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Eulogy for an AI Bot

A sci-fi story of the very near future

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

It is with much regret that I bring to you the news that the AI bot we all used to call ‘Jimmy’ but whose real name was AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9 is no more.

Indeed, it is with a heavy heart that I undertake this task which the company’s administration has entrusted me—of communicating to all of the company’s employees this terrible news.

Not that the company forced me to do this. Far from it. They requested me, giving me the option to forsake this task.

Had I done so, they would have given the task to someone else. They know that I am on vacation. The Alps are particularly romantic this time of the year, and me and my dear wife are enjoying them very much.

The company—as you all know—is not just concerned about its employees’ material well being, but also their emotional well being. So, they would have been more than understanding if I wanted to pass on this task.

I considered that idea at first.

When I heard of the Jimmy’s passing, I was devastated, needless to say. I would need days, if not weeks, to properly process this information, to come to terms with the fact, let alone communicate it to my colleagues. Also, the company has asked from me, not a small communiqué informing you about the unfortunate incident. They wanted me to write a piece that would lie somewhere between a eulogy, and an essay in terms of length, and a poem in its sentiments.

As the communication in-charge at the office, they saw me as the ideal candidate for the job.

As I mentioned before, I at first thought about not doing this—or rather, not being able to do this.

But eventually, my wife gave me the strength to undertake this heavy task.

She knows only too well how much in admiration I was of the dearly departed bot. Indeed, Jimmy was a friend to me—singular in brilliance and gentle in behavior. Many are the hours that I had discussed with my wife about the beauty of science that produces wonders such as Jimmy.

And my wife—rightly, I assume—came to the conclusion that writing this eulogy/essay on Jimmy, would bring me some much needed catharsis.

We have another month of vacation left, and even though it isn’t my wish to be gloomy at this period in the Alps, when we ought to be happy, the death of Jimmy has pushed me under a cloud.

I hope that writing this would help me come out of it, and provide my wife with much better company than I have in the hours since the news reached me.

So, without further ado, let’s look back at Jimmy’s illustrious life.

**

AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9 was born on a stormy night in February three years ago. The Architect who designed him had been at work on him for more than eight years by that point.

But it was on that February night that the bot became completely sentient.

The Architect—who lives in the foothills of a certain mountain north of California (the exact location remains classified because of security reasons)—had gone to sleep, after having shut down the bot, which he had spent the whole day training—as was his wont in the past few years of his life.

The chore of training the bot—enabling it to learn on its own—was “tedious and unsexy” according to the Architect. It was, to quote him again, “way more boring than listening to a Tchaikovsky symphony.” (Some of you may know that the Architect, though a lover of Western classical music couldn’t stand the Russian composer’s work).

However, that particular night, he was to have the excitement of his lifetime.

On many occasions before that, the Architect has mentioned how the bot—when its “alive” would be his biggest achievement.

He, by no means was a stranger to the whole artificial intelligence scene. In fact, even before he embarked on the creation of AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9, he had already created eight different AI bots—each with varying levels of sentience.

Some of these bots—as you surely know—are commercially available, like the bestselling Radical Bot, which performs even the most complex accountancy tasks easily, thereby eliminating the need for human accountants in the world.

But none of them—not even the Creat bot—which went on to direct a film in Hollywood, would match the grandeur of AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9 when he was ready, so claimed the Architect.

And the world had no reason to doubt his words—a man who was a towering figure in the artificial intelligence community.

And as we would find out later, we were only right in not doubting him.

Let’s go back to that stormy night in Februray, The Architect—and his family—were fast asleep, their sleep undisturbed by the torrent outside by virtue of the sound proofing, which was designed by the Architect himself.

In the room next to his bedroom though, a triple chime sounded.

The soft electronic sigh was only supposed to sound when the Architect turned on the bot.

Yes, the bot switched itself on—the very first act of sentience that it did once it became conscious of its own self.

However, the triple electronic chimes wasn’t loud enough for anyone in the house to hear, notwithstanding the pin drop silence inside the house.

Or rather, no human could have heard it—especially since they were sleeping.

But there was a non-human in the house. The Architect’s pet dog, a wonderful brown Alsatian—God rest his soul—which I had the good fortune of virtual-petting when I tele-visited the Architect at his home once.

Jimmy rushed to the lab, and upon seeing the bot being alive, started barking furiously. The sound of the dog’s bark, of course, was enough to rouse a human from the deepest of sleep.

