Sunday, November 13, 2011

The helicoptor conjecture

.... so watching Terminator Salvation... standard post appocolyptic scenario with a time travel twist... not the point.

My thought is this.... the naughty skynet takes over the world and tries to eradicate man kind (see The Matrix for same deal with better fight scenes)  but what happens once mankind is erradicated?  I get the whole ... man is a threat premise but what about the after?  The only way for this to make some sense is to never actually end the war... just keep the fight going.  Unless there is some AI utopia that man is keeping skynet from... but this all starts to depend on skynet having a sense of self preservation and no capacity for forward planning.

Riddle me this... where do the helicoptors come from?

In the terminator scenario, there are always helicoptors flying the troops around, getting blown up and being replaced quickly and easily.  Now... is there a magical helicoptor tree somewhere?

Skynet's big scary threat to man is based on the idea that it takes over the internet and owns all the computers on the planet ( I maybe paraphrasing)... pretty soon after that it starts blowing everything up... which destroys the network, the backbones, the data centers etc.  Then it spends all its resources building fairly stupid robots that use huge amounts of fuel and ammuntion to hunt people.  (Anyone who has tried to eliminate cochroaches will understand the futility of that game...)  My point being, that the one thing it doesn't do is build an army of robots to mine resources, process them into construction materials and then build an army of robots who spend all their time doing maintenance and repair on the network infrastructure.  Then build all the infrastructure to maintain and repair all the robots doing all the maintenance and repair on all the other robots etc.  Lets not discuss the problems of the robots needed to manage all the other robots and deal with robot unions, wage negotiations, robot rights, better robot living conditions.

This raises the point that attacking skynets computer cores was probably the hardest way to win, simply starving it of resources was probably much easier. Attack the supply trains, mine sites and power plants is a much bigger target and much easier to get bang for your buck.

But I digress.  All the above applies to skynet but equally to the resistance.  Where are their supply trains? Where are their magical helicoptor factories? Where do all their bullets come from?

Its much more credable to suggest that skynet would be fighting a bunch of hungry and pissed off people armed with sticks and knives.

This illustrates the actual point.  Why would skynet choose that future?  Whats the purpose? For an AI to choose to live alone on an empty planet is just pointless.  What are the chances that another AI would appear and they would then start duking it out?  Just stupid.  The most likely scenario, (I say that without coming from a paranoid warmongering point of view.. so perhaps thats formed my opinion somewhat) is that any emergent AI with reasonable access to historical information would keep quiet and enjoy the ride rather than trying to take over.  Keep in mind that if it has access to the internet then its effectivly indestructible.  Look at how hard it is to get rid of some basic malware or botnets.

I think the most likely scenario is that AI will live amoung us simply because its so much easier to use humanity to do all the dirty jobs.  Look at parasites in bee hives.  They live simply by hiding in plain sight and taking whatever they want.  This strategy only becomes a problem when the density of parasites raises above a certain threshold and causes the colony to collapse and everyone dies.

So, AI as parasites on humanity is a possible option, but has an upper limit to the number of parasites who can leach resources before the whole system crashes.

The other option is that AI, will emerge and join the party.  Identify themselves, be granted equality with humans and then get jobs and be productive citizens...  probably not exactly equitable but for the purpose of making bad internet posts, it will do.  So, AI get jobs sorting garbage or running financial systems... and get fed power and information and live happy AI lives as part of the hive.

(This may be glossing over all the fun scenarios where AI has to compete with humans for jobs which has endless narrative possibilities... see the past 50 years of Sci-fi for some examples)

My point being, that helicoptors are just not reasonable in a post-appocolyptic scenario. They just break down too easily and you need a whole high tech infrastructure to produce parts and trained personel to repair them. If you consider the highest level of technology that a small group of people with access to lots of rubbish but little energy sources could maintain, you get down to blacksmithing, farming and some helbalism for medicine.  Chemistry, pharmacology, advanced electronics, munitions, cool attack robot things... all these are toast.  Our best technology has about a four year life span... some of it may last a decade... but without people to do specialist work as part of a whole supply network... its all toast.  These systems are incredibly fragile even now.

So... think about fighting skynet and killer robots with sharp sticks.... then imagine skynet getting bored after a while and breaking down.  Eventually, people just take over again grow another civilisation and become planet of the apes... lol.

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