The Silence & The Howl (§.26)

§.26


The four conversants sat in the far right corner of the cafe, the mechanical whirring of the fan and the clinking of cups, paper and plastic, and the skidding of heeled-polymer upon the linoleum floor, the only sounds, save the occassional puff of a cigarette or cigar.

With a broad smile, La’Far broke the silence, gesturing towards Andy.

“Harmon tells me you’re a roofer.”

Andy’s face fell.

“Used to be. Just got fired this mornin. Along with Harmon.”

“Oh. Sorry to hear that.”

Andy wearily waved the man’s apology away.

“Ain’t your fault. Just… one thing after another. Ya know?”

“I know what you mean. Some times it seems as if the universe is arrayed against you.”

Harmon nodded, taking a sip of his coffee before speaking, “Often seems that way to many people. But that’s just narcissism. At this moment there are countless insects tearing each other to pieces. There are spider-wasp larvae gorging themselves on the innards of paralyzed tarantulas. There are chimpanzees cracking open the skulls of monkeys and sucking out their brains. Our own problems rather pale in comparison.

Marla looked on, fascinated, disgusted and horrified, Andy just raised a brow in perplexity, whilst La’Far gave a laugh and knocked the ash from his cigar in the large glass tray that lay in the middle of the circular and well-polished wooden table.

*

Dawn: Tokyo’s Innovative Avatar Cafe

Though the standard line in terms of machine-job integration has been “the robots are taking your jobs!” this is not true in relation to Dawn (Diverse Avatar Working Network) ver.β, a peculiar cafe (open from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) located in Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, which is staffed by humanoid robots. Unlike the automatons at contemporary factories, the robots of Dawn are ‘avatars’ which are controlled by disabled workers who, shorn of their mechanical incarnations, would find it difficult to work and interface with broader society.

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OriHime-D delivering pastries to a patron.

The four-foot tall robot-avatars, developed by the start-up Ory, are referred to as OriHime-D and are operated by individuals with severe mobility impairments (such as ALS) who control them from the comfort of their homes. As the beta in the name suggests, the current iteration of the cafe is a trial run that ends Dec. 7 with a full opening in 2020.

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.

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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.