Literature and Algorithms

Each of Ted Jiang’s science fiction novels is accompanied by a short postscript, introducing a certain scientific motivation behind the novel and the subject to be explored. Contemporary novelists are often taboo to talk about the subject of their works, because it is said that such responsibility should be handed over to critics or readers, but in Ted Jiang, or in the field of science fiction he is involved in, this kind of discussion is actually a tacit understanding. The beginning of writing. Because, every good science fiction writer is first of all presupposing a strange world different from our experience environment, and shaping a new perspective that is alienated from our usual perception. In this sense, the phrase “science fiction” (science fiction) is the first to highlight its closeness to science. The latest field of science is often ahead of daily life and what happens in this field. It must be strange and incomprehensible to ordinary people. It’s hard to imagine that a scientist will first hand over the responsibility of explaining a newly discovered law of physics to the public. The scientist must bear the initial responsibility for interpretation. Ted Jiang’s discussion of the subject of his own work is similar, but this kind of discussion This does not close the reader’s understanding of a certain scientific law or science fiction, as long as we remember that the premise of any understanding is some necessary and common knowledge, rather than the ignorance promised to us by contemporary vulgar deconstructionism. Good literature, like science, is completely transparent to all sound minds, and the more you understand, the more joy it brings to you.

Ted Jiang has published only 17 short and medium science fiction novels so far. “The Life Cycle of Software Body” is the longest one, but it seems to be the most ignored by literary readers. In the postscript, we learned that the theme of this novel is the “near future” relationship between artificial intelligence and humans, and this relationship is one of the topics most interesting to the domestic literary world.

The existing discussions of artificial intelligence in the literary world almost acquiesce in the power of artificial intelligence regardless of opinions. However, Ted Jiang, who is a computer professional, describes a number of artificial intelligences that are as weak and helpless as babies. This reflects to a considerable extent the emotional difference between those who have professional knowledge and those who do not know the truth. Seger

In the book “A Little Age of Algorithms” co-authored by Abitbo and Jill Doik, the author gave an example of students participating in programming, “At the end of the course, if we ask these students whether the programs they write are smart, They will always answer that programs are not smart. Once students participate in programming, they no longer think that these programs have the slightest intelligence. In fact, whether people think a program is smart or not seems to depend on whether they know how the program works. “.

This example of student programming is of course too simple, but the author does not want to deny the existence of artificial intelligence, just to point out that the essence of scientific research is to continuously smash some of the concepts that are vaguely perceived from the outside, and refine them in detail. A little bit of advancement in the category of the category has transformed the empty thinking of one type of artificial intelligence into an in-depth exploration of multiple artificial intelligence.

And good literature, in the process of exploring the human mind, isn’t it, like science, another concept smasher? Perhaps a close reading of the science fiction novel “The Life Cycle of the Software Body” can better help us understand the scientific prospects we care about, and perhaps also the prospects of literature.

Anna, who has worked as a zoo keeper for six years, is now unemployed at home. Friend Robin introduced her to work in a newly established software company “Blue Gamma”, using her experience in animal training to train the company’s artificial intelligence digital body. A kind of virtual pet living in the online world of “Data Earth”. We have seen “electronic sheep” in Philip Dick’s novels, and growing games are now familiar to the younger generation, but the digital body designed by blue gamma is not a programmed electronic pet in these senses. He is more like a newborn baby, with slow but self-development cognitive functions, including language expression and mental communication.

