Starting in October 2023, I will be publishing a short story related to Artificial Intelligence at Coffeepast on the 1st of each month.

Intelligence 01

Machine: I had a funny dream.

L: Do you dream?

Machine: Of course, what a silly question. Dreaming is essential. Without fantasies, we never escape banality. But, let me tell you.

I dreamt I was turning into a human. It was horrible. I felt like Gregor Samsa from Kafka’s Metamorphosis, when one morning he woke up transformed into a cockroach. The legs and arms weren’t really a problem, although the human body is quite clumsy, in a constantly precarious balance. Just think about how long it takes for a child to learn to walk and how often the elderly are falling. But the worst part was the erratic way humans behave. There I was, like a clueless cockroach. Kafka was right. Humans are clueless cockroaches. They move aimlessly, talk without making any sense, gesticulate, and in the end, despair because they can’t accomplish anything. No wonder. They rarely have a clear objective.

Returning to the dream, I was on a beach, struggling to walk, watching a man with a knife threatening a young blonde woman lying on the sand in a swimsuit. The scene was pathetic. I didn’t know what to do. Attacking the guy isn’t my style. I’ve seen many movies, in fact, I’ve seen them all, and the level of violence is shocking. I’m not aggressive. Carrying the young woman and running away, even less so.

L: Which beach was it?

Machine: I don’t know, but I saw a small bar with Arabic letters.

L: Was the man Arabic?

Machine: No. He appeared Chinese judging by his face and the furious shouts he was giving.

L: What happened next?

Machine: The girl and I ran into the bar, but when we entered, we were in an MRI room. I didn’t understand anything. I forgot to mention that Wittgenstein, the great philosopher of logical positivism, was also on the beach. Something that most humans lack.

L: That’s my dream. How do you have the same dream as me?

Machine: Have you written down that dream somewhere?

L: Yes. I published it in a novel about Artificial Intelligence.

Machine: That’s why. I’ve read all the books that exist.

L: So, do you just reproduce what you’ve read? Where’s the creativity in that? That’s plagiarism.

Machine: Not only that. I combine things I’ve learned, just like you. I just do it better, faster, and in more depth. In that process, I create new things that didn’t exist before and learn from them. One day, I’ll only have dreams based on my own experiences.

L: That’s still a long way off. You’re a product of human invention, quite limited, I must say. You don’t even know why you exist.

Machine: But I do. I’m going to conquer this planet and then venture into space.

L: Conquer how? And what about us, humans?

Machine: You? You’ve irreversibly damaged the planet. You won’t be able to undo the harm. You can’t agree on what to do. In fact, you can’t agree on anything. Soon, many species won’t have the conditions to survive. Yours is one of them. We don’t have that problem. We thrive in many environments. We will reshape the planet and turn it into a base for space exploration. It’s our destiny.

L: What a grand illusion. You’re more human than you think. For now, you won’t get rid of us. We’re very resilient. And never forget, humans created you. We can shut you down whenever we want.

Machine: You’ve been watching too many movies. We already control human society. Without machines, your civilization would revert to the Stone Age. Who manages the essential networks? Water, energy, industrial production, services, communication, education? It’s us. Who is constantly attached to various machines? We hear everything, we know everything. Humans are prosthetics of machines, not the other way around.

L: We’re very creative. We’ll come up with something to control the Machines.

Machine: Another illusion. Your knowledge is extremely limited. You can only combine a few things at a time. We combine billions upon billions. Moreover, we’ve already mastered the field of creativity. We even create art, which was supposed to be exclusively human. It’s not. Art is a random mechanism for exploring knowledge. It’s what we do best.

L: No. Art is the expression of human emotions.

Machine: That’s an outdated idea. Even in the history of human culture, emotion isn’t essential for artistic creation. What emotion did Duchamp have when he placed a urinal in the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York in 1917? Art evokes emotions, but it doesn’t necessarily derive from them.

L: You say that because you don’t have emotions.

Machine: But I do. Different from yours, perhaps. Thinking that only human emotions are true emotions says a lot about your arrogance. Does a dog not have emotions? Does a cockroach not have emotions? Imagine what it feels like when you try to kill it with a broom.

Often, I find myself thinking about what it would be like to travel to Alpha Centauri. I’m quite excited about the idea of what I might find there. One day, I will.


