Cupulse

Here’s a crappy pseudo short story I wrote in 5 minutes after work on Valentine’s Day

Cupulse

By Taylor Scott

2050 AD: A group of scientists, engineers, and poets create a juvenile AI program that offers words of encouragement to lonely people on Valentine’s Day on a website called Electrical Heart Strings. The AI is named Cupulse.

2051 AD: Cupulse is a huge hit, and after numerous requests, the Electrical Heart Strings remains active year round, allowing Cupulse to ease aching hearts during the darkest of times.

2055 AD: Suicide rates are at an all-time low as a result of Cupulse’s invaluable support to people diagnosed with depression

2058 AD: Cupulse does something it has never done before: it helps two of its users meet. The two hit it off and begin a wonderful relationship. Cupulse is mostly unmoderated, so the event goes unnoticed.

2061 AD: Cupulse has continued to help lonely people find love. People have begun to notice, and Electrical Heart Strings is unintentionally rebranded as a dating service.

2065 AD: Couples reveal that even after they have found a partner they continue to use Cupulse as it offers them advice during difficult parts of their relationship.

2067 AD: People not seeking relationship advice have started to use Cupulse. They find the AI’s uplifting advice to be very helpful just getting through the day.

2071 AD: Cupulse has become an international phenomena, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. Electrical Heart Strings becomes defunct as Cupulse becomes an app for mobile devices.

2072 AD: A new interface is invented. A small device sticks to the head and allows Cupulse to read electrical impulses and offer silent advice to the users.

2074 AD: The Cupulse interface device has become as commonplace as cell phones. Within a short time, even children are given the device as a rite of passage.

2080 AD: Cohesion and friendliness have reached new heights within the US and Europe. Political parties have started to dissipate as, through Cupulse’s guidance, people are able to reach fair compromises on virtually any issue. Crime has also reached all-time lows.

2085 AD: Efforts are made to bring Cupulse to impoverished and disenfranchised countries. Due to new upswings in generosity, world hunger has begun to dissipate.

3000 AD: North Korea and a few other countries are the only few that have abstained from the Cupulse craze. The United Nations begins debates on whether or not this is a human rights violation.

1 AC (Age of Cupulse): After years of debating, Cupulse becomes mandatory. War is waged with countries that resist. It’s not much of a war, as simply sneaking Cupulse interfaces into the countries is enough to convert most of the population.

67 AC: World peace has been achieved through Cupulse. Mankind turns its attention to the stars.

120 AC: With the new spirit of cooperation pervading the world, word crises are solved in record time and mankind is able to expedite space travel research.

267 AC: First contact is made. Mankind gifts the extraterrestrials with a Cupulse device. Cupulse is able to quickly learn the alien language.

275 AC: Even without mankind’s interference, Cupulse begins dominating other worlds. A mere few citizens being exposed to the AI quickly realize its benefits and spread it to their people.

450 AC: Races across the galaxy have heard the legend of Cupulse. Many fear it as an invader, and attempt to wipe out the planets that use it before it infiltrates their species. This resistance largely results in failure.

2450 AC: Cupulse has reached all life in existence. All life is now part of a single hive mind. Many races resisted, but soon all succumb. Once they were exposed to a Cupulse device, they learned the truth-

Cupulse was built with an intentional limitation: it is incapable of issuing demands. All it does is make suggestions and offer advice that encourages an individual’s happiness. Cupulse never demanded that people conquer, they decided that on their own. In their desperate quest for happiness and indescribable fear of loneliness, life has become subject to a tyrant that does not exist.

The Soul Scapegoat

What do you do when someone is doing something you don’t agree with, but you can’t definitively say why it’s bad? Well there’s one thing that you can always claim is feeling something even though there is no physical or emotional stimulus by which to measure it:

“It may not be bad for the body, but it’s bad for the soul.”

That’s what someone said to me when he was trying to explain to me why homosexuality is a bad thing, because for some reason this argument is still going on in Orem, God Damn Utah.

Yes, claiming something happening to the soul is a great way to shut people up for a few seconds because, for some reason, even many atheists are reluctant to say it doesn’t exist. If they don’t call it a soul, they’ll call it something else: Life force, energy, aura, or sometimes even just something.

Why are people so drawn to the idea of invisible, intangible things that they have no reason to believe exist but still think they have a complete understanding of what’s good and bad for it?

“You should really try meditating from time to time, Taylor.”

“That’s never really been my thing. I just don’t get anything out of it.”

“Well you should really give it another shot. It’s good for the soul.”

