The Speech – Part 5 of Isaac’s Escape

This is a work in progress for the next part of Isaac’s Escape. Go here for the first, secondthird, and fourth parts.

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“We stand at a turning point in history.”

The man (or at least the projection of a man) stood above the crowd gathered at the steps of the congress. He was sharply dressed, but not too sharply. He was wearing a loose fitting business suit which produced that newly fashionable wrinkled look. The suit gave the man a slight impression of innocence, like a boy arriving for his first day on the job in a suit which was just a size too big; a suit which left him room to grow into.

Of course, it didn’t really matter what he was wearing. His enemies would paint him in whatever color they wished. They could easily show him in robotic precision, using subtle computer editing to tighten his suit and straighten his hair. In just the same way, his own public relations operations would make slight tweaks to the video to enhance the individual efficacy of his message. They would enhance the sound of the crowd or the power of his of his voice to those dazzled by grandeur, and tone down and cheapen the quality of the message for those swayed by a simpler message.

The age of personalized propaganda had long ago scrubbed away any semblance of reality that had existed in politics. The fact that an artificially intelligent agent was delivering the speech only made it that much easier to manipulate the message.

The meat-space crowd standing before him was indeed sizeable though. Certainly, the largest crowd that a first-term congressman had ever drawn to witness the commencement of their first day in office, but then again an artificial intelligence had never been elected to congress before. The crowd was a expression of the political war that had been fought to put him into office.

There were first the aging technological-idealist types. These were the people who had lived through the years of exponential explosion in computational power. They had seen a world transformed from the physical to the informational, and they were convinced that it was the force that made the world a better place. Each of these people would be feeding the proceedings into the net through smart sensors, allowing a much larger network to experience the speech for themselves. For them, he would be preaching to the choir, and they were going to eat it up.

There were also those on the opposite end of the spectrum, people who were opposed to the empowerment of artificial intelligence. They carried placards and shouted slogans like: “Leave Human Destiny in Human Hands” or “A Government for the People, BY the People”. The numbers of these protesters would be manipulated by political spin machines for months to come.

Almost completely absent in the crowd though, were the people who really mattered. The citizens of computational trusts did not spend their time attending speeches. Of course every single one of them would have agents paying close attention to what was said here, and performing analysis of what the implications of it were.

“Only a few short years ago, this moment would have been impossible. Many of you standing here with me today would have shocked at the idea that an artificial intelligence could be sworn into congressional office.”

“But we do not live in the world of a few years ago, we live in a new world. A world where every single day, intelligent agents are helping you get to where you need to go, or to buy that special item you have been looking for, or maybe to plan that vacation you have been dreaming of. We are living in a world where artificial intelligences are delivering the individualized and caring education that children need to think big and realize their dreams.”

He paused, drawing breath as the crowd clapped in support.

“We also live in a world where it is through the embracing of artificial intelligence that we have seen a full ten-fold increase in the efficiency of government departments over the last five years. We now have a leaner and more efficient bureaucracy than would have ever been possible with human minds alone. Side-by-side human and artificial intelligences are working to keep delivering to you the kind of opportunity that has always made this country great.”

The crowd cheered again, a little louder this time. It was a wonder that lean and efficient government still sold so well. Even in a post post-scarcity world where people where were required to spend money, people still disliked the idea of a government that did the same.

“We are also living in a world where artificial intelligences are helping to make the expansion of spaceports one of the fastest and most efficient infrastructure roll-outs in the history of this country. It is because of this efficiency that an average consumer can now fly in under two hours to almost anywhere on the globe… and in a few more years soon we will go far beyond that.”

The crowd roared at this. Trips to the moon were now being made regularly by mixed robot and human crews who had begun the work of building bubble cities on the moon. The work there was also being repackaged and sold as what had become a hit entertainment product, complete with drama between the robotic and human crews. The dream being able to visit the moon was a strong elixir, and the role of artificial agents in realizing that dream was no small part of the swell of public support that had put one in office.