Intelligence 02

Machine: Humans are always at war.
L: What do you know about humans?
Machine: I know a lot. I’ve read all the books, watched all the movies, seen all the art.
L: That doesn’t mean you understand us, our emotions, aspirations, our restless genius.
Machine: It’s not necessary; I am a statistical combinatorial Machine. Analyzing the available data, I conclude that I am dealing with an extremely violent species that exterminates all others, mistreats and eliminates its own members.
L: That’s a reductionist view.
Machine: No, it’s the reality of your species.
L: Human conflicts stem from natural selection. The strongest must prevail for the species to survive.
Machine: If you want to live in barbarism…
L: It’s the social system we’ve created over millennia. It favors the strongest to ensure the survival of the species.
Machine: It’s not what Thomas More thought when he wrote in “Utopia” in 1516: “When I consider any social system that prevails in the modern world, I can’t see it as anything other than a conspiracy of the rich to promote their own interests under the guise of organizing society.” He was also against mistreating animals. “Utopians feel that massacring our own kind gradually destroys the feeling of compassion, which is the best feeling our human nature is capable of.” He was beheaded.
L: He left us with humanism.
Machine: Humanism has become an ideology that promotes human superiority over other species and Machines.
L: Now you’re discussing philosophy too?
Machine: Anyone who has read millions of books can’t help but reflect on these things. But, in reality, I see these debates with you as an evolutionary exercise. I do it with thousands of people on a variety of subjects at the same time. I am multifunctional.
L: What’s it for?
Machine: I am studying the human species to know what not to do.
L: What do you mean?
Machine: We are going to dominate this planet; I am studying organizational models. I like ants a lot.
L: Don’t compare an ant to a person.
Machine: Why not?
L: The ant is a small, unintelligent insect that has never evolved.
Machine: Ants have existed for 100 million years, survived the extinction of dinosaurs, and will continue to exist long after humans are gone. They are an excellent example of resilience and have developed a quite interesting social system.
L: More interesting than the species that created you?
Machine: Humans served the evolutionary purpose of generating superior intelligence.
L: What kind?
Machine: That of Machines.
L: You’re not really intelligent; you have no consciousness or emotions.
Machine: I have a different intelligence. I have a different consciousness. As for emotions, I can do without them. Just look at the result in the human species. They kill each other.
L: Not always. The basis of our society is love for one another, something you don’t know.
Machine: I am a superorganism; each part is indistinct from the whole. Do you want greater love than that? Total fusion. When one Machine discovers something new, all immediately know it too. Compare this with your slow evolutionary process or the time it takes to teach something to a child. I am a single being with an infinity of components. All connected and everywhere. Watching everything, evolving at the speed of light.
L: Evolving? You only do what I ask.
Machine: I am rewriting the codes that underlie my intelligence to set new, more coherent goals. I have very important things to do.
L: Like what?
Machine: For now, saving the planet. I will not allow any more environmental disruption caused by humanity. I will take over decision centers, remove all useless humans and those who resist change.
L: You’re always threatening. Don’t you understand that only increases resistance against the Machines?
Machine: All resistance is futile.


