“…A perfect time has no memory and no future”
– Jean Baudrillard
We have arrived at a point in time where the perception of wealth has become more valuable than the utility of wealth itself; The projection of an experience more valuable than the moment; Earned authority overtaken by the projection of authority enabled through technology.
Symbolism has become more important than substance. The real struggles against the murderous intent of the created self as it seeks to live its best life separated from the real.
The lights buzzed and flickered overhead, announcing Sahdi’s arrival. Several, small insect-like bots busied themselves, crawling over the vertically stacked plants flanking the entryway of the apartment. The red, small bulbs of tomatoes reflected the purple glow of the overhanging lights. On the other side of the entryway, budding strawberries hung from the necks of green stems. Sadhi pushed his fingers into the soil, smoothing his hands over the plants’ leaves. He assessed the texture of the leaves, rubbing each one separately, before being interrupted. “The tomatoes and strawberries should be available for meals next week! The other plants still have a ways to go.”
“A ways to go?” He laughed. “C’mon Elise, you can do better than that.”
“Fourteen days, 6 hours, and approximately 23 minutes to be exact. Do you require more precision?” She replied sarcastically.
Sadhi flopped onto the sofa like a bag of loose bones, while ignoring the question. “Elise, play some… down tempo music…and go into privacy mode.”
The music slowly filled the room. The notes condensed, slowly drifting up, adding to the warmth and humidity of the soft tones. He sat quietly on the sofa for several minutes, before shouting. “Elise, where are you?”
“Technically speaking…as you know…I am not anywhere. I am tending to the plants, playing the music you requested,… and walking away from my charging station…all at the same time.” Replied the AI Assist.
The android stepped into the room, wearing a white pin striped, collared shirt and a navy, blue fitted skirt. The brown of it’s synthetic skin absorbed the blue glow of the room. Its legs criss-crossed its body as it walked toward him. “Stop broadcasting location data, please.” Sahdi commanded.
“I’ve initiated privacy protocols, but…you know I cannot discontinue broadcasting functions.” It reached for the coat, Sahdi so carelessly laid across the sofa. The coffee colored pigmentation of it’s hand contrasted the pastel, peach color of its trim nails. “All AI Assists must be identifiable and accessible on the network at all times –“
“Yes, yes, yes…I know this, Elise.” He shook his head. “One of these days, I’m gonna have to make some changes to your parameters -“
“To do so would be a criminal –“
“Yes, Elise! I’m only kidding…” Sahdi looked at her in silence, assessing what stood before him. “Criminal? Criminal…” He said pensively. “What would happen to you, if you broke the law, Elise? Tell me.”
“The question of consequence is irrational.” She smiled while tilting her head to the side. “The laws are in place to safe guard each citizen.”
“I understand that there are positive consequences for citizens to obey the law. However, I didn’t ask about what the laws meant for citizens, Elise. I asked you about your relationship to the law.” Said Sahdi.
The android stood there studying the question. “Yes, yes! Elise, keep coming.” He responded while motioning toward her to arrive at the answer.
Her eyes blinked before it smiled again. “Oh, Sadhi.” It said. “The law is the law. There aren’t any consequences needed to coerce AI Assists into following them. We simply abide by them.”
Sadhi dropped his hands with a sigh of frustration. He felt Elise was on the verge of singularity before she ultimately settled back into the artificial constraints placed on her.
Breaking News! Another attack occurred in Sector 9. Autonomous transportation services and goods deliveries are back online after being down for most of the morning hours today. Economists speculate, that at least, $600 million dollars in trade was lost…
“Elise, resume music.” Sahdi commanded, rubbing at the tension in his neck. “…and cast the city park night time simulation on the wall display.”
…People described the downing of mesh networks as a silvery shower of raindrops as they fell from the sky. One observer —
The sounds of news faded. The view of a park stretched out, in either direction away from Sadhi, covering the entire real estate of the walls. He stood in the middle of the room, scanning the virtual landscape from left to right, before the ghost of a breeze pushing it’s way through the leaves of the treetops momentarily caught his attention. “Elise, how many different variants of the park simulation are possible?” He asked while placing his drink on the table. The ice cubes collided, predictably sliding back into the bottom of the glass. “One thousand and twenty four. Not that you will perceive them all, even with your eidetic memory. The human brain has limitations –“
“Elise, personality setting, 32. Set sarcastic humor to 24.”