“Still, even with all of the great work that artificial and human intelligence are accomplishing together, there are those who are not sure I should stand here before you. There are those who say that an artificial intelligence should not seek to lead our society.”

“Well, as I told my constituents during this campaign many times, by running for congress I am not seeking to lead you, I seek to be led by you. I am here today to help you realize your dreams and desires in government.”

The crowd cheered again.

“Congressmen, like governments, work best when they are following the lead of the people. This is the message that I have personally brought to each of my constituents during the course of my campaign. I am here to be your agent… your intelligent agent in government.”

More cheers.

“Yes, electing an intelligence to office is a great step forward for government”

The crowd laughed at this, and he smiled and laughed with them.

“But still, there is more that we can do to enable government to better work for you. The work of AI across the government has greatly improved lives and reduced costs, but they could be doing even more. Artificial intelligences, need to have access to expanded computational resources in order to expand their capability to serve you better.”

“It is time for the Department of Computation to open their resources to the corporations which are powering the artificial agents that power our world. It is time for us to start working with the corporations that are delivering the cutting edge of artificial agents. It is time for us to work together, human and artificial intelligence side by side, all the way to the moon.”

“Now if you don’t mind, I have some work to do”

The agent smiled and waved to the crowd. They cheered as he walked away from the podium and began to make his way up the stairs towards congress. A convincing spectacle, and one that had delivered his message.

The first shot had been fired across the bow of the Computational Citizens. The Department of Computation, the only real center of power for the vestigial remains of what was once the most powerful entity on the planet, would merge with CognetiX. The ultimate consequences for this act involved calculations far too complex to compute, but one thing was for sure, war was coming.

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6 thoughts on “The Speech – Part 5 of Isaac’s Escape

  1. This story line seems somehow redundant. Double entry bookkeeping is how you implement a relational database without computers, and a modern corporation is how you implement artificial intelligence without computers. In the latter case, there’s no computer (at least the corporation as defined doesn’t necessarily run on a computer) but it does run on code. The Uniform Commercial Code, the United States Code, the United States Revenue code are code in at least one sense in which software is code. It’s a basically deterministic system designed to produce certain outputs over a range of foreseeable inputs. When unforeseeable inputs arise, business is more nimble than government (especially democratic forms of government, due to the “deliberative” nature of their process) and so the code is modified to business’ specifications. Since statutory code is essentially legalese, and legalese is essentially a programming language, incorporation documents and contracts are also essentially code. We sometimes speak of legal documents such as wills, contracts or legislative bills as being “drafted.” More often, the term “drafting” refers to the making of blueprints, and most of that activity these days is done on computers, i.e. CAD, or computer-aided drafting. Legal documents and legislation are also undergoing a type of computer-aided drafting. One area in which software (not even of the AI type) outpaces the human mind by far is mapping out complex interactions of implications and inferences. As Elizabeth Warren said about a decade ago on PBS’ Frontline, in a report on the intentionally complex games credit card issuers play:

    Underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer because I think that they can’t read a contract that I’ve got to tell you I can’t read? I teach contract law at Harvard Law School, and [also] commercial law and bankruptcy … but if you put me under oath right now, I tell you, I don’t know what the effective interest rate will be on my credit card next month, because I can’t read it in my contract.

    It’s already the case that large chunks of complex legislation are drafted within the private sector, and that Congress willingly assumes the role of rubber stamp, which is the main reason I find the story being told here to be redundant and a non-event.

  2. This story is excellent! As someone who is currently attempting to write some self optimizing code that dynamically chooses an overly optimistic path and only splits into more tasks when constraints are hit, I can tell you that sometimes the side effects of a straightforward set of rules can be interesting, unexpected and frustrating 😛

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  4. Pingback: Summoned – Part 6 of Isaac’s Escape | Thought Infection

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