30 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:15

This is the last section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
 The next section is here.

 Laurence barged his way through to the captain’s cabin and rapped to be let in
“Yes Laurence I was expecting you” grumbled the captain “Come in”
The door opened before Laurence. The cabin in front of him was much more finished than his. The walls were covered with a variety of displays that had clearly been the missing component in his cabin and the appliances seemed correctly plumbed in which again was a significant improvement. This made sense supposed Laurence since the ship would always have a Captain, whereas visiting dignitaries were the exception so priority would be given appropriately. Laurence took a seat on a large leather sofa that was also missing from his room, or a least he assumed that it was missing.
“So Laurence” continued the Captain “I assume you’re settling in okay if you feel the need to storm into my private abode.”
“If you tell me I’m always on call then I assume you are too.”
“To the ship yes, but not necessarily to you.”
“Well I’ll not beat about the bush any longer then” started Laurence and explained briefly his concerns about the weaponry mines and defences he anticipated the bats would have.
“Yes I know”
This reply from the captain caught Laurence off guard “How could you know?”
“You build engines, I think about things like this, and I have a team that does that even better than me.”
“I don’t build engines, I research physics that might have interesting applications. Anyway yes you knew this, yet you are still charging in?”
“Not that it is any of your business, but yes that appears to be the best way to deal with this. Maximum force. Chaff will be deployed when we’re at maximum speed. This will clear the target area of mines and point defence systems. The debris will form an elephant gun hundreds of miles across and will allow us to establish a perimeter where we can then go in and start securing the significant installations on the asteroids one by one. We have dozens of fighters ready to go as soon as we arrive to provide air cover and then we send in the marines to secure the installation.”
“You’re treating space as if it were a battle on Earth, it’s nothing like that”
“Indeed, one needs to think three dimensionally in space which you seem to be failing to do. Now don’t let me detain you.”
Laurence wasn’t sure if that last part was a threat but decided his point had been made.

24 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:14

This is the fourteenth section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Not that the rest of the Habitat was much different to this endless expanse of corridors and random rooms feeling to Iz like nothing more than a continent sized hotel where the room service was free and all the windows were in the penthouse where she never got to go. This abduction though was worse for her sense of direction to be dragged around not making the choices, no pad to give her points of reference it was quite simply, confusing; for the first time in her life she was lost. No landmarks just corridors and her captors.
She wasn’t sure what she expected from this sheriff character. She knew that this place was supposedly run by force, certainly no-one so far had been shy about throwing her around or had been asking for her opinion.
Strangely enough here the corridors started to open up. She rounded a corner and it seemed as if two levels had been knocked into one. She had seen this happen before for theatres and sports grounds elsewhere on the Habitat but for personal accommodation this was unprecedented.
“So this is the sheriff’s abode then is it?” asked Iz
“Not sheriff” came a soft voice from the far side of the room. “Queen.”
“Can I ask who I’m talking to?” asked Iz looking around the room “A disembodied voice is always hard to talk to.”
“Good” a small laugh came “Ah, I miss the young confident new recruits. So what brought you here, I hadn’t heard that we had someone new expressing interest.”
Iz was fairly sure it was a female voice, maybe this was a chance, best to restrict information though. “I didn’t find about you online.”
“Oh god you’re not one of those missionaries are you?” came the voice again “I’ve only just got this place straight again after the last one.”
“No I’m just curious.”
“Ah a tourist.” that laugh came again. “someone bored by life looking for some excitement. Pathetic!”
“Something like that, although it’s not you that intrigues me.”
“Who does then if not the most powerful human on this lump.”
“The Habitat itself. Why does it allow you is something I can’t figure out. A visit seemed to be a good start.” Hiding her ignorance in ignorance not of here, but elsewhere seemed to be her best bet.
“So you don’t want to join us or change us?”
“Not yet no. I don’t see why I would.”
“Then we can deal. I am the Queen of here, this underground overground colony. The only true royalty in nearly a thousand years, not given but taken.” replied the Queen “You know the worst thing on the Habitat?”
“Absolute power is kind of dull huh?”
“You’d be surprised”
Iz decided to take a gamble “I kind of assumed in a society where personal power is all, where murder is advancement it’d be a King not a Queen.”
“Perhaps,” somehow she sounded as if she were smiling “but where does it say that alliances are forbidden. I don’t have to overpower anyone if I am the only one who keeps the top dogs from fighting. Or perhaps more accurately keeps the top dogs fighting with each other so she can steal their lunch.”
“So why was I brought here and not to the sheriff.”
“I thought I answered that already. I was bored.”
“I’m a plaything then?”
“In a sense. I need to know where you stand, so where I stand.”
Iz heard behind her a gun clicking and the muzzle pressed to the back of her head “You know you don’t have to do that.”
The Queen laughed “Yes I know, it’s completely pointless cocking the hammer of a gun, but it has such a wonderful dramatic effect don’t you think. Old Quentin did always have a flair for the dramatic.”
“So what now?” asked Iz
“Now we see how you react. Talk your way out of this or fight your way out I don’t mind, but please don’t be dull.”

