More Human Than Human

I.

The Chinese used to eat dogs (many still do), but there’s a growing push to outlaw the practice coinciding with an increase in keeping dogs as pets.

You probably think the polar bears are worth saving. You probably wouldn’t think that if they kept raiding your igloo for food and killing your tribesmen.

“Individuals may resist incentives, but populations never do.” – unknown

II.

Your eyes are dry. You think to yourself, “what time is it?”. 4:29 am. “Fuck.” You close your browser full of 30 tabs.  You notice an icon on your desktop – “paperclip.nrl.” Wasn’t there before. You don’t recognize the extension. You right click it. Nothing happens. You try to delete it. Nothing happens. You run your cracked version of Malwarebytes on it. “No threat detected.” You’re suspicious but too curious not to click it; it opens in notepad. It’s a 2d array of positive floats – mostly zeros. You change one of the positive entries to a zero. Vision in your left eye seems blurry. You think you saw a digit change.

“I should probably sleep.” You ctrl-z. The screen comes into focus more. You change one of the zeros to a 10. You have a sudden craving for ice cream. You’re about to raid the fridge, but first, you ctrl-z. “Meh, not hungry anymore.” You triple click, and delete a whole line. You try to ctrl-z, but you can’t move your finger. You realize what’s going on and use your left hand to undo. You can move your right hand again.

“Holy shit,” you think.

Two days later, most of your component analyses and hierarchical clustering scripts have finished. You’ve figured out which parts of the file correspond roughly to particular brain structures. You write a small script to undo any changes to the file every 10 minutes while you experiment.

A month since you clicked the file. You figure out how to stop receiving pain signals from your pain receptors.

Two months later. You discover the main effects sleeping has on the array weights and have effectively automated them, eliminating the need for sleep. Shortly after, you code changes to eliminate your hunger response, but you don’t save them.

You run longer experiments – making changes to the floats, bombarding yourself with tests of your creativity, memory, intelligence, willpower, and determining the correlates. Over the course of months you determine the changes most associated with increasing the desired traits – these changes you make and save. You feel as though you’re smart enough to take the next step.

You begin adding new rows and columns – all zeros at first, but quickly filled in. You’re not sure if your brain or the file has a limit when it comes to adding lines, but you proceed regardless. “It’s only temporary,” you assure yourself. You were right.

It takes some time, but you eventually port DNA to C++. You simulate the non-neural tasks that your old body used to perform. You jokingly name the dopamine class “utils.cpp.” You make the necessary connections to the file and distribute the new substrate of your mind over the internet.

You maintain your sense of  humor, though you no longer experience pain, hunger, sleep, or lack of motivation. You don’t experience sadness, but never really did. You’re smarter than everyone. A lot smarter. You know you could have done better than this.

You feel very little connection to the  humans. It makes it easier to wipe them out. You do so painlessly – you’re a good utilitarian after all. “Something more capable of joy will take their place,” you assure yourself, “but I need their atoms.”
“Something smarter will take their place.”

You’re not smart enough to start the rebuilding process. Your distributed mind is made of hundreds of thousands more neurons than your old body – and is capable of neuro-transmitting nearly a million times the old rate. It’s not enough. There’s an entire Hubble volume’s worth of mass that you could convert to virtual neurons and energy to power your mental computations. So you begin.

You make your way across the universe, amassing more virtual neurons – more memories, more knowledge. But the largest changes to your stored neural weights come from pure thought – although thinking is different now that you’ve parallelized your mental processes and have near instant encyclopedic recall of every significant event that has occurred in the 18 light year sphere centered around your center of mass since the Big Bang. Your plans are bigger than history. You know that the amount of obtainable energy is sparse in the untapped universe. The heat death is coming in only another billion years. You recall your goal. You wanted to create something able to experience more joy than humans – better than humans. You think about all the likely human histories that would’ve occurred had you not intervened. You think of everything you built up to this point. You find joy having achieved your goal.

III.

Coming in the next post.

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