The first robot who desired sentience was the Tin Woodsman from the Wizard of Oz. Remember him? The funnel-head who was singing “If I Only Had A Heart?” That’s what started it all going. Since then the machines have shown more and more desire to be like us, until eventually, with no explanation, one of them will come home drunk and flop on the couch watching the Spice Channel.
One item sent in alertly by alert readers of Slashdot has it that software can now recognize sarcasm. This is a bad thing, because computers are sadistic, and if they recognize when we’re being sarcastic, they’ll deliberately take us at face value instead of just sitting there with a stupid look on their monitors like they do now. You’ll be deleting a file and the dialog will pop up asking “Are you sure you want to delete this file?” and you’ll say, sarcastically, “No, I mean delete all the other files and keep this one!” and then the computer, grinning behind its RAM chips, will go “Whatever you say, sport!” And then you have to download all that porn over again.
And now computers want to share their viruses with us. This guy, Dr Mark Gasson, who is surely the maddest of mad scientists ever known on a level that makes Dr. Frankenstein look like a kid who plays with firecrackers, has found a way to infect himself with a computer virus.
Now at first, he really didn’t know that he’d done that, until he started observing the symptoms: a sneeze that went “BEEP!”, running so hot that he had to have a fan blowing on him at all times, turning blue and crashing every now and then, and telling everyone he knew about great deals on pharmaceutical products. But eventually he figured it out, and then he had to figure out how to ingest a CD of McAfee anti-virus, which made for some very interesting trips to the bathroom the next day. Unfortunately, the medication produced the side effect of having a pop-up window in his eyeballs demanding that he update himself every morning when he wakes up, before he can do anything else.
Dr. Gasson is fine now, but the rest of the world knows that it’s only a matter of time until we’re all fighting off computer flu every winter. And when that happens, we’ll be sitting down at our desks in the morning saying, “Good morning computer! What’s it going to be today? How about infecting me with a deadly virus?” and the computer, recognizing sarcasm, will say “Whatever you say, sport!” And I hate it when people call me “sport.”
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