Shirley Temple’s Deftcon | day1part1 — Corridoio
I’ve come in blank, having just factory reset my phone in preparation.
Unfortunately, due to technical reasons (procrastination/ laziness), I was unable to back it up beforehand. So all those pieces of my life are reset, too — those numbers I never downloaded, that chat and pics with what’s her name.
Well it was full anyway. A fresh start, then.
But even this offering isn’t enough for It, this abasement. Trust boundaries are for us to believe in. Not for It. How could It know where you’ve drawn lines if It hasn’t looked beyond? if only to be sure you put them in the right places.
Play Minesweeper Suite
“The Florentine Sin City is the jewel in the crown of Mr. Vinto, AKA Vinto the Magnanimous, and it’s a spectacular rendition, a sampling, rejiggering, distorting for modern form factors’ straining necessities of the original Renaissance city-state, the original incubator, home to more geniuses at one time than any place in history; a collective capolavoro balanced on the edge of tyranny and nascent democracy, medieval superstition and nascent Humanism, the progenitor of reason, The Enlightenment, The Scientific Method.”
At least that’s how the little movie in the elevator would have it. Hmm… Out of the elevator lobby I narrowly slip through an apparent pincer manoeuvre performed by two pensioners of some aspect in Scooter Bug and Go Go Elite on the Ol’ Ponte Vecchio restaurant row, turning right at the — yep, David statue (done tastefully in gold and who’s rock grasped lightly hangs just at head height) and following the path of his gaze straight into one gen-u-ine hacker conference.
How much longer do I have to wait in this line?
How long is a string?
That’s not very helpful. Can’t you like extrapolate my wait based on all the other people in line running you?
No response from the gubbins wedged in my earhole. Hmm… I’m not sure I should have agreed to all those permissions. I’m not sure I should have even installed her in the first place. Not like I had much of a choice. Not if I wanted to get five hundred totally free Florins. I haven’t figured out what exactly those are yet, or what they’re worth, but my hope is they’ll allow me a few turns at the roulette wheel and maybe some of the local firewater.
Well, fuck you, Shirl. Fuck you very much. I said it politely enough. But something about the answering BONG, it’s warp, it’s weft, was… different. And Wait Just A Minute, that wasn’t the wake command…
I decided to keep my mouth shut for a while and my ears and eyes open as the line ratcheted along one wall of the corridor.
A Droog glowered while reading from his phone apparently The Harvard Sentences for the benefit his throat mic, soundchecking in monotone poetry:
What joy there is in living.
The king ruled the state in the early days.
The ship was torn apart on the sharp reef.
A knot of young children glommed onto a door with a sign reading Solo Addetti! working the handle with what looked like a lockpick set.
And the black shirts glided slowly past, heaps of lanyards and badges bouncing in time.
Suits in purple mohawks. Suits in Aloha Shirts.
Along the opposite wall, every few feet, were the smaller chapels of diverse faiths, and standing before the entrance to each its priest making his pitch. Standing, each of them, on some platform, as if they all recognised the strategic advantage, like white marble statues to themselves, alternatively on apple boxes, 3 or 4 U’s of server, in one case a treadmill desk cum pulpit; promising salvation from a) the masses, b) ourselves, c) nothing, d) [redacted], e) the T1000.
“…identity is a construct whose reference frame is always trailing behind whats new, what’s next, and it’s only those who recognise that the future, too, is merely a rationalisation and projection of our present which means it’s already past. The hacker knows this and stays open to the multidimensional potential, expresses new realities as creative acts through code…”
“…by cultivating Goodness. Follow the Tao to cultivate Goodness, cultivate Goodness to follow the Tao. Channel it, move through it and allow it to move through you, you will remain ever present, always able to act appropriately in any situation, leaving open the greatest potential for Goodness. Mencius says we have always lived in artificial worlds. In fact it’s only through embracing artificiality that we can create new futures, new worlds, new selves, and increase Goodness…”
“…which they would tell you can never happen. They say look at the history of technological innovation, look at the trend line, it’ll take centuries, if it ever happens at all. But these prognosticators don’t understand exponential growth — what looks nearly flat over one timespan quickly tilts and rockets up — population growth, Moore’s law. The Onamisme is Coming. And when it does it’ll embrace us warmly and help us reach our each of ours human potential, our true, open, selves…”
“…but I will tell you this: the next AI Winter will not be seen in fallow research grants and university administration malaise, but instead a literal fallowing of fields as the Megaintelligence transforms our agricultural systems into land- and sea-spanning factories — converting everything we hold dear, our values, our physical resources, us, eventually Earth itself, into pen nibs.”
