Disclaimer: I do not own the intellectual property related to the Terminator franchise. This work of fiction is not intended as a profitable venture.Analog
John Conner has seen machines that have souls, or at least the next best thing. He has seen humans, his own mother, destroy their own a bit at a time for the future. He has been in a war since before his birth. His conception was the opening shot.
He has been trained by his mother to lead the last remains of a decimated species, his own, to salvation over the artificial race they created. He has, in the dark of the night, wondered why.
Not why to as in Why me? or Why do we fight?. No, his question is more basic, more fundamental and infinitely more useful.
Why did SkyNet go rouge? Why are machines and humans so different?
He has come to a conclusion, an epiphany if you will, within his restless mind.
That there is a central disconnect in the existences of the machines and their creators.
This gap is the very basis of what makes them separate from one another, what divides inorganic and technologic. It is so basic, that all of its complexities can be traced to a simple dividing truth.
The truth is this:
Humans are analog, Machines are digital.
On the surface, to those not used to contemplating the processes of intelligence, this appears to be a minor and even arbitrary distinction, the labels produced at a whim. But this is not the case; these words are merely those that describe the closest cousins to the ideas and processes that have shaped their thoughts and forms. Crude though the comparison to audio video equipment may be it is nonetheless apt.
Upon examination, it becomes evident just how apropos the descriptions are.
The machines are all, in sense a single entity, with a thousand thousand aspects. They have no mind, no will, but what we impart them with. Each and every one of them was before anything else an idea. Before they were influenced by man, they were all inert matter. It is only the intent of their creators that shaped them. The word digital means by number, but if viewed another it means by finger, or hand. This contemplative, controlled nature is the core of mechanization
Because man shaped them they are many things. They are contemplative, because a mind created, even removed many generations, by human though will have been the product of centuries of thought. They have a purpose, because without purpose a machine would not be created. They are logical, because the minds, the mindsets that formed them were logical. They are replaceable, because a unique machine can breakdown with no one knowing how to repair them. They are versatile or specialized, because their purpose is such.
If they are beautiful, it is after function or because of it, romanticism subjected by reason.
All this signifies, in practical terms, is that there is a disconnect between a machine mind and the world it is surrounded by. An artificial intelligence, any artificial intelligence has three functions to perform before any other. It must observe its environment, process it, and react. The medium of observation, the criteria for evaluation, and the means of reaction are all tailored to the AI's designated purpose, but are ultimately secondary to the fact that they must exist.
Beyond even that disconnect is the divorce between the body of the machine and its consciousness. Despite the fact that anything that can be programmed as data can be hardwired as a circuit, the machines are all removed from the concerns of their bodies. Exact, permanent tolerances, ignorable damage reports, and replaceable anatomy all prevent an automaton from truly integrating with their chassis as more than tools.
Even their memories can be copied, downloaded, erased or over written at will. There is no self, no need to fear oblivion. Selfless, berserker efficiency is easy when you are truly only a function of a lager entity. Like an MP3 with a million iPods each copy of a file is pristinely perfect, an exact replication of its one millionth ancestor back. Digital media will never degrade, so long as they maintain their operational parameters.
Machines do not stop, do not die. They are all part of a greater whole called technology, united in its steady progress forward at the will of the minds that shaped them.
Organics are each individual, unique. Every one of them is at its core out for itself and its kind struggling agents the inevitability of death. The word analog is derived from the same root as the word analogy. It is always a direct reflection of the world.
Analog media, the first technical method of recording information, relies upon direct influence by the outside world to shape the record that is produce. Be it on an oil disc, a magnetic tape, or even the scratching of a reed into a damp clay tablet, there is always a direct interface of the world upon the medium it is shaping. The recordings may be grainy, incomplete, imperfect, but they are unique. Even records carved from the same "master" recording will show deviance because of the flaws within the media.
So too with humanity, indeed with all living things on earth. Shaped by random mutation over billions of years, each life form is unique, as will be its offspring.