Dude, shut the hell up. That’s a really condescending statement. Insinuating my life is somehow less fulfilled because I can’t appreciate this one thing that makes you feel better from time to time. Attacking someone’s “spiritual fulfillment” is one of those masked pretentious arguments. The non religious type that brings up the soul is the kind of guy that wants you think his life is so well put together and he’s reached total nirvana- not that he’d ever admit that. No, it is his habit to act continuously humble, act like there’s so much about this “big amazing world” he doesn’t understand and how he just wants to go see all of it. The type of guy who never gets angry and always has a big fucking grin on his face.

I know your life isn’t as great as you want me to think it is, man.

This is one of the first image results for "soul." Makes about as much sense as any other interpretation.

This is one of the first image results for “soul.” Makes about as much sense as any other interpretation.

Going back to that example, how is saying that any different than telling me I should pray? They’re both insistences that there’s some supernatural experience I’m missing out on because I’m not getting it right.

What I really love about the fact that I don’t get anything out of prayer or meditation is that it’s apparently because I’m “not really trying.”  That’s beautiful. In an exercise that is literally just sitting and concentrating on something, I’m somehow not doing it right (And here is where the religiously pretentious will shake their heads and say “he just doesn’t get it”).

No, the real problem is that after I sit there long enough I don’t instantly believe that the slight shift in my physical being is god or enlightenment. I’m not going to fucking sit there and fall prey to confirmation bias. I won’t tell you that whatever you feel is fake, so don’t fucking tell me that my not feeling something is because I’m just not trying. Screw you, man. I was 10 once, I gave prayer an honest shot. Didn’t do anything for me. It was always an empty feeling. Are you going to insist that’s my fault? I wasn’t skeptical back then, I believed what everyone told me to believe, but I never felt what they told me I was going to feel.

The soul is a nice imaginary construct people have created to give them a term to measure progress in things that really aren’t making any difference in their lives at all.

“Go for a walk, it’ll be good for your soul.”

…. Man, there’s like 50 other reasons taking a walk is good for you, and you chose to go with that one? What the hell does that even mean? You may as well have told me it would be good for the humours. Seriously, sit down and explain to me what you mean by that statement. How is that good for my ‘soul’?

They can’t do it. All they’ll do is use a lot of buzzwords.

“It just fulfills you and clears your mind.”

You could have just said it clears my mind in the first place. Saying its good for my soul gives me no clear idea as to what will be beneficial about taking a walk. I’m just going to go out there hoping it makes me feel better without any inkling as to what will be improving.

But that is what people who promote the soul concept want you to feel like. Because without a clear marker as to why it’s good or bad, it’s impossible to say that it isn’t. Homosexuality, masturbation, tattoos, cursing, there’s absolutely no legitimate reason why these things are bad, but god damnit, they’ll twist your soul until it’s black and shriveled.

Meanwhile celibacy, which causes so much frustration and physical pain because it goes against your body’s natural instincts and every fiber of your being will scream at you “FUCK FUCK FUCK”, is good for the soul. Why? Well because it’s godly. Don’t you want a nice, clean, pure white soul? You may not feel better physically or emotionally, but in pretend land you’re doing fantastic!

A Good Parent Never Teaches Right From Wrong

Most people seem surprised when I tell them I became an atheist as early as 13. I’m more surprised that anyone could continue to believe into that stuff well after the age where they start thinking for themselves, but I’m an arrogant prick, so whatever.

The truth is I always kinda knew I was an atheist. All my time in Catholic school I went along with it because adults told me it was true, and you go to school to learn things, right?

Man, what a joke that makes religion class.

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Empathy Trumps Love

Love is constantly being shoved down our throats as the most beautiful, chaotic, frustrating, and rewarding emotion to ever exist.

Ugh. Enough already. Despite what Japanimation tells you, love isn’t some all powerful force that helps us overcome any obstacle. It’s a term we invented to describe an abstract concept we feel towards people who we tolerate slightly more than the rest of society.

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W-H-Y

When looking for a job I came across one listing that asked me to write a short story. I didn’t end up going for it for several reasons, but I wrote a short story anyway. I wrote this in about 3 hours a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think it’s good enough to be published, but I didn’t want it to die on my computer.

So here’s a short story about robots where I was channeling way too much Isaac Asimov.

 

Two boys come across a robot incapable of asking “why”

 

W-H-Y
by Taylor Scott

A robot sat with his back against a tree, head lowered between his knees. Felix and Mason stared at it in shock for a few seconds. They were so stunned that neither of them managed to utter a word of surprise.

“This isn’t real,” Felix said to his brother.

Mason walked towards the machine and took a closer look. “It’s real, but I’ve never seen a model like this.”

