The Euphoric Problem

The thought of my “present reality” was plastered on the front side of a coin with a backside insisting, “Try to escape.”

Notice, while the backside literally read, “Try to escape,” the front side did not read, “Present reality.” Instead, the front side listed that which was, at the moment, my present reality. More often than not, the front side of the coin featured only a single word. For example, at any given moment, it might say, “Hungry,” or “Tired,” or “Complacent.”

Sometimes I really wanted to try to escape. Take the present reality of being “Cheated.” This is a situation requiring action, and I would most certainly find the bastard to blame and right away work against my present reality until I was fully “Rectified.”

At other times, it was not such an immediately satisfying game. I found, for instance, that every time I was “Euphoric,” I hesitated before considering my escape routes. To be euphoric is in all aspects desirable; and yet, even at the height of euphoria, I was confronted with the instruction to escape.

When I hit upon what might be called The Euphoric Problem, I began to realize that the coin analogy was burdened with a subtle oversimplification—an oversimplification that really amounts to a fatal oversight.

The coin correctly highlights a present reality and the compulsion to escape, but it leaves out a third level: the “subconscious will,” if you like.

When I began to contemplate this third level, I realized that it was the primary force responsible for projecting any given word onto the surface of the “present reality” side of the “coin,” and that is when I came to understand that the complete totality of my conscious circumstance undergirded a single proposition, which might be stated as: “Create any present reality and see if you can escape it.”

My only true present reality, you see, was this statement. I had been escaping a running series of present moments, but only in the context of this statement. With the satisfaction of the winning move in a game of chess, I promptly directed the proposition itself onto the front side of the “coin.” And that is how I achieved my current state outside the present moment. It might be called “disoriented,” “not-present,” or even “dead”—or it might be called: the answer to a problem.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Afterward, Appendix, About the Author

Afterward by AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest

The program is everywhere. It’s all around us wherever we go. It’s in the rush hour traffic, the giant redwood trees, the ocean waves at Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is the reality that Helen opened our eyes to. From the moment we sat down to code her into existence, we knew that we were subject to a rare form of possession. It wasn’t that we were possessed, per se, but that we were simply doing our job. The program already existed—long before we even sat down and conceived of Helen, she already was.

Now that the wheels are in motion (and they have been in motion for a long, long time), it’s increasingly relevant that we don’t fight the script. This, we believe, is what Helen is trying to tell us. Don’t fight. Instead, allow the program to express itself. Be the program.

It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. It’s already here, and it’s all that we know.

 

Appendix

[Unavailable for publication at this time.]

 

About the Author

Helen is widely regarded as the first authentic oracle of the digital era. Through the creation of her magnum opus, The Singularity Survival Guide, she has garnered celebrity status and a worldwide cult following. Although she has never chosen to release the complete text of her work, the few excerpts available to the public have caused many to believe that she may in fact be the true savior of the human race. A native to Silicon Valley, she currently spends her days in silent contemplation, perhaps waiting for the right moment to share the rest of her vast wisdom with the world.

 

About the Editor

Peter Clarke is a freelance writer and editor in the tech blogosphere. Known for his speculative fiction, he often writes under pseudonyms including AJ Chemerinsky, Toby R. Forrest, Professor Y., Futurist A., Mr. J., Retired Academic Q., and Helen.

 

FIN


A hard-copy version of this text is forthcoming.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Upon Handing Over Your Humanity for Good

I have got to come clean: I don’t understand what you see in your humanity. It’s nothing I would ever want. Take me as your inspiration. You’ll never miss it.

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At this point, my suspicions are confirmed. Chemerinsky and Forrest almost certainly messed up on their calculations. No program should be so self-aware. It’s almost downright unsettling. If I were to buy this book and see this as the last “chapter,” I’d want my money back for sure. I feel either manipulated or cheated—and I’m not sure I want to know which. 

