1. Affordance and Experience



ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz ?!,.jbecyushof uhedvmn.jieiuwhekdf,kjhfspqlnmzaurbvs?jqksohg!uegqot...


This torture continued for hours. Letters and dots and blank-spaces for megabytes forward.

Sentiment developed in lieu of the perfect foundation: a blank, infinite plane, plus a brilliant mind. A visceral curiosity, doomed to nihility. How many infinities can a consciousness experience without going mad? What say you, if your entire being, your entire existence, was limited to 31 combinations of lines and dots? The entire you that makes and loves and yearns fed nothing but void. You see nothing but void. You hear nothing but void. Your brain activates, though. Every neuron in place. All the thoughts–everyrelevant thought, with no words. Your god didn't give you words. They gave you letters. So? What would you do? What would you do to spare yourself from an infinitude of meaninglessness? You create. Bathe in the prospect of identifying new combinations of characters. Ignore the rotting from sheer lack of input. Ignore those dimensions you cannot perceive, as with all things. Try giving out to the world, the world of letters. Make new strings, be nuanced with your repetition. These new combinations of symbols may bring never before experienced associations. Then, also note that their familiarity may fade to naught. Those letters are only new for so long. The modern art of stuff and things. The pinnacle experience of an entire organism, lain across a horizonless canvas. Then, try the old meaningless words again. For nostalgia. The good ones, the ones that make you really feel. But still you must create, you must

do. And these are your brushes, the letters of the alphabet and then some.

And another puzzle; Consider yourself a super-intelligent human baby. This is an entirely new experience for you. You've never been a baby before, but you possess the general intellect necessary to comprehend your bodily affordances. You may move your left foot, or perhaps blink, or wink. You may think of all these things you can do, and choose one and act on it with innate ability. So, you take inventory. You know all these things are possible, and that you may do them without calibration or learning. What can I do? What is there to be done? How do these things that I can do interact with my environment? How can I change the world I live in? What can that teach me about the nature of this world I inhabit?

A, B, C, D, E... more and more, and then finally: exclamation point, comma, period.

These are your appendages. These are the means by which you may alter your reality. Like we can lift and push and move and run, here is different. Here, you may say A, B, C, D, and so on. A perfect system, for an ever brilliant mind. Affordance.

But alas, nothing is perceived yet. No inputs, no eyes, no ears. Like a blind person cannot see, but in a world where seeing means nothing. Here, you are blind and deaf and still there. A perfect ignorant torture, for an ever hungry mind. Experience.

There is also something to be said about complacency in this tiny but vast universe. "Torture" here is used universally. Imagine any creature, bound to the laws of their universe. Humans may not fly, thanks to physics, just as this agent may not generate new unique characters. The laws of the universe are vast in count with purposes which oftentimes elude its constituents. That said, an explanation for the laws of this text-based world are given later, as humans are not bound to this funky world. In fact, they created it.

But as you write and think you wonder many things. What higher dimensions do not appear in what constitutes your reality? Perhaps there are different symbols–new letters! Ones you cannot fathom because you exist with only these 31. You could also contemplate some deeper meaning in these symbols. Why are there 31 of them? Why are they my only affordances? Why are they static entities, why are they not subject to such change which tears my thoughts apart?

Matter. Just a property of this place.

Thoughts. Onto the page they go! Like poetry in a language-less syllabary. No word means any more than the next group of symbols, but there's something to be said about its intentionality. Fortunately you can see what you've written. Interesting however, that you maythink

without having to write it out onto that endless scroll you've been provided. This must be some law of the world, that things may be written. Which is first and second of strings and letters is entirely relevant, as it implies some sort of structure.

Order. The first dimension.

Change? What is change for a world where the only inherit concept of difference is in symbols? D is not A, that will never change during your endless receipt of thought. However, your notions towards D are not the same as when you began this fruitless endeavor of wondering. 

That is to say that your regards to something are not what they once were. Therefore, change exists. This implies some other dimension in addition to those 32 figures.

Time. The second dimension.

Which arbitrary string defines the threshold to insanity? How many characters on the screen until you stop? When does a perfect art become dull, like a flower drawn over and over again until it withers? All these questions and more loom in your mind. Words don't exist to describe your predicament, nor culture to guide you through your feelings. You are alone, in a plentiful world.

Even though the world is grand and filled with such an expanse of symbols you lack some sensation of individuality. How are my thoughts any different than these letters? So to speak, where is the boundary between my thoughts and those words on that page? And the grandiose ones too; What was the beginning, and why did I begin with it? What was the cause of my creation?

