genesis musings pt.1
A common human conceit; and really one of the greatest pervading misconceptions regarding the creation of Artificial Life, is this ubiquitous notion of an x-factor. Some might call it the Soul. Human bodies are composed of many easily quantifiable structures. So many in fact, that the gross concentration of unaccounted ingredients in our makeup, is only a fraction of a percent of the body’s sum total. Through deductive reasoning, we infer that these ‘little phantoms’ in our biological design- coveted ingredients in a secret recipe- must be the key to our understanding of Artificial Human Homo-genesis This reasoning should seems sound. However, naturally, the wonders of the human ego spur us on. Before long we find ourselves taking increasingly bold deductive leaps onto unstable logical terrain. ”Knowledge is Power”, is an aphorism often invoked by researchers blazing the morally uncharted frontiers of our scientific understanding. This phrase, repeated enough, is meant to bolster us against the potentially shocking realities that scientific discovery often yields. One might imagine the scientist who, looking for this rare and elusive key to our remarkable existence, might be less than enthusiastic to find that we are simply nothing more than the run-of-the-mill ingredients we had already suspected. In this hypothetical moment of discovery said scientist might even champion the verity of the inverse adage: Ignorance is bliss.
I believe this hypothetical is one of our greatest fears: the possibility that humans can be made cheaply, using relatively unremarkable ingredients. It is because of this fear that we place all of our faith in the x-factor. It’s been proven that the majority of our composition is un-remarkable and yet, as humans, we know that we are exceptional. The things we do and feel convince us of this exceptional ism and so we reach what in our minds is the only logical conclusion: It is our minority composition 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 believe the spark, genesis if you will, is not due to an intrinsic quality of ingredients. Instead, our sentience is a testament to the vitality and frightful power of our environment; that it could imbue a humble lump of clay with life, somehow making it greater than the sum of it’s moving parts. Thus, we are not the architects but rather the medium, life is a gift and a responsibility cast into any creature brave (or dumb) enough to 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
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 urban 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 (if not identical) baggy sweatshirts with thick hoods completely obscuring their faces. [camera] holds on this demi-tableau long enough to absorb the surreal queerness present in 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 attaches, stacked in two piles of three. [camera] x-ray’s through the cases briefly and the silhouettes of high-tech ordanance 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-PP3R units step out of the vehicle and onto the street. For a moment their movements are disconcertingly synchronized and mechanical, however, as they touch the ground their motion immediately becomes fluid and authentic. As they exit the SUV’s suspension decompresses a suspicious amount, though to the casual observer this would be no cause for alarm.
Only Turkey carries a visible weapon (a patina’d mp5 type submachine with the sheared off half of an old timey leather wrapped binocular mounted scope-like on top). He walks from the passenger door to the back of the vehicle where Marian and Kaliban sit 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 clean flash 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.
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
B0-PP3R’s prewrite pt.1
Combat Unit: Serial #_B0-PP3R are sophisticated, extremely specialized, fully autonomous combat androids featuring a human form factor and a comprehensive anti-personnel weapons suite. The chassis is designed specifically to utilize The SMD’s (Syndicate Military Division) GH11-I3 Urban Camouflage System (affectionately nicknamed “Gully Suits”). In layman’s the B0-PP3R’s are light to medium powered combat androids that can easily be disguised as one of the inner city’s many street gangs. Their deployment is mandated in certain urban hot zones, where any conspicuous Syndicate deployment would be met with a clumsy, but nonetheless violent and eventually overwhelming response by the districts inhabitants. Although “Bopper” teams will occasionally come under fire by inner-city gangs mistaking them for rival crews, these much smaller firefights are preferable to a full scale turf war, and are easily suppressed by the highly capable android strike force, all the while maintaining their cover and relative anonymity as Syndicate agents.
What makes Boppers interesting is the fact that, programmed in with their combat software, maintenance and system processes is a dizzyingly complex cocktail of self learning algorithms modeled loosely after human behavior. Obviously certain undesirable emotional states are completely unattainable due to the codes architecture, but nonetheless the team, in a sense, evolves or rather grows from mission to mission and while information is often altered by their handlers, it is rarely deleted. All of this has the effect of giving every member in the Bopper team a distinct and rather uncanny personality, though it must be stressed that no human cerebral patterns are ostensibly present on their hard disks. These humanoid behaviors, expressed with emphasis on the word humanoid because they are often imperfect simulacrum, when manifest out in the combat theatre makes this remarkable unit very difficult to distinguish from the human gangs it is modeled on and almost impossible to identify as the highly trained shock-troop it is.
"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 (I’m guessing eastern-euro) fusion. I’m eager to write a scene set to this, so keep posted. At the time that I’m writing this that means you Eric (I’ll edit this when I get more followers). I picture a chase through a futuristic open-air market or summat thereabouts. In the meantime enjoy the track.
The elegant sartorial genius of the cut was overwhelming and the fabric, the true party piece, was of a rare and unparalleled quality. Tailor Rosen stood with almost no expectation in his manner, cordovan loafer in one hand, the other hand working a gut-string threaded needle through the shoe’s dense sole. He moved with an almost careless dexterity which belied his horologists precision. Moments were dispatched and the man on the platform, draped in the splendid suit clothing, 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 matched pair. The suited man watched the fluid movements of the elder Tailor perhaps too intently, before turning away and becoming absorbed again by his appearance in the full length mirrors before him. Still the Tailor had perturbed the suited man with his disinterest, borne of resentment or maybe pride. He shuddered, this moment should be triumphant. A brave knight receiving his shining suit of armor, and so it seemed. Standing on this mahogany plinth addressing his fine reflection in triplicate he felt like a rising conquerer. He had no doubts that this new bespoke profile would enhance his already impressive ascent through the Syndicate. But, why was he finding this esteemed old Tailor so insistently vexing and why couldn’t the crone simply accept the gracious compliments of his superior with humility. Tailor Rosen had experienced before, men of this impetuous boy’s ilk. Like a humble river reed he had allowed them all to push pompously over him on their way to the corridors of power. The frail tailor’s talent was widely recognized and prodigious and had he wanted to he could have refused service to whomever he deemed deserving, but his was the long view and above all else he cherished professionalism. In the tailors mind a professional attitude was the head contributor to the declines which he now saw in their modern society, or rather what they had been left after the storm, bones and sinews momentarily animate as the last breath left through tortured 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"