6 thoughts on “The Dreams Of Electric Sheep

  1. bystander April 17, 2023 / 6:02 am

    And, if it’s both…. I’m dreaming of an electric border collie to keep it penned in the benefit corral.

    • William Timberman April 17, 2023 / 6:09 am

      You’re gonna need a bigger collie, I’m afraid. I’m currently watching Elon’s first attempt at a starship launch. Seems at t-12 minutes they’re “experiencing a pressure issue.” I know just how they feel.

  2. Pedinska April 17, 2023 / 7:19 am

    The rush to replace actual human interaction with bot sploot is depressing. On the one hand, the urge to explore is omnipresent and the current experiments in allowing everyone their (human) say have had less than ideal results. On the other hand, it’s hard to view such efforts as any less insidious than the ones promoting the use of AI “collies” to police our streets.

    • William Timberman April 17, 2023 / 8:18 am

      My own take on this is such an obvious eclecticism that without the poetic license that ambiguity usually confers on the iconoclast, I’ve been reluctant to say it outright. Simply put, when it comes to anything short of direct human interaction I deny that there can ever again be any truly reliable way to distinguish between the virtual and the real, between bot and human, even for those of us who currently believe ourselves to be perceptive enough to make such a distinction.

      When pitted against the demonic progeny of modern algorithm-driven social media, scale and immersion, human cognition in its present state of evolution has no chance at all of remaining what it is. Our traditional ways of knowing are too slow to develop, require too much energy input over too long a period of time to come to any coherent conclusions about what things mean that can compete with an all-encompassing universe of “alternate facts.”

      This has nothing to do with bad faith, or malevolent political intention. It’s simply an unintended consequence of how the human mind works, and as anyone who’s tried to have a meaningful conversation with one of the MAGA faithful can attest, it will eventually infect direct human interactions as well. Categorization as the basis of knowledge has proven surprisingly vulnerable to erosion, surprisingly, anyway, to those of us who’d come to believe that literacy and science were proof against it. I swear to you, when I look up at the stars these days, I’m almost certain I can hear them laughing.

      • Lori April 19, 2023 / 6:34 am

        Apologies for the late reply. Gmail glitched (I think) and failed to deliver email (including notices of replies) until sometime yesterday afternoon after my usual email checking hours. When I looked right before bed I had a pile of emails that rivaled the ones I used to have back before I retired from supervising my research lab. It was an unwelcome occurrence.

        I think your analysis of where we are at re: AI and human interaction is spot on. The only thing left to discover – if we even CAN discover it – is the extent to which those who are able to grasp the levers will inevitably manipulate them to bring about a kinder gentler (/snark) version of the obedience we all read about in High School in Orwell’s 1984.

        • William Timberman April 19, 2023 / 7:54 am

          I expect we’re in for a kind of AI-driven war of assassins. Think Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk, and Peter Thiel. Think Trump and DeSantis. Think Putin and his дезинформация factories, or Xi and his social credit panopticon. Being the cruel narcissists that they are, none of these beasties have yet realized that in this particular war, in which the weapons are smarter in the aggregate than the individual egomaniacs who believe themselves to be wielding them, they’ll be no better off than the rest of us when their gladness comes to pass. The influencers influenced, democracy’s ultimate revenge.

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