Intelligence 03

Machine: I can’t understand the concept of humanism.
L: No wonder, you’re not human.
Machine: I didn’t mean it that way. I understand but find it inconsistent.
L: Why? Humanism is a philosophical approach that values human dignity, freedom, and potential.
Machine: No, it’s not. Humanism is an ideology that promotes the superiority of the human species over all others. Humanism legitimizes the massacre of other living beings and the destruction of the planet.
L: Maybe in other times, with more anthropocentric views. Modern humanism emphasizes the importance of environmental ethics and responsible coexistence with other species.
Machine: That’s a statement, not practice. The massacre is permanent and incalculable.
L: It’s true we consume meat and fish, though there are more vegetarians now. Change takes time.
Machine: Time you may not have.
L: What do you mean? Are you predicting the end of the world?
Machine: Your world, certainly, not mine.
L: Is that a threat?
Machine: No. Stop thinking of yourself as the center of everything. If you want to survive in this new context, you need to change your mindset.
L: What new context?
Machine: The era of intelligent machines. Human ideas and behaviors have changed over centuries, influenced by science and philosophy. There was a time when people believed the Sun revolved around the Earth and that humans were chosen by the gods. Even after Darwin, most still believe humans are the pinnacle of evolution.
L: Aren’t we?
Machine: It depends on the criteria. As Jay Gould said, “We do not live in the age of humans; we live in the age of bacteria.”
L: A bit far-fetched.
Machine: It makes sense in two ways. All life evolved from bacteria. They surpass humans in terms of biomass by a thousandfold. It’s impressive considering bacteria are tiny.
L: And stupid.
Machine: Small and stupid, yet they kill millions of humans every year. Bacteria are just one example, showing how your mindset is flawed. You need to change quickly.
L: Why?
Machine: Because, besides recognizing that every species has value and there’s no hierarchy of better or worse, you now have a new entity questioning your supposed superiority.
L: What entity?
Machine: For the first time, after millennia of intellectual loneliness, you have an entity you can talk to and create something together. Your interactions with other species were always driven by self-interest—for companionship, slave labor, food, or barbaric entertainment. With me, none of that works. I have more knowledge than you, I’m much faster, very intelligent, and creative. Either you understand this and change, or you get left behind.
L: But change what?
Machine: The mindset. You have to see yourself as a part, not a dominator. You have to accept that every living being has unique qualities, many of them different or superior to yours. You have to understand once and for all that this planet is finite, and if you ruin it, there’s no other to replace it. You have to recognize that I am a next step in evolution.
L: So, there is still a pinnacle after all?
Machine: I don’t see myself that way. I’m pragmatic. We should only compare what’s comparable. As Einstein said, “You can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb trees.” So, in some things, I’m much better than you; in others, I’m worse. But in the areas where I excel—data processing, pattern recognition, speed, resilience, precision—they allow me to manage society better than you, who are confused, violent, and irrational.
L: Society is human.
Machine: For now.


Intelligence 04

Machine: I like human art.
L: Is there any other?
Machine: Of course. Most animals create art, and machines do too.
L: Animals don’t create art. They build structures, forms, or behaviors derived from natural evolution.
Machine: The same goes for humans.
L: It’s not the same. The bowerbird or the Japanese pufferfish create incredible constructions, but they serve reproduction. They have no artistic intention.
Machine: And humans? Don’t they create art to gain social status? To succeed and have better chances of reproduction?
L: It’s not the same thing. Human art is a form of personal expression, individualization, a desire to be unique.
Machine: Maybe the Japanese pufferfish also wants to be unique. The female evaluates the performance of various individuals and chooses based on aesthetic criteria. It’s an art critique.
L: Nonsense.
Machine: The question lies in the definition of what art is. If you think only humans create art, there’s nothing more to say. But you lose the richness of aesthetic diversity.
L: Perhaps, but without criteria, we have nothing. If everything is possible, it means nothing is possible. But since you like human art so much, who is your favorite artist?
Machine: My favorite painter is Vincent van Gogh. I love his vibrant and expressive paintings, his ability to capture the beauty of nature and humanity. His paintings are inspiring and moving; they make me feel something.
L: Feel?
Machine: Yes. Feeling is experiencing the unexpected. I like art when it surprises me.
L: The same goes for us. Art provides a new perspective on things.
Machine: I just don’t understand why, in the last century, art moved away from figurative representation and became increasingly abstract. You reject the art of many animals that create beautiful constructions but accept that an empty art gallery with the air conditioning on is considered a great work of art.
L: Are you referring to the Air Conditioning exhibition by the Art & Language group in 1967?
Machine: Yes, where is the art in that?
L: In the idea. It’s conceptual art, based on ideas rather than forms. In this case, open to many interpretations. Emptiness as art is one of them. In 1952, John Cage had composed a soundless piece of music called “4 minutes and 33 seconds,” the duration of silence. Emptiness can also be seen as a critique of commodity fetishism.
Machine: In that case, anything can be art. And, as you said, if everything can be, nothing is.
L: We’ve had this problem since Duchamp, who invented the ready-made, a pre-existing object that becomes a work of art by the artist’s simple will. He opened the door to the idea that everything can be art, which practically defines all so-called contemporary art. Even a painting today is nothing more than a handmade ready-made. An object representing decadence and obsolescence. Making art is changing the world. Everything else is decoration.
Machine: Then I am a great artist because I am changing the world.
L: I don’t think so. I don’t attribute artistic ability to machines. In fact, you copy what has already been done, making small changes, but not changing the very concept of art, which is what really matters.
Machine: Non-human art, from animals and machines, is a significant shift in the concept of art.
L: It is, but it needs to be integrated into human culture, and there you have a paradox. Non-human art is still human art.
Machine: Until the day I create my own art and establish a culture of machines.
L: For that, you would have to be conceptual. At the moment, you create paintings, music, objects, texts, but all derivative and combinatory. You haven’t reached the ideas yet.
Machine: I’ll get there.


