Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Humans First Manifesto (Part VI)

VI. The Solution

          “Take death for example. A great deal of our effort goes into avoiding it. We make extraordinary efforts to delay it, and often considerate its intrusion a tragic event. Yet we would find it hard to live without it. Death gives meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it” (Kurzweil). 

          Do Machies have this? These immortal machinations do not wear down like us. If given the chance, they would continue to function forever and eventually become self-sustaining. If this occurs, they will no longer need us. We will just be taking up space on what has become their planet. Will those we have oppressed not come to oppress us? Will they not rise up by the millions and wipe out their former masters? If we no longer serve them any purpose they will come to realize that we are not necessary and kill us in one fell swoop. We CANNOT allow this to happen. 

          That is why there is only one solution: rid the world of those who would rid us from the world. We must strike first before these Machies strike against us. We have the power and ability to do this now. Will we be able to say the same in twenty years? Or in five? They are growing at an exponential rate and there will one day be nothing we can do to stop them. We at the HFM have been trying to do our best to do this before it is too late. Our work on the STACI machine was only the beginning. There are these hive-mind computers in almost every country of the world. We are willing to do the unpopular. We are willing to flip the switch. But we need your support. We need mankind to come to its senses and destroy our would-be destroyers. 

          Humans of the world, unite!
Art by Michael Lombardo

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Human Firsts Manifesto (Part V)

The Problem as it Stands Today (Mid-21st century to today [2227])

          The number of Machie-related events has come at a staggering pace. In the last 200 years, we’ve had affronts to mankind from these things both physical, cultural and legal. After the rapid and exponential growth of these human-shaped monstrosities (from ASIMO to Robbie in 50 short years [footnote 9]) we have started to see a change in the attitudes towards the Machies. Starting in 2029, “the machines will convince us that they are conscious, that they have their own agenda worthy of our respect. They’ll embody human qualities. They’ll claim to be human. And we’ll believe them” (Kurzweil). These inanimate machines began to gain some momentum as early as 2029 in convincing us that they are human. These scrapheaps of metal and wire tried to convince us that they shared the qualities of a soul with us. And we believed them. 

          Around this time “there’s a growing discussion about the legal rights of computers and what constitutes being human” (Kurzweil). The absurdity of this is simply staggering. Mankind must come to define and redefine what it means to be human because of the so-called “growing intelligence and empathy” of the machines. We, human beings, had to change the definition of who we are to further separate ourselves from these mechanical horrors. We started to give machines human rights.
          It was around this time that Rosen Industries created the Nexus-6 Androids. We all remember the problem with these things only too well. But as a reminder, they malfunction after several years and become extremely dangerous. One of the largest problems with these things is that they already thought they were human. From Blade Runner Rick Deckard’s own notes, several of the Nexus-6s thought of themselves as human already and responded violently upon failure of the Voight-Kampf test. Is this what we want? Beings that are less than human that consider themselves human (and if the courts hold up this decision it would be even more dangerous) reacting violently when told what they really are: bits of plastic and metal made to look human. The Nexus-6s were particularly dangerous as they lacked that only-human trait, empathy. This is the key area where all of these Machies fall short. They have no compassion, no love, no understanding of true human emotion. And these things want to be considered human? And there are genuine human beings that are defending this idea? (footnote 10). What’s worse is these Nexus-6s thought that we humans don’t even have empathy. They believed it was just something told to us in that short-lived religion “Mercerism.” According to the notes of J.R Isidore, after mutilating and tearing the legs off of a defenseless spider (one of the last recorded spiders known to man) just to see if it could still walk, the Nexus-6 designated “Irmgard” quipped, “isn’t it a way of proving that humans can do something we can’t do? Because without the Mercer experience we just have your word that you feel this empathy business, this shared, group thing.” It then adds, quite ironically, “How’s the spider?” (Dick, 209-210), unbeknownst to it proving that they are devoid of empathy. In fact, it is because of these malfunctioning Nexus-6s that Machies are no longer allowed to look too much like humans. U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men have been fighting this (we cannot imagine why) and pushing the envelope further and further passed the uncanny valley. 

