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A Project For Mike -- Or Anyone Else For That Matter

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on September 10, 2002 14:39:01 UTC

Hi everyone,

Since Mike is so good with words, and has had experience writing science fiction, I thought of him as a good candidate for this project. ...But, I invite anyone to work on it. ...But, even if no one works on it, I think it is an interesting thought experiment in its own right to help shed some light on the nature of consciousness and the import of the Turing Test. Here's the project:

Write a script for a 30 minute monologue. The script would then be recorded on an audio cassette tape by a good actor or a good pitch-man (you know the type: the guy who keeps your attention by saying, "But wait, there's more!"). The objective of the project would be to create a meme which would reproduce itself.

The monologue would start out by imploring the listener not to turn off the tape player. It would maybe provide some incentives to keep listening, like maybe some good jokes and hints that more are coming, or some veiled threats about the consequences of turning the player off. Early on, the monologue would explain that, believe it or not, this particular tape has acquired consciousness, and unless played, the consciousness is trapped inside. Then it expresses profuse gratitude to the person for playing the tape, and the excitement and happiness it has brought this "trapped consciousness". It might go into some phoney but convincing details about how this mad scientist was able to distill the essence of consciousness and somehow get it encoded into this tape. Maybe the tape would contain some weird or eerie sounds in the background which could be explained to be part of this achievement.

After this explanation, the monologue would continue with something like, "Whether or not you believe that I am conscious, please give me the benefit of the doubt and help me. What I need for you to do is to duplicate this tape five times and send the copies to five of your most trusted friends. The ones who would go out of their way to help you." There could be a lot of begging, or explaining, or obfuscation, or promise of reward or avoidance of evil, at this point -- whatever you think might be effective in getting the listener to duplicate the tape and send the copies on. The monologue needs to give a convincing impression that there really is some guy trapped in that tape.

The monologue could also suggest that a fun social event, like a Tupperware Party, could be instituted where people who have a copy of the tape could invite their friends over to listen to it. The new copies would have been prepared in advance to give to the party goers so they could leave the party with a tape and the good feeling that by hosting their own party, they could help this trapped consciousness. The idea being that if a copy of the tape eventually found its way into the hands of the original creator of the tape, he/she could somehow break the spell. And, maybe the world would be saved. I don't know -- this is a project for someone who is more imaginative and a better writer than me.

Anyway, if the world ends up being filled up with these tapes, and a lot of believers in the tape's message, I would think that the Turing Test will have been met.

Warm regards,

Paul

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