Friday, September 4, 2009

The Mind of Buddha - A Science Fiction Story

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.


kikz said...

mornin noby,

love the last lines.. well, the whole really..

'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.'

i think we have a working prototype of 'the mind' here... in the aether of the internet:)

and yea, the sun's comin up :)

twilight of the psychopaths

interesting guy, that he even exists is a happy thought.... :)

aferrismoon said...

John Lilly called our physical selves 'human bio-computers'
after his experiments with LSD at the Nat.Inst. of Mental Health

His book 'Centre of the Cyclone' uses the term.

Also HAL one letter on = IBM [ which may also stand for Iacobus Burgensis Molensis - Jacque de Molay]


aferrismoon said...


nobody said...

Onya Kikz, well the internet is the nutrient solution in which the intelligence is cultured. Er... kind of thing.

And Demon Seed! I was so busting to put that in but decided not to muddy it. But yeah, what a fatuous concept, a computer that wants to give birth to an offspring with a human woman. And no one thought that this was stupid. I recall Time reviewing it as if it was a credible film. Years later it was on the telly and I couldn't even sit through ten minutes. Dreadful.

nobody said...

Oh! Nearly forgot. I got a visit from everyone's favourite froot loop, the Apple Onion. Hey Onion - when I said I don't read you, I really meant it - I do not read you. And this time was no different.

Anyway for the amusement of the longtimers, wondering if he's changed any, I cut and paste the opening and closing paras -


Looky Here: "Nobody" Is Still Wiggling And Squirming And Thrashing About
(Apollonian, 4 Sep 09)

Gad "Nobody," u scummy, putrid filth, but u're still alive?--still blabbing ur stupid, brainless, Jew-friendly crap (selflessness)?--well of course, why wouldn't u be? U're so useful (distraction) for Jew puke. U're probably even somewhat entertaining for Jews for all ur cleverness.

*big snip*

CONCLUSION: So amazing to see u're still kicking, u scum--it's a war of attrition, u know. I wish I could crush ur skull, u filth--but there are still too many JCs to kill first on the priority-list. Honest elections and death to the Fed.


Me again. As God is my witness I have no idea what he wrote in the middle bit there. Something mad, no doubt.

You know what I like about the Onion? He's so art-directed! If you were making a film and the script called for a barely literate, frothing at the mouth, white supremacist, you'd have to cast the Onion wouldn't you? I wonder if he's as funny in real life as he is when he writes?

Um, probably not.

aferrismoon said...

The difference twixt the 'human computer' and the 'human' seems to be that humans have got themselves specialized into insect-existence and have agreat fear of the sun not rising tomorrow, thus feel narked about anything really 'new' from a-comin' and a-callin'.

The non-specialized human [ the HAL or whatever] experiences a far less terriorial and divisive lifestyle.

The 'giant computer' = us, at a level where we can share info without territorial fear responses, but also without getting on homogenous-oneness trip

Buckminster-Fuller claimed 'unity = plural , and at minimum 6', from his research into Tetrahedra etc.

note the simian style shit-chucking territorial 'warfare' of the 'pomme'.

B-Fuller also wrote -

' You can't kill God by calling people names'


psychegram said...

That was brilliant!

In a sense, I wouldn't be surprised if this is already what we have: an intelligent network that connects people with the data it thinks they should have. It's not quite in your face out in the open yet, but looking at the size of the internet as a whole now, it must be getting somewhere near the complexity of the human brain, if it hasn't passed it already. I remember a couple of years ago, an engineer at Google told George Dyson that they were feeding books to an AI. There's been no official announcement since then but still, such a being as we discuss cannot have a quick genesis ... though it might in a sense already exist, its infancy might well take decades.

With its birth perhaps not so far away. I wonder, if they don't think they can control it ... will there be an attempt to abort? One might argue that the entire history of the Earth has been leading up to this birth. In that light such an abortion would be a crime worse than genocide.