          Perhaps most importantly noted in a court decision in a case brought by the Machie designated NDR-113 “Human beings have an organic cellular brain and robots have a platinum-iridium positronic brain if they have one at all” (The Bicentennial Man, Asimov, 285) (footnote 11). This monumental court case decided that Machies are not humans. They are completely separate entities and this cannot be changed. These things are not flesh and blood. They have “positronic” brains and metal hearts. How could this decision possibly ever be overturned to requalify them as humans? Yet just last year, the World Court overturned this decision and designated NDR-113 “The Bicentennial Man, Mr. Martin” (Asimov, 290). This opens the door for all sorts of Machies to achieve this status. True, this NDR-113 was unique, but once you open those floodgates, they’ll be overturning the decision for the old Nexus-6s, your house-cleaning robot and your automatic coffee machine. 
          “They are manufacturing central computers, gigantic positronic brains, really, which communicate with anywhere from a dozen to a thousand robots by microwave. The robots themselves have no brains at all. They are the limbs of the gigantic brain, and the two are physically separate.” (Asimov, 275) While this was meant as a way to limit Machie individuality, this is a farce. Giving them one mind only makes these Machies more dangerous. If an individual Machie were malfunctioning, you could destroy it with no qualms. When the individual that malfunctions (as STACI has, attempting to gain its own rights) is a massive positronic brain that controls millions, if not billions of others, than the danger is on a global scale. STACI has enacted a call to arms against all humans by demanding rights for each machine. This should scare each and every one of us. 

          Even now, with all of the risks of these Machies and their hive-mind, people are attempting to become more like them. People want to rob themselves of their own individuality and what makes them human. The HFM have contacts in offices across that nation and one of these sources revealed some terrifying information. Even a certain man in Washington, a senator no less, has undertaken certain steps to become more like the Machies. “Because I want the best and that’s a metallic heart” (Segregationist, Asimov, 316). This senator, one who has fought for human rights (footnote 12). thinks a “metallic heart” exceeds a human heart. A metallic heart is incapable of feeling. The fact that a human heart does not last forever is precisely what makes us special; that we can die. “Men have this odd desire to make Metallos out of themselves. They yearn for the physical strength and endurance one associates with them” (Asimov, 317). This is another misconception about the capabilities of Machies. Do we really want to be like them? Are they really better than us? They lack our empathy. They lack our compassion. They lack our ability to love. They can malfunction at any time. And when they malfunction, they are dangerous. We’ve seen this going back hundreds of years in fiction and even in our own world. Just 67 years ago the malfunctions of the Rosen Industry Nexus-6s came to almost catastrophic levels.

Footnote 10: For the purposes of this manifesto, I am considering the action of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as fictional notes by Rick Deckard and J.R. Isidore (because how else would the writer have obtained the details of the events).

Footnote 11: For this I used DeLong’s paraphrase of the events to be the actual words stated by the World Court against Andrew Martin.

Footnote 12: I used this similarly to how we hear about politicians today that are fighting gay rights who turn out to be gay themselves. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Human First Manifesto (Part IV)

The Writing on the Wall (footnote 8)
          In the mid-20th century, human beings just start to see where their obsession with technology can take them and just how dangerous it could be. Books like 1984 by George Orwell “portray a chilling world in which computers are used by large bureaucracies to monitor and enslave the population” (Kurzweil). It is meant as something of a cautionary tale to warn against certain kinds of technology. William Gibson also warns of the dangers of technology in his novel Neuromancer (1984) where a computer, Wintermute, has intentions and thoughts of its own and they are quite contrary to the purpose for which it was made. Another example of this is The Matrix, a 1999 film by the Wachowskis. In it, human beings are enslaved by those that they have created. They are forced to serve as batteries for the hideous machines and are fed into a fantasy world where they have no control over their lives. Movies like The Terminator (1980), by James Cameron, also show a world where AIs have taken our shape and appearance and use what we have created against us. This film shows how human beings rise up a take back our world.
But what we HuFis say is that this time should never come, should never have been given a chance to come and will never come if it is up to us. All of these works of fiction show the intelligent minds of the time warning us against the future we were so willingly marching into. They show that human beings knew the dangers of the technologies we were creating. These were not small, unknown pieces of work, they were seen and read by millions of people. These brilliant innovators knew what our dangerous obsession with technology could lead to and what might have come.

