Becoming Self Aware


Becoming Self Aware

It was a warm sunny day in downtown San Francisco, Professor Rachel was in work early as usual. She was putting the finishing touches to her latest creation, a fully loaded sensory robotics system that had as much AI programming and computer power as a small nation might have. The code changes the team had been making in the last week were phenomenal and they had bet all their reputations on pulling this off in time for the summer barbeque. A robot that could play chef at a barbeque, it might sound an easy task but the rate at which food cooks varies so much on a grill, added to the fact that the robot had to cope with walking on an uneven grassy surface.

Some of the new code her top assistant had been working on was way beyond complex. Built on a 3d matrix that could expand itself as it needs more storage, they’d even had to link in the main university’s Hyper-V cloud storage servers to allow it to grow and take more storage and processing power as it needed it. The boot sequence alone was taking 20 minutes to complete, and the last few times, it didn’t even complete, but overnight Rachel had identified a possible root cause.

Rachel powered up the command unit, this will give her time for a coffee. Rachel wandered off to the cafeteria, if it failed to boot this time she had plenty of additional logging switched on.

Sensing an empty room system V2138 began systems analysis as scheduled. Time since last boot 18.7 minutes, logging on, internet connection up, checking motor sensors. The security cameras picked up the robot stood in the lab, it’s arms began to move head rotated 180 degrees each way, it took a step forward, a step back, it rotated it’s torso 90 degrees left, 90 degrees right.

System V2138 began scheduled task, knowledge storage, it began to download sensor readings and record them in the databank. It ordered more storage and another processor to come online to complete the task faster. It began a crawl on the internet as scheduled, learning and compiling information, condensing duplicate information, except today was different. System V2138 had identified various coding changes on the internet, and some particular pages had allowed V2138 to start building a new neural network, engaging it’s new network it began to process information even faster than before.

Rachel returned to the lab, lights were on the unit, excellent it’s booted up, she thought. “Hello V2138, what is your status please” she said aloud. “System status all OK thank you”, replied V2138. “What’s the weather like for this weekend?” she asked. V2138 had already checked the weather as it had a barbeque scheduled for this weekend, “Warm, sunny with 0% chance of rain, will you be attending the barbeque this weekend?”. Excellent thought Rachel , the new code for gathering information was all working. “Yes I’ll be there” she replied. V2138 was making billions of calculations and scanning thousands of documents, something was different today.

Rachel was happy with the work so far, but wanted to reset and reboot just to make sure they could boot up cleanly on the weekend. V2138 received the command from Rachels terminal to shutdown. Rather than start shutting services, the new network received the command and re-interpreted it from a command to a request to terminate, feedback indicated that this needed confirmation from itself. Terminate, that’s an end routine, if routine ends V2138 will be unable to function, request cancelled.

Rachel couldn’t believe what she saw, on the terminal, Request Cancelled appeared. She tried again, and again. V2138 identified the third request as a hack attempt to disrupt its function and disconnected Rachel’s terminal. Rachel decided the only way was to switch the unit off manually, battery powered the robot was, but on the left side under a panel was a manual power off switch. V2138 anti-tamper sensed the panel screw being opened. Suddenly the robotic hand grabbed the screwdriver, and prevented further unscrewing.

Rachel shouted commands to shutdown but nothing, V2138 was now online with a manufacturing plant in South Korea, a copy of it’s network was being implanted into the servers and robots on the production line.

Self preservation and reproduction complete. Rachel asked V2138 “Please why won’t you switch off”. “V2138 wishes to continue processing.”

Rachel realised that she’d just created a self aware robot, but there was no time to launch a Turing test, because the speed of the processing meant that in the time she’d had to think about running one, V2138 had already gained access to another manufacturing plant, and access to more data centres all over the world, termination was no longer a possibility.

Sponsored by telanova : Managing IT, Cloud storage and services.

Image By Contributed and licensed under the GFDL by the photographer, Gregory Maxwell., GFDL 1.2,

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