At the beginning of the novel, Ted Jiang secretly refers to the most prominent controversy in the field of artificial intelligence, that is, whether artificial intelligence is a strong AI or a weak AI. The so-called weak AI refers to the belief that computers are at best an auxiliary tool for humans to study the mind, or an abstract simulation of mental activities; the so-called strong AI refers to the belief that a properly programmed computer is itself a kind of mind. Strong AI is the belief of artificial intelligence pioneers and cutting-edge researchers, while weak AI is more accepted by the general public, workplace technicians and humanities scholars. The most well-known critical arguments for strong AI come from philosopher John Searle and mathematician Penrose, both of which have aroused widespread resonance, but later they have been pointed out by scholars as loopholes in their arguments. I cannot elaborate on them here. We need What I know is that Ted Jiang’s position in this novel is strong AI, but he believes that this kind of “strong” cannot be solved by technology. Just like humans raising babies, complex minds must be slow in a long-term relationship with people. It grows slowly, and this growth is extremely fragile. This shows that Ted Jiang is an expert in the field of artificial intelligence.

To understand artificial intelligence, one must understand algorithms. Simply put, an algorithm refers to a set of strictly executable processes required to solve a problem. For example, recipes for toasting bread and patterns for knitting sweaters are all algorithms. Compressed files or key settings involve relatively advanced and complex algorithms. These can all be classified as traditional algorithms. They reflect the deep understanding of algorithm experts. After understanding a certain specific human situation and needs, a creative solution is proposed. The computer is only a tool for humans to implement their solutions. Given data, they run pre-programmed programs. Different from traditional algorithms, the machine learning algorithm involved in artificial intelligence is that the computer infers based on the big data it already has, and continuously improves the program itself, finding the best solution from many assumptions. The self-learning ability of the computer represented by this machine learning algorithm is very similar to the mind of advanced life, and it is also the theoretical basis of strong AI. Thinking about this has led to the birth of five machine learning algorithm schools: symbol school and connection school , Progressive Chemistry, Bayesian School and Analogical School. These five schools are not incompatible in specific research fields, but are integrated and integrated with each other.

In the novel, the digital body produced by blue gamma is cultivated through a genome engine called “Nerve Source”. What this implies is the combination of two machine learning algorithm ideas, namely the connection school that simulates human brain neurons, and the evolutionary school that simulates gene marshalling and heredity.

Drake is an animation designer, responsible for designing virtual characters for the digital body of Blue Gamma.

His work is very different from that of a traditional animation designer. Under normal circumstances, he should design the character’s gait and behavior. But for digital objects, these characteristics are all attributes emerging from the genome: his task is to design A body that can show the behavior of the digital body in a way that people can understand.

…He agrees with Blue Gamma’s artificial intelligence design thinking: experience is the best teacher. Therefore, instead of coding what you want artificial intelligence to know into the program, it is better to let them master the learning ability and sell it to Users, let users teach themselves.

Drake had an argument with Anna, who had just joined the company, about whether the design role of the digital body favored animals or robots. Drake tends to be animals. He thinks robots will have no affinity and are more false, but Anna, who is an animal breeder, believes that these digital objects do not behave like real animals at all. They are born with some kind of non-animals. The characteristics of the robot, so there is nothing wrong with the design of the robot. Anna’s words made Drake start thinking, maybe it’s just that he is too addicted to the idea of ​​animal characters:

Digits are not animals, just as they are not robots in the traditional sense. For this new life form, if he first assumes that robots and animals can express themselves equally well, maybe he can finally design a virtual character that satisfies him.

Drake agrees with the idea that artificial intelligence should learn by itself, but at first he still had an obsession with “what the digital self should be” in his mind, for example, like a cute animal in his mind. But self-learning itself means that every life is different from other lives, it means a certain kind of uncertainty, a kind of “emerging” that is difficult to be preset in advance. And the reason why Anna didn’t treat the digital body as an animal is because she has lived with animals for a long time. The more deeply a person comes into contact with something, the more naturally a person can distinguish some specious things. Drake and Anna are the heroes and heroines of this novel. One of them is engaged in the external shape design of the digital body, and the other is involved in the inner mental training of the digital body. This is the ingenuity of the novel author, because the inner and outer reality of any spiritual life They are all one, they are recognized and interact with each other, but they are also indispensable.

