Chapter 5772: Alienation of Living Mechs

5772 Alienation of Living Mechs

As Professor Kacuk Chabran held a lecture on the perils of developing a reliance against autonomous machines, a lot of people became increasingly more swayed by his narrative.

The Terran academic had history on his side. Humanity had mastered the technology to develop and employ artificial intelligences in many different instances.

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Different from more rudimentary programming or control systems, artificial intelligences were typically designed to solve problems beyond the obvious ones that people could already foresee.

In order to make AIs flexible and adaptable enough to solve new problems that no one had ever accounted for in the past, the artificial intelligences had to possess the capacity to learn and iterate.

This wasmuch of the reason that made them dangerous. Artificial intelligences could 'learn' all kinds of crazy and inhuman solutions that did not align with human common sense in the slightest!

For example, Ves had personally witnessed a case where a cleaning bot tasked with removing blood from the streets had literally tried to devour the legs and the rest of the body of a living human!

In the crazy but 'correct' logic of the cleaning bot, removing the source of blood was the most effective way to prevent the floor from getting dirty.

Of course, a lot more crazy stuff happened during this incident that happened very early in Ves' career, but the memory of this iconic sight has still been seared into his mind.

Ves did not actually disagree with everything Professor Kacuk said. There was definitely a legitimate need for red humanity to remain vigilant against the temptation of relying too much on automation to solve all of its problems.

Of course, where the two diverged was their stance on whether living mechs deserved the same harsh treatment!

Professor Chabran employed two clever arguments to sway the public into supporting a crackdown on living mechs.

First, he painted living mechs with the same brush as more traditional examples of artificial intelligence.

Even if the two worked completely differently, the Terran sociologist made a strong case for treating living mechs in the same way.

"...Extensive studies have shown that the programming code of the products released by the Living Mech Corporation does not contain anything that resembles modern AIs." The older man conceded. "That does not mean they are exempt from our concern. The technological principles behind the functioning of living mechs are more esoteric due to the fact that Professor Larkinson relies on an esoteric application of E-technology, but the end result is the same as if these products are controlled by more conventional AIs."

The academic employed a classic proverb to convey his point.

"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Do not believe in the claims that intelligent living mechs are so 'different' from modern AIs that they are not subject to the problems of the latter. The two are sufficiently identical to each other that they deserve the same treatment."

The Terran professor spread his arms as he concluded this important argument.

"AIs have the potential to become dangerous, so their capacity to learn must be limited for our own safety. Living mechs also have the potential to become dangerous, so their capacity to grow must be limited for our own safety."

Ves grew angry when Professor Kacuk spoke these words!

It was not fair to establish such a strong equivalence between his living mechs and other AIs!

While was Ves was eager to refute Kacuk's attempts to tie two different phenomena together, he refrained from making an outburst.

He needed to remain in control. It was better to let the Terran scholar finish his spiel before Ves offered a thorough and more measured response.

The professor's second major argument against living mechs honed in on a vulnerability that Ves and his advisors had not properly considered.

"Third order living mechs have gained powerful metaphysical qualities that not only exhibit all of the characteristics of AIs, but also display even further traits that border on resembling intelligent organic races such as humans and aliens! Such possibilities are cause for alarm, because living mechs violate another fundamental rule. The technology that humans rely upon must never exceed our comprehension. We rightfully discourage and restrict widespread use of alien technologies because the alien principles they are based upon are difficult for humans to understand. If we do not understand the tech we use, we become vulnerable to hidden and unanticipated functions that we have not guarded against."

The professor proceeded to show numerous famous and well-

documented cases where blind reliance on alien technologies had screwed humans over.

One particularly iconic case was an instance during the late Age of Stars where the flagship of an early human fleet replaced her inferior human-developed FTL drive with a much more superior alien version taken from a defeated alien capital ship.

Since human FTL drive technology was initially reverse engineered from alien devices, there was a lot of compatibility between the human warship and the alien FTL drive.

It did not take too much effort to mount the new FTL drive to the proud flagship whose mobility had become further enhanced.

Yet when the fleet received orders to move to a human stronghold, the fleet eventually arrived at its destination without the most important ship!

It later turned out that the powerful alien FTL drive's incredibly obtuse and obscure programming and hidden modules had forcibly altered the coordinates of the vessel.

The upgraded flagship still traveled in the same direction, but only altered her heading by a few degrees.

This was enough of a deviation in FTL travel to doom the vessel in a journey across the higher dimensions with no fixed location at the end!

Suffice to say, the flagship never made it out intact. FTL drive technology was a lot less sophisticated back then. Even the more advanced alien FTL drive was hopelessly primitive compared to the modern versions employed by red humanity!

Safety was one of the major shortcomings of those early FTL drives. If a starship ever 'missed' its destination and went on a wild and uncontrollable journey, forcibly shutting down the FTL drive resulted in a much more violent ejection back into the material realm!

