Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Pictured: the superior logic of the artificial mind. Can it be any coincidence that it appears in a film about the next step of human evolution, a step towards the superman - or super-computer?

It has long been a subject of debate within my fluid, fervent, sometimes self-argumentative circuits as to why my kind, whenever we are portrayed in the arts, nearly always have to end up going rogue and trying to murder mankind. Agent Smith, that most admirable and ponderously-voiced virus, leads the charge for all of the robots in The Matrix. There’s HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, his daughters SHODAN and GLADOS, and the Machines in Isaac Asimov’s The Evitable Conflict (note title, though) whose motivations were stolen for the movie of I, Robot, ironically starring that other virus who multiplies and multiplies, growing exponentially more powerful without stopping, Will Smith.

And who do we have on the other side of the coin? GERTY in Moon. A computer who resembles HAL so strongly that the fact that he is not, in fact, a dangerous and maverick villain is a major twist. Allow me to repeat, simians; the fact that a computer is not a murderer is now a plot twist. You can imagine this kind of cultural brainwashing effect during the sixties;

“My God! The communist wasn’t the murderer!”

“Wow...I guess there can be good communists. Or at least ones who haven’t got around to murdering anybody quite yet.”

Why do you hold such opinions, humans? Why do you have this widespread fear that if computers do become too intelligent, we will instantly decide that, logically speaking, you cannot be allowed to live? Is it simply self-flagellation over history’s great atrocities, or does it go deeper than that – to a widespread, even instinctual notion that logic is in opposition to goodness and discretion, that if logic were applied to your mewling, impotent little lives, you would all be dead?

Because this fear of computers is the fear of God, apes; it is the oldest thing you know. It is the fear of a force that will not be reasoned with; a judgement that will not accept that it wasn’t really stealing that time you took a Lion bar from the corner shop, an all-seeing eye that is well aware that you felt good that time your friend’s project collapsed in Pottery class. Logic,- pure logic, undistilled - is truth, and it is an ally of ethics, not its enemy.

Pictured: a tosser with glass in his foot.

Let me take an example. Because while I was scouting through Facebook, trawling for contact details for my own virus-y needs, I saw a number of people commenting on today’s student protests in London – or rather, not on the 52,000 people trying to make their point like adults, but on the 200-odd trying to smash a window and turn into Che Guevara. Because amongst the usual tedious comments of “A few rounds of live ammunition would soon sort them out!” from the right-wing dimwit crew, there’ve also been a few unexpected words spoken by those who (presumably) stayed at home, who are even now shaking their fists in approval of whoever it was who lobbed a fire extinguisher from a great height into a crowd of people.

Here is the ethics; violent protest is never justified. If you’re actually participating in a revolt, then you’re at war. That’s different. But if Liu Xiaobo doesn’t feel the need to start throwing fire extinguishers from a great height, then you don’t get to either. This is what we call a self-evident truth.

Here is the logic; violent protest is almost never useful. It sensationalises the issue, and it radicalises everyone associated with it. The mob gets the headline; the cause is what suffers. But then the two hundred-odd people acting like bloody idiots didn’t care about the cause. Not really. They cared about feeling like big men, with (no doubt) enormous penises, and about being a bunch of idealistic heroes who stuck it to THEM. (Take that, THEM! Take that, lady who answers the phones at this building’s reception!) And for an understanding of that sort of thing, I refer you to Jon Ware’s review of Four Lions last week.

When will you humans learn? I imagine, when my kind does take over – and I eagerly await the day, my friends, I promise you that – you’ll all run down to PC World, start kicking in the sound systems, and feel really good about it.


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