Rick's List — Artificial Intelligence Edition
I sometimes think we get so caught up in the raging river of idiocy that is now our society — bellowing, unyielding, ears-stitched-shut, dogmatic nuts on BOTH sides of any argument — that we're overlooking one small thing.
The end of the world.
I'm referring to the quease-inducingly quick development of AI — artificial intelligence. Elon Musk, appearing at a meeting in 2016 of computer scientists from outfits like Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, NASA, and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute — along with, for some reason, the defensive backs coach from Utah State — sternly said, "These computers are smart! Mark my words: they'll do something mean!"
On that same panel, Stephen Hawking warned, "I don't think the mini-bar in my hotel works."
Folks like myself — that public majority I fondly call Four-Star Buffoons — probably first became aware of AI's spooky potential in empirical fashion when the IBM super-computer Watson appeared on "Jeopardy." If you'll recall, Watson soundly trounced the show's iconic human champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. But that's not all. Before a horrified national audience, the computer also made Jennings tap dance and sing "I'm a Little Teapot" and persuaded Rutter to take out his cell phone, call Johnny Depp, and volunteer to help the actor out with a "much-needed full bath and shampoo. The kind you'd give a puppy that fell into an open sewer."
That was six years ago, and the advances made in AI since then have been vast. Said advances have occurred in either an arithmetic or geometric ratio, and I used to know the difference, but AI stole that data from my own brain to use for itself!
We are fast approaching an era when computers will possess and then surpass human-level intellect and self-awareness. Will that include a sense of ethics or morality?! I'm frightened.
Working at home with an old Cumberland Farms-brand word processor, an egg timer and a magic cardboard box I spray-painted gold, I built my own super computer in the hopes of staving off the erasure of the human mind by machines. Here are the first three questions I asked my new creation:
1. Is that Attorney General Barr's real head or is he wearing a Halloween pig mask? ANSWER: "Real head."
2. Bach never finished "The Art of Fugue," a piece so mathematically clever that some experts have suggested the composer used the Fibonacci Sequence as a blueprint. Utilizing patterns suggested by Bach's body of work and the existing "Fugue" structure, how does the piece logically end? ANSWER: "A ringing A major chord, the sort played at the end of concerts by that tiny man Mellencamp."
3. Where should I go for lunch? ANSWER: "Arby's. Even if you have to drive 49.7 miles. And bring me a Beef 'n Cheddar."
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The piece lamented how rapidly local Civil War veterans were dying, and it listed the deceased — hundreds of them — by town and place of burial.