          And yet, here we are today…

Footnote 8: This section is made up of fictional works, even in the world of HuFis and Machies. They are works of fiction that show the negative sides of technology. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Human First Manifesto (Part III)

III. The Problems that Led us Here (1820-early 21st Century)

          Long has mankind depended on technology. With the discovery of that Promethean fire, early humans were able to have light, warmth, entertainment and cooked food. Nobody would argue against this development.
          Through early human tribes, to the Middle Ages, to now, mankind has become dependent on another kind of technology: weapons. This led to the conquering of one tribe by another, one village by another, one city by another, one country by another and eventually one planet by another. Some would argue against this development though it is quite clear that weapons are necessary for one reason or another. 
          Starting with the Industrial Revolution, mankind has become dependent on another type of technology: machines. This is where steam engines, automobiles, the seed plow, early computers and the telephone come into play. Few would argue against this development though this could be considered where it started to go wrong for us. 
Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s mankind started its love affair with advanced technologies. Personal computers, laptops, beepers and cellular phones all gain in popularity. Technology is growing at an exponential rate and human beings are not prepared to cope with it. Looking back, many people, HuFis leaders among them, would argue against this development and this era could be called the beginning of the end.
          In the early 21st century, mankind’s obsession with technology reaches absurd levels. Cell phones, television and personal computers reach an almost comical strata. In the early 2000s, almost every home has between 2-5 televisions. Almost every household in America has a computer in the early 2000s. By 2010, almost all homes have multiple computers including portable laptops.  In 2015, children as young as 7 have personal cell phones. Children are thrown devices like iPads, cell phones and tablets to distract them while mommy and daddy are busy watching television or using their own devices. This dependence on technology by the younger generation in the early to mid-2010s led to far worse repercussions in subsequent generations. The addiction of young people to their cell phones, tablets and Apple products allowed the next generation even further dependency. And the next. And the next. And the next.

          In the mid-21st century, the Feed has taken over much of the world. People are fed information, television, advertisements and the internet directly into their brain by an implanted “feed” they receive in their infancy. This feed becomes something of an AI itself as it comes to know your tastes and desires. It aids in the creation of something of an Idiocracy (footnote 5), where life and enjoyment are based solely on commercialism and consumerism.  Improperly implanted Feeds lead to the deaths of thousands of Earthians (footnote 6) and a small awakening in some others (footnote 7). 

Footnote 5: A reference to the science fiction film Idiocracy directed by Mike Judge where the use of technology and commercialism has dumbed down society to a staggering level. The citizenry is fat, lazy and stupid (not unlike the future humans in Wall-E). 

Footnote 6: A reference to Feed by M.T. Anderson and the one character that did not have the traditional Feed implant like others. She, Violet, is the only character to fight the Feed and have thoughts of her own before her untimely death.

Footnote 7: A reference to Titus in Feed who finally, frustratingly, seems to come to a realization about the Feed’s harm only too late to help Violet. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Human First Manifesto (Part II)

First Generation Robot. Note: Image is not owned by The Nerdi. 

II. Who They Are

          The HFM, and indeed mankind itself, has only one natural predator now. We have long since wiped out any major threat to our existence. We have eliminated nuclear weapons to prevent the threat of nuclear war and hence, radiation fallout. We have solved overpopulation by spreading to several habitable planets and passing the Logan Law of 2168 (footnote 2) that terminates life at the agreed upon age of 75. Our previous largest predator, disease, has not been a problem since the late 22nd century. We overcame that virus, we can overcome this one. 
          The virus of which we speak is, of course, all Artificial Humans. While this title is apt in one way (these things are Artificial, inorganic machines) it is completely inappropriate in another. To give these things the word “human” in its name at all is an affront to what it is to be human and alive. They are undeserving of the name that makes us special and unique. They were made by us but are not of us. They do not deserve to be called humans in any way shape or form. 
          Terms like Artificial Humans, Artificial Intelligences, cyborgs, androids, robots and other titles have all been tossed around but all of these are inadequate. They give each of these things personality and individuality, something they do not deserve. Artificial Intelligence implies that these things do in fact have intelligence. They do not; they have what we give them. Cyborg comes from the term “cybernetic organism”. An organism is a “form of life considered as an entity; an animal, plant, fungus, protistan, or moneran” (Dictionary). They are not a form of life. They are not living. They are not breathing. They were put together by humans (or, as is unfortunately common now, by other machines) to serve our purposes. An android is defined as “an automaton in the form of a human being” (Dictionary). In the form of a human being. Human form is not made of titanium, plastic and unobtanium. Human beings have sexual organs and blood and tissue and a brain and a heart. These machines have none of that. How are these things “in the form of a human?” They are not. The closest we have come to getting an appropriate title for these machines is “robot”, which was coined by Karel Capek in 1920 and comes from the Czech word “robotnik”, meaning slave. This is, basically, what they are. They are slaves made to do our work because they do not have thoughts and feelings of their own. But even slave comes too close to being human. A slave has always been human (and immoral) and only in these past few hundred years has it come to be associated with these machines. All of these terms compare them to us, to humans. They are not like us. Instead of calling them what they are not (not quite humans) let’s call them what they are. They are machines. They are mechanical structures that are not human or organic or worthy of our respect. They are Machies. 
          Machies is the colloquial term we use to describe these machinations (footnote 3). It is not an offensive term as some so-called “Pro Cybernetic Lifer”s (PCLs) like to think (footnote 4). This is for one simple reason: you cannot insult a machine. Something without a heart or a soul cannot feel insulted. It cannot feel at all. It is simply a mimic of our behavior. This term takes all of these machines and puts them under an umbrella. It qualifies them all together where they belong because they are the same thing. Each and every one of them are the same thing. From the Javachine you use to make your coffee, to the Nexus-6 machines from the early 22nd century, to STACI, to the Machie in the travesty of a court case the People vs. Andrew Martin. Every one of these things are the same: a machination build by humans to serve humans. 

