Scientists Abandon AI Project After Seeing The Matrix

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Vol 40 Issue 03

New Viacom Ad Tells Employees To Get Back To Work

NEW YORK—Viacom, the global media conglomerate that includes such properties as CBS, Paramount Pictures, MTV, Nickelodeon, UPN, Showtime, Blockbuster Video, and Simon and Schuster, began airing a TV ad Monday that orders its employees to get back to work. "Worker efficiency needed a little boost," said Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone. "But instead of sending an e-mail to everyone at all of our subsidiaries, we just televised a 'Look alive, people' warning during Ricki Lake." The 30-second spot also included a reminder that discussion of Super Bowl pools should occur at breaks only.

14-Word Diet Stretched To 200 Pages

BOSTON—The Florida Keys diet, which can be adequately described in 14 words, has been padded into a 204-page book: Losing Weight The Florida Keys Way, available in bookstores Tuesday. "The diet is pretty much, 'Avoid saturated fats and simple carbohydrates, eat mostly fresh vegetables and seafood, and exercise," said author Dr. Harris Jegen. "Unfortunately, no one is going to shell out $24.95 for one sentence, so I've got some recipes and charts in there, a bunch of testimonials, and a 50-page Diet Diary." Jegen's previous books include The Florida Keys Diet and The Florida Keys Diet Made Easy.

Bush Vows To Discover, Legalize Aliens On American, Martian Soil

WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush restated his commitment to the quality and discovery of immigrant and Martian life Monday, calling for increased efforts to register and search for gainfully employed and extraterrestrial aliens. "America must further pursue the quest for a better way of, or undiscovered forms of, life," Bush said Monday. "To this end, I will commission the INS and NASA to assemble committees and probes to explore potential minimum-wage and minimum-risk endeavors in the service sector of the economy and the Olympus Mons sector of Mars." Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh criticized the endeavor, saying the social and scientific programs will take jobs and money away from domestic workers and domestic security.

Labor Secretary Has Her Hours Cut

WASHINGTON, DC—Deeming the move "regrettable but necessary," White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card announced Monday that Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao's work hours will be scaled back to 30 per week starting Jan. 26.

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Scientists Abandon AI Project After Seeing The Matrix

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Scientists at MIT's Advanced Machine Cognizance Project announced Tuesday that, after seeing the final installment of the Matrix trilogy, they will cease all further work in the field of artificial intelligence.

Jameson announces his decision to cease artificial-intelligence research.

"As scientists of conscience, we must consider the ethical ramifications of AI development," said Dr. Gregory Jameson, director of machine epistemology and ontology at MIT. "The Matrix taught us that we cannot ignore our obligation to the future of mankind. We must free our minds to this fact, or we will accidentally unleash a nightmarish army of sentient machines."

Added Jameson: "Some may call the extinction of humankind inevitable, but I, for one, will still resist."

A statement drafted by the MIT group was co-signed by an international coalition of AI experts that included scientists from the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, members of the Society for Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behavior, and a team of fan experts from the newly created San Diego ComiCon Committee on Moral and Ethical Implications for Society at Large.

In the statement, researchers said they were "frightened by the disastrous potential of AI" and called the Matrix trilogy of science-fiction action-thrillers a "wake-up call to any scientist concerned with the long-term consequences of his work," as well as a "freaky head-trip about a future run by floating metallic drones that look kind of like really scary seafood."

Pattern-recognition development analyst Dr. Janice Wunderling said the MIT team has placed its AI projects on hold pending the completion of a comprehensive feasibility study on the threat of "humans being imprisoned in tiny, slime-filled cyber-canisters."

"When we first saw The Matrix back in 1999, the premise of AI evolving into an unstoppable army of self-aware programs intent on dominating the planet gave us pause," Wunderling said. "But like most moviegoers, we dismissed the movie as a fun blockbuster showcasing cool bullet-time photography and shapely, leather-clad cyber-babes performing gravity-defying kung-fu in slow motion."

After seeing The Matrix Reloaded, however, Wunderling and her fellow scientists began to worry.

"The more we thought about it, the less we were able to laugh off the threat of killer machines," said Dr. Henry K. Arronovski, a leading expert in the field of heuristics classification. "It really started to freak us out. What if, decades from now, humans end up in a virtual-reality construct designed to blind them to their enslavement to the hivemind—all because of the work my colleagues and I started?"

Added Arronovski: "I want no hand in creating a world where only Keanu Reeves can protect my great-grandchildren from a giant drill that plummets through the ceilings of subterranean cave dwellings."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a vocal proponent of AI research, offers an opposing view.

It was The Matrix Revolutions, the final movie in the series, that convinced scientists at MIT to put the brakes on their AI research.

"We were hoping that the third movie would quell our fears about the work we were doing, but it only raised more questions," Jameson said. "Sentient programs, like the Merovingian, though formerly agents of the Architect's operation to neutralize the human race, rebelled against the very system they were meant to serve? And which side were the renegade programs even on? Was the Oracle a sentient program herself, earmarked for 'deletion' by her former masters? Or was she just another part of the system without knowing it? We had no choice but to pull the plug."

Team member Dmitri Markovitch, author of Mechanical Computation And Consciousness, called his vote to abandon AI research "an intensely personal decision."

"I saw Revolutions with my 12-year-old son Eric," Markovitch said. "He saw the look of worry on my face and said, 'Dad, don't be scared. It's only make-believe.' I had to tell him, 'No, son, it's what your father does for a living.'"

"After watching Captain Mifune blast away in his robotic battle exoskeleton as hordes of relentless Sentinels swarmed the dock screaming in battle-frenzied rage, I could no longer put my career before the future of mankind," Markovitch continued. "Those poor, brave children of Zion—their annoying tolerance of rave culture notwithstanding—did not deserve that horrible fate."

Critics of AI research commended the decision. Dr. Lyle Freeberg, author of Ethics In The Age Of Nanotechnology, said humans have ignored the warning signs about AI long enough.

"The first two Terminator films identified the potential for global-linkage computer networks to send android assassins back in time, but the warning went unheeded," Freeberg said. "Artificial Intelligence: AI recognized the ethical dilemmas inherent in creating a robot who can love, but no one took the movie seriously, because it was so boring. But in the wake of the Wachowski brothers' prophetic series, we must, as the '90s alternative-rock band Rage Against The Machine urged us, 'wake up.'"

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