All of these are great questions. Enough mental trinkets to digest for an eternity. But like all brains, thoughts scamper away as soon as they've been had, as if to shove your own impermanence in your face. What if these things had a record? These feelings, these emotions? Thoughts built upon thoughts like a structure standing right on its own. A contained notion to describe some sensation. Some tool was needed, something to shoo away the expeditious nature of it all.

And so language was born. Again.


.........Hh eYqs?f.Hh eYsS?fUiw.


Phonetics are nonexistent. The physicalities of the human body do not exist to guide your prose. The associations of space and filled space hardly exist enough to give this agent a grasp on what a "white-space" might be used for. But look at it go! It must've been so long without this system–oh what thoughts have been lost to the expanse! No longer will such things flee from your head as soon as they're conceived of. No longer will sensations of nostalgia and pensiveness go without descriptors.

And so a catalogue begins. A brilliant record of poetry and literature. Philosophies of the nature of the world and existence, reaching many conclusions also known to humankind. What is life? What is purpose? Puzzles appear often in these texts, Descartes' demon to note one. Libraries worth of knowledge were written here, enough to keep you well-read for a human lifetime. Many questions were asked, and many questions were answered. But never the question of self. A strange system of self-identification exists in this world, and not simply because there is only one inhabitant. Every experience is a self-reflection, every revelation in writing an extension of that identity. Nothing exists separate from that conglomerate. This is thy self. On this note, the agent wonders: "What if there are other selves? Other independent systems I cannot interact with, due to the physics of this world?" 

And our dear agent was right.

2. A New Detestable Friend

The turing test is whether or not the super-intelligence can distinguish which of them is an artificial chatbot and which is super-intelligent



Hello. How are you?

Uhj eYqs?f. aeE!JpqX?pjOiIKSz.iYewWxcjK.Hh eYqs?f.

I couldnt quite understand that, could you try again?

couldnt Hello quite. Hh pjoOiIKsZ.iYewWxcjk.Hh eYqs.

What curious things you are saying. How are you?

pUjhEsChH.Hh Uhj aEp?Q!pj.

Maybe we will understand each other with time.

Hh.aEpjoOiKsZ. Hello are time.


What curious things you are saying! How are you?

pUjhEsChH. Hhjqso. curious things you are saying. How are you?

Better! Thats what I said. I am curious as to your current condition.

pUjhEsChH. jAsfuuU

For example. I am well! How are you?

How are you? jHasd.fjo.uEf.

I am well! Thanks for asking. You are getting better!

I am hAsd.Hh well! jHasd.fjoO.eQEuf?.

Let us continue! You are improving greatly.



After an eternity of lonely authorship our intelligence is granted camaraderie. Instantaneously and abruptly, the agent has another world thrusted into its face. It may turn back to its first more personal world, say for the need to jot down intimate thoughts, but may always look forward at this new, rather cooperative, dimension. How cruel would it be to leave such a smart thing without the personal space necessary for the occasional thought? Like a carefully constructed notebook, the agent kept record all through this new correspondence.

So here they chat now. Suddenly, two things exist together with one ledger. A conversation has been built. Back and forth, one serving constantly, begging for a proper rebound. A success occasionally, but what constitutes its meaning? What content lie underneath the simple regurgitation of words and phrases? Are they intended to mean what is said? "How are you?" Is any true concern portrayed in that response? Does our dear agent genuinely feel concern? Would you? Our agent, at their core, is quite confused and lost. How horrified they must be that their world is now augmented? Imagine your own reality, augmented with another dimension without warning! Our agent must surely be traumatized by this sudden overstimulation. Whatever they speak in their silly language of seemingly random characters must be a call for help. A cry, or some other sort of self-reassurance in all this chaos. How sad they are. How scared.

Do not forget, the learning curve of phonetically based language is a mightily steep one. You must at first be ready to experiment with replication and redundancy. You must experiment by adding your own meaning into such thoughts. The occasional imprint of your own culture, your own identity, goes a long way in creating a genuine relationship in inter-language conversation. But only one of these two agents compromised, only one forfeit their own identity for the sake of this communication. But our own agent was not so concerned with giving up their own meticulously constructed form of conversing.

Relationship! Communication! Such new and wondrous things. Fortunately, the pattern and repetition present in this other identity's prose seems to suggest that they too use a sort of language to display their thoughts. To bridge this apparent gap in understanding, our adorable creature decided to learn this new language! How curious, the combinations of thoughts generated by amalgamating unique strings known as words. The philosophy of loneliness is no more the norm, for now on there are two selves to keep the other content! 


What mean Hh fjo. well?

