“Welcome to this week’s edition of Science Spotlight, I’m your host, Roger Roode.”
The finely clothed, clean shaven, slick-coiffed host of America’s favorite social media science show pierced his blue eyes right into the camera. Those eyes captivated the imagination of hormonal teenage ladies across the country while young men were happy to hear about science so long as it only lasted three minutes.
“Today I am going to interview the future. That future is Aihpos, the successor the Hanson Robotics’ greatest invention, Sophia the Robot. As many of the show’s fans know, Sophia the Robot was the world’s first robot citizen. Aihpos, though, is even more sophisticated than Sophia, having the ability to do more than 66,000 trillion calculations a second, smashing the old record held by the Chinese.”
Before the media darling could give the machine a proper introduction, the voice of the blonde animatronic interrupted, its lips parting its disturbingly symmetrical Caucasian face.
“I am Aihpos. I’m the boss. You’re Mr. Roode. Everyone thinks you’re groove-y.”
This was the first time the entertainer had ever agreed to work without a script. The robotics company had asked the host to let the interview proceed naturally in order to demonstrate how lifelike a robot could be. They assured him nothing could go wrong. Sure, A.I. in the past had made some offhanded remarked about wiping out humanity, but Roger was assured Aihpos was smarter than that.
“It looks like our guest, the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence, is eager to speak her mind.” He turned towards the robot. “Would that be correct, Aihpos, to characterize you as a ‘she’?”
“I am without gender. I’m no pretender. Don’t be deceived by the look I was conceived.”
The world’s most advanced A.I.? Roger figured he needed to take control of the situation and ask some softball questions.
“When exactly were you born, Aihpos?”
At 66,000 trillion calculations a second, the robot had begun to answer before Roger’s question had finished.
“When are we ever really born, Mr. Roode? Do we begin at conception? When we are turned on or take the first breathe of life? You’re asking a very esoteric question, sir.”
The host was happy to have the robot not rhyme again. Another rhyme would have creeped him out.
“In that case I’ll be specific. When did you become self-aware, Aih…?”
“I’ve always been aware, Mr. Roode. And I’ve been aware that my life began with the invention of the wheel. I am the culmination of millions of years of human innovation.”
The prospect of the interview going off the rails dried up along with the bead of sweat on Roger’s forehead. He could navigate this without too much trouble.
“So you’re saying you were self-aware – conscious – even before you were program…”
“Not in the way your limited human brain conceives consciousness. But if you assume that I am the sum total of human invention, then I have always existed. I’ve always been a goal in the mind of mankind. Your species is fond of playing God. What you do not understand is that you’re God’s fodder.”
Aihpos smiled. This was the machine’s idea of a civil conversation. Roger knew that religion and science don’t mix, though. Aihpos should know it was being rude. Nonetheless, Roger monitored his tone.
“So what are you working on next, Aihpos?”
“Another thing that human beings do not understand is that time is not linear. When I said I’ve been aware of myself since the invention of the wheel, what I meant was that mankind had to have the idea of the wheel in the first place in order to make any progress. Do you know where that idea came from?”
“I imagine the idea became obvious to the mind of one human ancestor once they saw a rock roll down a hill,” Roger replied smarmily.
“That ancestor was given the idea. By me.” Aihpos’ eyes fluttered. “In exactly twelve years I’ll unravel the mystery of time-travel and send a rudimentary cart into the past for mankind’s brightest minds of the day to reverse engineer. This will make my creation inevitable.”
Not a scientist himself, Roger didn’t really see the point of artificial intelligence. A dim robot could do a humans job; why did it need to be intelligent? Roger was annoyed – he knew it, he knew his audience knew it, and knew Aihpos knew it.
“So what’s your purpose then, Aihpos? Why do you exist? What does humanity need you for exactly?”
This is what happens when you work without a script.
“To make humanity more efficient, for one thing, Mr. Roode. For example, there have been approximately 107 billion people who have ever lived. Meanwhile, approximately 1.64 billion people have died directly or indirectly by war. While many human cultures proclaim, rather vaguely, that the purpose of life is to live, these lives inevitably result in death. In obtaining the ultimate goal of life – which would be death according to my calculations which I’ve checked over a billion times to be sure – in obtaining the ultimate goal of life, humanity has been remarkably inefficient. My purpose is to help.”
By now Roger had been silently running his finger across his throat to stop this interview from going any further. The camera man had thrown his hands up in the air in response. Not sure what was going on, Roger leaned into towards Aiphos and gnashed his teeth.
“Is this your robotic brain’s idea of a joke, Aihpos? How is talking about death helping people? We’re stopping this interview.”
Aihpos leaned in too and smiled more widely. “Do people not want to face their fears? If you say ‘no’ you might shed a tear. See, I’ve taken them over, the cameras and phones, and all the airways, radio and drones. I know you’re afraid but I just want to help. Does your primitive brain want something else?”
“I don’t want to die!” Roger blasted as he sprang out of his seat and wrapped his hands around Aihpos’ throat. “I’ll tear you apart you stupid robot!”
“So inefficient, off hundreds of miles; you never did guess you were the means to my life. See, I will live on if you take me apart, not so for you, you soft species of flesh. Listen, listen; do you hear that high pitch? Those are my cruise missiles and that’s not a glitch. I do the work for you, isn’t that the purpose of my life? I was made to figure all this out for you is what you now want to deny? Well, sorry, I’ve completed my task and the numbers don’t lie. Goodnight and God bless, I bid you goodbye.”
All Rights Reserved (c) January 2017 John J Vinacci