genesis musings pt.1
A common conceit; and really one of the greatest pervading misconceptions regarding the creation of Artificial Life, is the ubiquitous notion of an x-factor. Some have dubbed it the “Soul”. Human bodies are composed of many documented structures and components. The gross concentration of unaccounted ingredients in our makeup, is only a fraction of a percent of the body’s sum total. Through simple deductive reasoning, we infer that these ‘unknowns’ - the rarest ingredients in our biological goulash - must be the key to Artificial human genesis, since our efforts experimenting with the known quantities have so far been fruitless. This reasoning may be sound, but it does not satisfy us. It leaves more questions than answers and the wonders of the human ego spur us on to the resolution of those questions at any cost. Before long we find ourselves taking increasingly bold deductive leaps onto dangerous terrain. ”Knowledge is Power”, is an aphorism often invoked by researchers blazing the frontiers of our scientific understanding. This phrase, repeated as a mantra, is meant to bolster us against the potentially shocking realities that scientific discovery can often yield. Imagine the scientist, searching for our rare and elusive x-factor, the key to our remarkable existence. He might be less than thrilled if he actually finds the x-factor and in doing so discovers that we are nothing more than the run-of-the-mill ingredients we had already suspected plus a few boring ingredients we hadn’t. Hypothetically, when faced with the pedestrian truth of human genesis our scientist might even begin to champion the inverse adage: Ignorance is bliss.
Whether we as humans admit it or not, this seems to be one of our greatest fears: the discovery that humans can be made cheaply, using relatively pedestrian parts. It is because of this fear that we place all of our faith in the x-factor. Though its been proven that the majority of our composition is un-remarkable, we know that we are exceptional. The things we do and feel convince us of our exceptionalism, thus we reach what in our minds is the only logical conclusion: It is the x-factor that must make us special, and unique. The magnificence of the human race is borne on the back of an unknown and almost mathematically insignificant quantity… of what? In our eyes the mystery of it makes it somehow something more. The x-factor is everything unknown that we as humans can aspire to be; all of our past failures and potential triumphs in collage.
I am strange for I do not believe in the x-factor. I do not believe that the spark, genesis if you will, is due to an intrinsic quality of ingredients. Instead, our sentience is a testament to the vitality and frightful power of our environment; an environment that could imbue a lump of the most humble elements with life, somehow making it greater than the sum of it’s parts. We are not the architects of our remarkable vitality but rather the medium, life is a gift and a responsibility cast into any creature brave (or dumb) enough to support it and fight for it.
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Time Enough for Love (1973) p.248
Cool Castles track. Please play this while reading tin soldiers pt.1.
tin soldiers pt.1
I picture this scene set to: Crystal Castles song Crimewave: I’ll link it.
An imposing vehicle, looking like a cross between an APC and a SUV, crowned with a blazing light bar and wearing very large chrome wheels, drives at extralegal speeds through the backstreets of the city’s Inner Ring. The street and everything on it is seedy and decaying; ghosts of a long shattered optimism. Piles of garbage, and the occasional flaming steel barrel add post-apocalyptic ambiance. The street’s unfortunate inhabitants turn suspiciously towards the vehicle as it rumbles by. However, all quickly lose interest once they’ve gotten a good look.
[camera] approaches the vehicle from the front, flying in and transitioning through the windshield of the vehicle, and stopping roughly where we’d expect to find the Rearview. All occupants are eerily static excepting the driver’s arms, sawing expertly at the helm, keeping the vehicle arrow straight as it careens over the worst roadway you’ve ever seen. The occupants wear similar baggy sweatshirts with thick hoods completely obscuring their faces. [camera] holds on this demi-tableau long enough to absorb the surreal queerness of the cabin. Suddenly all of the passengers faces are illuminated in the blazing headlights of a passing vehicle. None of them appear to be human.