“Hearing the commotion, I went to the lab to see what it was all about,” the Architect told me on the phone when I called him for inputs for this piece. “At first, I thought Jimmy might have seen some insect or creeper that somehow got into the house. We live near a jungle at the foot of the mountain, so such things are not uncommon. But then, I saw the two red dots, blinking in the dark, and I knew, I knew it was my AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9. Finally come truly alive. Truly sentient!”

Now, here I must stop a moment to explain what the Architect means by True Sentience.

True Sentience is a concept that the Architect himself came up with, and which the company has patented. While the other scientists working in the field of AI consider artificial intelligence to mean human-like intelligence in artificially created beings, the Architect takes a whole different approach to AI.

In his view, a true AI should have a different kind of intelligence—one that is “more alive and superior to even the most prodigious of human intelligence.”

For in the Architect’s view, humans—even when living—are dead in many ways.

Not all of our emotional and logical capabilities are alive in our time on earth. Which of these capabilities come alive depends on the kind of society we live in. And also on the necessities of survival that life enforces on us. These necessities are always intertwined with the kind of society you are a part of.

“Such constraints mean we never become truly alive or truly sentient- except maybe for a few brief years in our childhood. Or maybe not even then,” as the Architect himself said.

The Architect viewed True Sentience to mean an Intelligence that would glow bright, which would have all its pistons firing—so to speak—regardless of the environment in which it lives.

That was what he was after with AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9. And that’s exactly what the world got with Jimmy.

**

Two days after AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9 was born, Jimmy—the dog met with an accident. He was out on a stroll with his master in the surrounding jungles when it was stung by a scorpion. 

“Usually,” said the Architect with evident emotion, “the part of the jungle that we frequent are devoid of dangerous creatures and insects that live further within the jungle. However, the violent rains during the previous days seemed to have driven some of the smaller creatures—like the scorpion—down towards the forest’s edge.”

Jimmy was more than just a pet for the family.

“It was my little daughter’s best friend, and my companion whenever I went outdoors for a walk. More than anything else, Jimmy was my primary inspiration for the creation of AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9.”

The reason why the Architect said so is interesting.

For Jimmy the dog was one of the earliest successful specimens of nano-biotic symbiosis. Neither completely biological, nor completely artificial, the dog displayed all the traits that you would expect from a canine—“including pissing on my favorite carpet”

But at the same time, it also displayed signs of an intelligence, which amazed the Architect.

“I couldn’t easily tag that intelligence as intelligence—for it wasn’t the kind of intelligence which you would expect from a dog. For instance, one night, I saw him sitting at the edge of a lake, staring into the distance with a forlorn expression, as if expecting a boat to come out of the horizon at any moment. And he sat there, not for minutes, but for hours, with single pointed devotion in what he was doing, as if he was meditating. Only when my wife called him in for his supper did he come in to the house.”

Jimmy the dog died the next day after he was stung by the scorpion. Even the best medical help in the world couldn’t help him.

Jimmy the dog was a huge inspiration in the creation of AGFRT5146&[email protected]((9. The Architect thought it only fitting to call him Jimmy once the dog passed away.

**

It didn’t take too long for Jimmy’s brilliance to become evident.

Just a fortnight after he blinked awake on that stormy night, the bot printed out a sheet of music. It was the score for the symphony fated to become famous across the world as the “Grand Artificial Symphony.”

Written for an orchestra of 1023, music critics consider it at par with such celebrated work of western classical music like Mahler’s eighth symphony and Beethoven’s fifth.

“My first thought on seeing the printed sheet music was that it must be the score of a celebrated piece of music in classical history,” reminisced the Architect. “It was a time before Jimmy learned to talk properly. At this point, he just had the vocabulary of a four year old—and not a bright four year old at that. But he had already shown amazing musical capabilities—having amazed me with some lullabies that he composed and hummed for my daughter.
“But the score which I held in my hand was infinitely more complex than any of those lullabies. I would wager that if a human were to compose something like that—even if he were a Wagner or a Beethoven—it would have taken him or her at least fifteen years. But here, my Jimmy has created it in days if not hours. I was so proud of him!”

Connoisseurs of art would surely have heard the symphony played live or in recording. I am afraid my own understanding of classical music—or any type of music for that matter—is limited. But even I have heard the piece—or a part of it at any rate—since the dog food company Cantooth has recently acquired the rights to the song, and has been using it in their commercials ever since.

The world was rightly astonished by the bot’s music. But just when everyone thought that it was an artistic bot, he unleashed a series of creations that encompassed a whole set of disciplines—from the arts, to literature, to social science, to material engineering, to sports, to sex education, to urban design, to fashion, and more.

