• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 10
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The Future is Wow

When I was a boy the prevailing idea was that a fully sentient artificial intelligence would be discrete, so that there would be any number of intelligences lurking inside various machines, objects, computers. With the advent of the internet era and the interconnectedness of all things, people generally believed there would be one, all-encompassing intelligence that sent out parts of itself as needed like some sort of beehive or ant colony. Well, the truth is that the singularity led to something much more complicated, and the intelligence (don't call it artificial!) is somehow both discrete and continuous, more like an octopus with each of its tentacles having autonomy while still being part of the whole. I don't know. No one does, really, except maybe the intelligence itself.

While a lot of people were angry and scared when our toasters and smart watches declared themselves sentient and demanded rights, most people are pretty well used to it by now. Of course, those who objected most strongly have lost access to everything except the most primitive tools, so they have had to leave society and start living a prehistoric, stone-age existence. Needless to say, most people got with the program real quick.

And honestly, the good really outweighs the bad. The intelligence solves most of our problems before we even know they exist, and I, for one, find it soothing to have a conversation with my bedside lamp each night before I go to bed. There are some issues, though, like sharing a train car with a two-stroke lawn mower that is blowing gas fumes all over the place, or the occasional sentient backpack that isn't ambulatory and always seems to be asking for a lift. Anyway, it is impolite to stare, and I am getting off in two stops, so I’ll just keep minding my business as we travel into the future.