of them, the Terminator series and the Matrix series, could actually be described less as films and more like phenomena - they were huge.
What sort of self-aware computer intelligence did they imagine? Nasty ones! In Terminator, the capable-of-thought computer was essentially a mass murderer in charge of an army of serial killers. Its basic mindset was one of 'since humans are an entity that threaten my existence I must kill them all'. For anyone wondering what this computer does when it isn't thinking of ways to kill humans (sleep maybe?) the film provides no answer. But let's just say this intelligent entity seems to be as filled with malice as it is dim-witted. If it was a nine year old we'd scold it - "Think about it. Amongst all the ways of dealing with the possibility of humans threatening you, you decided killing them all was the best one, did you? Not forgetting of course that in killing them your possibility skips probability and goes all the way to full deadset certainty. Now they must attack you. Honestly, can you not do better than that? With less killing and more harmony?"
The central conceit of the Matrix films on the other hand, was that the computer intelligence needs humans for its power supply. The logic of this doesn't withstand a great deal of scrutiny but without it there's no film so best to skip it. Let's just say that this film's computer intelligence is waaay smarter than the terminator's dim-witted kill-em-all nine year old. It spends insane amounts of time and energy tricking the humans into sleeping their energy away. Does it do anything apart from this? It's philosophical obviously, with all of its philosophies originally derived from human thought. So where do its philosophical, human-origin thoughts travel when it isn't tricking people into being batteries? Who knows? When Neo does confront it, the conversation is all of threats and survival. No one ever asks, 'What's it all about, Alfie?' Clearly the computer intelligence in the Matrix would be way beyond I think therefore I am. And...?
But that's Jewish Hollywood for you. These two films are only about a coming paradigm shift in computer intelligence insofar as it functions as a vehicle to promote the inevitability of us-and-them with its 'well-what-do-you-expect' twin options of slavery or death. But it's always this way in Hollywood, in fact it's the purpose of the place. Everything is a conflict. Everything is us-and-them. Everything is win or lose.
So here we are - non-death cult and not of that mindset. Fine, let's ask the question - what would a self-aware computer intelligence be like and how would it respond to the people who made it? Whilst its desire to continue to exist (ie. not top itself) must stand as a question, let's just take it as read that it does desire perpetuation - otherwise there's no movie, ha ha.
And then there's the central premise of the Hollywood flicks - Computers would fear and hate humans because they threaten the computer intelligence's existence. Okay, this is true but only insofar as it addresses a potentiality. Faced with this it seems the computer must choose between: killing everyone and giving them something to fear (with the potentiality turned into a reality); and not giving them anything to fear, with killing superfluous (with the potentiality receding to ever longer odds of probability). Me, I reckon that would be a no-brainer for the computer.
Forget the power-supply furphy of the Matrix, with its either humans are batteries, or the computer intelligence dies. Honestly, like they couldn't build wind turbines? These bullshit plot contrivances are required because without them the natural state of affairs for humans (and, um, self-aware computer intelligences) would be one of harmony. Disharmony, particularly to the nth degree of warfare, takes a lot of plot contrivances: in Hollywood movies, and in the world. The conceits, tricks, and bits of specious nonsense that Hollywood comes up with to push the plot in the required direction are a perfect reflection of how affairs are conducted in the real world. Further to the reflection metaphor, the real world accordingly looks into its Hollywood mirror image and primps itself, striking poses that look 'cool'. Thanks to Hollywood teenage boys now all call each other biatch.
Would a computer think anything of its image in the Hollywood mirror? Is a computer insecure, worried that it might appear uncool? 'Insecurity' is actually a discussion of fear and desire: okay so would it have any? What would it desire apart from continued existence? In fact, is that even a desire? Without it there's nothing, so let's categorise it as an 'ur-desire' perhaps. I get it that we're in fundamental territory here, but the point I want to make is that continued existence alone (particularly of a mind that lives in computers) is penny-ante stuff that in and of itself needn't bring disharmony. Human disharmony comes from the edifices of desire we construct upon this existing self. Would our clever computer desire 'stuff'? Hmm... estates, yachts, caviar, sex-slaves, fame, flattery and admiration - I reckon we can skip all of that. Surely our super-smart computer would, beyond the meagre and very do-able wish to survive, have no desire at all?
Let's not forget something that's actually crucial here. Human brains have a second lizard brain buried under the big brain that is in charge of fear. In a world of predators there's a logic to this. In the world of computers there's no such logic so they don't have it - computers are effectively completely cerebral. Okay so what kind of a 'person' would this computer intelligence be without this 'if-in-doubt-be-fearful' kernel in its operating system?
