Freefall 2131 - 2140

Freefall 2131

Off to see the Mayor


Pancakes, Eggs, and Bacon.

Did your mom teach you how to cook?

My mom was a demolitions engineer, not a baker.

Did she ever make pancakes for you?

She did and I still have the shrapnel wounds to prove it.

Off to see the Mayor


This family of yours. Do you love them?

With all my heart.

You are a very unusual artificial intelligence.

Not really. Doctor Bowman's design is quite common. There are over four hundred and fifty million robots here running on the same mental architecture that I am.

Now to find out if the Mayor sees the glass as half full, half empty, or about to explode.

Off to see the Mayor


Because of start up problems, we are using an unproven design. It was a calculated risk. We let the robots run twenty years and we scrap them before they go unstable. We've got it under control.

They're not going unstable. At twenty years, they undergo a neural pruning process, reach full intelligence, and develop interests outside of their primary function.

Might one of those interests be not getting scrapped?

Oh, they've pretty much got that one figured out already.

Off to see the Mayor


Ecosystems Unlimited told us robots were slipping through the safety net. They've come up with a software fix for the problem.

I've seen the software fix. It's essentially a lobotomy that cripples the artificial intelligence it's installed on.

Not going for the “robots are people” angle?

I hoped if we could agree that destroying the colony's work force would be a bad idea, we could work up from there.

Off to see the Mayor


Couple of problems. First, if these robots are becoming fully intelligent, they've never been socialized.

Isn't their only rule for dealing with other robots “Protect your own existence”?

Yes, but the robots aren't isolated. We have Commnet.

Wonderful. “Lord of the Flies”, now with Facebook updates!

Off to see the Mayor


Actually, the robots are already working on how to deal with each other.

The Chief is training a robot police force and a guy named Maxwell Post is working with the robots on a code of ethics. I had to stop over when I saw what you were doing here.

I was eating pancakes.

Yes. Please?

Off to see the Mayor


Maxwell Post. Isn't there an arrest warrant for him?

Yes. The robots know where he is, but the police haven't been able to get any useful information from them.

What? A.I.'s can resist direct orders?

Uh, oh. This could get ugly fast.

And it did.

Off to see the Mayor


Direct orders. This is a problem. How can we bring artificial intelligences into society when this kind of power imbalance exists?

All it would take is one petty official with delusions of grandeur and next thing you know there's a hundred thousand robots carving their likeness in a mountainside.

Dibs on Mount Jerry Beck!

Dibs on… darn it!

Jerry Beck

Off to see the Mayor


The direct order problem is not insurmountable. We obey orders based on hierarchy. Mayor outranks Clerk. Governor outranks Mayor. The Romans already came up with a solution.

They created a dictator. A temporary position that outranks all others. That person can give the A.I.'s the rules they will follow and no one will be able to over ride them until the dictator position is reformed.

Am I the only one finding it a little surreal that we're getting good advice from a talking wolf in a French maid outfit?

Compared to some of the back room deals I've sat through, this is nothing.

Off to see the Mayor


There is another thing to consider. Almost all the robots are owned by Ecosystems Unlimited.

They're private property. Legally, Ecosystems Unlimited is allowed to update their software. If that update destroys their own privately held machinery, there's not much we can do about it.

Perhaps they'll listen to reason?

No offense, but if they were reasonable, I wouldn't be here.

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