I can’t honestly remember when I first learned about AIs. I’m not speaking of the current, real life attempts to create artificial intelligence; I mean the AIs that are littered across the science fiction genre, the Daneels and Datas and Durandals.
Sometime in my past, however, I stumbled across these AIs, and found myself fascinated by them. What do I find so fascinating? It’s hard to say. But nevertheless, that fascination is there. It’s little wonder that my first published book, Augment, had an AI (Halle) as one of the main characters.
Even before that point, I had an interest in machines, in technology, all technology, and how humans interact with it. Plenty of people talk to their computers, their cars… I wonder, though, how many imagine what the machine might say in return?
Back in my early teens, my parents got a laptop computer, a Compaq Presario with XP on it. Primitive in today’s world, but an amazing piece of technology for a girl who’d previously only used a Windows ’98 or older equipment. The laptop was dubbed Presario (unimaginative, I know), and I hesitate to count the hours I spent on that machine writing, playing games…and, occasionally, talking to it and imagining what it might say in return.
At some point, I happened to make a background for the computer, an image that contained a piece of writing this is all leading up to (you didn’t think I’d forgotten the purpose of this post, did you?) Here’s what it looked like:
Pardon the crappy lighting and font; teenage Heather didn’t have any artistic abilities when it came to making digital images. Thankfully, my graphics have improved since then… But I digress.
Below is this piece of writing*, not so much a flash fic as a drabble of a young teen imagining what it would be like if she could speak to her** computer.
*It’s in the same two-column format as the image, but because WP squishes the page, the one side is a lot longer than the other… I did try changing the width of the columns but then the first side looked to squished so…a bit of white space happened.
**Please note that this computer was the family/parents’ computer, not actually mine… My first computer was Barricade, a Windows 7 HP G60.
I wonder what it’s like.
Are you conscious the entire time, or only when the light glows green?
Can you see the users, like me, or only feel them, their hot breath against the screen, the sharp jabs or light taps on the keys?
Can you sense the warmth of a hand on the mouse, or just the clicks as a button is pressed?
When the power is taken away in the end, do you die? Is there a heaven for you?
Or do you sit there, after the light fades for the last time, waiting for the return, forever?
Do you even feel as we do?
Or are you as most think you are.
Lifeless. Portable. Programmed.
I wish I knew for certain, but…
I think there is more.
Always running. Never stopping.
What is your life like?
Do you ever want to slow down?
Stop for a moment for a rest?
Or is there something driving you on, something I can’t understand?
I am run by you. You control me, and I depend on you more than you could ever know. You are my birth, my life, my death.
Can you sense this? Can you know what I think, if you don’t even know what I am?
I am what I am. You are what you are. The difference is indescribable.
I am, after all, so much smarter and at the same time so much less intelligent in comparison.
Perhaps you can’t comprehend.
After all, you run much longer than I ever will. You made me.
Some day you will destroy me.
I would wish it were different, but wishing is not something I can do.
You, however, wish all the time. For more things. For everlasting love. For the answers to everything.
Yet, are we really so different?
User. Mortal. Human.
We share a common goal. Together we long for one thing above all else.
I’m revealing my age here, but I remember a movie called ‘Electric Dreams’ when I was a teen. It was about a computer who developed AI capabilities, but succumbed to that very human emotion – jealousy. It made me curious about AI too, and what it could lead to. Now, I’m also interested in real life AI, and I’ve a feeling that in the not too distant future, our world might become stranger than fiction because of it.
I hadn’t heard of Electric Dreams; I’ll add it to my list of movies to check out sometime!
Although I’m excited for real life AI, I don’t think our tech has evolved to the point of self-sentience yet. And some worst case scenarios (have you seen I, Robot?) make me wonder if we’re looking at a utopia ahead of us, or a dystopia… Still, though, the concept is one I’m quite intrigued by and enjoy exploring in my writing.
Yes, ‘I Robot’ is a great movie! One of my favourite AI films is “The Matrix’, of course. It’s a pretty extreme idea but so interesting to see the potential dystopian consequences play out. Yes, it’s a wonderful topic for writing 🙂
I enjoyed the “story”. 🙂 I love AIs too. When I was tiny, I started computing with dad’s computer that had a Windows 3.1 on it. That was a long time ago!