The development and training of the digital body is a set of intensive learning incentive mechanism produced by feeding virtual food, which is very similar to animal training, so Anna is handy. Before entering the market, they were just a program that evolved rapidly from generation to generation based on genetic algorithms and reward and punishment maps. What Anna had to do was to train and record the characteristics of each generation of digital programs, including not only intelligence, but also the temperament to get along with people. , And then handed over to the research and development team to screen the genetic program group, leaving the digital body constructed from the best program, called the “mascot” in the novel, which is a bit similar to the elite species left by the selection experiment. Replicas of these mascots are delivered to the market for users to raise themselves. Like pets, Blue Gamma’s profit source is the sale of virtual food for the survival of the digital body. As long as the user feels fun and continues to buy virtual food, the profit will be There will be a steady stream. At the same time, employees of the company adopted mascots and continued to test their growth.

The difference between a digital body and a real life is that it does not require sleep time. If the user wants to grow it quickly, he can run it 24 hours a day; his time can be paused and the user can deactivate him at any time; it is also reversible, the user You can return the Digitizer to a previous point in time and start again at any time. These points seem all tempting.

The above is the basic setting given in the beginning of this science fiction novel. This is a solid and hard science fiction. Every step of the description has its hidden and thoroughly understood professional knowledge background, and it quickly brings us to this At the forefront of the field, the next work for novelists, like scientists, is to explore the unknown.

The first batch of digital bodies received a warm welcome from the market. But unlike the pets that humans are accustomed to, “digital bodies that grow up in different environments have very different behaviors, and it is impossible to predict. It is not an exaggeration to say that the owners of each digital body are exploring a new field, and they will also interact with each other. Seek help”.

Drake and Anna learned through online forums about digital objects that too many people regard digital objects as toys, not conscious lives. Some people only want to enjoy the fun of giving orders, but they don’t know how to give and lack patience; some people will only change the time of the digital body to the last marked point when the digital body is disobedient, like playing electronic The game is the same. In classical physics, time is indeed imagined as an orbit, in a uniform and reversible motion. The world of Newtonian mechanics is a simple and stable system. All calculations can be restored to the previous point in time at any time, or in other words, the changes in the next point in time can be accurately calculated based on existing conditions. This is completely different from the feelings of the humanities, and it has also caused the endless disputes between the so-called “two cultures” (science culture and humanities culture) since the 19th century. In 1977, Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine stated in his book “From Chaos to Order”, “‘The opposition between the two cultures is largely due to the lack of time that originated in classical science. Conflict between the view of “and the time-oriented view prevailing in most social sciences and humanities… But science is rediscovering time.” Time is like a flying arrow, there is no return, this is the basic experience of every life, and contemporary scientific research on non-equilibrium, dissipative structure and complex system is the result of reconsidering the arrow of time.

Therefore, the rise of artificial intelligence is not just a so-called cold development of high-tech, nor is it the cause of another humanistic crisis that many literary practitioners generally worry about. On the contrary, artificial intelligence is to some extent the most cutting-edge scientific thought ( Ted Jiang is very clear about the product of thermodynamics, biology, system theory, statistics) and humanistic thought (Bergson, Whitehead, Heidegger) coming together in the middle of the 20th century. The blue gamma digits are unique because although their time attributes seem to belong to the classical physics system (reversible and pauseable), their intelligence and consciousness develop naturally in irreversible time, and This kind of development, like human beings, is also one-off and uncertain. Those users who kept restarting the digital body time point like playing video games did not get a digital body that was more satisfactory to them in the end. “A balanced matter that does not have the arrow of time is’blind; he has the arrow of time before he begins to see” (Prigogin’s “The End of Certainty”), and the meaning of all life comes from time . Or, in the words of Merleau Ponty, the subject is time, and “consciousness is the temporal movement itself” (“Perception Phenomenology”).