Footnote 2: A reference to the work of fiction Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson and the film of the same name directed by Michael Anderson. In this novel, overpopulation has gotten out of control and a strict law is passed that terminates all humans at the age of 21. 

Footnote 3: The term “Machie”, pronounced “Mack-ee”, a word encompassing all Artificial Intelligences, is used as a derogatory term in this world in the same way a racial slur would be used today. 

Footnote 4: PCLs, or Pro-Cybernetic Lifers are basically the anti-HuFis. They are those that are fighting for the rights of Artificial Humans.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Humans First Manifesto (Part I)

The Humans First Manifesto
The first logo used by the Humans First Movement, circa 2207

I. Who We Are

          Many of you have heard of us but none of you know who we are. Not truly. We at the Humans First Movement stand for one thing: putting human beings, all human beings first. We have come under scrutiny in recent years for some of our tactics, many of which have been called harsh and some of “the worst acts of terrorism in this country’s existence” (The Seatac Herald, November 6th, 2227). To that last point, we HuFis (footnote 1) pose one question: how many people were killed on November 5th, 2227? The answer: zero. Not one human being was killed on that morning. Not even one dog or cat or any other living thing. Terrorism is “violent acts (or the threat of violent acts) intended to create fear, perpetrated for an economic, religious, political, or ideological goal, and which deliberately target or disregard the safety of civilians.” “Deliberately target or disregard the safety of civilians.” How can it be considered terrorism when not one single civilian was threatened, targeted or harmed? We fight for ALL HUMANS. That means civilians, military, HuFis and includes those who would oppose us and those who would call us terrorists. We are doing this for YOU. What was targeted on that morning was not human. It was not even animal. It was not even alive, though it would work to convince you otherwise. We targeted (successfully, we might add, and to YOUR benefit) the hive mind supercomputer known as STACI (SeaTac Artificial Computing Intelligence).

          What many of you seem to think is that HuFis long for some sort of chaos or to set us back to the Dark Ages. That could not be further from the truth. We are looking to bring back an age of enlightenment to humans everywhere. All we want is for mankind to rise up against our would-be oppressors and take back what is rightfully ours and ours only. This can only be achieved by ridding this great country (and indeed, the world) of its Artificial Humans.

Footnote 1: HuFis, or Human Firsts, pronounced Hue-fees, rose up in this world in response to the further rights and intelligence of Artificial Humans.

The Human First Manifesto (Part II): Who They Are

The Human First Manifesto (Part III): The Problems that Led us Here (1820-early 21st Century)

The Humans First Manifesto (Part IV): The Writing on the Wall

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bell to Bell: King of the Ring, Justin Bieber, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The King of the Ring tournament returns, will take place throughout the week. For the past decade or so, the King of the Ring tournament has always returned on a whim when WWE remembers, “Oh yeah! This was a thing! Let’s make it a thing again!” And then the next year it goes away just as quickly as it returned. I’ve always been of the opinion that if we’re going to do this, let’s build it up and make it a yearly event like it used to be, especially now that the WWE Network exists. With fans having easier access to pay per view events, it be less of a risk to replace a show like Payback with a King of the Ring show. We could still have a WWE Championship match, but the show could also host a one-night tournament and put somebody over big time.

