The AwkEng Thinks That Dune Knows the Future of AI

Hi all,

As always, my mind tends to wander, and lately, I've been drawing connections between advancements in AI, science fiction, and articles I've seen in the news. It's also a good excuse to dig up a movie pitch I wrote several years ago.

Anyway, if you haven't seen some of the samples of text generated by the GPT-3 algorithm, I suggest you search for some. They're truly jaw dropping examples of what AI can do, generating short form writing that's borderline indistinguishable from human authored content.

Next, I read an article in the NY Times about automation taking while collar jobs, and then this article, with the following quote:

"Science fiction hasn’t prepared us to imagine machine learning. It resembles the Library of Babel more than HAL.

Science fiction did a great job preparing us for submarines and rockets. But it seems to be struggling lately. We don’t know what to hope for, what to fear, or what genre we’re even in."


I found myself disagreeing, and thought of the novel Dune (which has also been on my mind because there's been a lot of hype around the upcoming movie adaptation.)

In the fictional world of Dune, much of the state of technology was explained by a historical period called the "Butlerian Jihad" where all thinking machines were destroyed, and a religious prohibition on artificial intelligence was put in place: "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind."

So I do think at least one piece of science fiction has explored the road where Artificial intelligence may lead. And it is terrifying.

Here's the piece I wrote in 2016

Terminator meets Mad Max meets the Fast and the Furious.

It's the year 2029 and self driving systems have displaced the more than 3 million commercial truck drivers working in the United States. The impact to Social Security is overwhelming and with no social safety net, the truckers lead a hard life, teetering on the brink of starvation an demise.

In the early days of the Post-Tesla Era, the unemployed truckers found that the robotic vehicles, with limited sensors and defense systems, were easy pray for highway robbery. Naturally, this lead to an ever escalating game of cat and mouse, with the autonomous vehicle defense systems becoming more sophisticated and deadly and the Darwinian pressures of survival and death forcing the remaining truckers to form together in roving bands.

The great majority of shipments now travel via heavily armed, tank like delivery vehicles, but for particularly high value cargo, you can hire an elite mercenary squad of living, breathing, thinking human beings, cable of creatively responding to any situation on the battlefield.

When one mercenary's cargo shipment is ambushed, his squad abandons him in order to save their cargo and collect their delivery fee. He is captured and brought back to the trucker base camp, where he witnesses their hardship and the truth of their way of life. Yada yada yada, montage montage montage, he joins their cause and leads them in an epic battle on the GPS satellite constellation ground command center, bringing the entire autonomous vehicle system down.

Credits roll.

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