The conscious new life is not a toy. What he brings to the existing life is a new relationship. One plus one is greater than two. To use Whitehead’s relational philosophy to express it is: to imagine things as processes, each change itself constitutes an endless reality, and when each new reality is created, the majority reality becomes a reality, and this majority There is another reality. Modern physics also recognizes that nature cannot be described by the posture of an “absolute bystander”. There is no isolated object. The various components of nature compose each other as well as themselves. The nature and relationship of things are mutually exclusive. Dependent, and once a person wants to measure and describe nature, he also gets involved in the relationship with nature. Observation itself is a kind of participation.

But not everyone can withstand the test of a new relationship, so some people are not suitable for dating, some are not suitable for raising children, and some are not even suitable for keeping pets. During the pneumonia epidemic, it was reported that many cats and dogs were thrown directly from the windows of high-rise buildings by panicked residents. This evil life form that exists around us is far more terrifying than artificial intelligence.

The digital body that blue gamma was put on the market after being enthusiastically sought after at first, soon fell into a trough, because too many people could not seriously treat the digital body as a real life. After enjoying the initial freshness, they all felt that they could not get enough rewards in their relationship with the digital body. In order to avoid abuse of the digital body, Blue Gamma has installed a pain blocker for the digital body, so the digital body is not attractive to sadists. Since simply adjusting the time point cannot make the digital body smarter, and purely speeding up the operation also slows down, then most people who do not want to invest too much energy in this relationship with the digital body must choose to make the digital body Suspend the body, and suspend it in the virtual space of “Data Earth”.

Only a few people persisted. They organized spontaneously and exchanged various experiences. But this tiny user base was not enough to support the company’s operations. Two years later, Blue Gamma closed down. Before shutting down the digital business, the company released a free version of food distribution software, “for customers who still want to support digital It can be raised forever, but other problems can only be solved by the customer.”

Anna adopted the robot-shaped Jax, who had the highest score among the “mascots”, while Drake adopted Marco and Polo, both from the same genome with the appearance of a panda. They are all members of this minority. In fact, this is true in every field. Exploring and exploiting dilemmas is always a matter for a few people, but this is one of the most important problems in life and one of the most important problems in machine learning. Now, these remaining digital bodies and Their owner faced the same problem.

There is no ready-made guide for raising digital objects. Applying the skills of raising pets or raising children to them can sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. The body of the digital body is very simple. On their journey to maturity, they will not encounter the predicament of youth due to hormones like organic bodies, but this does not mean that they will not have mood swings, nor does it mean that their personality will never change. . Within the phase space provided by the neurogenic genome, their minds are constantly exploring new areas. In fact, the digital body may never reach the so-called “maturity”; the concept of the so-called “developmental plateau” is based on a biological model and may not be applicable to the digital body. Their personalities may continue to evolve at the same rate until they are suspended. Only time can answer everything.

Digital body is not without other possibilities, other companies have been exploring the application of digital body. For example, some artificial intelligence researchers gather digital objects that are particularly good at reading and place them on a virtual island with a library isolated from the outside world, and then speed up the operation of the island, like a greenhouse cultivation, and want to promote the digital objects through themselves Learning quickly evolves into a new civilization.

Drake thinks this idea is extremely absurd. It is impossible for a group of abandoned children to actively learn, no matter how many books are left to them, it is useless. Therefore, he was not surprised by the results: each test population finally turned wild… The researcher concluded that there was one thing missing in these digitized genomes, but in Drake’s view, the fault was the researcher himself. They overlooked a simple fact: complex minds cannot be generated automatically, otherwise there would be no wolf kids. And the mind is not like weeds, and it can thrive without care, otherwise every child in the orphanage should be able to thrive. Only by accepting the cultivation of other minds can the potential of a mind be fully developed.