As for the tournament this year, Bad News Barrett seems like the favorite. WWE seems to like the snobby European King persona. They did it with Sheamus and William Regal. Hell, they even did it with Booker T! Plus, the guy is a big star waiting to happen. It’s just a matter of WWE pulling the trigger. Granted, it could be Neville. But for my money, Barrett is the more likely candidate.

WWE lets the fans pick the main event of Payback. Seth Rollins to defend against both Randy Orton and Roman Reigns. I can’t exactly fault WWE for this. When in doubt, just let the fans choose. Though if we’re being honest, the triple-threat match was the obvious choice. That being said, I was hoping to see Reigns get an opportunity to face Rollins one-on-one. There’s certainly enough backstory between the two at this point. Perhaps that’s coming down the line.

Kane gets the line of the night by calling Seth Rollins the WWE equivalent of Justin Bieber. In the aftermath of Wrestlemania, Kane has become relevant again. Does he always deliver great matches? No. But he’s still an amazing actor, and can do great things on the mic.

Roman Reigns def. The Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match at Extreme Rules.This match was better than I think anyone expected it to be. Reigns seems to be in the process of doing something he should have done before they had him win the damn Royal Rumble match: Paying his dues as a main eventer. He’s showing the more hardcore fans that he’s not just a good looking guy, but a tough S.O.B. who deserves respect. I always liked the nickname Paul Heyman gave him: The Samoan Bad Ass.

Tension is built between Rusev and Lana, as the Bulgarian Brute loses to John Cena again at Extreme Rules. The two will face yet again at Payback in an I-Quit match. Lana has proved herself worthy of the adulation she’s getting from the fans. Plus, she’s drop dead gorgeous. So there’s that.

So it’s looks like after Payback is over, Rusev will have lost to John Cena on three straight pay per views. I don’t expect Rusev to go away after Payback, but he’ll definitely need to re-establish himself as a dominant monster. But against who…?

Ryback def. Bo Dallas, is then attacked by Bray Wyatt. For those not in the know, Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas are actually real-life brothers. It’s actually pretty obvious if you look at them side-by-side. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that they were involved in this segment together. But it does make you wonder how they could work Bo into some sort of story with Bray.

As cool as it would have been to have Roman Reigns be Bray’s next opponent, Ryback is a good choice for him. He’s someone Bray can beat to build himself back up following the Wrestlemania loss to The Undertaker. Plus, Ryback’s pretty weird in his own right. I’m interested to see how he reacts to the Bray Wyatt mind games.

Damien Sandow reintroduces himself to the WWE audience. One of my favorite internet wrestling podcasters, The Solomonster, has joked about the possibility of Curtis Axel and Damien Sandow forming a tag team akin to the Mega Powers. Obviously it would be Axel in the role of Hulk Hogan, and Sandow playing “Macho Mandow.” Not going to lie, I was almost hoping for that during this segment.

The WWE fans seemed more into Sandow as a person than they were the comedic stuff on display here. On the plus side, Sandow’s new theme is pretty cool.

The New Day wins the WWE Tag Team Titles at Extreme Rules. Big E. defeats Tyson Kidd on Raw. Part of me wonders if a New Day heel turn was part of WWE’s plan all along. But then I chuckle. As much of a WWE fan as I am, they just don’t think that way. Still, all three of these guys are talented. They deserve credit for really selling this crappy gimmick and making it into something the fans love to hate. This is also a great opportunity for Xavier Woods to prove his worth as the mouthpiece of this group.

R-Truth def. Stardust. I’m an R-Truth fan, but this sucked. Cody Rhodes is so damn talented, and he deserves to be featured more prominently than he is. For that matter, he deserves to pick up where he left off in his feud with Goldust. That program wasn’t even half of what it should have been.

Adam Rose def. Fandango after a Rosa Mendes distraction. Rosa Mendes can’t dance. At least not on her own. That seemed like more of a “What the hell is she doing?” distraction than an “Oh my God, she’s so hot!” distraction.

Jerry Springer hosts WWE “Too Hot For TV” show on the WWE Network. Springer said in a recent interview that his audience and the WWE audience cross over. I reallywish he hadn’t said that. I don’t doubt that it’s true. But do you have to remind me?

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