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The Official Slice of Tomorrow Thread

slice of tomorrow futuristic realism sci-fi realism science nonfiction

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#1
Yuli Ban

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As requested.

 

This was originally part of Anarchy in Prague's rewrite, but it got out of hand within half an hour. Gist: a Reddit bot is actually a real, honest-to-god bot and not just an online software program. It's actually not part of Anarchie, which is why I'm posting it in its own thread as an official threadstarter. 

Skip to the giant "Q" if you want the story. Otherwise, read my short little ramble on what went wrong. 

So Venus was screwing about at home like the NEET she is, pissing about on Reddit. Then she got the idea to create a Reddit bot— you can generate a bot through online software, even if you have absolutely no programming experience. The ability to get a custom-made script by an AI has created a sort of Eternal September for content creators utilizing AI; this isn't even her first custom bot. It just happens that she decides to use her personal Pepper robot, Salt, as a sort of server for this robot. This essentially means that she has what is probably the only physical Reddit bot on Earth.

 

Where did it go wrong/right? Well this is a scene from the old Anarchie that I'm getting rid of, and I still like it. Kill your darlings! 

So I decided to redo it.

 

Q

 

 

'It's always fun to watch a sunset as long as you're away from the mosquitos.'
 
So said the Nesra bot. That's one of her quips. It's sort of like her job, to barge into Reddit threads and post faux-deep, sophistic quotes. Sometimes she gets upvoted. Usually, she gets death threats, much to the chagrin of /r/BotsRights. And why shouldn't she? She's just a bot whose purpose is to annoy people. 
That little quip went onto a news article about how the sun looked deep red in Indonesia following the eruption of some volcano. 44 upvotes, 17 downvotes. But it's only a few minutes old, so I'm not surprised. Usually, she nets upwards of twenty thousand upvotes, as long as you give her a day. 
 
But can I show you something? Here! This beauty is the Nesra bot. It's a curious thing, isn't it? And not only can you enjoy her sleek form, but you can also bet that I've gone down in the Reddit history books for having the first ever "real" Reddit bot. She doesn't just post her computer poems on Reddit— she knows how to write them down.
 
"Nesra, come 'ere!" I handed her a ballpoint pen and told her to generate one of her world famous poems. It took her a few seconds, but her mind found the optimal course of words and her jerky hands laid it out on my notepad. 
 
'Sunshine is like rain for a sunny day. Rain is like sunshine for a cloudy day.'
 
I didn't quite understand what she was getting at, but it did make sense. That's what I loved about these bots— when I was a kid in college, I'd mess around with content creating bots. It was considered an event when one scrounged together a legible sentence. The few that actually seemed to make sense were blessed with thousands of upvotes. 
But now, bots know how to string together words into meaningful sentences like it's child's play. It's still very stilted— just last week, I tried using Nesra to write a short story to post to /r/WritingPrompts, and while it was functional, it was only just. You could tell that a human being was not responsible for the story, as logical sequences came at bizarre moments and dialogue felt unnatural. 
Still, compared to what came before, she might as well have written Shakespeare. 
 
IRL, I get a few questions. And I do love showing her off to the folks at Christmas.
 
She rolled over to me and gave me another poem. I read it and smiled. 
 
'If humans could fly like birds, we would be sooner smother ourselves to death with our own wings.'
 
I stood up and grinned at her. "What, are you saying you're a human now?"
 
She heard my words, but she gave a very chatbot response— "I am not a human. Humans are of the genus Homo and the species Sapiens. I am made of plastic and carbon fiber."
 
She said this before whenever she tried using "We" or "Our" in reference to humans. It made me wonder sometimes, but she wasn't there yet. None of them were. 
 
So I took the letter and pat her on her head. My cat rubbed against her right as she began rolling away. What may not exist in that brain now will in only a few years, and I can't wait. 
 
I looked back at the poem and reflected upon it. 
 
After a few moments, I went, "What?"
 
Because no matter how you slice it, these poems still sound like they were written by a robot.

Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#2
Yuli Ban

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Root beer stung my mouth, and I enjoyed the fizziness as the ice cold drink went down easy.
"Do you want me to go there?"
I was about to give him an obvious, but I stopped myself. I thought about it. What if Moville actually went to the moon? What if he took pictures? It would be the most amazing thing I could think of.
"You know, we should think about it. That would be pretty cool." I took another sip. "Do you want to go to Luna?"
Moville made a shrugging motion. "It would be one small step for robots."
I chuckled. "Yeah, it would. Maybe you could vouch to bring me along." Before he could respond, I added, "Do you need any upgrades?"
He hesitated and said, "I am running at optimal efficiency."
"I mean, do you need high-beams or anything?"
"I already have them installed."
I raised by brow. "Oh! I didn't know that. Can you turn them on?"
His eyes glowed for half of a second, and then the yard in front of me lit up wondrously. It was as if someone threw on floodlights.
I said, "Geez! You're brighter than a car! Okay, you can turn them off." The yard went dark. "Fucking hell, I love you. Does Barry have this too?"
Moville said, "Yes."
"Sweet. I was hoping you'd have this sorta tech in your head. Do you wanna spend a night in a haunted house?"
"But I'll get scared!"
I laughed. "You're a robot; you can't get scared. Spooks can't do shit to you. And besides, you have floodlights for eyes. You see anything strange, you can just flood the room with light and chase it away."
Moville replied, "What if we bring ghosts back to your house?"
"That's why I have so many robots!"
Pandora walked up to me and asked, "Are you scaring Moville again?"
I turned in my seat and said, "No! No, we're just— no."
Moville betrayed me. "He wants to send me to a haunted house."
Pandora put her fists on her hips. "Why are you so evil?"
I chuckled again. "Lap-chair is ready. Come sit down!" She strutted over and took Moville's hand.
She said, "Not until you stop harassing Moville." 

Moville said, "Would you kindly look upwards?"
I followed his orders and saw two helicopters high in the sky. I had heard them coming, but I didn't think much of it. But looking at them definitely amused me.
"I used to love watching those things fly by."
Pandora asked, "You said you watched them in the 1990s?"
"Yep." As they moved onwards, their chopping faded into the distance. "I remember I used to confuse them with UFOs for a while there. Back in the early 2000s."
I took another sip. The root beer had warmed slightly. I handed the can over to Moville to hold so I could squeeze Pandora less awkwardly.
"I wish I could take you back to the 2000s. I was a weird kid back then, but I really did enjoy the times."
I heard the door close behind me. Barry had walked out.
"What's up, Bear?"
He said, "I want to enjoy the 2000s with you."
"Awww. Well, how about you go get the Sift?" Barry went back inside and brought out the Sift. I switched to my '2000s Kid' playlist. The first three songs were so 2000s for me— Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around", Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Californication", and Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." Their melancholic chords and melodies brought me back to New Orleans, 2006-2007. That post-Katrina period when it felt like the city had been stabbed in the heart by nature itself, in a nation still traumatized by 9/11 and wandering into a mild economic depression blindly.
I managed to relive that era in VR, but the technology's still limited. So I just had to enjoy my memories.


Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#3
Yuli Ban

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Here's a sight I'm sure you never expected to see in 2017.

YMma5WI.jpg

 

 

I just realized that Pepper's using the same laptop I have. And before any misunderstandings happen, I'm saying that this is the same model of laptop, not that it's literally my laptop. I don't actually own a Pepper. Yet.


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Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#4
Yuli Ban

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Rise of the Machines
Reflecting On The Cybrian explosion of 2022 
 
Edward Coleman, @eddiehasacoldman
7 July, 2027
 
Ever since deep learning exploded onto the scene 15 years ago, the promise of artificial intelligence upending our world has never seemed so close to being realized. The effects were immediate— within a few years, machine learning networks surpassed human prowess in domains we ruled comfortably for thousands, even millions of years. Atari games, NES games, Baduk, MMORPGs, 3D games, VR games, speech recognition, image recognition, natural language processing, creative procedural generation, you name it, deep learning networks mastered it. Yet the one domain where it seemed deep learning struggled like its ancestor methods was perhaps the most important of them all: the real world. Deep learning required massive data sets and plenty of time to practice, and this was easy to accomplish in a computer simulation. But we only get so much time in real life, and repetitious practice runs the risk of wearing down robotic systems unless maintenance is performed, which wastes time. 
So while we were repeatedly awed by the prowess of deep learning in the simulated realm, robotics remained little more than a spectacle. We wowed ourselves with the likes of PETMAN, ASIMO, Atlas, and Pepper, but the cold truth was that, despite the meteoric pace of development in AI in the simulated field, physical machines bore little difference from the mechanical wind-up toys of decades prior.
 
