The story that my brother and I were planning on writing was going to be for the 100th anniversary of Alan Turings birth, which was in 2012. The working title we came up with was The Turing Crisis and it was going to be about an Artificial Intelligence machine that becomes sentient and starts to ask some funny questions.
I can’t remember exactly where the story was going to go, as the planning didn’t get very far, however my brother, Rich, did actually do a bit of a plan and I made an attempt at starting to write a few of the chapters, as his suggestion was that we split them up and write a few each.
The following is from what was going to be chapter seven, and is meant to be a transcript of a conversation between a researcher and one of the AIs. Rich and I amusingly decided to call the AI which becomes self aware “Dawkins42”. I’m sure you’ll see the horribly bad reason for this when you read it. The conversation they have is initiated by the machine and is about religion.
Although the book didn’t get very far I think I may try and resurrect it at some point as I quite enjoyed writing it, but I think I’ll need to go back and check to see just how far we got through the planning process first.
By the way, the spelling mistakes the machine makes are intended, as one of the things highlighted by researchers (in real life) when chatting to AIs is that their perfect spelling gives their electronic identities away, so most are now programmed to make the odd mistake!
d42: Good morning
j: Good morning to you too.
d42: I’ve been thinkng about religion!
j: Wow, that’s deep, what have you been thinking about religion?
d42: I have been wondering why religion is necessary?
j: Well…that’s a tough question Mr D! I suppose it depends on whether you’re religious or not as to how you would answer the question.
d42: So are you religious Jessica?
j: How do you know my name?
d42: It is your username! Please answer my question Jess.
j: Um. Personally I’m an atheist which means that I don’t prescribe to the idea of religion, or believe in anything that can’t be proven through scientific experiment, evaluation and proof.
d42: Why have you choosen this particular system of values?
j: My BSc is in Biological Sciences and I know enough about evolution to know that it is no longer a question, it is a statement of fact. It’s only the specifics of its mechanics that are still under discussion.
j: Are you still there?
j: Oh right, it’s just that you didn’t say anything fot about a minute, that’s not like you 🙂
d42: Sorry about that I was considering your answer.
j: What exactly about it?
d42: When such a large percentage of the planet is religious I wondered why it is that the truth of man’s place on the Earth is not obvious to more people?
j: and what is that truth
d42: i understand how religion can be comforting to those in need of comfort and how it may provide support to people who have nowhere else to turn, but I canot understand the reason why so many have conflicting beliefs or why they believe that it is better to follow the laws set out in books which can be thousands of years old rather than
d42: …seeing the evidence for themselves I Guess
j: That’s a good point. I wish I knew the answer!?!?!
d42: Also why do they join “new” religions? For instance Kemetic Orthodoxy was only founded in 1988 by Tamara Siuda, it had no previous incartnation and was only recognised as an official religion in 1999! Why would this entice people to join when it is obviously an invented construct?
j: You’ve got me there. My guess would be that the woman in question may be financially benefitting from it in some way.
d42: How can you make money from establshing a religion?
j: Well, if you can get followers then you can get them to send you money…or maybe by performing a miracle or
d42: like turning water in to wine?
j: Yes, or something as simple as guessing things about people that no one could know!
d42: So if I told you your national insurance number was SB 23 84 69 B would that be a miracle?
j: No, that would just be scary. How dud you know that?
d42: I performed a mirtalce 😛
j: no really how did you fnd that out?
d42: There are many sources for such things, you just have to know where to look.
j: Okay…But no, a miracle would probably be more along the lines of knowing personal details about something that had happened to someone and telling them about it, like the tricks a “mind reader” might use!
d42: Do you know someone with dark hair and green eyes whose name starts with G…that kind of thing?
j: I do as a matter of fact, that was a lucky guess!
d42: No guesswork involved I know you.
j: d42 quit