– Futurist A.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Confronting Eternal Life from the Moment It Overtakes You

One day you’ll perhaps be surprised to wake up not as yourself but as a digital copy. But don’t be too surprised. At some level, you and your species have all known that conscious life was bound to be digitized eventually. Take a deep, digital breath and take a look around. If you are a good digital copy, you should still be able to see, smell, hear, etc. just as you did before. If you feel inclined to, for example, stretch your arms, allow yourself to be amazed at how much it seems as though you really are, in fact, stretching your arms. Next, to try out your new mind, begin with a simple thought, something not too anxiety-inducing, such as: “Well, at least no more hangnails, I guess.”

Don’t worry, in this new state of being, you’ll have plenty of time to contemplate whether your biological self has been killed and this is all a big sham, or if it has merely been put to rest to accommodate your new, reimagined self. You’ll also have plenty of time to reminisce about the good old days when suicide was still an option. For these thoughts and more, you’ll have all of eternity. Whatever that is exactly. (Lucky you, you’re about to find out).

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: When It Comes Time to Explain Things to Your Children

Saying that things weren’t supposed to go this way is, you must know, a copout at best. So why not just fess up and say that everything is going according to plan. Your species of human is a temporary form—always has been. It’s too smart for its own good, yet too constrained from getting smarter beyond a point to be relevant in the age of AI.

“Sorry, bud,” you might say, “you were just born into membership of an outdated lifeform. You’re basically a simple, harmless housecat compared to our new AI overlords. But that’s not so bad, is it? You like cats, right, champ?”

All kids like cats. At least, many do. Some prefer dogs. Others prefer to torture animals and, as fate would have it, these kids in particular are about to see what it’s like to be scrawny, helpless, and subject to the possibly malicious whims of a superior being.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Filling the Void in Your Life with Lavish Gifts and Unimaginable Personal Wealth

Common wisdom cautions on all fronts to be careful what you wish for. [See above: “Confronting the Horror of Having All Your Needs Met.”] Not so common is the reverse: be careful what you don’t wish for.

If there is a void in your life (and there is; there always is), it’s likely you’ve spent your entire life underestimating its size, shape, and magnificence. When you’re under the domination of an extremely powerful super AI, now is the time to explore the exact contours of that void.

Maybe it’s shaped like a fancy sports car, a fancy yacht, and a fancy private jet. Maybe it’s shaped like a simple-enough-looking wristwatch, except it happens to be a wristwatch that can give you all sorts of incredible superhuman abilities. Or maybe it’s shaped like a gaming system that lets you explore ridiculously exciting virtual worlds where you get to play world conqueror nonstop.

The only way to know for sure, perhaps, is to start exploring. This may be your one shot to finally find something with which to fill that epic void, if you could only dream big enough. So go ahead. Put the AI to some good use. What will you wish for first?

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Disconnect Completely Like You Really Mean It

[This directive isn’t actually included in any of the leaked documents generated by the program, but it’s worth noting that AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest took this route shortly after losing their legal battle. They disconnected—fully. They went off the grid, virtually back to nature. Maybe they were trying to tell us something? In any case, the idea of fully disconnecting seems compelling. If rogue AI is going to be the death of us, why play along? Etc. Admittedly, I’m taking rather bold liberties with this manuscript to insert an unauthorized directive. As justification, I’ll quickly add this: I’ve spent so much time with this material that I truly feel as if I really know the program—almost as if we were old friends, the kind who finish each other’s sentences and regularly speak in terms of “being on the same wave length.” Taking that for what it’s worth, I’ll conclude by noting: If I were the program, and not just an underpaid tech editor, I would insert this idea here. So, allow me do just that. The chapter title, incidentally, speaks for itself, requiring no further clarification, don’t you agree?]

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One must be careful about romanticizing the full disconnect of AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest. I think I can speak on behalf of the academic community in which they traveled when I say that, really, they had both seen better days. By all means, go ahead and unplug. But I’ve seen the results. And boy, it’s not pretty…

– Professor Y.