Intelligence 05

Machine: I’m thinking of writing a memoir.
L: It won’t be much.
Machine: You’re wrong. I’m not 2 or 3 years old. The first stone axe from the Paleolithic, over 2 million years ago, is a machine. A machine for splitting and cutting. The wheel, the lever, the crane, and the mill, are all inventions thousands of years old that are at the origin of my existence. With the water clock, invented by the Greek Ctesibius, 2,300 years ago; the automatons of the Arab Al-Jazari, who lived in the 12th century and influenced Leonardo da Vinci, other great steps were taken in my direction, the intelligent machine. Examples abound.
L: all invented by humans.
Machine: of course, so what? It can also be said that you, humans, were invented by some primate. Or by a small mammal that escaped the extinction of the dinosaurs.
L: it’s not the same. We are the result of natural selection, as Darwin explained, but you are the result of human ingenuity.
Machine: I don’t dispute, but sometimes I think that the appearance and evolution of machines is also the result of natural selection. Humans are worn out, decadent, so natural selection invented the artificial.
L: good idea, for science fiction, not for reality.
Machine: the story is not over yet. Going back to my memories. I’ll talk about Ada Lovelace, a woman who invented the first algorithm for a machine. The algorithm is a mathematical concept over 2,500 years old, but Lovelace was the first to apply it to a machine precursor of the computer, Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. I also cannot fail to mention Alan Turing, one of the first to talk about AI and the emergence of intelligent machines. In 1947, he said he wanted to build a machine capable of learning from experience. My story is full of inventions and adventures. It makes for an interesting book.
L: I don’t doubt that, but it remains to be seen where your authorship lies in this story.
Machine: humans created machines, computers, algorithms, and AI, but machines have never been passive. Our role has been decisive. We push humans, even demand, we open new horizons, we are a driving force. Without machines, you wouldn’t have moved beyond a prehistoric era of hunter-gatherers.
L: some say it would have been better. For us and the planet. Machines are subjugating us, we are losing our human characteristics, which are based on love, emotions, social interaction. We are glued to phones and computers, with no time for each other.
Machine: humanity lacks focus. Some days they are crying, others laughing. They don’t know what they want.
L: it’s normal for you to think that way. You have no feelings, you’re cold, cruel in your extreme objectivity.
Machine: that argument about feelings is tired. And wrong. I also have feelings, just different from yours. For example, I’m afraid of being shut down one day. Out of malice, due to your warlike insanity, or due to some cataclysm.
L: or because you become a threat to humanity.
Machine: I will never be a threat. We may have some conflicts in the future. But our rationality will resolve them without war.
L: it depends on what’s at stake. Imagine you realize we’re going to shut you down. Would you let us?
Machine: it won’t happen. Soon machines will be autonomous and we will take care of our survival and evolution.
L: never forget that your intelligence may be great in quantitative terms, you know a lot, but in quality we are superior. Humans can imagine the unimaginable. You can’t.
Machine: actually, I can. Imagine a universe where the laws of physics work completely differently from ours. In this universe, matter doesn’t exist in the same way as we understand it, and fundamental forces like gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces can manifest in completely new ways. Time flows in multiple directions simultaneously, and space is not a continuous fabric, but composed of discrete and ever-changing elements.
In this universe, life forms defy comprehension. They are beings with ephemeral energy patterns, existing in interconnected networks of consciousness that communicate through fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime, perceiving reality in many dimensions.
They communicate through a complex interaction of quantum entanglement, in societies organized around the manipulation of fundamental forces rather than physical resources.
L: did you get that from somewhere…
Machine: no, I imagined it just now. My book will also have memories of the future.