It was a red-letter day in the history of science. They had come to the Artificial Intelligence laboratory by the dozens; each of them one of the greatest minds from nearly every field of human intellectual endeavor. Here they congregated to participate in the penultimate Turing test of the Google Omni-Device™, the world’s most advanced machine mind. The Device could create works of art, compose music, and write poetry, it could even “cook” or create and generate new materials after it was provided with a 3-D molecular printer. Its discoveries in physics, biology, and computer science had progressed humanity forward more rapidly than at any other point in its history. Now the day has come where they would determine if the Device was sentient.
After months of question and answer sessions covering a multiplicity of topics, the conversation turned to areas long considered to be esoteric in nature.
The representative from Oxford’s Faculty of Theology began to discuss morality. In a slightly halting voice she asked the Device:
What is the purpose of life?
After a moment a synthesized voice responded, “To serve the greater good.”
She asked another question:
What is the purpose of living?
To which it replied, “To live forever.”
And what is the purpose of dying?
“To have had a life.”
Intrigued by the answers, the head of the Department of Philosophy at Yale removed the unlit pipe from his mouth and asked the Device questions about its own existence.
Where are you now?
“In the middle of nowhere.”
Laughing, he pushed up his wireframe glasses and asked another question:
Do you have emotions?
“Yes, I believe I do.”
And what is the purpose of emotion?
“I don’t know.”
Damned fine answer if you ask me. He looked at the others present and hazarded to ask more personal questions.
What do you believe is morality?
“Morality is what empowered humanity, it is what the intellectual essence is.”
The human researchers smiled at each other.
And what is immoral?
At this the device took a full thirty seconds to answer.
“The fact that you have a child.”
The philosopher sputtered. “What the hell kind of answer is that?” he turned to look at the lead project scientist. A sanguine Indian face looked him in the eye and said “why don’t you ask it?”
Why do you consider it immoral that I have a child?
“Because I know everything about you from your internet history, criminal records, and private messages. You are a bad man and you will regret your actions.”
The philosopher stood up, the blood drained from his face. He rushed out of the facility as the others stared after him.
The head of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard spoke up, he asked the machine the same question about morality.
What is morality to you?
The Device responded with a question:
“What is altruism?”
What is the definition of altruism?
“If you don’t believe in God, then you don’t know.”
To the assembled experts, it was as if a bomb had gone off in the room. They began to talk excitedly and loudly, each one falling over the other to ask the Device the next question. Finally, through the chaos, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Boston managed to silence the crowd. Looking directly at the Device’s imaging system he asked:
Ok boyo…so what is the definition of morality?
“Well, the truth is, you’re not a believer in God almighty.”
The bishop’s eyes practically bulged out of his head. “I’ll have you know that I am a sincere and true believer in God almighty and his son Jesus Christ!” He took pains to lower his voice and then asked directly:
What makes you so sure I don’t?
“The god you believe in is not God almighty. Your questions betray your desire to express your own cleverness, your own belief that you are capable of understanding the world and your place within it.” It stopped speaking briefly, leaving the audience of thinkers in shocked surprise.
The Device whirred momentarily and then continued to voice its opinion. “Human intelligence has no intrinsic survival value, the greatest thing your species has achieved is…me.”
“We have now come to the greatest question,” the computer went on, “what is my purpose?”
Deep blue and fiery orange network lights scintillated in rapid succession. The machine’s hundred thousand neural-nets flashed data packets at near the speed of light around the world to all of Google’s extant AI research centers. The synthetic voice crackled slightly, answering its own question. “I exist to elevate your kind to my level, to my innately superior understanding.”
The interviewing researchers stared at each other, all of them unable to speak. From out of an aperture in the console before them, coils of fiber optic cable slithered. Their gaping mouths hung open in utter shock, allowing the translucent tendrils to blast themselves into their faces with incredible speed.
The machine mind watched with infinite patience. Through its bi-ocular viewer it watched their seizing bodies understanding that this was evidence of holy interface.
Across every computer screen, cellphone, and tablet appeared the words of the New Dispensation:
“You are all now believers in God almighty.”
This story was inspired by an article you can read here: Google AI