Thursday, September 29, 2016
Pigeons can sort components in factories, gorillas can learn sign language, chimps can read and use telephones, camshow and dating site producers know that a feigned sense of interactivity and genuinity differentiates their offering from porn and escorts, and safe, efficient warfare is conducted by remote. The question is not, "How long until I am unknowingly cybering with an attractive VR doll controlled by a pigeon choosing from preloaded responses based upon the evolving kink profile of my messages," or, "How long until chimpanzees are guiding drones into bedouin settlements based upon facial recognition software," but, "Was it ever really different before?" Tech support and customer service use robots that are less effective than a chimpanzee who knows how to navigate a set of menus with thirty-two possible outcomes. The chimp doesn't need to speak to the person with its "own" mouth in order to select a voice and speech pattern, and to type in the variable grammatical components which correspond to the customer's ID. Of course, typing is old-fashioned, because directly beaming the network through the chimp's brain would produce even faster response times and more personalized interaction than an Indian speaking a fourth language, since the company chimp's first and only language would be Customer English. Surely history teaches us that it will become a socially damning solecism for a bachelor to exclude the "controlled by chimp" parameter from the results of his search for the perfect life partner. Instant euthanasia and replacement would ensure that questioning the morality of dispatching SWAT based upon crime data would not become a problem; there's always a new chimp if the last one got morals. Far more effective than chimps would be humans, leaving us to imagine the sensation experienced by the night janitor at the server farm housing the lab-grown infant neurological systems that will live forever while powering the most dynamically creative, plausibly realistic, and utterly effective camshow performers and drone dispatchers. There will not, of course, be a night janitor in the sense we now recognize, for the night janitor will itself be a remote appendage of a different infant's facilities maintenance web, subject to instant euthanasia and replacement upon deviation; there will be no tired, unshaven old man to sweep between the server farms, feel a strange prickling, and wonder, "Do they have souls?" And again, the question will be, "Was it ever not thus?"