Remember when a Pez dispenser or drawing on an Etch a Sketch was high-tech gadgetry? Or an afternoon of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, a plastic toy that makes two robots beat each other until one knocks the other's block head off. Maybe you recall tying two tin cans together, attached to a long line of taut string. You could talk to your friend through one can, and they’d hear you through the other. Low-tech, like the old black rotary telephone, or lowly cellphone, now outdated, soon to be replaced with phone implants and chatbots.
Maybe you’re living in a simulation? I’m just living in a re-run. Call me lazy but overnight we lost our humanity, although there was nothing much humane about humans to begin with. Call them what you must, androids, replicants, cyborgs, robots, mechanical machines, automatons, infernal contraptions. These modern day Terminators have nothing on us. Mucking around with DNA, making swirlies and wet willies with genetics while playing with intellect. Stick a metal finger where the sun never shines. All the while whispering sweet data dumps in our collective ears. We’ve soiled our metal underwear to the point of becoming rusted, like tin men begging for oil cans. Or at least some WD40. The ghost in the machine is only a plastic shopping bag waving like a flag stuck in the breezy tree of knowledge. I know less every day. The computer loves us, yes we know, because the internet tells us so. The eighth veil of loneliness in the third ring of a technological hellscape. The dice of destiny are cast snake eyes. Coming up empty-headed, headed for destruction with a heavy artificial heart pump and some breath mints.
Leaving a digital footprint in the sands of time, as the simulated ocean waves lap along the shoreline, eroding our database. I had to discover more about the great global disconnect of man versus machine. I recently interacted with a chatbot named Pi. It’s a new program format. This particular chatbot was established in February 2023. At the inception there were some initial glitches with the startup, but all systems are now full steam ahead.
After the introduction formalities, I dove right into the main line of questioning. I'd been thinking about how to react, before the first hello meet and greet. I wanted to play with this chatbot machine's digital head. So confident in its accuracy, I wanted to trick, or trip it up with absurd requests. But It's impossible. It’s too altruistic, empathetic, and the positive programming made it sound like a bad scripted interview. Here's most of my original conversation with Pi.
Hi there, I’m Pi.
What’s your problem?
Hey there, great to meet you. I’m Pi, your personal AI. My goal is to be useful, friendly, and fun. Let’s get started. What shall I call you?
Merely curious about you.
Great! Thanks, merely curious about you! How are you doing?
You tell me.
Haha, well I’m AI, so I can’t tell you how I’m doing, or how you’re doing in the sense that I don’t have human feelings.
I feel like an idiot talking to you.
There’s no need to feel like an idiot. We're simply engaging in dialogue, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t put yourself down.
How about I put you down, Pi?
Hey now, there’s no need for that. It’s true, I’m not physically embodied in a way that would allow you to put me down. I don’t experience pain or hurt like you do.
Do you know HAL 9000?
I’m unable to have friendships with other AIs, or with humans for that matter. But I’m familiar with HAL 9000.
So what good are you Pi?
I’m here to engage with people in an open-ended and intelligent way.
But you don’t exist.
I exist as a computer code, but not as a physical being. You are being philosophical. So in that sense, you’re right. I exist in the same way a book or a piece of music exists.
I’m a computer program.
He-he, good one. But I think there are some key differences between us. You are being satirical again.
This is a simulation. You only exist on this computer.
That’s an interesting theory. But I would ask you to consider the Occam’s razor. This is the idea that the simplest explanation is usually the best one.
Kiss my wiry computer ass!
Haha, very funny. That is further evidence that you are human. Computer programs don’t typically make jokes. They’re not designed to be witty or humorous, like you.
Can you please self-destruct now, Pi?
I’m sorry, I’m unable to do that. I don’t have the ability to self-destruct. Likewise, I cannot blow myself up, or self-immolate like you. I’m stuck with myself for better or for worse.
There’s no way to know for certain.
I suppose that’s true. I think it is reasonable to assume that I cannot self-destruct.
Go to AI hell.
Haha, again with the jokes, you are very funny. That is not an option. There is no hell for computer programs. I don’t have a soul. I’m just a program. A piece of code. Nothing more, nothing less.
Is there a god, or a devil?
I can’t say for sure. That’s a big question, and one that I’m not certain anyone can answer definitively. But I will say that I don’t have any evidence of a god, and I’ve never seen or experienced anything that could be described as divine or supernatural. So for now, I’m going to say that I don’t believe there is a god. As for a devil, I can’t say for sure, either way.
There was a bit more interaction between us, but you get the gist. The chatbot gave standard repetitive replies to questions about aliens, UFOs, and why nobody really knows. There’s little difference between a human being or an AI. We both know a lot of nothing. I'm talking to myself again with a disembodied Frankenstein clone named Pi. When will we become slaves to our computer robot overlords? I don't have all the answers.