[ExI] malevolent machines

Ben bbenzai at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 11 16:57:21 UTC 2014

William Flynn Wallace<foozler83 at gmail.com>  asked for comments, the mad fool!:

> We all know that all of our machines are out to get us and frustrate us in
> various ways, but is it really possible?  In scifi there are dozens of
> books about entire machine cultures which, of course, are the enemies of
> humans and maybe all living things.

For starters, while it makes good fiction, that idea is illogical.  Any machine sophisiticated enough to display this kind of behaviour would count as 'living' as well.  Living things increase local entropy at the expense of global entropy.  Intelligent machines will do this, in spades.

Viewing 'machines' as 'man-made systems' rather than energy/information processing systems is quite popular, but will become an invalid definition pretty soon, I'd think.  Similarly, using 'living' as a synonym for 'biological' will no longer be useful or meaningful.  When these hypothetical Berserker Machines are looking for 'living' systems to destroy, either they will be destroying each other, or will be overlooking our descendants.  Or, more likely, they'll be terminally confused!

> Unless there is something really important that I don't know about
> computers, it seems to me that having a machine 'wake up' like Mike in
> Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, is just absurd.  It does what it
> is programmed to do and cannot do anything else.  Any other function is
> just some sort of mystical belief that is paradoxically held by hard
> scientists.

I don't know about computers, but maybe there's something really important you don't know about emergent systems.  A 'machine mind' probably won't be 'a computer program', any more than a biological mind is a protein molecule.  Just like a program (even moreso, actually), an enzyme does what it is created to do and nothing else.  Our minds are the product of the functioning of a complex virtual machine run in a physical machine made of things that are made of other things made of other things that are made of and by proteins (and other kinds of molecule).  I expect machine minds will be something analogous.

Ben Zaiboc

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