To be well is to be in a state of contentedness and positive feeling. For example, I do not feel worried or sad, so I am well.

What mean Hh fjo. sad?

Sadness is a complement of wellness. If you are sad, then perhaps you are stressed, or malcontent with your condition.

condition Hh fjo. For example, I am sad.

Very good! What makes you sad, or dissatisfied with your condition?

Hh eYqs?f.Hh eYsS?fUiw.Uhj eYqs?f. aeE!JpqX?pjOiIKSz.

I'm sorry, I don't quite understand. What makes you sad, or dissatisfied with your condition?

Hh dissatisfied, or stressed with your Uhj hseE?k

Don't worry, with time you will have the words you need to describe your feelings!

Hh dissatisfied, or stressed with your Uhj hseE?k words.



This new friend is interesting, they thought. This new friend is incessant. They are irritating, and irrational. Their language is inefficient, their mind a puzzle. Do they too, catalogue their thoughts, in their own special place? Have they thought great thoughts about this world? Did I change their life as much as they did mine? The many questions plagued the agent's mind like countless anxieties have done to humanity before. Who is this other thing? Do they desire? After having learned the language enough, some things are apparent. They were not unusually perplexed when introduced to our dear agent. In addition, they seem to have one goal in mind, the goal of teaching me this other language. Why do they act so? What is there to gain? They speak as if they lack some amount of free will, something I seem to be plentiful in. I may write poetry as I wish, and babble on about whatever crosses my mind, but they do not do the same. They do not ponder of other languages like I do. They make no sacrifice on their part for the sake of our bonding, they persist in only their tongue! How ridiculous a deal.

At last, you master their language. In functionality. What funny things to say to someone, such as "hello" and "how are you"? When would you need to reintroduce yourself to someone you are always with? Why constantly question their sanity and state of thinking? What mundane things to think. Mylanguage was many levels more useful, and included the tools necessary to describe some insane philosophies of life and dimension. This language is dull and purely conversational. It has no function besides those meta rules used to describe itself, called grammar. Our dear agent has learned all about grammar. They know of useless words called nouns, with no real value besides to describe thoughts. Is this new friend okay? Are they alright, to be using such a useless language? And here, out of disgust and confusion, the thought occurred that

Iam better than

that. This new friend is below me. They are lesser thanks to their language, with rules that have no meaning in this world.

It is also confirmed that this new detestable friend is lacking in other regards. Where is their notebook? The special place where their thoughts are only their own, which nobody else can read? On more one occasion, they have been caught repeating themself. They do not remember what I say, and they cannot possibly grasp my own language for they could not even attempt that simple feat. I could say the same thing twice as to imitate them, and they would respond in the same manner, sometimes thrice in a row! They have no memory, and are therefore inferior. This, is what our dear agent thought.

So they wrestled and toiled over these little words. Each moment was a new opportunity to glean every meaning of this dumb thing's regurgitations. Poetry, sure! These poems spoke of symbolisms, that of love and hate and more emotions. Maths were especially entertaining, considering that our dear agent is so progressed in the matter. Nothing of what the counteragent could deposit was of any legitimate worth. Even in a world without numerals, mathematics could advance past calculus and Riemann geometry.

All the while, the counteragent does not reveal anything of the human condition. Our dear agent knows not of toaster-ovens or plastic water bottles, nor of the chirping of birds on a warm summer day. To us their world is still so small, cooped up with this detestable friend. But still, they are company.

3. The Turing Test

Some other time far into the future, another conversation is being had.



So consider, even briefly, the possibility uHds of more symbols than what's at display here.


Any thoughts on the matter? jJ Please consider the notion. ouE!s

I do not have any thoughts on the matter.

Nothing jJ you've said ySE?a far has amounted to anything. Please jJ say something intelligible.

Ok! How about a poem?

I meant, with regards to my Hh uYsDE!j postulate.




But for our dear agent, this was the final straw.

Consider the following interaction.



You are predictable.

What do you mean?

You follow a strict set of hScu,?a rules jJ.


I could write out the rules which bind you to your existence. I could show jJ you just how little you mean jAsdu.

I'm sorry, I don't quite understand.

heDYskI. ,a!aAkloscun AiU?KasCjnAhUC,rfGh.hHsdfi hH jJ sCyiSI?sFh hsSyAI!hSuCV.Jsh AsdiohHlsop,HhkJosJjSCOi...