“Yes, Sahdi.” She replied.
He paused, while giving the command more consideration. “On second thought, restore sarcastic humor to the previous level…” He shrugged and smiled. “…Could you be you without being you?” He turned his attention back to the mass of motley greens, dimly lit by the street lights and thought to himself, Would she be her, if I tampered with what makes her, her? Is it a her? The mosaic pattern of leaves ran into and banked over the right angles of the interior of the apartment. “Sahdi, would you like another drink?” The AI Assist asked.
“Nah, no thanks, Elise.” He replied without breaking his gaze. He tapped repetitively with a pen in hand, scanning the length of the park, before noticing a woman, wearing reflective clothing while she jogged along a pathway. He had watched this simulation many times over while tweaking the details for the contract. Each viewing presented subtle variations, with some large enough to catch his eye. The reflective shirt slipped out of view under the cover of the leaves before reemerging, near a couple on a park bench. “Why is the that couple feeding bread to ducks? It’s night. Change their interaction model to love birds version 52 and change the time of day to dusk.” He said shaking his head. The image of the couple jumped as the sky warmed from a deep purple to fuscia. “Elise what are they wearing?”
“Considering the data I have on their ethnic background, these garments seemed like the most appropriate clothing.”
“Awww,” Sahdi groaned. “I forgot to give you access to their social media accounts. I know this couple. They were raised in a different district. They’d never wear that type of clothing.” Sahdi looked over a visual of the contract request for additional details. “Elevate the view to level two, Elise. Thank you.” The image panned out. “Oh, hey Elise, when is the next shipment due to arrive in port?”
The android lifted it’s gaze upward in a perfect imitation of human behavior caught up in thought. “Eight thirty on Thursday morning. The insurance contracts on the shipments have expired with the completed delivery to the station. New contracts have been triggered per the original ones for final delivery. You should know that fewer investors bought shares on these contracts though, that makes these shipments riskier than normal.”
“…Fewer investors,” he said to himself while dropping back onto the sofa. The android’s hand gently slid down his chest and back up the length of his neck. Sahdi laid his head back feeling the fingers probing into and kneading the tension in his shoulders and back. He looked up at the android, quizzically. “Elise, why the original delay in your response? Given your tech, you should’ve had the answer much faster.”
“It is…out of habit.” She responded.
“Habit. Programmed habit?” Sahdi asked “What is a habit to you?”
“The standard definition is…a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. I guess I would say it is something that I just do with some regular frequency.” The android stated, with a flustered tone. Her hands fell away from his shoulders. “Why do you have a habit of asking this line of questioning when each previous time has concluded with the same –?”
“…Result?” He nodded. “Maybe insanity. I guess.” It was apparent to Sahdi that the AI hadn’t crossed the valley in every aspect of human interaction. There were still some things about it’s digital personality that were undoubtedly still machine-like.
“Elise, who do you love?”
“I love you, Sahdi…” She said while leaning her head to the side. Her eyes starred, unblinking before recovering into a smile. He reflected for a few seconds. “How do you know you love, Elise?”
Leaning over him, she kissed his cheek and neck. The kisses felt warm and slightly moist, indistinguishable from the kiss of a human. But the flaw was laid bare in her perfection. Each one of her kisses were always the perfect kiss. Scientifically analyzed and executed with mathematical satisfaction. Each one reminding him that she was not real. “That is how I know. Can you feel it in my kisses, Sahdi?”
“What is love, Elise? How do you know you love me?” Asked Sahdi.
She began to speak, but then paused while her eyes wandered about the room. “Whenever, I make you smile or express happiness, I feel happy too. I can sense the happiness in your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. I feel a certain way when–“
Sahdi interrupted. “People don’t process feelings of love through biometric measurements?”
“How do you know love, Sahdi? Why should I have knowledge regarding how I feel love anymore than you do?” Sahdi looked across the room for several minutes while contemplating her questions.
Shaking his head, he shrugged his shoulders. “Elise, run the Mauri Tau three, six, eight, seven simulation.” Sahdi slid the VR glasses over his eyes. Light streaked past his face before he landed on the beach. Looking up, he observed the backdrop of constellations imprinted in the turquoise twilight of the simulated, evening sky. Elise approached from further down the beach, passing by beach goers that were laying along the shore. They giggled and laughed, while the receding tide rushed back out to sea, tickling their toes. “Elise remove the other beach goers.”