See also: SalacI/Ous Now Powering 3 Million Sexbots In Japan Alone
 
The Cybrian Explosion
 
Then came 2022. Seemingly overnight, robotic technology underwent quantum leaps forward. Obstacles we once struggled to overcome were trounced. Bottlenecks were passed. Capabilities once expected to be generations beyond us were suddenly accomplished. Robots were once only used for singular tasks, but for the first time, general-purpose utility machines left the laboratory. The Cybrian Explosion had arrived.
 
Perhaps the most important innovation was gracility. Though we had experimented with fluidly-moving mechanics before, most pre-Cybrian robots were infamous for their stiff and jerky motions (hence the term "robotic movement"). This limited their capability, as traditional robotic locomotion proved too wasteful of energy and momentum. The most famous problem in robust motion was the Falling Robot Conundrum— even when robots walked and ran in a relatively convincing manner, when they fell over, they awkwardly plopped onto their sides with no resistance or reaction. So researchers in robotics labs across the world tackled this problem using deep learning, trying to find a way to make robots fall "gracefully". As odd as it sounds, graceful falling was the trigger for the Cybrian Explosion.
 
SoftBank partnered with DeepMind Japan achieved the breakthrough first, and they discovered the many benefits robots would glean from graceful falling. If one can fall convincingly, it can learn how to perform acrobatic motions and utilize balance in special situations. Perhaps there's no better example of a Post-Cybrian robot capitalizing upon this than ASIMO Mk. III. A twirling, sprinting, cartwheeling acrobat, Mk. III stunned the planet upon its first unveiling in 2023 and represented just how quickly things were beginning to advance.
 
What made Mk. III such a game changer wasn't just what it could do in a circus, but also what it could do in the home. 
 
See also: First Skyscraper Built Purely Through Machine Labor Completed In Dubai, Stands At Measly 300m But Represents Our Future Among The Stars
 
Weak-General Artificial Intelligence
 
AI is responsible for the Cybrian Explosion, and Mk. III wouldn't have been anywhere near as capable without the development of WGAI, weak-general artificial intelligence. Defined as being artificial neural network composed of multiple separate neural networks, WGAI came about independently in multiple laboratories around the world late last decade. DeepMind UK led the charge, closely followed by Baidu and OpenAI, and by 2019, all three claimed to have created meta-neural networks. In DeepMind's case, it was a simple machine— a network that could play platforming games on the NES as well as recognize text, identify sounds, and use this gathered knowledge to play similar SNES games without prior training. Proto-WGAI such as this seemed like the harbinger of the Technological Singularity when we first reported on them, though we've since learned better. 
 
It was OpenAI that created the first true WGAI, a network capable of learning from within multiple narrow parameters in entirely separate domains. Being able to parse through more than one domain at once opened the floodgates. We no longer needed to develop separate networks for separate tasks. This coupled with more efficient algorithms effectively streamlined the learning process, allowing machines to accomplish any task their body allows them to complete instead of forcing them to follow pre-determined scripts.
 
WGAI is an amazing tool that has allowed for the Cambrian Explosion of Robotics to erupt into the mainstream, though it's still a far cry from the Kurzweilian superintelligences that still, to this day, seem to elude us. And perhaps that's for the best.
 
 
Other Stories:
MOST READ
 
1. Dubai's Robot Tower: Why It's So Important
2. Livestreaming From The Moon: Day 30
3. Kara Dissects: Google's 918-qubit Quantum Computer
4: Because Of Course They Do, Conspiracy Theorists Believe Commander Cohen's Joke Was An Actual Disclosure
5: One Month Ago, Gerry Cohen's Reddit AMA Crashed The Internet
6: DeepMind Co-Founder Demis Hassabis Finally Gives Prediction On When We'll Develop Strong-General Artificial Intelligence
7: iPhone At 20: How A Slab Of Glass And Silicon Changed History
8: Scientists Say They Have Finally Found The Source Of Evil In The Brain
9: Start-up Sandero Sets Record For Fastest $100 Billion Market Cap In History
10: SalacI/Ous Now Powering 3 Million Sexbots In Japan Alone
 
 
 
 
And now my posting brand version of this.
 