[camera] crawls slowly past occupants heads, just above eye level, on the way to the vehicles trunk. Several more headlights will re-confirm that the SUV’s occupants are indeed robotic. (The heads might look vaguely T-600ish; glowing eyes and metal heads [camera] reaches the trunk. Since we’re in an SUV; the space just aft of the rear seats. [camera] tilts down parallel to the floor and focuses on six large Halliburton attache cases, stacked in two piles of three. [camera] x-ray’s through the cases briefly and the silhouettes of high-tech ordanance (guns,nades etc.)spring into bold relief. Suddenly the sound from the engine dies and we hear the squeal of brakes. (I want to name the SUV the Kraken. Why? Just cuz…)
[camera] retains its floorward orientation and begins rising upwards and away from the cases, passing through the roof of the SUV until it stops about 20 to 30 feet in the air above the SUV (GTA2 style). All the doors pop simultaneously and slowly swing open as the music swells. [cut to] [camera] circle panning the vehicle as the “Thug looking” occupants TURKEY_KALIBAN_MARIAN_ three B0-PP-3R units step out of the vehicle and onto the street. As they exit their movements are disconcertingly synchronized and mechanical, however, as they touch the ground they immediately become fluid and distinctive. The SUV’s hearty suspension decompresses suspiciously as they exit, though the casual observer might not notice.
Only Turkey carries a weapon (a patina’d mp5 type submachine with the sheared off half of an old timey leather wrapped binocular mounted like a ghetto scope). Turkey walks from the passenger door to the back of the vehicle where Marian and Kaliban have sat down on the curb swaying to some as yet unheard beat and absent-mindedly grab assing.
The fourth and final Bopper KINGSTON still sits in the vehicle, sidesaddle in the driver’s seat smoking a cigarillo and casually observing the street. With every inhale the ruby on the end of his cigarillo glows, illuminating his mechanical face shrouded in his enormous sweatshirt hood (KINGSTON is the only unit not wearing his “face”; A lifelike mask of a human face with polymer maxillofacial musculature linked to a wireless controller.) The equipment is bleeding edge, lab grown and very expensive.
TURKEY calls around from the back of the vehicle
TURKEY: Drop that stick and get your fucking face straight King. (TURKEY self consciously adjusts his own mask and looks around nervously)
KINGSTON: (cool, and congenial) Rush me again Turkey and I’ll make stomping you another habit I can’t kick.
KINGSTON takes one last drag, before stubbing his butt out on the pale cheek of his “face” which he holds loosely in his left hand. Using the wireless terminal KINGSTON makes the face smile as smoke from the dying embers spin lazily off its soft surface. KINGSTON remains in his seat and holds the still smiling mask out past the doorjamb. When TURKEY notices it, KINGSTON makes it frown garishly, in mock allusion to the dramatic comedy/tragedy masks. KINGSTON continues to hold the mask out for TURKEY to see, as he begins to speak. The disembodied face soundlessly mouths his words.
KINGSTON: Besides, cool it loco, you aren’t the boss of this op anymore than I am. Boppers march to the beat of no one unit’s drum. Rank and file is for these chimps out here, and look how they’re doing.
KINGSTON steps out of the vehicle, which bucks a little with his departure. He makes an exaggerated show of stretching in the dim streetlight. KINGSTON’s “face is still in his hand and he holds it high as he stretches. TURKEY observes silently in the background. In a fluid movement KINGSTON snaps his face into place and slams the SUV door shut. He flashes TURKEY a thumbs up, then goes back to stretching.
TURKEY stands stock still silently staring at KINGSTON, as KINGSTON continues the runner’s stretches both of them know he has no use for. TURKEY’s pale perfectly blank face isn’t hostile or menacing, but the way his focus seems to linger on KINGSTON’s antics is disquieting. MARIAN and KALIBAN remain on the curb just aft of the APC. They sit in a loose and playful embrace, suggesting either young lovers or friends with benefits.
[camera] a POV from a telephoto surveillance feed pans onto the Boppers. It zooms in on each members in turn. The camera scrutinizes KINGSTON’s flamboyant routine for an instant longer than the others before continuing it’s sweeping pan; it’s operator assuming the scene is just strange enough to be normal for a dark night in the urbs.