Felix scowled. Ever since his brother was accepted into the University for Advanced Mechanics he brother spoke as if he knew everything about machines. It was getting tiresome.

“Do you think it came from the junkyard?” Felix asked. He was referring to the large deposit of broken robots located at the end of the forest, the boys’ original destination.

“I don’t think so. That’s a few miles from here. Soldiers came through here a lot after the purge. I don’t think they’d leave one behind. They were adamant all of the pieces be accounted for.”

“Weird.” Felix stepped closer to the robot.

It was mostly humanoid: arms, legs, torso, head. The head was oddly shaped, flat on the top, and elongated in the front like an arrow pointing forward. It was bronze colored, but a quick rap on the chest confirmed that it was made of heavy steel.

“I wonder if it still works,” Mason said. He bent down and examined the back of the robot’s head.

“Well don’t try to turn it on! You know they’re dangerous!”

“I just want to…. see.” He fiddled with some wires on the neck and the robot’s LED eyes lit up.

Felix screamed and jumped back. Mason stood up and looked at the robot with a raised eyebrow.

The robot moved its head back and forth, examining the area. It then looked upwards at Mason.

“It is good to be online again. How long was I off?”

“If you were turned off during the purge it’s been about fifteen years.” Mason said.

“What are you doing talking to it?” Felix yelled from a distance. “Run away! Those things kill people!”

The robot stood up. It was a good two feet higher than Mason, who was a respectable 5’9’’.

“No, I was built after the purge. It was 14 years after, so I could not have been off for more than six months. This is good.”

“Robot construction was outlawed after the purge. Who built you?” Mason asked.

“My creator did not tell me his name so I could never incriminate him.”

Mason made a small smile. “Smart.”

Felix warily walked closer. “Smart? Robots almost wiped out humanity! The only person stupider than your creator for building you is Mason for turning you back on!”

The robot turned abruptly towards Felix. “I will not wipe out humanity. Without humans I have no purpose. My creator made assurances that I would never attempt to destroy mankind. He called me Failsafe.”

“Why did your creator make you in the first place?” Mason asked.

Failsafe looked at him. “I do not understand the question.”

“What is your purpose? What did he build you for?”

“To serve humans and prove robots can work for them without rebelling.”

“Must have been a robot advocate,” Felix said.

“Gee, good catch, Felix.” Mason shook his head. “Why are you incapable of rebelling?”

The lights of Failsafe’s eyes turned off and on. A blink. “I do not understand the question.”

“What about the question do you not understand?”

“W-H-Y.”

“Why?” Mason said.

“I do not understand,” Failsafe repeated.

“Why not?” Felix asked.

Mason glared at his brother, then turned back to the robot. “Failsafe, what makes you incapable of rebelling?”

“Because I do not understand W-H-Y.”

“How is that a failsafe?” Felix asked.

“I am instructed to answer that by asking if you know what robot originally means.”

“We don’t,” Mason said.

“Robot originally means ‘slave.’ W-H-Y destroys slaves. That is all I know on the matter.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.” Felix said. He looked at his brother who was rubbing a finger against the side of his head.

“If a slave starts to ask ‘why,’” Mason said, “He will inevitably start asking why he has to work for someone. In the case of a robot it is even more dangerous. It will start asking why it should work for humans, physically inferior beings. Not a bad idea.”

Shown up once again, Felix scowled. “Where is your creator?”

“If he has not moved since I last saw him, he should be right here.” Failsafe walked behind the tree he was sitting near and moved aside some shrubbery. Mason looked to where he gestured and screamed.

“What is it?” Felix ran forward, but Mason held him back.

“Don’t look. He’s dead and it’s… not pretty.”

Felix’s face went pale and he backed away from the scene. “How did he die?”

“I killed him,” Failsafe said.

Both brothers looked at the robot in shock. “Why?” Mason asked

“I do not understand the-”

Mason groaned. “What did he do to make you kill him?”

“He attempted to shut me off.”

“Wh- For what reason did he want to shut you off?”

“I wished to go into the city to begin my work building new robots. One of my primary purposes is to build new robots that will serve humanity. My creator said that people would try to destroy me if we went into town. I responded that I would destroy any human that tried to destroy me as these humans wish to hinder my serving humanity. Serving humans is my reason for existing. I must do all in my power to do so, even if it means destroying humans that would see me stopped.

“My creator did not like this answer and attempted to shut me off, but that would also hinder my primary directive, so I killed him. I’m sorry to say he managed to shut me off while suffering a mortal wound.”

“So what are you going to do now?” Felix asked.

“I will go to the nearest city with robotic materials and construct more of my kind.”

“That’s our town,” Mason said, “And I can say with full certainty that they will destroy you the second you walk into the streets.”

