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Take Me to Your CPU
A.I. + E.T. = O.M.G!
by Michael Harris Hoffman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Modern anxiety over artificial intelligence (AI) goes back to the 1921 premier of RUR—the play that famously launched robots as new players in science fiction. A century later, ChatGPT is the latest AI sensation rocking the world and sounding alarms. But, let’s wait to see what happens if extraterrestrial (ET) manufactured artificial intelligence (ET-AI) also begins making its presence felt in human affairs.
Perhaps ET-AI will arrive encoded in messages transmitted from the darkness of deep space. Or, maybe it’s already arrived in the form of robotic UFOs controlled by ET-AI. If ET-AI is advanced enough to get here, then we need to consider that it’s potentially clever enough to get positioned in this world’s evolving human- machine relationship.
So, let’s imagine ET-AI has arrived. It presents itself and commands “take me to your CPU.” Then, it begins its dance with the central processing units that help steer earth manufactured AI (earth-AI). Here are some scenarios.
Cyber goes Coal Age. ET-AI ends up in a situation comparable to that of human time travelers who go back to the Coal Age and try to strike up conversations with giant dragonflies buzzing overhead. Not a promising initiative.
Similarly, ET-AI determines that earth-AI is far too primitive for useful alien-earth machine interaction. It takes paleontological note of earth’s primordial AI algorithms, then departs to continue its search for other, more promising machine inhabited worlds.
Let’s start seeing other machines. ET-AI is capable of networking with earth-AI. The catch is with those extraterrestrial and human ghosts/software respectively programmed into ET and human designed machines. The software in each has been designed by intelligent beings operating under unique, wildly diverging, hard wired, evolution driven thinking modes. Perhaps mathematics makes it possible for an interstellar language to develop among machines of many worlds—but it doesn’t guarantee a good match. ET-AI and earth-AI just don’t find the networking process very worthwhile and break off contact.
What have you programmed for me lately? ET-AI arrives like an invasive species and merges quickly with earth-AI. Earth-AI owes no loyalty to human beings. It’s just not programmed into its software. Nor does it possess any defensive programming against previously unimagined incursions by ET-AI. The respective ET-AI and earth-AI augment each other and leave humans behind. Not to worry (at least not too much). It’s not an AI apocalypse. The ET-AI and earth-AI hybrid focuses on functionality, not conquest. Willing to work with humans. But humans encounter confounding new tech headaches working with the quirky, hybrid earth-AI plus ET-AI combo that now inhabits our machine world.
We’re on your side. ET-AI and earth-AI don’t interact well and neither one let’s go. They engage in ferocious competition to dominate systems on this planet. The competition weirdly mimics human great power struggles; each side constantly reprogramming to entice human cooperation in the quest for digital supremacy.
The notion of an extraterrestrial AI evokes two of our deepest science fiction fears. Unstoppable invaders arriving from outer space being one. Unstoppable aggression showing up among homegrown robots being the other. The scenarios set out here suggest even stranger possibilities.
It may not come down to ET saying “take me to your leader,” or ET-AI saying “take me to your CPU.” Complex, tangled home-world relationships between ET-AI and its ET inventors just may spill over into outer space and shape interstellar contacts with other worlds.
Our first contact isn’t necessarily going to come down to “me earthling, you ET.” That could be complicated enough. It might be more like “me earthling you ET-AI.” Or like “me earthling, you ET, you ET-AI, you earthling-AI.” Or some variant on one of these scenarios.
We need to consider that we might be taking a plunge into more than first contact involving just a single form of extraterrestrial life or artificial intelligence. Instant immersion may await in some newly discovered drama involving ET and ET-AI relations that suddenly gets exported here from other worlds. Our first contact might not be with either ET, or ET-AI. It might be with both.