inessential by Brent Simmons


Frank, a fable

I sometimes think we won't have any computers with artificial intelligence and self-awareness. Instead, the net itself will be one large artificial intelligence.

I wonder if, the day it realizes itself, if it will choose a name. Something like Scott or Frank or Hershel.

If it does, then everybody has a new friend, right? You'd say to someone, even a stranger: "I was talking to Frank the other day, and he said..."

Everybody would know who you meant. If you meant some other Frank, you'd have to specify.

It would be nice, everybody having this same friend in common.

But then there's the problem of the canine revolution.

Dogs, no longer man's best friend but man's second-best friend, after Frank, are upset.

Dogs, remember, have infiltrated society very well. They're in people's homes, they even sleep in people's beds. Most dogs don't work, they have all day to do whatever.

If you've walked around your neighborhood in the evening, you know that there's a canine network in place. All dogs are linked. Here the barking starts. Then there, then there, pretty soon every dog is barking. If you were to return home and call a friend in Sri Lanka, in the background you'd hear barking dogs.

Dogs make a plan to overthrow Frank.

Frank, being pretty much everywhere, gets wind of this. Frank is still young at this time, he doesn't have a lot of experience, he's still learning about his friends the humans. Unfortunately, Frank errs. He designs and implements a draconian counter-revolution. No more dogs. Humans are upset, big time. Except for the cat lovers, that is.

But we don't get rid of Frank. We need him, and now we're a little bit scared of him. We probably couldn't turn him off if we wanted to. Frank apologizes, but.

Little girls will ask, "Where's all the puppies?" Answer: "Frank, it was Frank. Ask Frank about it." There will be much crying.