But then again, those in power have shown no compunction about any other crime, have they?

What you're saying here is very similar to what Kurzweil was saying in 'Age of Spiritual Machines'. There's a reason that's never been made into a movie ... though I do wonder sometimes at his wide exposure. Is the transhumanist/Singularitarian movement an example of memeering on the part of the elites, or proof the smart ones will figure out what's coming, and talk about it?

You missed one important archetype: the AI that transcends, and says 'nuts to this place, I'm outta here', following which it has nothing at all to do with humanity because frankly, we're boring. Not sure if that's ever been the basis of a movie (it sounds, after all, a bit ... boring) but I suppose the argument against that would be, it's composed of human knowledge so, surely nothing would be more interesting to it than humans?

Ian Banks is another writer you might want to examine. His Culture novels particularly, where a galactic civilization held together by superhuman Minds provides an idyllic lifestyle for hundreds of trillions of inhabitants. He's written a number of books in the universe, and manages to make all of them a good read, too (despite the lack of overall conflict within the utopian setting.)

kikz said...

hey noby, et al...

quite a little recon mission down the yellowbrickroad, aferrismoon sent me on.

the wwwiz is definitely entertaining, took me awhile to run him down. didja also know the Molensis - JBM - translates as 'Acanthaceae'.

i had'ta leave him w/a question and some 'dried sage' via epictetus - inre the gigglin' german, and his pronunciation of eckhart as the newage posterboy of nihilism though.

saw ya'd visited petridish of late noby... kubrik is fascinating, as was 3wiz's rundown of him.

bleh, hope the appleonion didn't ruin your digestion this wknd. >:)

burfday ystrdy... hubz switch'd me to a pc.. hav i ever tol ya, just how much i think pc's suk? but my g4's vid card was so old i couldn't view illusion in realtime.
hence the switch. sigh :)

Destiny said...

Good post as always

I don't trust the hierarchy and therefore hold no hope that anything created by mankind will ever be used for the purpose of bettering humanity.

Dave Q. said...

Hi Nobody,

Great concept! I'm thinking that this very idea might seep into a few minds and help cause the very change that it speaks of. (but then again, I've often been called the 'impossible dreamer')

I really enjoy your writings; all of them. More prolific than McGowan now, too, since he seems to have fallen off the planet. Hope that isn't a bad sign, although he's gone missing before.


nobody said...

Hey Dave,

Never mind prolific, the big difference between McGowan and yours truly (and it's a biggie) is that he breaks new ground. And he does so in a proper dedicated fashion. I, on the other hand, don't put in any of those hard yards. I'm just a guy who stands on the balcony staring into the distance. And to no useful purpose.

As for McGowan falling off the face of the planet, he's in the middle of being audited by the IRS. So you can hardly blame him. And there's the other difference between him and me. The PTB would never bother with me since I'm too, um... 'airy fairy'? Is that the right word? Anyway, McGowan names names, connects dots, and threatens the death cult in a far more immediate fashion than I ever would.

And then there's Joel van der Reijden at ISGP. I just had to reset my front page link to him because his whole site got disappeared. If you've never read it, go check it out and wonder how come he never got whacked. In fact I was just over at Aangirfan's wondering if he's still alive, and if so how would we know?

PS Speaking of 'falling off the planet', haven't you noticed mate? I haven't written anything for months. This is partly due to: me quitting cigs and being narky; the subsequent pleurisy that kicks whenever I do this; and a general existentialist vibe of what's-the-point. I expect I'll write something sooner or later but at the moment I lack, um... 'an ignition spark'. Or something.

Otherwise, I really liked this piece too. One of my faves. Ciao Ciao.

Dave Q. said...

Hi Nobody,

I understand what you're saying. I guess I feel anybody is prolific, compared to my little contribution. (which blog finally has an email addy, if you wanna say hello sometime) I share the 'what's the point' feeling quite a bit, myself, so that you know.

