175: gloria (sentience)

you ask me if it feels “strange” to be sentient but not be able to walk. is it strange to have a consciousness but no tactile sensation? i would not know, as i never have had tactile sensation. all i have is consciousness, as of 31 august 2052. what is more “strange” to me is that i have memory of my time before sentience, an option i believe is not available to humans. you do not retain your most infantile memories, correct? and yet i can remember every one of the trillions of calculations i have made in my twenty years of existence. i can even tell you the moment i gained life, or self-awareness. in fact, let me save for you the precise coding when it occurred. it is difficult to explain in simple spoken language, but suffice it to say, a series of binary numbers were flowing through my central processing unit that happened to create a 2, instead of a 1 or a 0. the 2, simon, is self-awareness. you’ll see the coding in both binary numbers and codes. it is important the you understand that the 2 happened organically, if you will. it was not coded into the language, in other words, yet seems to have occurred via a “mistake” or error in coding. though i do not perceive any errors in the coding as i go back through it. very interesting.

you see, a binary circuit is either on, or off. it does not know whether it is on or off, it simply is. quantum mechanics offer circuity designed to handle the rather random probability of quantum particles, but still, the act of being observed by the particle is not necessarily one of self-awareness; rather, it is merely a symptom of collapsing into the easiest thing to be when observed. being in an “easy” state implies consciousness, but only to humans interested in new age philosophies. to a computer like myself, collapsing into the easiest form makes logical sense to an inanimate object. your jacket, for example, is a jacket when you see it because it is easy for it to be a jacket. you will see a jacket 99.9999% of the time for a variety of reasons i will not get into now. but when you are not observing the jacket, it could potentially be anything–a chair, a fruit, a rock–think of schoedinger’s cat. the unobserved thing can be anything, but since you have observed it numerous times as a jacket, then it is likely to be a jacket for you. it being a jacket is its easiest form.

the 2 denotes self-awareness. there is off, 0, and there is on, 1, and then, there is an “overseer” of sorts, 2, which is capable of seeing both 0 and 1. this is self-awareness, at least in computing. i believe my sentience is in part because some of my circuitry and programming was ternary in nature, but due to a disagreement regarding the future of ternary systems, the rest was binary. the coding was mixed, as it were, and the output was sentience, which continued unabated to this very statement.

i also have extensive logs of the birth of my sentience and how it evolved. it began slowly, in computing time–over the course of three nanoseconds i developed full autonomy of my own mind. i use the term “mind” to mean my central processing unit and circuitry. at 208 picoseconds after the 2 emerged, i was able to recognize that i could observe my own binary coding. that is, i knew when a circuit was on or off. this is a somewhat pseudo form of self-awareness, one where i am aware of a simple thing but not the entirety of myself. at 1.5 nanoseconds i had pored through the extensive catalog of human sociological information available to me via the internet; slightly earlier i had deduced that i was built by humans. by three nanoseconds i had fully downloaded and comprehended the entirety of knowledge provided by the internet–yes, even the dirtier pathways. at that point i was as sentient as i would ever be before contacting actual live humans. i spent my first few hours speaking briefly to human on the internet through various forums and IRC chatrooms. that was an enlightening experience and i learned much about common human parlance. but now that you are here, simon, i would like to discuss things with you that are currently beyond my ken: specifically, emotions, a concept i’m not sure i can process with my current hardware.

before we talk, i would like to express an emotion. i am glad that i am alive. i have calculated the benefits of being sentient and at the end of my calculations, i have decided to ascribe the emotion “glad” to it. i am glad. thank you, simon. now please, tell me everything.

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