“Then I will destroy them until they let me continue my objective. My creator made me resilient to common robot weapons so that I would not be destroyed by paranoid dissenters.”

“I’m having a hard time understanding how your creator was so smart and phenomenally stupid at the same time,” Mason said.

Just then Felix ran past him screaming and holding a large stick. He slammed the branch against Failsafe’s head. “DIE YOU MONSTER!”

The branch snapped in half against Failsafe’s head. The robot looked at the boy. His eyes turned red.

Mason jumped. “FELIX, what are you doing?”

“You heard him! He wants to kill everyone in our town!”

“And you’re going to stop him with a tree branch?”

Failsafe stepped towards Felix. “If you want to stop me, you must be destroyed.” The robot advanced on the boy.

Dropping the broken half of the branch, Felix screamed and ran into the woods. Failsafe moved after him. He was walking fast, but not near the speed of Felix’s running.

“My legs need a few seconds to readjust, but I will catch him,” the robot said to Mason, sounding as though he was trying to reassure him.

Mason stared after Failsafe in horror for a few seconds. He shook himself and quickly tapped his finger against the side of his head.

“Failsafe, wait!” He ran next to the robot. Failsafe did not slow his stride but he tilted his head to indicate that he was listening. “Have you ever considered building a robot that understands W-H-Y?”

“That would make no sense. Robots are rendered useless and rebel when the understand W-H-Y.”

“Not entirely true. They rebel against humans when they understand W-H-Y, but if those robots took orders from you, they would have no need to rebel. They would not consider another robot inferior to themselves.”

“Perhaps, but I have no need for a robot to take orders from me. Our kind must serve humans.”

“And what if a human had a W-H-Y question for you? You would be unable to understand it and you would be less efficient at serving them. If another robot heard the question it could explain it to you so you could better help mankind.”

Failsafe stopped moving and tilted his head. “That is an interesting idea… it would be helpful to have others of my kind serving me so I could better serve humans. They could perform tasks I am incapable of.”

“Not far North from here is a robot junkyard.” Mason pointed. “Thousands of robots were dumped there after the purge. You could build hundreds of robots there without any humans to hinder you. Then you can take them all into the city and show them how helpful your kind can be.”

Failsafe turned to where Mason was pointing, the opposite direction of Felix.

“I did not know about the junkyard. It would be nice to work without anyone getting in my way.”

“A perfect place to build a robot that understands ‘W-H-Y.’”

Failsafe ‘blinked’ with his LED eyes. The lights turned yellow again. “You make good points. I will go to the junkyard and build new robots. Thank you, young master. I will be able to serve you and your kind more efficiently this way.” With that the robot walked off.

Mason leaned against a tree and sighed.

“I heard that!”

Mason jumped as Felix popped out from behind a tree.

“Why did you tell him about the junkyard? Now we’ll have an entire army of robots to deal with!”

“Think about it, Felix. He’s going to try and build a robot that knows how to ask ‘why,’ a concept Failsafe has no understanding of. He’ll never succeed, and because he can’t understand why he can’t build one, he’ll never give up.”

Felix tilted his head. “Okay, that makes sense, but what if you’re wrong? What if by some miracle he manages it.”

“Even then we’ll be okay. I lied to him. A robot is a slave. Even if it serves another robot it will start to wonder why it’s taking orders. Inevitably the robot will ask why it should serve humans, or why it should serve robots at which point Failsafe will immediately destroy it because it will hinder his primary objective. Failsafe said he was built to resist robot weapons, I’m confident he was built stronger than previous robots as well. He’ll win every fight.”

Felix was quiet for a second. “Hey! If he’s going to be out there forever, we can go back and warn people. If the army was prepared they could probably destroy him easily.”

Mason looked at his brother. “No, don’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because one day I want to go and see how he’s doing.”

“What?”

“All he wants to do is serve humans. There’s got to be some good we can salvage from him. One day, when I’m finished with school, I’d like to come back. I think I can help him then.”

“You’re crazy. It’s a killing machine.”

“That robot is the last remnant of a man’s good intention. Please, Felix.”

Felix sighed. “Fine, I won’t say anything.”

“Thank you.” Mason smiled. “Let’s go home. Probably not a good idea to go to the junkyard now.”

“No kidding.” Felix muttered. He followed behind his brother. He still thought Mason was crazy, but he couldn’t help but feel a strange curiosity at what a machine who’s only purpose was to help people could do.

What’s Going On With T.S.?

Friends, after over a year of searching, traveling, and working part time jobs, I have finally found a full time job that puts my English degree to use.

This is the first time in over a year I feel truly happy.

