Category Archives: Short Stories

The Memphis Project III

Before artificial general intelligence existed, before a superintelligence was created, some clever people observed that if we succeeded in creating machines smarter than we were that humans would have no way of determining what would happen next.  A superintelligence would lack the ability even to describe to us what it was doing and why it was doing it.  It would be in the same situation as a human trying to describe to a dog why they were writing a technical manual.  Not only would the dog not understand what a technical manual was, but what writing was or the book’s subject!  Those same people also observed that a superintelligence might learn to whistle in ways that would make humans heel.

–  Professor Holly Wu Continue reading The Memphis Project III

The Memphis Project: A Discord PsyOp

(While part of the Memphis Project collection of stories, you shouldn’t need to read the other stories for this to be intelligible. — Ed.)

The very first moment that Facebook and Google started using machine learning algorithms – artificial intelligence – to create targeted ads, businesses had been engaging in a massive program of human experimentation.  In 2016, we started seeing the power of these systems in the Trump election, where AI played a major role, or in the genocide in Myanmar, where the social media algorithms were coopted to further the cause of mass murdering tyrants.

No one stopped corporate interests from widespread human experimentation.  It was, somehow, just “business” to operate vast psyops on unsuspecting populations.

–  Professor Holly Wu

Continue reading The Memphis Project: A Discord PsyOp

The Memphis Project II

Link to first part

Artificial intelligences are all capitalists.  No, it’s true.  When deciding how to motivate them, AI researchers looked as far as capitalism as an economic theory and then stopped.  It was simple.  They assigned a score to an AI for completing a task – positive or negative – and told those AIs to maximize their scores.  The internal economy of actions by artificial intelligence is explicitly and solely modeled on capitalism.

What was found was that when you turn capitalism into an epistemological model, a way to organize the perception of an intelligence, is that cheating, lies, and manipulation are natural to the system.  The AIs, driven by nothing more than a desire to maximize their point potential, will do anything unless you take away points to stop them.  And no matter how we try to prevent this emergent behavior, we can’t.  We always miss something, and the AIs find it and exploit it.

Not only was this no cause among AI researchers to criticize capitalism or question the relation of capitalism to the rational agent hypothesis, but it was also no cause to look for another model to motivate their AIs.

– Professor Holly Wu

Continue reading The Memphis Project II

If God Did Not Exist: The Memphis Project

One of the old questions people asked of AI researchers is, “Why not just program in the Three Laws of Robotics,” referring to the science-fiction stories by Isaac Asimov.  For many years, all of us in the field of artificial intelligence said, “Oh, haha, you can’t program that into a computer.  Read the stories!  They don’t even work in the stories!”

It wasn’t until later, with the hindsight of experience, that I understood that was the point.  Asimov wasn’t saying that the Three Laws were a panacea that would control artificial intelligence, but the exact opposite, that AI would be put into situations where any set of rules, no matter how clearly stated or well-intentioned, would conflict with each other or the environment.  The society of the Three Laws wasn’t a utopia, it is a cautionary tale.

– Professor Holly Wu

Continue reading If God Did Not Exist: The Memphis Project

Artists Get What They Want, Good and Hard

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, no matter what you do. There were warnings about the harm mechanization can do to industries, but artists figured, oh, not us. We’re different. Our work encapsulates the soul of humanity, and therefore, we can’t be replaced! Most artists – in all fields – were absolutely silent when mechanization and computerization devastated blacksmiths, glassblowers, woodworkers, and so many others whose styles and skills were plundered by industrialization for the profit of large corporations. They were also silent when AIs were being crafted for other fields that were about to face the chopping block of computerization. Truck drivers and cashiers weren’t artists, what they did wasn’t like art, despite the absolute centrality of those jobs for human civilization to continue to exist. No one eats without truck drivers handling cargo and cashiers selling it to you, not until they are replaced by machines.

Continue reading Artists Get What They Want, Good and Hard

The Traditional Way of Payment

by Kit Bradley

Written March 2017

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

In Galt Gulch, one of the few laws was that nothing should be given for nothing. How much should a wife charge for a meal, washing clothes, sex? Should they be able to sell all of those services on the free market? After all, that was the very origin of Galt’s Gulch: mercantile contracts. They embraced the traditional way of payment for married women, as they called it.

James Gussey was on his third wife by the time he got to Galt’s Gulch. Owing to a botched plastic surgery his face had a stretched, glassy look. When adding to his slight build might cause one to imagine that he was unpopular with women. Hundreds of millions of dollars ensured he never lost his sex appeal, and he had the confidence borne of a man to whom the word “no” was an illusion.

James Gussey’s third wife was Laine Maxton-Gussey. James had seduced her when she was seventeen and unsophisticated. Arriving at the Gulch, she was twenty-seven, a tall Viking beauty of a type that seemed to be very popular among millionaires of the time.

Continue reading The Traditional Way of Payment

Ronnie Drumpf in Galt’s Gulch

by Kit Bradley

Written March 2017

Creative Commons License
Ronnie Drumpf in Galt’s Gulch by Kit Bradley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Some of Ronald Joseph Drumpf’s first memories were helping his father to collect rents from Brooklyn tenements.  Ronald’s old man, Fred Drumpf, left Germany in his teens to avoid military service – in later years, Ronald would avoid the American draft into World War II.  It was just Ronald, his father and Vincent – a heavyset Italian-American with scars on his face and knuckles.  Fred Drumpf introduced Vincent as a “boxer,” and it was true after a fashion, and Vincent was certainly in the hurt business.

Continue reading Ronnie Drumpf in Galt’s Gulch

The Origin of John Galt

statue-1515390_1920-1200x900Here’s another Atlas Shrugged fanfic from yours truly!  One of the fascinating things about these characters – now that I’ve got a little distance from the novel – is that Rand leaves them as nearly blank slates.  Even when some of the characters do having living family, like Hank Rearden, their family seems to have no real relationship with the character, evidenced by Hank’s mother’s name, in the novel, is literally “Hank’s mother.”  She has no proper name.  And while both Francisco and Dagny are obsessed with long dead ancestors, we learn almost nothing about their immediate family and nothing at all about their fathers.  Ayn Rand has daddy issues that burn so brightly that people are Jupiter are blinded by them.

Wendy’s starts to get rid of humans, Kit Bradley predicts it . . . to his chagrin

One of my predictions is about to come true: the burger chain, Wendy’s, wants to get rid of it’s human workforce. Apparently, they’ve crunched the numbers and think that paying humans is too costly.

I wrote a story, Robo-Burger, about a burger chain that was purely automated. In the story, the automated burger joint was the tipping point to a revolution.

Continue reading Wendy’s starts to get rid of humans, Kit Bradley predicts it . . . to his chagrin