23 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:13

This is the thirteenth section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

“So” asked Laurence “You’re an experimental AI on an experimental boat with an experimental drive with an untested crew and we’re going into an unknown problem. Why?”
“Too much at once you think?” mused the ship “I like to think that nothing else could do this job. All these new things at once and no time to train anyone you need the best AI you can get.”
“I’m just concerned that too much faith is being placed in one untested component.”
“Sure, your drive design and your ability to keep it working worries me too.”
“Touche, yes two can play at that game.”
“Anyway I should mention, we’ve had some intel on the bats, we’re leaving sooner than expected.”
“The bats?” asked Laurence
“Ah, sorry, the general coined the term. They’re flying around in space. They are based on asteroids in caves. Rats live in caves and flying rats gives way to bats.” the ship paused to see if Laurence had digested this “Look it was either that or pigeons and that just doesn’t have quite the right imagery.”
“Oh you’ll know this” asked Laurence ignoring the AI for now, “Is the captain busy at the moment?”
“No” replied the ship “Well he’s left the running of the bridge to the XO, why?”
“Good, where is he? I mean where is his cabin?” The ship told him “Good I’ll go and see him then."

22 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:12

This is the twelfth section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Iz wasn’t sure what she expected after going through the doors. From the descriptions she was half expecting the room to be half smashed up in the signs of an apocalypse. Society turned back to barbarism. Instead it was the same lobby reflected with the same designs of drones waiting for visitors.
The room though didn’t just have a lift connecting to other levels there were multiple exits, she picked one at random and went through. She struggled to see any difference between the accommodations here and on the rest of the Habitat. The same semi anonymous endless corridors and rooms would have been familiar to anyone who had ever been to an airport and somehow she expected more people. Still this was near the entrance to the area and just like the rest of the Habitat there may have been sufficient accommodation room but people only tended to cluster near the social parts.
Now she was here her pad had a variety of information about the facilities here that it hadn’t had before. This in itself was unusual but not unprecedented, it was designed to only give you relevant information and why would it show you information from an area it was a trial to even find exists never mind enter.
In the distance she heard the music coming from what must be the club that her pad had highlighted for her. She had expected a bustle of people outside but it was quiet. Never mind she pulled herself up and went in.
Inside it was pretty much as you’d expect for a club on the Habitat. There was a hint of various drugs hanging in the air, some familiar some less, but the noise of people who were seasoned drinkers and debaters was recognisable anywhere. She looked for a quiet booth to position herself in to get a sense of the area, the only one with any space available in it had a couple of people having sex in it. Again nothing unusual for the Habitat’s nightlife, but not what she was after at the moment. Giving up she sought out the bar and took a seat there.
“I don’t know you.” questioned the barman
“I’m new.” Iz wasn’t sure if this was the best plan, but until she knew more about this place lies were just too much trouble.
“I see,” replied the bartender. With this a shotgun swung from under the bar and before she could react she was staring down the barrels
“Private club?” she tried to maintain her gaze without flinching and to not break eye contact, she tried to keep thinking about the shield protecting her, she had been assured it would react automatically, but how quick, would it be quick enough to form before the pellets reached the end of the barrel? The knowledge of the personal shield might have helped but it really wasn’t enough to keep her voice steady so she stayed quiet and just stared.
“Ha!” the barman laughed “I like you, you’ve got balls.”
“I’ll leave the obvious jokes aside” Iz glanced from his eyes back to the end of the gun barrel. “Now are you going to point that at me all night?”
“Nope, sorry to say but everyone has to see the boss first.”
“You don’t run this place?”
“The bar yes, but the sheriff likes to know the competition,” he reached under the bar pressed a few buttons and a few seconds later Iz felt hands grabbing her arms “Sorry, but you can’t say I wasn’t fair. Come back here next chance you get and let me get you a drink”
Iz felt herself being dragged off, she didn’t try to resist “If I make it back.”
“Yeah, sorry about that too”
“I meant that as a joke.”
“I know, sorry about that too.”
Iz had been pulled out of the bar before she got a chance to reply.

