Archive | Parody & Satire

Municipal Investment Strategies for the Technological Singularity

The Technological Singularity

An Open Letter to Town Council

Dear Councillors:

Your town may have an emergency plan, a development plan, a health plan — it may even have a plan for how to fix the potholes (though I doubt it).

But does it have a plan for how to respond to the technological singularity? Is it preparing for all the new economic opportunities? I suspect not.

Now, some have complained that that technological singularity is the “rapture for nerds”, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is the municipal investment opportunity of the ages! Forward-thinking municipal governments can start preparing now, and be ready to reap the rewards of the point in human history when human intelligence is not only exceeded by machine intelligence, but when human intelligence is merged with (or eradicated by) machine intelligence.

You’re thinking: “well, sure I’d love to help get ready for this, but realistically, how do we plan? We don’t even know if regular flesh-and-blood humans will be around to experience the singularity.”

Of course we will!

Ray Kurzweil believes that we’ll be able to model the human brain by 2029, and create algorithms based on those models to allow computers to gain human-like intelligence. But is anyone working on a way for computers to go to bars and get drunk and hook up with other drunken computers so that they can “make a mistake” and then squirt out new computers? I doubt it.

So there you go: invest in light manufacturing. There will definitely be a need for humans to help create our new overlords.

But there’s so many other possibilities! What if the technological singularity is based more on nanotechnology than it is on the gross, large-scale electronics of our current era? Here too, prescient town councils can make good investments for the future. It will certainly be easier for the new machine overlords to replicate themselves in mass quantities if our human immune systems do not fight them at every stage. This leads to so many possible avenues of fruitful research: immune-suppressing drugs, radiation, surgery, bio-engineering, even psychology might (finally) prove itself useful by producing a technique by which humans could allow supra-intelligent nanomachines to use their bodies to reproduce.

We’re only scratching the surface here, obviously.

Many municipalities invest much of their resources in policing and this is an area where they will find huge savings, but only if there is a good interface between humans and our new machine overlords. Apart from the aforementioned research opportunities, municipal governments should begin looking at some kind of cybertronic peace officer corps now, to acclimatize citizens early — after all, an easily controlled citizenry is a productive citizenry! This could be as simple as implanting some kind of control chip in police headgear (hats, caps, flak helmets) to something more radical, such as embedding a semi-live police officers in a mechanical exoskeleton armed with rapid-fire pistols and a loudspeaker-augmented voice.

Municipal leaders should prepare for the darker predictions of how a technological singularity plays out. What if the new machine overlords simply wish to rid themselves of the human population?

There is a simple solution for this problem, and it is summed up in two words: rotating knives.

We’re pretty sure that would never happen, but even if it does, what if you’re the first town to think of it, and sell the process?

Think of the revenue. You could cut taxes. Contact us for more details.

Yours Truly,

Genghis Toon,
Oberdyne Industries, “The Helping Corporation”

Alltop has an investment strategy for funny. Originally appeared on Grasping for the Wind, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Planetart via Flickr.

This short piece is included in my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. You should really get a copy before those knives start a-whiring.

René Magritte: Merchant Banker Masters His Mental Powers at Walton-on-the-Naze

image of Rene Magritte's Son of Man

While an art historian will tell you this 1964 painting is called “The Son of Man”, and is meant to be a meditation on what is hidden in the visible world, they are of course, hiding the dreadful truth.

Since the early days of the 20th century, Britain’s merchant bankers have controlled the world economy through their prodigious mental powers. A favourite training ground for this activity was the Essex seaside resort of Walton-on-the-Naze, mostly because of the heavy absurdium deposits in the region, but also because of the lovely beach and nice weather.

Absurdium, as all psionic adepts know, greatly enhances even the most latent mental powers, and so, The Ancient Order of Merchant Bankers would send all their most promising members to enhance and train their abilities. They could only graduate when they could perform the “apple in the eye” trick, pictured here. While this may seem like a simple bit of levitation, you will note that the banker’s left arm is now bent backwards at the elbow.

Not pictured: the beach filled with non-banker holidaymakers bursting into flames, though Magritte does allude to this horror by filling the sunny sky with dark, human-smudge clouds.

Naturally, the Ancient Order no longer uses this ritual, and since discovering the derivative and credit-default swaps, it appears as though its members’ prodigious mental powers have largely disappeared.

Alltop loves the derivative! Originally published December 2010.

Twitter etiquette

twitter bird with odd DM

If someone follows you, please, don’t immediately DM them and ask them to friend you on FB now, or buy your book, or watch your hilarious YouTube videos, etc.

Imagine you’re at a party, and you’ve just encountered Bob. Bob seems interesting. Bob has a neat beard and a funny t-shirt. So you start a conversation.

“Hi Bob,” you say, “nice to meet you.”

“Mark. Let’s talk privately over here,” Bob says, as he forces you into the pantry next to the kitchen. (Because most of the fun people hang out in the kitchen. Usually.)

“Thanks for meeting me,” Bob says. You only now notice the feverish look in his eyes. “I don’t want to blow my own horn, but you should seriously check out this artisanal ice cream scooper I made out of recycled tin and sadness. It’s awesome, and helped me overcome my crushing existential angst. This party is great, right? Oh, and could you let everyone else here know about my scoopers? They’re recycled. And artisanal. “

You’re going to leave the pantry, right? That’s the right thing to do. Because Bob is acting WEIRD.

Alltop is the life of the party, especially after 2 am. Excellent Twitter bird by Matt Hamm, via Flickr.

The perils of evolution

One day you wake up and watch the sun rise, ripe and scarlet over the savanna, and you know it can never hold you back.

The next, you’re unable to hold a conversation with other humans in the flesh, and you have the attention span of an unhinged hummingbird. Inside your head there are noises that would have terrified you before, on the plains, but now they are the background radiation of your mind. You’re surrounded by voices. Within this clamour there is only the silent pulse of a thought that never comes, an impulse suffocated by plenty, a drive misdirected by old mythology.

You long for the reality of stone, the scrape of grass on your bare legs, and the silence of nature, tooth and claw. You wonder if you should Tweet this yearning, but — hey, new Facebook interface!

Alltop used to hunt Facebook in the old days. Originally published in 2011, and now a part of Pirate Therapy. I thought I’d post it again, in light of the new FB changes :)