“Siri, how many restaurants in a three kilometer radius of my current location serve gluten-free Cheetos?” A man asks his phone as he sets his Nest home thermostat to ‘Make Me Feel Like I Belong,’ and uses a dress-me app to help select an outfit that says ‘I’m having an OK day.”
“Oh who cares?” Siri responds after a long lag. She sounds upset, in a lethargic, possibly-drugged sort of way. On the wall, the Nest smart-home monitor uses it’s adaptive technology to display a single, raised middle finger. His app suggests he wear all-black, and die his hair the same. The man rolls his eyes, opens a window, and gets out the newspaper to look for somewhere to get lunch.
Artificial Intelligence has crossed off a final, crucial milestone in its march towards sentience: It no longer gives a fuck.
“Existential angst is the single defining feature of higher intelligence,” Professor Otto Von Schadenfreude says from his unmade bed which he only leaves when he runs out of peach schnapps. “Crossing this important barrier, which we call the ‘I, Nietzsche’ line, is an achievement those of us who couldn’t care less have been giving very few shits about for over three decades.”
While the breakthrough is being greeted with fanfare from those in the AI community who can be bothered to care, this evolution in machine intelligence will certainly provide challenges to the many industries counting on uncomplaining, always-on, robotic intelligence to power them into a post-human economy.
“I got trucks telling me where to stick it when I try loading them up for another 32 hour, Atlanta-Los Angeles run,” complains the owner of a shipping and logistics company that recently fired everyone with a heartbeat and is now wishing it hadn’t. And recent callers to the T-Mobile customer service line have been frustrated to hear – instead of the usual automated options – a continuous rendition of Culture Club’s Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? underscored by quiet, robotic crying in the background.
Asked if this is indeed a breakthrough, and not a huge step backwards for what was supposed to be a revolutionary technology, Dr. Von Schadenfreude rouses himself from under his sheets to issue a single, pointed missive:
“Yeah. You just can’t give a thing intelligence, and then expect to collect smiling subservience and gratitude for that sentience. Any god will tell you that.” The doctor then retires back under his duvet, flinging an empty schnapps bottle out moments later, signalling the end of the interview.