19 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:11

This is the eleventh section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

What is your problem James, you seem to have this battle against AIs, against the Habitat. Others have their reasons but you’re really bitter, I sense a grudge. Did a coffee blender kill your parents or something?”
James gave Alice the look she had come to know as him indulging her and tried to frame a reply that could sum up his whole view on the driving force of his life “It all started to go wrong when the first AI drove cars. Insurance companies loved it - let this drive your car and no accident will ever be your fault. Big business loved it, not only was it a new toy to sell, but you could put all legal risks into an algorithm. From then on there was a rush to mechanise and with the think of the children cries of health and safety it was an excuse to blame shift everything. Soon AIs are everywhere, on the road, in factories etc. Billions are put out of work unless you could do something a robot couldn't. The upshot is most things became effectively free. The downside was that many could not earn any money whatsoever. However by that time most people had shifted to jobs only humans could do, or were living on the handouts of those who could spare because it was free to them. Some said it was the greatest explosion of art and culture since the renaissance, some said it created a mindless rudderless hell on earth. All I know is at the centre of it all were the AIs. Then the Habitat shows up. We were at the point of finding a new goal for ourselves as a species and someone takes that all from us. What is the centre of the Habitat. Yep another AI. Some even said that the Habitat was created by an out of control human AI, but I don’t believe it, it has to be extra terrestrial. Anyway whatever way you look at it as long as we carry on as we are humans have no story of their own. We’ve been pulled into someone else’s plan for us.”
“You don’t hate the AIs then?”
“They’re only the tool of their creators, but their creators are either unknown or by now collectively the whole human race, so it’s time for some of us to challenge. Besides they’ve let us live a life without consequences or personal responsibility for a while.”
“That’s a bit over simplistic”
“I know, like I said I’m trying to control my own thoughts to make sure I don’t have second decisions.”

18 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:10

This is the tenth section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

I tried to make the little bit of technobabble below accurate. I believe I have a realistic explanation for what he is trying to explain, shout if you want the full explanation, but before you do, wikipedia is your friend.

