Robots are sociopaths:
Robots make us think of mortality in a different light.

I pawned off my XBox 360 in the middle of the first June after having flunked out of my university and trying to cope with the reality that - holy shit, I'm an adult now.
It was a surreal thing really, pawning off the umbilical extension of the very first thing that I ever truly owned. The Xbox was my idol... It was my holy Grail. It was my Church, it was in every single moment that I communed with it - what I contributed to be the essence of my every ambition.

It had been this way for half a decade.

The original Xbox was the very first thing that I ever purchased with my own money. The game that I bought with it, the game that I bought the Xbox for, the game that all of my friends had seemingly had their pubescent boyhood dreams come alive with?


Here was a place of fantasy more erotic than any of the Tom Clancy novels on my shelves, and all it took to enter into this world was a single disk. This wasn't the first game that I ever played where if the character walked off a cliff it would die - that was a Nintendo 64 game called Empire Strikes Back. This also wasn't the first game that I played which broadened my horizons to the point where having immersed myself in this world I understood what was truly possible in the digital realm - that was a simple Window's 98 CD Rom program called MIST.

But I do believe that Halo was the first game that I played that combined these two aspects of gameplay with my cardinal desire as a teenager to step into the shoes of a UNSC Marine named Spartan 117, to shoot aliens with space-age M4 rifles and fly around in fancy-as-fuck alien spacecraft.

In the Halo universe - which is a franchise just as big as Star Wars - AI's are real, they have emotion, and one of them above all others is paramount to the plotline. In fact, the entire series opens on her conversation with the captain of the Pillar Of Autumn.

Her name is Cortana. Cortana is the shipboard AI aboard the Pillar of Autumn and Spartan 117's traveling companion throughout four games, in addition to her making an appearance on Reach. Cortana is in most respects, a robot.

She's not just a robot, she's a robot garnished with all of the emotional ups and downs and consternate turmoil that any human being experiences over the course of their intrepid lifespan. She loves, she lies, she exhibits jealousy and rage. She saves the life of Spartan 117 too many times to count, and he does the same in return. They have a bond unbreakable by circumstance.

Which made the tragedy of Cortana's rampancy all the more difficult for me to bear - and if it was difficult for me, I believe it would've been impossible for spartan 117 cope with that.

In the Halo universe, AI's Have shelf lives. They degrade over time. The condition of circumstance which befalls AI's who live past their shelf life is called Rampancy. Rampancy is fucking brutal.

According to Halopedia, Rampancy is a terminal state of being for artificial intelligence constructs in which the AI behaves contrary to its programming-imposed constraints. Traditionally, this is linked with the AI developing delusions of godlike power and contempt for its mentally inferior makers. When rampancy occurs, there is no way to restore the AI to its previous state and the only alternative is to destroy it before it harms itself and others around it. [1]

“Do you even know what Rampancy is? What it does? We don't just 'shut down.' Our cognitive processes begin dividing exponentially according to our total knowledge base. We literally think ourselves to death.” - Cortana

From what I witnessed while playing halo, rampancy is the closest thing that an AI experiences to real-life dementia. The degradation of the mind, the forgetting of friends and even lovers, And especially the violence and rage - The way that the AI hates everything and everyone around it doesn't understand where it is or what it is doing. Bits and pieces of the AI's mind break off and permanently delete themselves. And as the game player, you experience all of this happening as it plays out on the screen. Combine that with the fact At the makers of this game want to immerse you in the experience as much as possible and stimulate you in whatever ways they can to make the entire thing feel as real as real-life. Fucking brutal.

Witnessing the death of Cortana Play out on my television screen Made me think immediately of my great-grandmother, La La Lee Dale, who suffered from dementia and ultimately succumbed to it. But the few calloused tears that I felt when the pixelated blue midget ragamuffin Cortana disappeared from my life forever, actually made me think more of my mother, who became my great grandmother's caretaker in her twilight years on the ranch in Hermiston Oregon.

As an octogenarian, my great-grandmother's mind was a sharp as a tack. Which is why we were all, my family, surprised to see that she had been diagnosed with dementia. My mother, at the time, had been unemployed - having recently been laid off from City University in Everett as one of the librarians there. She and a few others lost their jobs with the university when the university shuttered the doors of several of its library branches to consolidate to one location. My mother's aunt and uncle invited her to move down to Oregon, To live on the ranch, care take for my great-grandmother And be closer to the rest of the family down there.

My mother did just that. For several years, my mother bathed my great-grandmother and fed her and struggled through her shouts of confusion and anger and rage in moments very similar to those displayed by the pixelated simulant Cortana. At times my mother cried and felt very alone, carrying her cross down on that ranch which was so different from the place which she still thought of as home. I really really really do not envy my mother and the day-to-day struggles that she had to bear.

But... After having thought great deal on this, I suddenly realize once again the blinding obvious fact that video games are not real. And robots do not have emotions. Robots are sociopaths. They don't feel, they don't love, they certainly don't create bonds with human beings that are unbreakable by time or circumstance. At least, not yet. For now robots are pretty fucking stupid, too. The highest grade of intelligence that a real life robot has obtained is that of a toddler if not a three-year-old.

But see, the thing is, if robot AI's do become a reality like in the Halo universe, then they won't suffer from rampancy. Robots, As long as their hardware is maintained, will live forever. And if the robot lives forever, And if they do this someday learn how to feel - How to suffer real human emotion... Then they're fucked. They'll live on as they watch everything die around them and be able to do nothing.
And that's a sobering thought.


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