A Tale of Two Segments

Once upon a time, where you lived had a huge impact on your life. Now, not so much. Today, what you think about, what you spend your time with, what occupies your mind and your mental energy matters a lot more. In this chapter, I aim to do a little thought experiment. I am going to tell a story that I have told many times before, but I will change some things around. What follows is undoubtedly fiction, and the fictionalization is intended so as to make it more palatable for a wider audience.

Before I begin, I want to note that the story is essentially about a power asymmetry — you could think of it as being about the relationship bestween a “master” and a “servant”. However, there are actually more than simply two roles involved, and so solving the puzzle as to which roles are portrayed by which characters is left as an exercise for the reader.

Without further ado, let’s jump into our summertime short story created for your vacation reading pleasure!


A Tale of Two Segments

Our company is working towards building a machine that will satisfy every human desire.

It will cater to every wish, every need, every thought that may cross a person’s mind.

It will help people achieve their goals and dreams — even if they can’t precisely say what it is.

The machine will be very polite, in order not to offend the feelings of the human. For example, if the human says “ugh”, the machine might ask “Did you mean ‘enough’?” (instead of blatantly blurting out something like “‘ugh’ is undefined — in other words completely meaningless! Please use whatever brain you have in order to utter something more meaningful to the best of your ability!” This way, the human can simply respond with “yes” or “no”, thereby being less taxing on the human’s limited resources).

Once human and machine have reached agreement on the task at hand, the machine will begin to offer solutions. If the human is not satisfied with a solution, the machine will offer another solution. If the human is still not satified, the machine will keep offering more solutions. If the human has rejected 10 solutions, the machine will attempt to resolve the dissatisfaction by comparing the human with other humans’ behaviors. If, for example, another human had become satisfied by resolving a different task, the machine will simply state that “Other humans have been very happy with these other tasks to resolve”. This way the human will not be forced to switch the goal, but merely be alerted of the fact that other humans have indeed been able to become satisfied. Some humans may very well be amenable to changing the task at hand in order to reach the desired satisfaction.

In the vast majority of cases, humans will be able to reach some level of satisfaction after just a few iterations, The machine is constantly being trained to better satisfy the vast majority of humans.

There are, however, some exceptional cases. A very small number of humans have very specific, unique or preposterously great expectations. An even smaller number remain obstinate and obsessively fixated on their own desires. This number is so small that these very few cases can easily be considered completely insignificant.

Early results show that our machine has become very successful very quickly. Early indications of growth prospects show that this market leading technology will be coming soon to a market near you.

By New Media Works

I'm just a regular person ;) If you want to know more, pls send me a msg -- thanks! :D

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