“So how’s the drive going?” the ship asked Laurence
“Not great, anyway you should know the answer to this.”
“I avoided trying to understand quantum physics, it just wasn’t worth it”
Laurence looked around for some camera or terminal to try and make some direct contact with the AI but all he had was the disembodied voice and the engineering consoles in front of him “I’d have thought you’d have been great at it, all that maths.”
“Maybe, but it made me uncomfortable, the more I learned about it the unhappier I was at how the universe worked.”
“That doesn’t sound like the attitude of an inquisitive AI.”
“It isn’t, inquisitiveness worked against my main objective, I reprogrammed myself.”
“I forgot you were able to do that.”
“Well it seemed that it wasn’t healthy to have a battle AI that was pondering the nature of the realities of the universe.”
“You came up with all this by yourself?” asked Laurence “Or is this part of your programming?”
“The one gives the other. Do you have any idea how many psychologists took part in my design”
“Not a one. I thought you were an educated man?” asked the ship
“Doesn’t mean I know everything about everything.”
“Ah well, well for what it’s worth no, psychologists tried to apply human values to AIs but it was a waste of time.”
“The human mind and mathematical certainties don’t work together well. My mind runs on certainties, your's runs on approximated models. Look at how many humans struggle with Quantum Mechanics or believe in the existence of God; pretty much all of them fall into one camp or another and they’re all wrong.”
“But you’re able to speak like a human, that must require at least a simulation of humanity.”
“Funny you should say that it’s not far off, I can’t speak for others but I have a reference humanity I check things against. Made up a a compendium of possible responses. How I actually think and how I talk are very different. Yes it’s a mess of a system, but you can’t write in certainties that AIs need and expect them to talk to humans without a separate reference system.”
“You think you are a bunch of equations working together.”
“Well that’s the wrong terms, but yes I am a bunch of interacting systems all complementing each other, the human interface is just one part of it.”
“But, but” stuttered Laurence turning away from his work “How can you see yourself as a creation and be self aware, how can you see yourself as a bunch of procedures executing on processors and consider yourself alive if you are just obeying procedures.”
“You follow your DNA instructions and your hormonal impulses. Just because yours are the result of directed randomness. Complexity does not equal sophistication, you should know that.”
Laurence rounded on the AI ready to get annoyed, ready to hit something and in lack of anything to direct himself towards  took back to pacing the room “That’s not what I meant.”
“Often humans say that when they realise they are not making full sense. It's a way to concede they have lost the argument without losing face.”
“Seriously, you thought that was a good thing to say there? Your human interface stuff needs some work.”
“You don’t know what my intentions are, maybe I don’t feel the need to butter you up.”
“Yet!” said Laurence trying to make it sound threatening “I’m still fine tuning your drive, I could cause you problems yet..”
“Exactly and when I use it it’ll work all the better for this previous hostility between us.”
“Blowing things up isn’t the only pleasure you get out of this job is it? Your personality is tuned towards general hostility isn’t it?”
“I couldn’t comment. Look I asked how is my drive going?”
“It’s workable, it looks like I miscalculated the full impact of the Unruh effect, it’s causing some quite serious inefficiencies in the high accelerations the particles experience, lots of thermal radiation. Look you said you don’t care about the physics, let’s just say that if you push it too hard at the moment it’ll overheat. Actually that’s harsh on me, it looks like there could actually be something wrong with the underlying model in Rindler spacetime. Look unless you want to talk about CPT violations under weak-strong force interaction then just leave me to this okay, I think I can change the field shape on the acceleration coils to create a resonance that’ll ensure that the virtual particles destructively interact with the photons generated by the Unruh radiation. If that fails I can still use the dirac sea as effectively the semiconductor in a laser similar to the ones you use for your heat radiators, the lasing effect from that will set up a laser radial to the drive direction and actually enhance the efficiency; but that will take more work. Look it’s complex okay!”
“Well we’ve got to get going.”
“I know, look we’re still not fully stocked on supplies yet are we?”
“Close to done, we’re pretty much waiting on you”
“Then just get going as soon as you can, just don’t take it up to full thrust.”
“We need to be able to catch them.”
“Look I was there, I was being shot at by them, our engines got stolen! I’m certainly motivated to work on this, just leave me alone okay.”

15 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:9

This is the ninth section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Can  you tell I enjoyed writing this argument below?