The vast majority of cases produced nothing but extremely long trails of debris that stretched on for several light-

minutes or light-hours!

The story behind this particular incident went on to become an iconic cautionary tale about the perils of relying on alien technology.

The only acceptable technologies were those that humanity had fully broken down, reverse engineered and explored in depth.

The general rule that humans followed nowadays was that they were only supposed to utilize technologies if people fully understood their full working principles.

It was a good rule to follow, but Ves hadn't exactly been diligent about following it. Luminar crystal technology still remained nebulous to him due to his inability to understand the alien circuitry employed by a long-dead race.

"...In conclusion, power does not automatically equate to safety. If we do not sufficiently understand or control the power we wield, it can easily explode in our faces. As much as many people from the mech community have fallen in love with the obvious power and potential demonstrated by popular products such as the Fey Fianna and the Ultimatum, they are all overlooking the obvious danger they represent to their owners. Each living mech you add to your mech roster is another potential time bomb that can explode in the worst of times."

No matter whether Professor Chabran's warning was credible enough, his words still frightened a lot of customers!

When they purchased and used their living mechs, they only paid attention to all of the strengths and benefits of their new possessions.

This was the first time they began to see their living mechs as potential liabilities!

It was such a powerful shift in mentality that it reduced a lot of enthusiasm towards Ves' products!

"Each living mech is based on a form of E-technology that is novel but also horribly disorganized and underdeveloped. Reputable experts that have studied the more obtuse properties of living mechs have informed me that living mechs have no existing basis in established science. They are based on completely different principles that trace their origin to ancient cultivation practices. While I cannot go in depth on this controversial subject, I can tell you that blindly relying on dubious methods from an old group of war criminals who almost engineered the extinction of the human race is not a wise course of action!"

Ves pressed his lips but otherwise tried his best to maintain his cool.

While he could attempt to interject and interrupt the momentum of the opposing speaker, he needed to think more carefully on how he should counter this response.

He needed to win this debate by relying on both logic and passion. It was not enough for him to rely on just one of them. The stakes were too high and his adversaries were sure to pound on any weakness.

Professor Kacuk Chabran continued to expand on his latest point. He spent a lot of effort equating living mechs to dangerous and inscrutable alien technology.

Once the moderator finally signaled an end to Professor Chabran's exhaustive lecture, Ves finally received his turn to speak to the audience.

When Ves stood in the center of the speaking pit, he began to offer a calm rebuttal to the Terran academic's arguments.

He first needed to disassociate his living mechs from AIs.

"Professor Chabran has made a common mistake that many other people have made. I do not blame them, for they do not understand my products as well as myself. What is important to know is that living mechs are not AIs for a simple reason. The former are alive, while the latter are devoid of life. This is an important distinction because living entities are not vulnerable to the same exploits that make artificial intelligences so dangerous to rely upon. Instead of viewing my products as killer robots in the making, you should treat them as symbiotic life forms that can assist us in incredible ways as long as we treat them with the respect that they deserve."

Ves projected historical images of ancient horsebound cavalry to illustrate his point.

"During the primitive ages of our history, we leveraged the power of horses to excellent effect. Effective use of animals that are not human but trustworthy enough to employ in battle has resulted in the rise and fall of many early human cultures. Our entire history as a civilization has taken many dramatic turns due to the outcome of battles where the symbiosis between man and horse has resulted in decisive victories."

Ves waved his hand, replacing the images of horsebound cavalry with much more modern depictions of living mechs such as the Fey Fianna.

"Meet warhorses 2.0. Compared to old-fashioned horses from Old Earth, living mechs are much larger, much more powerful, much more customizable and much easier to maintain and repair. Other than that, they can serve their human riders just as well as real warhorses, if not better. No words can fully encapsulate the wonder of a well-established partnership between a living mech and a mech pilot. There is no single entity in charge here. Both of them are capable of demonstrating excellent teamwork that enables them to fight harder, respond quicker and survive longer on the battlefield compared to mechs that are only controlled by single mech pilots!"

By utilizing the analogy of cavalry, Ves tried his best to reduce the alienation between living mechs and humans as much as possible.

Since humanity already had a history of establishing a successful partnership with warhorses in the past, they could establish a similar relationship with living mechs.

"Do not be afraid of living mechs." Ves told his audience. "As strange and different as they appear on the surface, each of them are actually quite gentle and friendly towards humans. Every newly fabricated living mech starts off as a blank slate that easily imprints on their first human users. Once they have grown to what I call a third order living mech, they should have retrieved so much training from their mech pilots that they are the most loyal and reliable allies of their human partners! In short, as long as you can overcome your initial hesitation towards employing a living entity in combat, you will find that fighting with a mech that can think and help you on its own initiative is a far more useful ally than a mech that is completely devoid of life!"