The room empties

All my friends are gone.
Where did they go?

Time took them.
Time took them.
Time took them.

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When I leave the stage I’m okay with being done.
My tracks will be well-covered when I am gone.
When the last person dies who remembered me,
the wind will blow leaves and then I will be free.

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Schrodinger’s eyelids

Dreams pull the dead back to life
raised in memory at the height of fashion, revivified
at no expense, corrupted molecules incorruptibly cloaked
in life and color and not a hint of worms to be found

Corpses dance, all goodbyes forgotten and
farewells flown away, hearts once broken beat again
with orchestras straining chorus from chaos,
then fluttering in morning light the dead go gray again

Likewise dreams raise any palace or place
no matter how ground into dust they may be
in the waking world, stone from ash, blueprint to concrete
and back again, Schrodinger’s eyelids awake and asleep

Schrodinger’s eyelids awake and asleep
Schrodinger’s eyelids away in the deep

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Artificial intelligence: Is it a threat to humanity? Or our only hope?


Stephen Hawking says artificial intelligence could end humanity. “Computers will overtake humans with AI at some point within the next 100 years,” he says.

First of all, I think we should be referring to it as “artificial consciousness,” because that’s the real issue — not that machines are intelligent, but do they have self-awareness and consciousness.

Far be it from me to disagree with someone as smart as Hawking, but rather than ending humanity, AI just might be the only thing that can save us.

Think about it. Have we really done that great of a job on our own? Warfare seems to be the natural state of humanity. Most of humanity’s technological advances have been in war and destruction. We are pitifully unable to manage our resources or rise above greed and tribalism. The notion of human equality, while an ideal we say we want, actually scares the bejeebers out of us, and even the most advanced among us work feverishly to maintain inequality and imbalance.

On the other hand, Hawking might be right — if we consider that AI will be a product of ourselves. And the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in… Well, you know the rest. If artificial consciousness comes into existence and its morality is a product of our own, can we expect it to treat us better than we’ve treated each other? If AI looks to humanity as an example of how to treat those lesser than itself, then our goose just might be cooked.

That’s why I’m practicing saying, “I for one would like to welcome our new Skynet overlords.”

(Cross-posted from Archervox)

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Orson’s Last Walk

by Robert G. Archer

Orson-Rob_thumb.jpgAnd suddenly my beloved dog was there, licking my face awake, pushing me out of dreams and into a day, and I knew that I was only confused because it must have been a very deep sleep, this was the only explanation for why I couldn’t seem to read the clock by the bed.

So I pulled on last night’s pants and shirt, where I’m sure I must have dropped them before I went to sleep, but strangely I couldn’t remember getting undressed or going to bed, or even what I did yesterday, but it would come to me, I was only groggy, that’s all.

And out I trudged into the living room to put on my shoes, and while I sat tying them on the couch Orson danced in impatient circles, ready for his morning walk. But as I reached for my cap the strangest thought struck me and I looked at him, my small little Maltese, my best friend for nearly five years.

I had the oddest sensation that I had once felt a very deep punch in the gut, swam through a thick ocean of a very big sadness, and it was about my dog. And I had the wisp of an idea that I seemed to have once thought I remembered that he had gotten sick, yes, he had gotten sick and then before I knew what was wrong, he had died. It almost seemed like I remembered it, after only a week of him not getting better but getting weaker and weaker, and the vet never giving me good news. And then he’d had his last day, trying to lift his head to look at me, and couldn’t, so I lifted it for him and he looked at me, almost as if he was saying goodbye and telling me he couldn’t hold on anymore, that he was so, so sorry and he hoped I would forgive him for not being stronger, and I told him that it was okay, it was all okay, that he could go to sleep now and then I let him go and he was gone.

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The Fish Puzzle

 by Robert G. Archer

The small fish swam around again. He saw, at the bottom of the tank, a bright red rock, different from all the others. It was a new thing. It was the first time the little fish had seen it. It called to him so he swam down to it. He touched his lips to it, this new red rock that had never been here before. It did nothing except to be new. The fish learned everything he could from it. He swam on, away from the red rock. He circled the tank again, a happy circle, all of life contained therein. The first quarter of the circle. The second. The water felt good. The third. Perhaps there would be food around the next. The fourth. And then the small fish saw, at the bottom of the tank, a bright red rock, different from all the others. It was a new thing. It was the first time the little fish had seen it. It called to him so he swam down to it. He touched his lips to it, this new red rock that had never been here before.

Hospital room            The man opened his eyes, the man who had been dreaming of the fish. But even as his eyes opened, the fish dissolved like smoke, forgotten and nameless as the dream faded, and already the man could not remember it. He was dreaming something. Something about water. But then it wasn’t water. It was snow.

The man’s opening eyes began to clear and he saw stretched out before him a vast field of snow, white and waving off into the far distance. Snow as far as the eye could see. There was nothing else but snow. He felt cold. Why was he alone in the snow?

Then he perceived that the snow wasn’t horizontal, it was vertical. It was up and down in his line of sight. He must be leaning against a snow cliff. But the snow was smooth and wavy. If he was leaning against a cliff he should see rocks, and he should be able to tell what he was standing on, next to this snow cliff.

No, no, this isn’t right, he thought. He became aware of his body. He wasn’t leaning against a snow cliff, he was lying on something. The snow cliff wasn’t vertical, he was horizontal. He was lying down. What was he lying on? Even though he felt cold, where he was lying felt warm and soft.

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The Day the Earth Went Deaf

horn earHarvey Broomslug settled back into his comfy couch and turned on Real Housewives of Dublin Georgia, because he liked the way Betty Billie Bob’s boobs bounced. He wrestled with three different remotes, one to turn on the TV, another to turn on the DVR, and another to turn on the audio receiver, because he wanted to make sure when he saw Betty Billie Bob’s boobs bounce, he could hear it in surround sound.

When he finally got everything up and running, he selected the show from the recordings and hit play. But instead of hearing the glorious sounds of undereducated bouncing southern boobs, he heard, like it was far off in the distance, a high-pitched squeal, a whistle way up in the upper registers, slowly getting louder and louder.

He searched for the audio remote, cursing Sony or Toshiba or Samsung or whoever the hell manufactured it, and furiously checked to make sure it was on the right input, as the whistle continued to get louder. Everything seemed to be on the right setting, but now, rather than being concerned about inputs, he began to worry about volume, because the screeching he thought was coming out of the speakers was sure to irritate his wife who was in the other room.

Betty Billie Bob’s boobs bounced into the frame but Harvey didn’t care anymore, because at that instant he suddenly realized two things: thing one, the whistle wasn’t coming from the speakers, and thing two, he could not hear anything else but the whistle. And that’s when it dawned on him the sound was in his ears, not in the room. As far as every other sound was concerned, he was deaf, except for the whistle.

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