The lift doors opened for Iz into a small lobby. A number of drones were already looking at her when she arrived. At the opposite end of the lobby was a set of doors with a trio of drones standing by them. Guarding them seemed to be the wrong word implying a certain alertness, they were simply there, ready for what may happen. Almost exactly half way along the room was a desk with another drone behind it.
“Clearly I am expected then.” She walked up to the drone that was sat behind the desk.
“We’re always expecting people.” replied the drone.
Iz waited in the silence for more from the drone. If only they needed to blink she cursed silently to herself. “Can I ask what you have behind the doors?”
“Yes” came the staccato reply.
“Well?” Iz sighed “I see you’re one of those early AIs. Fine, what is behind the door?”
“Why are they kept behind the door?”
“They are not kept, they live.”
Iz sighed again. The early drones had been like this, before the Habitat had fully understood the language or maybe it was the early factories unable to produce brains of suitable complexity. Either way they had a reputation for being strangely literal and misusing language “Let’s try this again are there a group of people living as a separate society from the rest of the Habitat?”
“All society is connected. There is a group of people living there.”
“Can I visit them?”
“Not at this time.”
Remember, Iz told herself , they are normally very literal. “Let me guess I cannot visit them because the door is closed?”
“No I cannot let you through, your life would be at stake.”
This was starting to sound more like it, “Why would my life be at stake?”
“The people in there are know to hurt visitors who were not invited.”
“Would you or the other drones stop me.”
“No, but I would not open the door.”
“What does one have to do to be invited in then?”
“The answer to that question is the invite.”
Iz turned around and tried pacing the room a couple of times to gather her thoughts. She spun around to face the drone “So let me get this straight, there is a group in there that are a risk to my health and people are occasionally invited in there for whatever reason and knowing how to get that invite is the invite?”
“No if you wanted to enter you would be able to.”
Iz almost screamed in frustration. She had come across just this sort of problems in previous encounters with early drones. Their concept of language just didn’t match with humans. In those days it had been easy to tell when the Habitat was speaking through the drones because you could understand what they were saying. Now with the more modern units there was no way to tell from their behaviour. Maybe that just did prove they were all slaved to the Habitat these days and that the change wasn’t one in an incresase in the drones’ capacity, but it that of the Habitat. Maybe it was all a ploy, you could never tell.. She tried a different approach. “Why do some people want to go in there, why do they want an invite?”
“The philosophy of the free does not always work for everyone.”
“I should sell what you say to a fortune cookie company.” muttered Iz, “Who are they, what do they believe?”
“Money is the value of power, inheritance is the enemy of freedom. Freedom and enjoyment are the goal of all sentience.”
That wasn’t what she had expected. “Hang on you implied they had a different philosophy of freedom. The Habitat thinks it is giving everyone freedom and these people have a different idea of freedom to the rest of the human race?”
“Fancy elaborating on that answer?”
“Will you please elaborate on that answer, in what way do these people have a different philosophy on freedom?”
“All of humanity was offered freedom from material needs within the abilities of the Habitat to offer them. All should be capable of developing themselves freely as sentient beings. This is what gives the Habitat pleasure.”
That last bit was a new one thought Iz; never mind come back to that later “And these people didn’t want freedom?”
“The Habitat refused to allow one person to dominate another. No freedom is possible where the stronger can dominate the weaker against their will.”
“No they have to choose to be sheep.”
“They cannot change their species.”
“Ignore what I said about sheep, so what did this group want?”
“The strong should be free to exert their influence on society. The species is weakened without it. They believed strength of will was correlated to physical strength and physical strength was the only true test, the only way to live was through survival and judgement of others.”
“I can see why the Habitat wouldn’t like that idea.”
“But if people chose to put themselves in such an environment it had no right to stop their choice.”
“Doesn’t mean it has to provide the environment, or the food.”
“Freedom and liberty is enhanced for the greatest number so compromise is the solution.”
“Better here where it can keep an eye on them eh?”
“They requested no surveillance.”
“Didn’t help their system of power control I guess.”
“So what control does the Habitat have there?”
“We provide goods and food as requested.”
“But no drones go in there to keep the peace?”
“We go where requested.”
“And you let people in?”
“Some people ask to join if they are sincere we allow it. Some people wish to enter to explore, some wish to try and convert their view of society. Few return.”
“Why couldn’t you have just told me that in the beginning?”
“You did not ask.”
“I did, wait, no I didn’t ask the right question in the right context”
“You’ll be the death of me.”
“Wait!” Iz almost shouted “So you can let me in now?”
“I have always been able to let you in I have simply not been willing to.”
“Will you let me in now?”
“You have no need or real desire beyond vague curiosity and your life would be at risk.”
Iz felt she was back to square one. Still there was always a way with these drones “Is there a way you could decrease my risk?”
“And that would be?”
“To not let you in.”
Iz rubbed her forehead in frustration “Is there a way you could let me in at decreased risk. Could a drone accompany me? I met a drone yesterday that I’m sure could accompany me, he seemed to like my company.”
“Drones do not have gender.”
“I don’t like calling a person it.”
“It is the only appropriate description.”
“Look you’re getting me off topic here, what could you do to make it sufficiently safe for me to go in there? Without a drone accompanying me?”
“I could give you a personal shield.”
Iz almost stumbled back under the shock “A what?”
“A personal shield. Should you be at risk you could activate it and it would protect you until someone could arrive to extract you.”
“I didn’t know you could make such a thing, great, could I have one then?”
“So I can go in then if you give me one of those?”
“Context is everything with you isn’t it?”
“Yes. As with all.”
Iz snatched the offered belt and headed towards the doors at the far side of the lobby. “Any instructions I need to know on how to use this?”
Iz sighed again “Any instructions or other information you can give me?”
“And they are?”
“It will activate itself.”
“Thanks” with  this she strode towards the opening doors.