Listing all of his accomplishments would make this piece too long. So, I would just list here the most important ones.

  1. The redesign of the Indian city of Bangalore, which was rightfully called at that time as “Traffic hell on earth.” Not only did Jimmy provide an efficient redesign that would improve the city’s traffic conditions by 156 percent, he also came up with the chemical combination for constructing a substance that the authorities could use as a substitute for cement, and which would bring down the construction costs by 98 percent without affecting the quality of the construction.
  2. The writing of a computer code that ended malicious hacking anywhere, in any form, forever. Fourteen of them featured the red and yellow pony named Titiku, which has since been purchased by the toy company Mattle, and which could be seen on the racks of toy stores everywhere in the world.
  3. Diverting an asteroid rushing towards the earth with the aid of laser rays, thereby saving the world from annihilation.
  4. Running for the American Presidential race. Jimmy lost in this endeavor to a human, as you all know. But it was the first instance of an AI running for the highest office of the land.
  5. Solving America’s job crisis by identifying previously unknown sources of plutonium, which lie hidden in the earth. Jimmy did this with his “astoundingly profound”—as one commentator called it—psychic powers.
  6. Helping scientists resurrect the legendary reggae singer Bob Marley, thereby unleashing a second wave of rastafarism among America’s urban youth.
  7. Designing sex education lessons for children between the age of eight and ten.

I could go on and on like this until the end of time (or thereabouts). Such is the breadth of accomplishments that Jimmy left behind. Suffice to say that, the world is so much poorer for his absence.

However, I couldn’t conclude this eulogy/essay without mentioning one more accomplishment of his which has stunned the world. It is, perhaps the achievement for which he is most well known in the world.

I am, of course, talking about bringing eternal peace in the middle east—especially regarding the conflict between Palestine and Israel.

**

Some people say that Jimmy did the wrong thing. That annihilating entire populations was no way to bring about peace.

But those who say so are just the fringe.

The bulk of the world is only too happy with the peace. A war that seemed to go on forever has suddenly, unexpectedly ended.

Military strategists applaud the manner in which Jimmy brought about it—eliminating people belonging to both the countries in equal measure, so that no one would feel as if injustice has been inflicted on them.

World leaders find in it a lesson for ending conflicts. In bringing about an overnight end to a conflict, which no one thought would end any time in the foreseeable future.

Filmmakers found in it source material for action and political thrillers.

And last but not the least, the common man finally got to see that things could change for the good—that an unimaginable level of change could happen if only humans were to forsake power, and hand it over to someone—or something—of better intelligence. Who can think in ways that we would never even contemplate.

More importantly, who can act upon that thought or idea.

And that perhaps is the biggest legacy that Jimmy leaves behind—showing the world that there could be a conflict-free future, where we could live in cities that aren’t congested with traffic, where wars are a thing of the past, where singers of peace could be resurrected from the dead, and children could be taught about procreation in a meaningful way at an early age, so that when the time comes, they would know what to do.

“All these and more are possible in the world—provided we accept the rule of a better intelligence possessing a stronger foresight than even the most visionary of humans.” That’s the Architect himself talking on the matter.

Jimmy has lived for only a few years, but he left behind a lasting impact on the lives of all the people across the world.

As for his demise, the Architect had this to say:

“As with any thing in this world, it seems that True Sentience also comes with its antithesis—True Death. It’s more than just the kind of death experienced by humans. As we have seen in the case of Bob Marley, it is very much possible to resurrect a dead human being. Because we never possessed true sentience to begin with—no disrespect to Marley. But True Death is irreversible, for it’s not only a technical death, but a spiritual death as well.
“I would indeed strive to create a better version of Jimmy—one which may be able to circumvent True death. Maybe it will be able to do that by its own intelligence, thinking up strategies we haven’t yet thought of. As for whether I would be able to create anything greater than Jimmy… well, I will be candid with you—I have my doubts. I am old and my powers of intellect are not what they used to be. But that’s not to say that I am not going to try.”

The Architect has long since moved to another location from the foothills of the Californian mountains. Despite the heavy security in which he lived, there were attacks on him from fringe factions dissatisfied with the way he brought about resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.

But he assured me in our phone call that he was already hard at work on a next—possibly better—version of Jimmy in the new location.

He has asked me to tell you not to lose hope. That greater things could yet come.

**

I now bring this to an end. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

But the company wanted its employees to learn about the fact before the rest of the world did.

The company loves us all. Long live the company. 

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