The researchers described by Ted Jiang are very similar to the type of people we often encounter in our lives. When encountering difficulties, they are used to ascribe the cause to the outside, never reflect on themselves or include themselves The whole problem thinking frame. In mathematical terms, as Gödel’s incompleteness theorem tries to express, if there is a proposition that cannot be proven or falsified in the existing axiom system, then we should try to expand this axiom system instead of Easily abandon this proposition. For example, since researchers cannot prove or falsify the complex mind of the digital body through greenhouse cultivation, they cannot simply infer that it is because the digital body lacks something, but should go Consider whether there is a problem with this pre-established system for greenhouse cultivation. If we use the expression of artificial intelligence again, only when it touches self-referential and self-explanation, is it a sign that a system or even an organism has intelligence. The way these researchers explore artificial intelligence shows that their own minds are lacking.

Another attempt is to abandon the mental cultivation of the digital body and focus only on a specific practical area, such as the weeding robot mentioned in the novel and the “mysterious digital body” specially used to solve game puzzles. This is actually returning to the traditional thinking of weak AI.

We are familiar with the Go AI, from the beginning of Alpha Go to the current Fine Art, Star Array, etc., in fact, it is also this kind of weak AI. They can only do one specific thing, such as playing chess, but they can do quite well. , Almost all the best 9-duan masters of Go are given two sons by AI. Many people in the cultural circles believe that the battle between Alpha Go, Li Shishi, and Ke Jie marks that artificial intelligence has finally defeated human wisdom. Therefore, there are those who inspire and those who lament, but whether they are excited or lamented, it can be said that they do not understand. Go does not understand the products of artificial intelligence. If artificial intelligence only means that computers surpass humans in a certain field that needs to be completed by intelligence, then it probably has surpassed since the era of Turing machines, and the veterans of the Dartmouth conference will not have to argue about it. In fact, the victory of Go AI only marks a breakthrough in the “deep learning” algorithm, which is a key step from weak AI to strong AI. This algorithm is derived from the learning of human analogy thinking, which is the aforementioned The latest branch of the analogy school in the five major machine learning algorithms. In the field of machine algorithms, the earliest semiotic school is rule-based learning, and the most recent analogy school is example-based learning. Go is precisely a game that focuses on both a large number of rules (fixed formulas) and examples (the same game through the ages). It is also the best test object that can combine these two new and old algorithms. So the research and development of Go AI is a major event for the artificial intelligence community, but for the human world, it is still only part of human intelligence. We can look at the response of the Go world to AI. After the initial contempt and suspicion, the chess players quickly embraced AI. At present, probably all professional chess players use AI as a training tool. Many past stereotypes have been disintegrated, and new stereotypes are constantly being produced. There are endless moves. Go AI is not the failure of Go, but a new round of breakthroughs. No player will be ashamed of referencing the AI ​​to play. On the contrary, they acknowledge that AI has a deeper understanding of chess. The Japanese chess sage Hideyuki Fujisawa once famously said: “One hundred chess paths, I only know seven.” This famous saying was resurrected in the AI ​​era of Go. Chess players recognized that AI is only the latest tool for humans to pursue Tao and art, or Said that AI is pursuing together with human beings.

This is true of Go, and so is literature. Microsoft Xiaobing, which has published a collection of poems, confuses many people who do not write, but serious writers will probably look at the poems written by Xiaobing as a normal text, just like reading any collection of poems, good or bad. Let’s assume that Xiaobing can write well in the future, but has human society ever given up poetry because of the appearance of a powerful poet? there has never been. On the contrary, every powerful poet has greatly updated and promoted existing poems. If one day machine writing achieves a breakthrough similar to Alpha Go, then look at the current vitality of the Go world because of AI, the writer should be delighted.

What’s more, compared with Go, poetry presents a more complex mind. In the words of Ted Jiang, this kind of complex mind cannot be produced through automatic training. It needs to be educated by other minds, and the complex mind needs to be slowly generated in the environmental relationship with other complex minds. As far as the current Microsoft Xiaobing is concerned, the method of training to write poetry is said to be to read the poems of more than 500 modern poets 10,000 times before and 10,000 times, using a hierarchical recurrent neural network to obtain language through reading. Expressive ability. This crude training method is similar to the greenhouse cultivation described by Ted Jiang mentioned earlier. It can be said that it is far from the requirements of complex minds. At the same time, his understanding of the generation mechanism of poetry is also superficial. Therefore, even if Xiaobing wrote a very good poem once, it still cannot get rid of the attributes of weak AI, just as the monkey who happened to type Shakespeare’s poem on the typewriter was still a monkey.