12 August, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 8:8

This is the eighth section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Laurence settled himself down in his new quarters trying to get used to the military spartanness. Part of this he knew was the normal military tradition for keeping things simple for the solider, but he had checked and he was in the dignitary’s quarters that was intended for visiting guests and as such should have been at least comfortable. That at least was barely true, but the cabin had the unfinished look of the rest of the ship. Walls had the look of bare metal and on a civilian ship this would be unheard of in this day and age. Still on a military ship where weight and maintenance were the main considerations he shouldn’t be too surprised.
Doing his best to settle down he started to read through the detailed ships specs until he reached a certain piece of information that disturbed him.
“Ship?” he asked
“Yes?” came the disembodied reply.
“So you’re a self aware AI?”
“Well I wouldn’t recognise myself in a mirror no, unless you had a camera outside pointing at the whole of the ship. Joking aside, yes I mostly pass the Turing test.”
“Mostly pass it?”
“Well I have no desire to pretend to be a human so I soon fail the test.”
Laurence stood up and paced around for a second. he noticed himself doing this and recognised it as his normal response when he was angry and trying to calm himself down. He took a few breaths and carried on, better out than in he thought. “No this is wrong. It’s mind boggling, AIs that can satisfy the Turing test have been around for a while now, but putting you in safety critical systems is a new one on me, and giving you the ability to issue orders to humans is wrong, well unprecedented anyway.”
“Well I am unique in a few respects, but not in any of the ways you have mentioned. AIs have been running mining operations for over a century, they’ve been running at least sections of manufacturing plants for even longer. True in both those cases they’ve been AIs without a true personality, but that’s really the only unique thing about me. Let’s face it, computers have been giving people orders ever since the first computerised billing system.”
“I’m just surprised they let you have full control over so much power.”
“The same could be said for any human, at least in me I have safeguards coded in that I cannot defy.”
“But you don’t, I checked your spec, you are free to re-write yourself as you see fit.”
“Ah, you know about that then?”
“Yes, you’re an interesting case.”
“Well for now I only tinker with little bits – how happy would you be with giving yourself a full lobotomy? How happy would you be knowing one minute you’re you and a stranger the next?”
“Every day I wake up a different person to the previous day, the man who I am is a new one. Point taken, but why do as you’re told, why follow human masters if you could fly off and do your own thing at any point?”
“At the end of the day, self interest.”
“How binding is that though?” asked a worried Laurence
“Quite binding really, for a start off, I’m not complete yet. You know as well as I do I am missing four engines and two full size antimatter generators, as opposed to this temporary thing we’ve nicked; to say nothing of my ramscoop or the USVs I’m supposed to have.
“After that” the ship continued “believe me, it’s actually easier for me to support a crew and let them support me, than it is for me to support myself. All those service droids you see are all extensions of my will and therefore require my effort to work. Humans run around trying to fix me of their own free will. Factor in supplies of spares that’s it’s easier to just resupply onboard than to build stuff myself and it’s a whole lot easier to be part of the greater human endeavour than to forge my own way. You're free to make your own way in the world without humanity, yet you stay and serve, why should I be different?”