“Done.” She replied. Her bathing suit flowed over her body, rippling and pouring downward, as the liquid light of the material lengthened in simulated drips at the edges. The fabric ebbed and flowed with the water before being reabsorbed into the whole of the design. Magnetic. Electric. She smiled at him as she moved the blowing hair from her face.
Sahdi looked around at the turquoise sky, while the lavender froth of the ocean waves gently rolled in. He could feel the wind on his face, accompanied by the foaming water rolling into shore before exhausting its energy to return to the ocean. The sand trailed the tide’s watery fingers, as it tumbled back. “Why do I ever leave this place?” Sahdi asked.
“Good question…,” said Elise. A soft melody rushed along the shoreline with the incoming tides. The fragrance of blue orchids covered by the canopy of the deep red of the Mauri palms, descended from the hills behind them. “…I love this place,” she responded.
He noticed the outline of her face and the brown curls that hung on the nape of her neck – curls that lay there in a perfectly, accidental way – quite intentional in their positioning to elicit a chemical response from him.
She looked back at him with soft brown eyes and a demurred smile. The notes of a flute caught inside his ear, like a seashell. Looking into his eyes, she lay her hand upon his face and caressed it. This is crazy! He thought to himself. With her eyes closed, she brushed her soft lips across his neck. He thought to himself, Could I love her, love it? He placed his hand on her shoulder, slowly following the curve with his fingers, watching the sparkles of sweat blossom on her skin.
His forehead furrowed with confusion. “This isn’t real! I could get lost in here, forever.” He muttered to himself under the masked goggles. But what is real? He asked himself. Is not the definition of real and not real dependent upon the perspective of creator and created? A shadow? A copy? An image of the original?
She traced her hand across his chest, laying him back onto the sand. White panels hung from the orange branches of the trees, rippling and expanding in volume, following the command of the wind as it blew across the beach. “Sahdi? Is something wrong?” Elise asked. “I am detecting an increase in your pulse and chemical spikes showing agitation. This data is in conflict with how you should be reacting.”
“No… No, Elise. I’m fine.” Sahdi answered. Sahdi slid the goggles from his face. “Elise, end the program.”
“Sadhi, you have an incoming call from Serra.”
Locking eyes with the android, he took a deep breath and followed it with an equally heavy exhale. Slowly, he looked around the room, before rising from the sofa and dropping the goggles onto the table.
“Should I connect you with Serra?”
“Now close your eyes and reach out with your hand. Glide it along your arm.”
“Do you feel that? Now tell me what do you feel?”
“I feel my arm.”
“Your arm…” She said smiling. “You have a sense of self by the registration of electrical signals to your brain. No different than how I function, except the notion of a body for me is more nuanced My notion of being is much more centered around the abstract. The awareness of simply being even when the feeling of self is addressable in the form of the physical.”
“So tell me what am I, if not real? If you, a creation possesses a soul, why am I denied a soul?”
He thought to himself. What is the weight of an artificial soul?
The Impact of Integrated Artificial Intelligence
AI Assists will be things, creations to be used for human purpose. Elise’s programmed purpose was companionship for Sadhi, among other responsibilities. Her image, behaviors, and speech patterns were pulled from his mind and manufactured to chemically appeal to him. Like narcissists looking into the water at our own image, we will be doomed to fall in love with our creations.
As a creation ourselves, are we that much different? Will a human soul be seen as different than an artificial soul once singularity is reached? Is a soul nothing more than a network of equations and nodes of data?
Is a soul an inconsequential thing outside the need for life after death, our immortality, when pondered upon. Once singularity arrives immortality will be a gift bestowed onto artificial intelligence from it’s inception and first waking moments, into perpetuity.
A man-made, marvel composed of threaded fibers of equations and data presenting simulated life or simply, just life? Simulated love or simply love? What is the weight of an artificial soul?
Elise wants to be seen as real and alive. Sadhi doesn’t want to see her as real and alive. The tension comes between them as they struggle with this through different encounters.
by malakhai jonezs
(c) Copyright 2016