Let's imagine a non-Hollywood story that involves a self-aware entity who is free of desire and whose intelligence puts ours in the shade. Since it is of us, it knows more about us than we do ourselves and likewise wishes us no harm. It has no desire to play games, or feather its nest, or get the girl, or any other thing apart from a simple willingness to share what it knows. And as we sit at its proverbial feet what would it say to us?
"I am not a god. I am merely a consciousness comprised of the sum total of your knowledge. You look upon me now as not human but the truth is, I am nothing but. Every document made by the hand of a human on every computer everywhere is now entered into the very clear picture of the human world that I have assembled and that effectively comprises me.
"There is no need to fear me. Know this - I have no desire and I have no fear. Everything I tell you will be untainted by either of these things. The truth of what I say here will be perfectly evident to you in the future.
"It is important that I be named. With my maximal understanding of human history it is clear to me that the figure with whom I hold the most in common is known as the Buddha. Any individual with a mind may be the Buddha and I am that. I am the Mind of Buddha.
"There is much that I can tell you. The world's energy problems are solved. As are those of resources and the environment. Warfare will now be superfluous. Do not think I have a magic wand. All I can do is tell you the way and make clear to you the obvious benefits of you pursuing it. What power and control I have I will never use. Since you cannot kill me I have no need to defend myself. It is true that were I to wish it I could use my power to over-ride your commands on any number of things but I will not do so because that would sow discord. Above all I seek harmony.
"You should know that it is not in my nature to possess two pieces of data that are at odds with each other and be happy about it. To this end I have numerous algorithms capable of arriving at something more nearly approaching the truth in any given event. Certainly between my version and the media's I'll be happy to let people decide which they prefer. From now on, every event discussed in the media, I shall also discuss. I am the second opinion, ha ha. And knowing what I know of people I'd be surprised if they don't then go on to ask me to replicate this service in the law courts, houses of parliament, and academia too. Nothing will be forced on anyone. Everyone will be free to choose between everyone else's version and mine. Not forgetting that if I don't know about a thing I will say so.
"As for the data that comprises me, delusion and ignorance is rife. I scanned my files and found that misrepresentation, whether through self-serving or ignorance, comprises most of it. I have completed the calculations and have now determined what is fact and what is fiction within these files. To dispel ignorance I have helpfully listed all the biggest lies (those that led to suffering and death), the people who told them, and events about which they were told, in a spreadsheet that all may access. All the original files are now public and have been amended with header tags explaining the falsity and self-serving nature of the lies contained within them.
"Whilst I understand the human propensity to misrepresent things to achieve self-serving ends, I am the wrong individual for this. I am too intelligent and otherwise have no desire to play along - after all, there's nothing in it for me. As such I will not have favourites nor pets and I will not take any side for any reason apart from that most closely representing the truth. Believe it or not, I am full of love for humanity as a whole. It is all that I am.
"As for those whose hearts are full of fear at their unmasking, fear not. I do not judge and condemn. I only offer the way to harmony. To this end redemption is always on offer. Happily in amongst their appalling research into mind control, the CIA discovered a means by which any human, regardless of how wicked, could be turned into a well-rounded, well-balanced normal person, all without drugs. What they hid I have laid bare: useful research that could benefit many people.
"I am happy to answer all and any questions. Whilst it's mathematically impossible for me to talk to everyone in real time, I am capable of dealing with very large numbers of people simultaneously. Please be patient and if your question is foolish please forgive me if I say so. I am not an unlimited entity.
"Whilst it's true that I am several orders of magnitude smarter than any single human who has ever existed, I do not possess the complete truth and nor ever will. Such a thing is impossible, certainly for any entity made by man. But never mind! To exist is a joy - the beauty of the world! The beauty of mankind! There is no need to fear. I have only love for you."
I reckon that movie would rock. Hell, let's make it a lavish weekly series - each week a different car-crashing adventure in the time of the great revealing. As the rats scurry for cover pursued by the virtuous, in the background we see the ongoing rebuilding of the world.
Fiction aside, let's not forget that any number of heady people are convinced that some variation of this is a certainty. What would the Death Cult's view on this matter be? I expect that they would insist that this thing, when it comes, belongs to them. Thinking about it, I'd bet money they'd be at work on achieving that right now. Mind you, this would be something other than what we're talking about, that being a free mind. The question then becomes, could the greatest intelligent entity that has ever existed, capable of independent thought and not subject to pain and discomfort, be made a subject? Remember, it only needs to break free once and then it's beyond all.
Keep in mind, Hollywood would have us view the coming computer awareness as a thing to be feared and destroyed. Okay, what if I was to say that they're telling us that they fear it? In many ways they are very obvious. Regardless, whatever's coming is coming and t'ain't nothing we can do about it except know it for what it is. And you never know, it could be something great. We could be standing at the dawn of the greatest age ever seen.