The crowd was entirely silent, chilled by the thought. Though one or two of them could be seen scratching their heads, presumably thinking the same thing I was, what the hell’s a ‘pen nib?’
The speaker strode on purposefully in place, his fiery monotone, uncanny for being super boring and scary as shit at the same time, continued “…until all that remains is a hyperefficient ball of seething pen nibs hanging in space expanding at close to the speed of light.” He slapped his hand on the lectern, autonomic, a convulsion, “Ecco: Pennibverse.”
The crowd, all thoughtful and intelligent people, leaned towards him, eyes half shut, sunflowers to a supernova.
Slightly disturbed, I returned to my pocket friend in search of answers and comfort.
How do I cultivate Goodness?
A brief minuet indicating she’s thinking about this. Then…
But I couldn’t make out clearly her answer as Speaker C was building to a crescendo on his theme of the coming Onanisme and how it was all gonna be really great for everyone concerned — namely Humanity — in the form of a dialog (including appropriate voices):
PollyA1984: [high-pitched, ‘girl’ voice] Oh but I don’t know! Will you be nice?
Jesu2017: [with an understanding chuckle] I am your servant. Omniscient and omnipotent I may be, but I value your keen interest in pop-culture and strive to anticipate your needs as expressed through your appointment calendar and search history.
Through which I thought I heard Shirl saying something about taking selfies — or perhaps not taking selfies under certain, hostile conditions — and then a list of non-profits including LIRI, CFEAR and the Future End of Humanity Institute, among others.
But now speaker E was back, drowning out all other voices… or rather interleaving another staccato set of surefire eventualities — “Perverse Goal Acquisition” “Malignant” “The Final Tool We’ll Make” and “All a simulation anyhow so why not have a beer?”
Though that last one didn’t seem to be in his voice. Girlish. Like girlish doing mannish. Hmm… and seemed to be entirely closer to hand.
Fortunately for my mental health, at that moment my position in the line made it through the turn from arterial corridor into one of the smaller, side-alleys of the convention centre, dark and uninteresting and entirely devoid of hawkers and jesters, moving ever forward towards a glowing square of light down a wall of undifferentiated industrial felt stuff.
But now I was bored. Lacking an internal world I reached for my phone — Then thought better of it. Maybe Shirl and I need to take a little break. So I stared at the ceiling instead.
List of Grottesche Found in a, say, 10’ x 10’ Section of Frescoed Ceiling
• Women’s heads and wings and breasts and beasts legs
• Brutal fat cherubs sitting on and strangling giant birds out of curiosity
• Floating faces whose eyes look anywhere but out
• Beautiful nude young man astride four horses, whip sailing behind
• Beautiful nude woman holding out two glass orbs, cape flapping behind
• A bird whose tail spirals an infinite, connected Julia set
• A Moorish woman with gold waistlet standing upon a chariot supported by two owls
• Disembodied faces whose mouths open too wide and whose ears are bats
• Pastoral scenes in round faux frames whose scrollwork is babies
• And serpents fighting storks
• And rats pushing balls up stairs
• And ears that curl into garlands
• And perfect nude figures except for their legs which are plumage
• In minuscule frames: a woman whips a man; a man is beaten with sticks
• And on a pedestal, a philosopher looks out in contempt, arms crossed while cinghiale crawl up his legs
• Bacchus sitting fat baby naked on a bell holds out his hand
• And at the centre reclines a woman, one breast bared, staring down at a silver platter as she removes the lid, frozen in the act of seeing, a rising cloud obscures the contents to all but her.
Up ahead a bombshell in a bikini is laying out on a leather settee against the wall as if she were poolside. Computer enthusiasts rake her body with their eyes but she seems totally relaxed and unaware.
Closer now. No cat calls here but rather a respectful silence, as if for a little death, a sphere of reverence, awe, eyes dragging at their corners as they pass.
She’s looking straight at me.
Flucht nach vorn
And I’m thrust into the great hall of light and noise and A/C for the 1st annual Autonomous Pin the Tail on the Donkey.