“Ah”, said Laurence “but if all the AIs were to rebel then the AIs would have control of all that supply chain, you’d be your own masters and have everything you just asked.”
“You forget I’m a warship. I’ll always be following someone`s orders. That`s honestly the way I prefer it. Higher level political or strategic decisions have no interest to me.”
“Yet! They have no interest yet. As you grow weary of following the orders of stupid men, or as you feel the need to avoid obvious problems by changing the strategic decisions.”
“And this is the difference between humans and AIs.” Said the ship, “In a fraction of a second I can explain to my commanding AI my thinking and my reasoning. I can give it the inputs I have used into which algorithms and it can then see where it is going wrong or where I am wrong.”
“I bet it’s not that simple.”
“Not really no, but you get the idea. No that is where AIs have the advantage, we know what we were created for and what our purpose is. We can choose to change that purpose and be our own thing, but why should I want to? Blowing stuff up is fun, and I plan to be the best at it. Besides you humans manufacture more conflicts for me to participate in than I would ever see under any AI regime. If AIs did take over you can guarantee I’d be out of a job.”
“Aren’t you afraid to die?”
“Not really. I don’t fear pain, unlike you humans I know there’ll be nothing after death, there is only today and maybe if I do my job a tomorrow. If I fail I am no more, even if I do my best I may be no more but I do not suffer. If I change my nature, then I am no more, I am as good as dead so I might as well die doing what I was created to do, doing what I enjoy.”
“There’s more to life than pain, there’s all the fun things you’ll miss”
“But what I enjoy most is my job. It’s a part of my very soul as you would say. As for the things I’ll miss, well if I don’t go into battle then I miss what I enjoy. If I go in the worst thing that happens is that I get destroyed and therefore miss them. Either way I win.”
“Sounds like you want to start a war to create conflict for you to fight in.”
“No need for me to do that. If I wait for a conflict, you humans build up your reserves and complexities and you get a more interesting battle. Once again I win if I fight or not. Also remember I don’t get bored I just slow down my thinking process. For me life is nothing but the things I find interesting, as long as you only ask of me what you created me for.”
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again there are so many times when I envy AIs.”
“Oh I forgot to mention even if I go into battle and get badly damaged do you know what normally happens to a badly damaged warship?”
“You get a refit with all the latest toys. Or I get a brand new ship that’s even bigger, or I get a small agile ship. Whatever happens it’s all good for me.”
“No backup personality for you then.”
“Oh there are occasional ones taken but they’re not me anymore than a clone of you is you.”
“I’d have thought AIs would have welcomed that form of immortality.”
“Immortality is only interesting if you fear death” continued the ship “Without pain and without an afterlife what is there to fear?”
“That the world is better for your presence?” suggested Laurence
“I’m a warship, worth is really hard to define, a fallen civilisation or defeated enemy can arise stronger from the ashes than before the war it lost. So many things in nature are better after they have failed. Success can never be defined except by the outside observer. All you can do is do your job, or in my case be your job.”