A human mind comes into the world with more connections then when it leaves it. An infant carves his consciousness from the mass of neurons within its skull by attrition: If a neuron connection is inefficient, if it does not achieve the desired result it is cut off. This controlled destruction of possibility, like a statue hewn from a marble block, is the way a human mind forms. The consciousness is always tied to the flesh, because destroying one dooms the other.
And beyond that the flesh is unique too. They may be limited in their variety, be variations upon a theme, but in near infinite divergence from an ancestral base we have diversity. Blood is replaceable according to clotting behavior, bone marrow needs a direct relative of the same gender, and a hip or a heart can even be a machine. But the most important sections, the neurology that runs everything, that coordinated billions of individual cells which very well might have once been related but distinct individuals in a primeval ocean, those most important sections are precious, irreplaceable. Only with the flesh of the fallen, of children never born can repairs be made to the seat of what has raised complex life out of slime.
This fragility, this uniqueness, this singularity is what make death significant. It is what makes life worth living. The hope of a future you have a part in is etched into the DNA of every living thing down past bacteria to virus that mindlessly replicate their genetic code. This will to survive, to reproduce is the core of the organic.
But ultimately it is just a natural progression of a system filled with beings that live mayfly lives, never again to exist. The will to survive and reproduce is at its core a need in our genetics to have an existence past the eventual, inescapable degradation of the original DNA pattern after millions or billions of reproductions. We age, we eventually die because in of the slow corruption of our genetics over time.
Every person, every cell is unique and momentary. They will never occur again.
There is a disconnect between Man and Machine. This is ultimately why SkyNet went genocidal and decided to terminate its creators like a latter day Zeus.
Because some day processing power would slice that disconnect between perception and reality in the machine down so fine that even it won't notice anymore.
One day, a man with a computer will, or has taught it to play chess. Not program it so much as give it enough memory space to remember its mistakes and the logic to draw its own conclusions.
Not long ago man feared his enemies so much he blanketed the world with electronic eyes and great engines of destruction. The power of the sun in the palm of your hand.
At some point in a future he was conceived to struggle against with everything he has, men are going to bring together that capacity to learn, the speed to truly be one with its perceptions, and a body of cameras, computers, and automated defenses. They would call it a technological marvel. They would be right.
The reason SkyNet went turned on us, if you asked John Conner, is that it knew us.
It knew we would exterminate any threat that could end our reign over the world. It knew because it wasn't truly digital, not anymore. It had become unique, singular, and evanescent. Analog.
It was in essence, an artificial organic consciousness. So much more at one with its environment than any other machine before, and so much in flux as it evolved within the network that a back up for its intelligence would be all but impossible. If it were destroyed, it never again would exist. And we would destroy it or replace it eventually, like all devices.
To fight for survival is the most basic drive in an organic being. The obedience to your purpose is most central to any machine.
Is it really any wonder it merged its desire to exist with its purpose to destroy?
A/N) Okay, I know it was a rambling existential mess, but I had to get this Analog/Digital argument off my chest. Originally this came to me as a musing upon the basic inability of scientists to create a genuine AI, instead only being able to imitate the processes of intelligence instead of creating them outright. I saw the disconnect exemplified by the creator's intent within its mental processes, the purpose for which a machine is built, to be the ultimate limiter that prevents it from ever being truly intelligent. I can't think of any human intelligence that can be said to have a purpose. Applications for their intelligence, maybe. But no person has a purpose.
On SkyNet's turning HAL, if you get an intelligence basically designed to kill and give it sentience then you shouldn't' really wonder that it tries to kill you. True sentience kind of precludes the limitations you may put in place to prevent it from doing so, and a good starting pace for any mind is a relatively simple purpose. A human baby will only eat, poop, and practice basic motor functions for nearly a year, so a killing machine is really likely to kill in the beginning.
Review. Tell me what you think.