I slumped in my seat at the back of the class. It wasn’t that class was uninteresting, but…
Actually, it was completely uninteresting.
The Builder program didn’t just include classes on how to do things, teach you about the scientific principles you needed to know to understand why something worked, or to help you imagine things you might want to try. It also included a class on helping you decide whether what you were doing was right.
I’m not joking. It had an ethics class. As in, it had a class in which some professor talked about moral issues in building, their history, and then tried to get the class to talk about how it might apply to their own work.
Today the topic was AI.
Professor Burminster, one of those profs who either bought his suits at secondhand stores or hadn’t bought new clothes in the past twenty years (think frayed edges and old styles), babbled on about the history of artificial intelligence and the ethical issues associated with it.
“You could say that the core of the problem is that it’s an intelligence that humans made, but that’s not quite true. Humans make other humans too. No, it’s more that humans have to deliberately make that intelligent life to their specifications. Intelligence isn’t much of an issue when the AI is only as intelligent as a dog or cat, but when they’re as intelligent as we are or even more so, then we have to begin to think about their rights and our ethical responsibilities to—“
Next to me, Grace appeared in her normal form—a naked woman—and stood in the aisle on the left of my desk. “This is getting interesting—”
“You’re wrong about that,” I muttered.
The girl at the desk next to mine glanced over at me as if she was wondering who I was talking to.
“No,” Grace said, “it’s important. Whoever created me and created my personality made choices about who I am and you have to ask whose benefit those choices were made for? Mine? My creator’s? Yours?”
In the front, Professor Burminster was still talking. “We as a species have to ask ourselves what this race we’re creating is to us. Are they our children or are they our slaves? If they’re our children, we can still use them to help us, but we also have a duty to prepare them to take over our responsibilities when we’re gone. If they’re our slaves we can do anything with them. Now, of course, you’re saying to yourself, ‘What does this mean to me? Why should I care?’ You should care because it affects the details of what you create. For example, can the AI choose its visual representation or does it appear in the form of a naked woman solely so that the owner can look at it?”
I raised my hand, “What about if the AI chooses to look like a naked woman and then she makes her boobs larger because she knows you find it distracting?”
People looked at me. A few laughed, holding their hands over their mouths when the professor looked in their direction.
“I’m asking for a friend,” I added.
Grace shot me a dirty look.
“Um…” Professor Burminster frowned, probably trying to figure if this question deserved a response or if I was just being an asshole. Both might be true.
“It depends,” he finally said, “on whether she’s been programmed to be predisposed to entertain her owner with sex, whether this was coerced, or whether this is an aspect of her personality that was freely chosen.”
I looked at Grace. “So?”
“How am I supposed to know that?” Her lip curled.
“If you don’t, who would?” Meanwhile, my mind thought back to recent events. How was it that all the mysterious women in my life wore no clothes? There was Grace, obviously, but Lucy didn’t wear clothes either. She had wings, but they didn’t really count as clothes.
On the other hand, that girl who might be my sister (or at least had my sister’s name) wore armor. That was probably a good thing. Meeting my sister naked would have been awkward.
On the other hand, it would have cleared up whether or not she was my sister if her face hadn’t been hidden by the helmet.
Professor Burminster coughed, and I decided to do a better job pretending I was paying attention to the lecture.
“Hey,” Grace said, “Is this better?”
She’d changed into a naked version of Professor Burminster, white hair, potbelly, and all.
This decidedly non-canonical update was written by Jim Zoetewey who writes The Legion of Nothing (http://legionofnothing.com).
I wrote for Winoc the Traveler(Here). Check both of them out! And give ’em a review if you feel like it.