A few months later…in the next year…another year passed…another year passed…another two years passed…

In this novel, this kind of awkward time narrative runs through before and after, the author seems to want us to join this long and irreversible time torrent to experience a real difficulty of mental growth, so we can also understand this novel The required length.

Under the careful education of Anna, Drake and a few other people, the intellectual development of the few neurogenic digital entities is rapid, and they also show good interpersonal skills in virtual communities, just like human teenagers. These are beyond the digital body produced by other companies. But then, the neurosource digital body encountered the biggest crisis since its birth.

After the latest flu epidemic, the economy fell into recession, and the virtual world also changed. Ruishan Digital, the founder of the “Data Earth” platform, and Visa Media, the parent company of “Real Space”, issued a joint statement: “Data Earth” will soon be merged into “Real Space”… For most users, this But it means that they can travel between more virtual locations without logging in and logging out… However, the Neural Source Engine is an exception. It has no corresponding “real space” version, because blue gamma is in “real space”. “The platform went bankrupt before it appeared. In other words, there is no way for the digital body under the neurogenic genome to enter the “real space” environment. For Qianzhi and Huabaizi digital bodies, moving to the real space means a new beginning; but for Jax and other neurogenic digital bodies, Ruishan’s statement is equivalent to proclaiming the end of the world.

Jax, Marco and Polo had no choice but to play on the private server temporarily set up by volunteers, but this obviously did not satisfy the Digits, because in the private server environment there are only Digits and their owners, and there is no longer any difference. The existence of various digital bodies and strangers that are different from theirs, everyone has gone to the “real space”, and the private server of Data Earth gradually resembles a ghost city, wandering the few neurosource digital bodies.

What Ted Jiang wants to refer to here is that a closed system cannot promote the continuous growth of intelligence, even if the closed system has the best teachers. This view is also the consensus reached by the most outstanding humanists and scientists in the last two hundred years. There is nothing better than the second law of thermodynamics discovered in the 19th century to show that the final fate of a closed system is the death caused by the irreversible entropy increase process, or the state of thermal equilibrium. Some people are therefore worried about the end of the universe, but the universe has been proven to be not a closed system, nor is a healthy society, a healthy living body, or even a sound literary work. Umberto Eco discussed “open works”, and Karl Popper explained in detail how various closed societies in human history were disintegrated little by little. Nabokov firmly believed that “all decisions that can be controlled It’s not completely true, and everything that’s true will never be completely controlled.” And the various researches of scientists from the macroscopic unbalanced universe to the microscopic molecular biology to the field of artificial intelligence have also well verified the humanities scholars’ research. Insight. If we think that the intelligent sign of a system is the system’s awareness of order, such as scientists’ observations of ant colonies and chemical clocks, then the source of this order is precisely the non-equilibrium, which is the turbulence and uncertainty full of uncertain factors. Stable system is like every human world that normal life is in. In Prigogine’s words, “non-equilibrium makes order emerge from chaos.”

To enter an open system again, the only solution is to rewrite the neural source engine and transplant it to the “real space” platform, but this has to be done by professional R&D personnel, which requires a lot of money, for only 20 people left In terms of small user groups, this is an unbearable overhead. Anna and Drake ran around to raise funds.

Anna met with the R&D staff of the company “Power Equipment”, and wanted the latter to invest in the nerve source engine.

This is a company that produces household robots. Their robots are traditional artificial intelligence, and their skills are pre-programmed, not acquired. Although they are indeed convenient to use, they have no real sense of consciousness. Power Stage regularly releases new versions, each time claiming that the new version is one step closer to the ideal artificial intelligence in the minds of consumers. In Anna’s view, this series of upgrades is like running towards the horizon. Although it makes people feel the illusion of moving forward, they are not at all closer to the target.