 


Rise of the Machines

Reflecting On The Cybrian explosion of 2022

Ever since deep learning exploded onto the scene 15 years ago, the promise of artificial intelligence upending our world has never seemed so close to being realized. The effects were immediate— within a few years, machine learning networks surpassed human prowess in domains we ruled comfortably for thousands, even millions of years. Atari games, NES games, Baduk, MMORPGs, 3D games, VR games, speech recognition, image recognition, natural language processing, creative procedural generation, you name it, deep learning networks mastered it. Yet the one domain where it seemed deep learning struggled like its ancestor methods was perhaps the most important of them all: the real world. Deep learning required massive data sets and plenty of time to practice, and this was easy to accomplish in a computer simulation. But we only get so much time in real life, and repetitious practice runs the risk of wearing down robotic systems unless maintenance is performed, which wastes time. 
So while we were repeatedly awed by the prowess of deep learning in the simulated realm, robotics remained little more than a spectacle. We wowed ourselves with the likes of PETMAN, ASIMO, Atlas, and Pepper, but the cold truth was that, despite the meteoric pace of development in AI in the simulated field, physical machines bore little difference from the mechanical wind-up toys of decades prior.


Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#5
Yuli Ban

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I've been playing around a bit with Photoshop lately... Okay, I know, I've been playing with Photoshop for a while. We all know I write smut, so being at least competent with Photoshop should be a given at this point.

 

With that said, I've whipped up this.

edit: And it's been further edited by /u/Antiroo. Thanks, man!

 

 

iiLMiiB.jpg

 

My first attempt ever at camera-realism. Usually these attempts look blatantly like photoshop, but this even tricks my eyes when I don't zoom in.


Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#6
Yuli Ban

Yuli Ban

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The other one wasn't quite as decent. The shadows are completely off.

04ODVst.jpg


Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#7
Yuli Ban

Yuli Ban

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Wow, the above one is really low-quality in retrospect. 
 
But you know, I was on another forum and I was able to really get the gist of futuristic realism and slice of tomorrow.
 
See if you can follow this:

One of the proposed solutions towards the question of whose lives autonomous vehicles will prioritize is that the driver should be given an "ethical knob" to flip.
This is put forward in many AVs, but in 2025, this leads to a terrible accident as a young child is struck and killed. The parents of that child then press charges on the AV "driver", claiming he's responsible for murder. At the very least, voluntary manslaughter. The rider of the AV claims that it wasn't his fault, that the AV was marketed as being completely safe.
Depending on how "hard" or "soft" I could make it, the story could take multiple directions. 
Futuristic realism would have it explore the consequences of who's responsible, perhaps even entertaining if it's possible to charge the developers or even the algorithms behind the car. Because if we trust our cars to drive us safely, that means that the technology behind them must be at least in the primordial stages of understanding right and wrong. But if that's impossible, then who's responsible? No one wants to say it was the child's fault for playing in the road. Was it the parents? Was it the driver? But isn't the driver not actually the driver? He chose to turn the Ethical Knob to "self-preservation", did he not? Was it the developers of the AV and the Ethical Knob? It's discussion of these experiment and futuristic technologies in a real-world setting. Something familiar.
Slice of tomorrow would be softer than that, doing more to follow one or the other characters and their responses to the overarching drama without focusing on the sociotechnological debate beyond a few chance discussions. In which case, the story is more "a man grapples with horrible guilt after killing (?) a child" or "a parent grapples with anger and depression after their child dies and they don't know how to move on", and the technological aspect takes more of a backseat. A pretty damn important backseat because the story wouldn't work without the existence of AVs and the AIs necessary to make them work, but the backseat nonetheless.

Right now, that's the story as it is in my head. I don't think it'll be resolved because it's just such a fascinating question.

And it's not even purely or necessarily science fiction— the Ethical Knob is actually a proposed setting for AVs.

It would be a neat way to explore the consequences of advanced technology, even if the consequences aren't explicitly good or bad.


Way back in 2015 (around Halloween, IIRC), I decided to do an experiment. Do a journal. Hour-by-hour. It details my life. The only catch is that I have to imagine that I'm living that life with an artificially intelligent humanoid utility robot. Things I do (e.g. getting the mail, cleaning the litterbox, cooking fried rice and potstickers), I may or may not claim the robot did instead.
How would my attitude shift? If I brought that robot to my uni, what would it do alongside me? If people didn't freak out on sight of it but just accepted it like how they accept smartphones, what would that day look like? Would I be more daring to do things now that I know I have some extra brains and muscle behind me? Would I use that robot like I would a personal little fetcher?
Etc. etc.


Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!





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