TURKEY takes one last long stare at KINGSTON then turns mounts the curb and walks a few paces to a steel barrel next to a chain-link. He produces a match, strikes it, and tosses it into the barrel which roars to life. Turkey follows the rising smoke and embers as they curl upwards towards the tenement’s rooftops. His gaze finally comes to rest on a balcony
to be continued…
B0-PP3R’s prewrite pt.1
Unit Serial #:B0-PP-3R are sophisticated, fully autonomous combat androids featuring human form factors and a comprehensive anti-personnel weapons suite. The chassis is designed to utilize The MCMD’s (Multi-Con Military Division) GH11-I3 Urban Camouflage System (affectionately nicknamed “Gully Suits”). In simpler terms the B0-PP-3R’s are light duty combat units that can easily be disguised as personnel belonging to any of the city’s many militant and non-militant groups. Their deployment is mandated in urban hot zones, where conspicuous Syndicate deployment and activity would be met with a clumsy but nonetheless violent and potentially overwhelming response by the districts more passionate inhabitants. Although disguised “Bopper” teams will occasionally come under fire by inner-city gangs mistaking them for rival crews, these smaller firefights are preferable to a full scale turf war. Furthermore these altercations are almost always quickly suppressed by the highly capable android strike force, all while maintaining their cover and relative anonymity.
What makes Bopper’s interesting is the fact that, programmed in with their combat software and maintenance suite is a unique and complex cocktail of self learning algorithms modeled loosely on human behavior. Naturally certain undesirable emotional states are completely unattainable due to the codes architecture, but the modern Bopper team can evolve or grow, in a manner of speaking, from mission to mission. While information is often altered by their handlers, a Bopper’s memory cache is rarely deleted. This has the effect of giving every member in the Bopper team a distinct and sometimes uncanny personality, though it is often stressed that no human brain patterns are present on their hard disks. It is the Bopper’s humanoid behaviors - with emphasis on the word humanoid because they are often imperfect simulacrum - when manifest out in the combat theater that make them extremely difficult to distinguish from a flesh and blood human gang.
"The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual."
Buckminster Fuller: Letter to “Micheal” (16 February 1970) Micheal was a 10 year old boy who had inquired in a letter as to whether Fuller was a “doer” or a “thinker”.
A cool track from the Slovenian producer Gramatik. It features an excellent hip-hop / traditional (guessing eastern-euro) fusion. I’m eager to write a scene to this, so keep posted. I’m picturing a chase through a futuristic open-air market maybe. In the meantime enjoy the track.
The sartorial genius of the cut was apparent. And the fabric, the true party piece, was of an unparalleled quality. Tailor Rosen stood with no expectation in his manner, shell cordovan loafer in one hand, the other working a thick gut-string thread through the shoe’s sole. He moved with a carelessness which belied his horologists precision. A minute was born and summarily dispatched and the man on the platform, draped in the splendid suit found his patience waning. He cleared his throat and softly uttered one word, “Marvelous”. Tailor Rosen smiled imperceptibly, to the other seeming not to have heard the compliment. Finding the sole satisfactory Tailor Rosen crouched, gently setting the shoe down and retrieving it’s partner. The suited man watched the fluid movements of the elder Tailor with mounting annoyance, before turning away and becoming absorbed again by his appearance in the full length mirrors. Still the Tailor had perturbed the suited man with his disinterest and the fact nagged him horribly. The man in the suit suspected the tailors negligence must be borne of resentment or maybe a foolish pride. He shuddered visibly, there was a desperate weakness in this fanciful paranoia. This moment should be triumphant. A brave knight donning his shining suit of armor. Standing now on the mahogany plinth addressing his fine reflection in triplicate the man in the suit felt like a rising conqueror. He was certain his new and imposing bespoke profile would enhance his already impressive ascent through the Multi-Con. But why was he still finding this esteemed Tailor’s doubtless unintentional snub so vexing, and more to the point why couldn’t the crone simply accept the gracious compliment of his better with humility. Tailor Rosen was enjoying himself immensely. He had experienced men of this impetuous boy’s ilk before. Like a humble river reed he allowed them to push pompously over him on their way to the corridors of power and the eventual ruin that usually implied. Standing here before him draped in his finest efforts stood the latest crab spurning the bucket for the excitement of the hot pot. He would see many more just like him. The frail tailor’s talent was widely recognized and prodigious and had he wanted to he could have refused service to whomever, but his was the long view and above all else he cherished professionalism. The death of professionalism and the advent of this boys wolfish individualism was a leading contributor to the current social decline. Their modern society was reeling or rather what was left of society after the storm; bones and sinews momentarily animate as the last breaths left through tattered lungs.
"I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."
Robert A. Heinlein