Hello all! Thank you for your kind words! I've just about got the outline finished, which means this week will be script drafting time! There probably isn't enough caffeine in the world, but I'm looking forward to making this concept come alive. In the meantime, as I promised, here is the first piece of supplementary world-building material for Theta. It won't be a lot, because I don't want to distract myself from the actual VN. However, when it comes to me, I'll post it here. Thanks again!
Transcript from The Michael Rand Program: Interview with Representative Amanda Calvin (R-MO)
June 20, 201X
Jason Rand: Welcome back to the program. We’re still discussing the story out of Silicon Valley today. Two researchers are dead: apparently killed by a UAV they were developing. We have on the phone someone who has been following the issues on technology for a while now. A woman who this audience knows is a strident defender of our Constitution and a friend of the program: Representative Amanda Calvin from Missouri. Mandy?
Rep. Amanda Calvin: I’m here Mike. Thank you for having me on.
Rand: This is terrible news coming out of California.
Calvin: It’s absolutely heartbreaking and my thoughts and prayers are with the families right now who now have to bury their loved ones. Unfortunately, this entire thing really shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
Rand: Do we have any idea what happened?
Calvin: The FBI has just hit the ground there and Congress is going to working together with them on this. To the best of my knowledge, what you’re hearing from other news outlets is accurate. This company, Red Gear, was developing an artificial intelligence to develop mission parameters and objectives for some experimental drones.
Steven Black (co-host): My God.
Calvin: What most likely happened from there is that something in the code for the AI was missing and the AI filled in the blanks somehow on how to best complete its primary objectives. The two victims of this tragedy didn’t realize it until the drones attacked them.
Rand: Amanda, this is starting to sound a lot like sabotage.
Calvin: Until we get more evidence, all I can say is that it’s in the realm of possibility. I do sincerely hope this was an accident. I’ve talked to my colleagues here in Washington and they are just as concerned as I am and are ready right now to convene hearings on the subject. But, we have to let the investigation finish first.
Rand: I hate to ask this, but what if it wasn’t sabotage or some sort of accident?
Calvin: You mean the machine killed these people intentionally?
Calvin: I hope to God we’re not seriously at that point. But if we are and these are the results, then as much as I hate to say it, the government must intervene here.
Rand: We’ve been talking about that all morning. I’ve had some futurists on here recently trying to convince me that people like you are too pessimistic about the future and there is already so much of our daily lives that’s automated or have some sort of AI woven into it that it really can only get better for us from there.
Rand: I’m not going to lie: I want to believe they’re right. I want to believe in the future they do. Today, I don’t so much.
Calvin: And you really shouldn’t Mike.
Rand: How so?
Calvin: Well, it all sounds good on paper: I’ll admit that. However, once you get pass that, you realize how much of our essential humanity we’ll have to surrender for it. Transhumanism doesn’t just blur the line between man and machine: it erases it completely. If a machine can think, feel, be afraid of death or being alone, what does that mean legally? Obviously, what they’re talking about isn’t life: just a simulation of life.
Calvin: But the technology that many people who subscribe to transhumanism want to develop requires that. Are we really ready for a future where a machine has rights under the Constitution?
Rand: Then you have to ask yourself what is life? Is it what God designed it to be or what we designed it to be?
Rand: That was a sticking point for me as well. I don’t like the idea of us elevating our creations as equal to life. I don’t like the idea that people want to eventually redesign humanity in the womb with biotech. I mean, the idea of having Rosie the Robot snark at me over a cup of coffee is fun and I always want our country to be lead here, because if we do we can make sure it’s done humanely: that’s its done for the right reasons. The question is, ‘Can we ensure that this is moral?’
Calvin: Exactly right Mike. And I’m willing to remove my faith from the question completely. Then it becomes a question of national security. Red Gear is a DoD contractor. What if an unstable artificial intelligence was on a battlefield and decided, for whatever reason, to issue an automated attack on our soldiers? Or a civilian target? What do we do as a government if we wake up to our UAVs making independent acts of war?
Rand: Now that’s a scary thought.
Calvin: And that’s just military applications. There’s also a push going on to allow for integrating advanced artificial intelligence in state and local law enforcement. Do I really have to tell you the issues we could have as a country if an American citizen is attacked or has their rights, or their children's rights, violated by an AI acting on its own volition?
Rand: What are our options then? Do we have any options?
Calvin: You know as well as I do Mike that once Pandora’s Box is opened, we’re not going to get it shut again. Right now, the lid is just off a little bit and we’re already seeing the casualties of that. So, some sort of regulatory oversight or new federal department watching over our tech industries and researchers isn’t the solution to this problem. Either we open the box up all the way and keep our fingers crossed for the best, or we shut it now, put a lock on it and throw the thing into the ocean while we still have a chance to.
Rand: I can’t believe we’re here. I can’t believe we have the future staring us right in the face and this is what it looks like.
Calvin: It certainly isn’t as harmonious as we wanted the future to be. And, to be fair, I have a lot of respect for the people who have brought our world this far with technology. But this decision isn’t up to them: it’s up to us. We all have to decide where we go from here and how artificial intelligence will play a role in America’s future. And that's a conversation I'm ready to have and one I know most of my colleagues are ready to have as well.
Rand: Representative Amanda Calvin: always an reasoned voice and a beacon for what’s right in our government. Thanks Amanda for coming on. Please keep us posted on what happens next.
Calvin: Thank you Mike. I will certainly do so. Keep up the good work.
Rand: And now this…