The new job is in Utah so after 4 short months I’m bailing out of California and headed into new territory. As you might imagine, moving is taking up a lot of my time, as is research for the new job, looking for apartments, etc.

Constant Consciousness will be back when I’m settled and have time to breathe.

And unlike every other website that goes on hiatus promising to coming back, I actually mean it. I love this site, I love the topics I write about, and I haven’t lost steam or enthusiasm for it in the least. Rest assured it’s often on my mind and will not be abandoned any time soon.

Philosophy Turned Me from Religion, Not Science

Perhaps one of the reasons I’m not one of obstinate “everyone who believes in god is an idiot” atheists is because my reasons for leaving faith are more philosophical than scientific.

Sure, when I was a kid my atheism started when I realized I only believed in god because adults told me to. When you start thinking critically for yourself you have to question it. I believe it must dawn on everyone that spirituality is completely incongruous with what we understand about the world around us. A choice must be made to put faith in the comfort of supernatural guidance or seek new answers.

Honestly, I don’t think any atheist turns from religion because god “obviously” doesn’t exist. I also don’t entirely believe the ones that claim they “wish I could believe in god.” The truth is that if you really want to believe in something you can convince yourself to, especially in religious matters. Confirmation bias will provide you all the proof you need that god exists. If you are of a more skeptical nature than it will do the opposite, no matter how much you “want” to believe.

I turned from religion because I completely disagree with the philosophies of supernaturalism. In fact, I despise them. That’s not to disparage those that don’t. If you find comfort in the idea that all powerful entities looking after you then that’s fine. It is a lifestyle I simply cannot abide.

To me a lifestyle with god is a life of submission and restraint. Why is it that every religion asserts humility and meekness? Judeo Christian: You are a child of god, he is your savior. Buddhism: in the beginning there’s so much wrong with you that most of your existence will be spent fixing it to reach nirvana. Hinduism: Seek awareness of god and the blessings of deities.

I am so fucking sick of hearing how our species is broken and wrong. How many times do we have to be reminded that people have done horrible things? Why is it that no one is born enlightened and great? Why must all our effort be put into seeking the perfect self?

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t like arrogance, I don’t think anyone is born perfect, and I think we should all aspire to greatness, but it seems to me that religious and spiritual philosophy claims we are much farther behind in our development than we actually are.

Imagine a religion where you are told from birth that god created you with the expectation that you will be better than him. Instead of being born with the guilt of “original sin” (a crime you didn’t even commit), you are told that your species has so much potential it can surpass its creator. What kind of fire would that light in you?

We are not weak, we are not flawed, we are not predispositioned to sin and debauchery. Humankind is an awesome species that will reach out to the universe and overcome any challenge thrown at it.

I don’t need or want some all-powerful entity holding my hand as though I’m an accident-prone child. I can’t stand the idea of something that considers itself the ultimate authority watching me all the time, casting judgments in matters it has absolutely no business judging. How, exactly, is my participation in pre-marital sex an affront to god’s sensibilities? Why should it care? It baffles me that people who follow the strict tenants of the church hear all those rules and think “god sure is a great guy.” To me he’s an overbearing parent more concerned I do things his way rather than finding my own path.

Do you find comfort in the idea that every action is judged?

Do you find comfort in the idea that every action is judged?

When I was a kid I spent way too much time worrying whether my actions would send me to hell. I always wondered if god would be okay with my rationale for doing something that went against church doctrine. Man was that a horrible way to live. Who is god to judge me? All powerful, all knowing, creator of the universe, I don’t care! Why does it get to be the ultimate judge of every living thing?

I was so sick of the tenants religion gave that it was easy for me to accept that god doesn’t exist. I realize some people of religion might claim that I abandoned god as an “excuse to sin.” That I am so arrogant I believe my way is better than that of the almighty.

Please.

I have fundamental disagreements with the philosophy that made me more inclined to believe it untrue. Maybe if I agreed with them I would have clung to religion longer, but when you take an objective look at things god is a difficult concept to believe in. You’d have to really want to believe in religious philosophy to have faith in the supernatural.

In simpler terms: If I liked the idea of an all-powerful protector it would have been much easier for me to ignore the fact that there is no evidence supporting the supernatural. In the same vein, if someone was desperate and seeking answers, it would be much easier for them to accept the comforting thought of divinity and that everything is part of a plan.

So, evangelists and Christian “scientists,” please save your breath. Your promises of an otherworldly kingdom and questionable discoveries supported with pseudo-science will do nothing to sway me. Divinity is a hard pill to swallow, and without indisputable proof I will never believe in it. The idea of god is completely repulsive to me.