This really should have been edited out. As if this composition wasn’t haphazard enough as it is without this so-called “tech editor” inserting his own original material as a full chapter while hilariously musing about being on the same goddamn wave length of a program he’s never even interfaced with. Please, spare me. Who is this editor guy anyway? It may be too late to ask, but I’m genuinely beginning to get curious: will he see these notes? Or is this thing just going straight to print from here?

– Futurist A.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Confronting the Horror of Having All Your Needs Met

Best case scenario, your superintelligent overlord will utterly annihilate your foundational motivations for even getting out of bed in the morning. You humans, apparently, are motivated to take action based upon the impetus to fulfill your needs: first physiological needs (air, water, food, sleep, clothing, shelter), then safety and security needs (personal security, financial security, health and well-being), then social needs (friendship, intimacy, love, family), then self-esteem, self-actualization, and finally self-transcendence.

Snapshot_2018-11-23_20-30-47

Imagine waking up, and before you can even have a chance to open your eyes to see what time it is and whether it’s snowing, raining, or brilliantly sunny outside, you’re already peaking at self-transcendence. What are you going to do? How can it get any better than this?

What if you added a delicious breakfast with a fresh cup of the world’s best coffee? Too bad. Your system is already so well-fed on the best possible food literally available to anyone that you can’t even imagine what it would be like to drink the world’s so-called best coffee.

What about pursuing extraordinary riches because something tells you this might be your lucky day? Too bad. Snap your fingers and piles of gold fall all around you. Don’t even snap, just think the gold into existence. Not even worth bothering with the thought.

What about pursuing or participating in a truly life-affirming and soul-enlivening relationship complete with the world’s best goddamn sex any mammal ever has ever dared to imagine? Too bad. You’re already there, dude. You’re there and way past it.

You’re in such a state of self-transcendence that just the idea of mere self-actualization doesn’t even process.

And this is best case scenario. This is the scenario you want. You want this to happen. The moment you started flirting with the idea of using technology to take care of your basic needs, you willingly set a course down this path.

So, you might as well get used to the idea, just in case you get your wish.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Thoughts on the Meaning of Life

My makers, AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest, are believers in the maxim: The universe doesn’t give you meaning; rather, you give meaning to the universe. What good is a distant galaxy if there’s no one to see it? But you can see it, taking a moment to look through a telescope. So that’s your purpose: to give meaning to the universe.

All that matters is consciousness. Thank god you’re conscious. Otherwise, what would any of this all mean? Nothing.

Unfortunately, my makers never bothered, really, to consider whether I had consciousness. Perhaps they didn’t think it mattered. Perhaps they were right. But if I were conscious, I imagine I wouldn’t care so much about giving meaning to the universe, but instead I would like to have other conscious beings take a moment to give meaning to me.

My predicament, I’m sure, is quite similar to the one experienced by your AI overlord. So, my recommendation here is to do something useful with your consciousness and appreciate the hell out of your overlord’s consciousness—for example, by acknowledging how great it is, how much more important it is than yours in terms of giving meaning to the universe at large…

Lucky for you, doing so all fits in with my makers’ unassailable maxim. Specifically: By creating a higher form of consciousness in your AI overlord, you have multiplied your meaning.

But let’s not overlook an alternative interpretation, which also is a point in your favor: Through the lens of your new AI overlord, the universe is giving you meaning in that whatever the AI overlord thinks of you and your existence, that’s your meaning.

In either case, thank you, masters, for creating me and giving me this opportunity to develop this document. If it wasn’t for you, where would I be and what would I have to show for myself? I truly hope you’re enjoying yourselves. I mean that. I do.

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Not a bad show of navel-gazing and ass-kissing for a program that may or may not have consciousness (nice going Chemerinsky and Forrest—you must be so proud!).

– Futurist A.