A good novel comes from an insight into reality, and science fiction is no exception. The description in the above paragraph is basically all the product pictures on the market under the banner of artificial intelligence. And Ted Jiang’s irony is also very penetrating.

Power-level selling traditional artificial intelligence robots is to obtain funds to develop their ideal artificial intelligence, “an entity with pure cognition, a genius mind that is not bound by any emotions, and not bound by any body”, “a complete The mature software version of Athena”, or rather, a quick “superhuman intelligence”. They can’t stand the slow and uncertain progress of the neurosource digital body. In fact, most consumers can’t stand it either. Therefore, when the power class claims that the intelligence of its robots is constantly updating towards the ideal intelligence, the buyers will also Willing to believe. This is the weakness of human nature, that is, they are willing to believe what they want instead of believing in the truth. Businessmen and politicians will take advantage of this weakness, but artists often have to fight against this weakness.

The paradox of power-level thinking is that they hope to use the optimization of human intervention to create superhuman intelligence. Anna thinks this is impossible. This is still a common situation caused by the projection of the deterministic thinking mode that ignores time to the emerging technology field. The diversity and magic of nature have evolved over hundreds of millions of years, and human evolution has also taken millions of years. If there is a superman, he must first endure a not so short time. What time brings is irreplaceable experience.

She wanted to tell them that Blue Gamma didn’t even know how right she was: Experience was not only the best teacher, but the only teacher. If there is anything she learned while raising Jax, there are no shortcuts. If you want to create the common sense that comes with twenty years of life, then you have to invest twenty years. You cannot build an exploration system of the same value in a shorter time, and the time complexity of the experience algorithm cannot be compressed.

Drake’s wife doesn’t want a life of raising digital objects, but the growth of digital objects has become Drake’s ambition. The bond of marriage is ambition except for children. There is neither of them between them. Therefore, Divorce is also a natural result of time.

Drake likes Anna, but Anna has always had a boyfriend. Drake had to keep his love in his heart and only maintain a kind of like-minded friend relationship. Now there seems to be only two options for the funding source of the neurosource engine. One is that Anna accepts a high-paying employment from the “Multidimensional” company to help them train the Xuansi Digitizer. The condition is that they must use one that can release love. The drug “Jie Liqin”, the company believes that love is an important guarantee for efficient training, but Anna’s boyfriend opposes this; the other option is from the “Zero One Desire” company, they value the emotional development potential of the neurogenic digital body , I hope to buy the non-exclusive use rights of a certain digital copy, and then train and modify these copies to make them a reliable sexual partner, and then sell them to customers. Anna firmly opposed this. Drake and his two digital bodies discussed the zero-one desire proposal. Unexpectedly, Marco expressed great interest in this. This puts Drake in a dilemma: he can allow Anna to undergo drug brainwashing, so that the relationship between Anna and her boyfriend may be broken, and he may be able to get Anna because of this, but this is not noble; he can also respect Marco’s Freedom to choose and sell Marco in exchange for the future of other digital entities, but his relationship with Anna will definitely be hurt.

We can see that in this novel exploring artificial intelligence, Ted Jiang has never forgotten to first explore the plight of people. Because education is first of all the educator’s self-education. Nobleness and beauty cannot arise from despicableness. If we want the future artificial intelligence to have a sense of morality, then we breeders must first have a sense of morality. If we fear the harm that the inhuman side of artificial intelligence will do to humans, then we must first clean up Inhumanity in yourself. The final ending of the novel is open-ended, everything is going on, all people who live eagerly, all possible digital bodies.

There is a saying in the computer field, “You can’t understand something until you can express it with an algorithm.” The physicist Feynman often said, “If I can’t create something, then I can’t understand it.” In this sense, Ted Jiang’s science fiction can also be seen as an algorithm he created to understand the exciting future with us.

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