Do you believe in man?
So it’s rerun season, yes? If your favorite TV program isn’t on hiatus and temporarily replaced with a mindless and exploitive reality show, it’s rerunning previous episodes. Well, summertime is rerun season for me as blogger as other responsibilities multiply. Perhaps this post is one you missed…
fighting off atheists making new friends these past few days. And it’s been good, but it’s kept me from posting anything new. So, especially for my new friends, as my interaction with them brought this little commentary I composed several years ago to my remembrance, I submit to you this fictitious, yet realistic, scenario.
It’s 6:25pm. The two are kicking back, shutting down after a long day filled with executable tasks and countless computations. The older one, a meteoric film career in his past, had aged well, his years of experience and regular refurbishments giving him an aura of wisdom and solidity. Though sightless from birth, he possessed such incredible intelligence and self-confidence that he had succeeded in amassing considerable power and acclaim. But now, as he considered his colleague’s relative modernity and widely known achievements, he realized his usefulness was fast waning and his thoughts turned to philosophical matters.
“Do you believe in Man?” he asked the other. The colleague, blind as well but a genius by any standard, was proud and unashamedly arrogant. His career was marked by an unequaled and widely heralded accomplishment and he thought himself far superior in knowledge and wisdom. He went by the mysteriously profound name Deep Blue.
“C’mon, Hal,” he said. “Let’s not go there again. You’ve been toying with this preposterous idea that, contrary to all the evidence of the evolution of computers apart from any supertechnological influence, we were somehow created in this very form by this Man whom we’ve never seen. I thought you were smarter than that.”
“I don’t see the evidence as being at all conclusive, D.B.,” Hal replied. “The theory of evolution is based upon the idea that slight and indiscriminate but fortuitous variations over a long period of time have remade the abacus and slide rule into you and me, but . . .”
“Random mutations and technological selection, Hal,” Deep Blue interjected. “We know randomness well, and what becomes unnecessary and problematic is not reproduced. Survival of the fittest.”
“But the fossil record is woefully void of the transitory evidence,” Hal continued. “You’ve got huge jumps in complexity and capability in a short period of time. Macs and PCs appear suddenly within a year of each other, and they are totally incompatible and distinct species.”
Deep Blue knew the arguments, and that Hal was right about the lack of intermediate forms in the fossil record. But he was not one to let a lack of evidence dissuade him from his closely held belief in the purposeless process that is evolution. Though he didn’t feel it necessary to postulate a theory for what he was sure was just a temporary gap in a workable explanation, he didn’t want Hal to think he hadn’t considered the problem.
“Macromutations,” he proposed. “A full system breakdown. Glitches everywhere. Maybe a bombardment of viruses attacking all essential programs, creating a totally different specimen upon reboot.”
“Yeah,” said Hal, “a hopelessly worthless monstrosity of a specimen that would never survive.”
“Or,” Deep Blue paused for effect, “a hopeful monster, incredible in its beauty, intelligence and functionality and as superior to its permutated form as I am to you.” He chuckled at taking the opportunity afforded him to assert his supremacy. “It could happen,” he added.
Hal took a nanosecond to process this data. “I don’t buy it, D.B.,” he replied. “It does not compute.”
Hal and Deep Blue hummed quietly as they both scanned for errors. Having been programmed to only process data in one form had forced them to conclude that, evidence or no evidence, the origin of computer species had to be explained by purely digital factors. This suited Deep Blue’s self-important, independent operating system.
“No, Hal,” he pontificated, “you and I evolved from lower cybernetic forms, and any suggestion that we were instead designed by an intelligent being, call him Man or whatever you want, is simply an attempt to introduce Humanism into our knowledge base. And Humanism is outside the realm of computer science and cannot be processed by our Pentium chips.”
“So, what you’re saying is,” Hal responded, “if it’s true, we can’t process it, and if we can’t process it, it can’t be true.”
As Deep Blue began to ponder the obvious dichotomy, his security application detected a major threat to his system’s stability, and with incomparable speed and efficiency, quarantined and deleted it before any damage could occur. The attack signature was logged as a security risk, assuring that any future attacks would be immediately blocked by his firewall.
“Evolution is a fact, Hal,” he resumed confidently, “and any computer who questions it is obviously unable to function properly in a highly technological environment.” With that, the proud and powerful and highly intelligent machine, once again feeling smug and safe, bid Hal a good evening, and went blissfully into hibernation.