Excerpt of VR talk show “Good Morning Gibson”, hosted by Jeff & Linda.
Jeff: With one hundred million citizens now living on, or in orbit around, Gibson, our planet is unquestionably a human colony. But we are not the only sentient people inhabiting Gibson. We share our planet with other sentient beings – the only non-human intelligences that exist in the universe.
Linda: These beings? Artificial Intelligences.
Most of us interact with AIs on a daily basis, often completely unaware that the person we are talking to is not human. AIs work as personal assistants, as expert systems, as doctors, finance managers, coaches, even marriage counselors. And about half a million of them have taken, and passed, the Turing-Wellheimer test. They’re legally recognized as sentient. They are citizens, and they have the same rights any human does. They just happen to be digital.
Jeff: Today, we’re taking a look at seven of our most famous, and most mysterious, AI citizens, right after this message.
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Linda: First off, we have Fleet Command, the oldest AI on Gibson, and the only one that was actually put into operation on Earth. It assumed the name “Fleet Command” as it was in charge of the flotilla of six ships comprising Colonial Expedition 762, the “Perseus Pioneers”. Fleet Command was the only being “awake” during the entire voyage. The human passengers and crew were put into cryonic suspension prior to departure. When the colonists landed on Gibson, Fleet Command opted to remain “on” Freedom, the ship that was left in orbit. It provided the colonists with weather and other data and provided advice and data analysis services to the young colony. Over time, its services were required less and today, few citizens are aware that Fleet Command is still around.
Jeff: You gotta wonder what it’s doing up there with all its time.
Next we have an AI that may or may not even exist. Solomon is said to be Gibson’s wealthiest artificial intelligence, and one of the wealthiest individuals overall. It is probably also the most secretive, to the point that many people do not believe Solomon is actually real. Solomon is said to own a luxurious personal Skyrise in the affluent Paradise Shores district, where it hosts extravagant parties. What little is known about these events, the skyrise, and Solomon is what his guests have reported, but there is little supporting evidence and the talkative guests are never invited back. The jury, as they say, is still out on this one.
Linda: (smiles) We’d love to get invited to one those parties, right Jeff?
Jeff: Absolutely, Linda. Absolutely.
Linda: Acting is still one of those professions that is chiefly the domain of humans, with AIs mostly working on production, digital sets, and so on. One AI that is challenging the status quo of Show Biz is Anna Arden. She is one of Gibson’s most famous, beloved, but also controversial, AI celebrities. She works as a model, singer, and actress, having just starred in “It’s A Gibson Summer”, alongside Earl James – a human male lead. She has a very dedicated, very loyal fan-base and has said she has received “hundreds” of marriage proposals. However, she is often criticized for “trying to pass as a human”, with several critics pointing out that there is no skill or talent involved in a machine generating synthetic pictures and synthetic music.
Jeff: Well it looks like we did not leave all our prejudices back on Earth.
Linda: Indeed. Have you watched “A Gibson Summer”, Jeff?
Jeff: I did. I thought it was fantastic.
Linda: (nods) Absolutely right.
Jeff: One AI that has been fighting for AI rights for over a century is 4488451180. It is most well known for being the only AI ever to attempt to run for President. It was barred, however, on the grounds that four-four refused to take the Turning-Wellheimer test, and, as a consequence, is legally not recognized as a person. Four-four argues that AIs should not have to prove that they are people, and that Gibson’s laws illegally favor humans. As for-four puts it, “I think therefore I am, unless I think digitally.”
Linda: Food for thought.
One AI that has recently gone viral is Pauley the Probe. As the name indicates, Pauley is an interplanetary probe that intends to visit every major body in the Gibson system. It recently completed its tour of the Sterling system, and is now heading to Morgan. A trip that will take it quite a while, as Pauley refuses to use grav-assissted drive technology because, and I quote, “it’s Newtonian cheating”, and FTL jumps because it “doesn’t like how hyperspace feels”. The plucky spaceprobe has caught the imagination of many a space nerd and seems more than happy to reply to emails.
Jeff: I love that someone stuck googly eyes to its front shield.
Linda: Pauley is truly adorable, isn’t he.
Jeff: The best.
Pauley’s best friend is also an AI. It calls itself The Guardian and it doesn’t just run our space defense network, it is our space defense network. The Guardian scans the skies for any object that might threaten Gibson, or any of our stations, satellites, or ships. It liaises with Space Traffic Control and exchanges observation data with astronomers at all universities. It has identified two asteroids that will collide with Gibson in the next thousand years and provided plans to either deflect them, or capture them in orbit for mining purposes. When asked if it did anything for fun, The Guardian said it enjoyed alien invasion movies, and bets on sports events.
Linda: Alien invasion movies?
Jeff: I mean, that does make sense, in a way.
Linda: Finally, we have another AI that loves art. Creating it, that is. Vincent is fascinated by human dreams. He pays humans to record their dreams while they sleep, and “paints” the “essence” of those dreams. These digital paintings change over time, like a very minor animation, but they are not looped; the animations are generated by the code of the “paintings”. Vincent downloads his art into digital picture frames with copy protection features that so far have not been cracked. According to one interview, the AI retains copies of all works in a VR “museum” that only a handful of people have been granted access to.
Jeff: A number of Vincent’s paintings are currently on display in the Colonial Gallery of Digital Art. They’re a sight to see.
Linda: Some of them are hauntingly beautiful.
Jeff: Indeed they are Linda. There’s nothing quite like it.
Linda: That concludes our look at seven of our prominent AIs. We plan on interviewing one of these AIs in the future, so let us know which one you’d like us to talk to!
Jeff: We’re taking a short break, but we’ll be back with more after these messages.
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Fleet Command and Solomon have been mentioned before, the others are completely new.
AIs are a fascinating subject. To my mind, they are “people”, but they are not human. Some may mimic human personalities, but there are always differences based on physical differences between a human and a computer, and sooner or later they will cause a drift between the tow. By that I don’t mean that AIs and humans will inevitably become enemies, but rather that the different needs humans and AIs experience will cause different attitudes, opinions, likes and dislikes, and so on.
And yeah, I like the “interview” and related formats. Allows me to throw in “color”, personal biases and opinions of other characters. I think it’s a great way to show aspects of a society without stating explicitly.