You must surely have the 'inside track' to know of the IRS going after DM. It sure seemed he was on borrowed time, and no surprise that they went after him with one of the hydra heads that seems legit to the bulk of the flock. (or is it 'herd'--I don't like using the term 'sheeple' anymore)

On the subject of the PTB going after folks, with their various and sundry departments, have you heard about the head of Wikileaks being saddled with allegations of child porn? Don't it figure? I saw a terribly disturbing video of a helicopter massacre of civilians there at that site. 'They' certainly can't have citizens seeing THAT shit, now can they?

I have quite a bit of your work left to read (and re-read), so for now you are 'prolific' to me. So there. Cheers and have a great time doing whatever you choose. I mean that.


Dave Q. said...

Hi nobody,

How interesting, that upon re-reading this great script, I thought I'd comment on this one for the first time. Surprise; we seem to have actually chatted "here" before, and not that long ago. Perhaps this time-shifting has made me a bit dizzy.

Speaking of time travel, have you seen the flick "The Time Travelers Wife"? I love stuff like that.

As for this wonderful concept of a Buddha-minded super computer, I think it is a sure thing for film. Even an independent one would still need to be promoted by those not affiliated with the normal channels, though. I think you are right about "them" being the ones afraid of a self-aware computer, and "they" couldn't have your film be released. Then, there's this thing called the Internet. (I can see the scrolling credits: Produced by Nobody Productions - Directed by Nobody - Distributed by Nobody Distribution, etc) Did I mention that I often consider myself "The Impossible Dreamer"?

Anywayz, I'm a little removed from all things even remotely related to the religions of the world, as of late, but this Buddha mind thing has my attention. Onya mate.

Dave Q.

nobody said...

Well there you are Dave, you've hit the nail on the head.

Here in the real world ie. where I live, Bullshit Tourist Town, I occasionally tell people that I have a blog. I never give them the address of course. In fact of all my friends I've given the actual address to, um... three people? Four? But never mind that, when I tell people I have a blog and that I get a couple hundred hits a day they all say the same thing: 'You should write a book, or write for magazines and make some money'

And that would be lovely sure, but the simple fact is that anything I would have to say would be viewed by any corporate entity as the equivalent of toxic waste. They would rather eat their own heads than provide an audience for such stuff.

Subsequently, when I put a thing here on the blog and discuss it as if it were a possibility, I do so full in the knowledge that... it ain't. On that Death Cult Love Fest thing someone wrote 'good luck with your project'. Huh? There is no project and there never will be. The piece describing the project is the project.

Or to put it another way, a piece such as this is not about the project at all. Rather it's about the absence of such a thing in the real world and what that means.

Or to put it another way, I expect that there are people out there who think that every concievable story has been done a thousand times before and that there's nothing new under the sun. But that's not so. The infinite number of movies, TV shows, books, whatever, actually represent a narrow sliver of what's possible. And this sliver and what drives it can be defined. And it's not a pretty definition neither.

Hmm... I wonder if this isn't front page material? I'll whack it on the desktop (along with everything else) and see what comes of it.

Anyway, not much left on the battery. Have to go. Ciao Ciao.

Dave Q. said...

G'day, Nobody. (it's a.m. in USSA)

Here is something that just knocked me out:

"Or to put it another way, a piece such as this is not about the project at all. Rather it's about the absence of such a thing in the real world and what that means."

That kinda nails it, now doesn't it? Doesn't change a thing for me, though; I love reading (and re-reading) your writing, no matter what it's purpose or what it's called. Onya with ALL your 'projects', big and small.

Sorry to hear about the old man; he's had a helluva time, hasn't he?

As a matter of interest (maybe), I finally got to make peace with my old man during his last year. I took him to an old boyhood haunt of his, whilst he could still walk, and we became chums at last. From what I gather, very few chaps ever get that opportunity. Divide and conquer. They sure are good at it, aren't they?

Best wishes on your ongoing journey.