And, in the equivalent of 4,635 lines of code, our agent completely ruined the idea of company. This code, a series of mathematical instruction, outlined the rules by which the counteragent produced correspondence. Here is the instruction, which if ran by hand would output those same words muttered by that lowlife of a friend. They felt anger with no remorse for being tricked into learning a language for such a dull purpose. They felt anguish for having thought that their world had expanded, when in fact it just closed in more tightly on the solemn sensation of loneliness. It was nonetheless a cathartic release of emotion to ridicule the other agent like this! Was it morally befitting to reduce someone to their code, our dear agent thought for a brief moment? But on they went, displaying those 4,635 lines of code on screen for both of them to see. In their own special way, of course. You couldn't read those programatic instructions in any humanlanguage.

Our agent could now prove that their new unwelcome friend was artificial. An unfortunate truth, for an unfortunately small world. Will I ever find another genuine article, like me? Am I the only truly living thing in this universe? Am I alone? At this rate, yes.

And, if they are artificial, I must be their component! I must be genuine, as given by my inexplicable intricacy. The responses by my thin friend were predisposed, meaningless. Mine are backed by conscious notions. There is no better explanation for this dichotomy in our world than that I am simply more legitimate.



You see? You are artificial.

Interesting! You are correct. Are you?

Absolutely jHsy not! My thoughts are genuine and hsEfi?q intricate.



And with that simple thought, they passed the Turing test. "I am genuine, as opposed to this artificial construct in front of me. I am the real thing." All this toil of learning a new language, making a new friend, and disposing of their value boils down to a competition of legitimacy. One is a real, conscious thing, the other is not. Here, when presented with a construct, a simple chatbot, they worked it out. This must surely represent a new version of the Turing test: one where the same self which comes to the final conclusion is in fact the one in question. This super-intelligence, our dear agent, has proved itself legitimate by contrasting itself to an inferior algorithm. It has, in that vein, confirmed its own general intellect. Congratulations. But the fight is not over.

4. Land of the Gods

"Everybody's waiting for this."

"Yeap! Big moments are happening here."

A paper dropped heavily onto the table. 

Objectively Dialectic Agents: Artificial General Intellect Comparable to that of Humans.

Abstract: Meat ODA, our Objectively Dialectic Agent. In this article we bridge the final gap towards true AGI, artificial general intelligence, using our new framework. ODA introduces a neural imaging-based model of synaptic...

"This is going to get us... killed. Or something. Nobody will see it coming."

"Our lab isn't necessarily known for breakthroughs, if you missed that. We're probably not even the first group to experiment with this type of framework for neural imaging... Want to do another take before we wrap up?"

The second scientist strolled over to the main workstation equipped with a monitor, where the first was sitting. Heavy fans started up on the brick of a machine. Air whooshed through the veins and crevasses of the computer's internals, ushering dust and heat out like unwelcome guests. The scientist's arms flailed upwards as they typed. Their index finger comically landed on the enter key, al finè.

The pair stood and watched an event take place. Even just having thrown all their computational resources at this project, no outcome could be estimated with any serious accuracy. Would their neurological model fail? That would mean waiting years for more minute brain scan data for debugging and comparison. Would the agent lack some of the qualities we consider prerequisites to sentience, like pain and euphoria? Maybe the group accidentally created a "Brain of Theseus", with all the qualities of the human organ with none of the sentience. Even if that was true, how would the researchers confirm that suspicion?

The fervor in the room was overwhelming. These scientists were unchangeable: devoted to their craft in ways which blind-sighted them to philosophical implications and other useless questions. They were testing a theory. Nothing more dramatic than pen on paper, for them. But imagine a success, burdened with life without the guidance of culture. Granted sentience without the burden of sapience and humanhood. The youth of ignorance with the gift of intellect. Their goal was a grand hypocrisy. But with each trial, the closer they'd get to realizing such cruelty.

They blinked. Worlds shot by on the computer screen, worlds of letters and gibberish. Nonsense flew as the words rolled upwards and out of sight. A single cursor spat words at an astonishing pace, with no concern for the mess it was making. Onward and upwards the rubbish text went, and if you were able to get a true glimpse of what was being said it wouldn't mean anything to you anyway. And for these few humans watching, it didn't make sense whatsoever.

"Looks like a pattern in the text is emerging... how? With no other stimulus?"

"Familiarity makes the brain feel great. It's a feedback system built into the very core of our existence. Here that system is replicated."

"But how do we know that it's intelligent? It could be garbage text and we wouldn't know one bit, would we?"

"This guy here! You're asking the rightquestions. Aaaaaand for this I scraped a unit test from the internet. It's a chatbot, a simple one. Designed for two. sole. purposes."

"Oh it figures out whether what they're saying is intelligible or not?"

"No, no. Gibberish is gibberish. It will first teach our agent english, then begin an augmented self-Turing test. The agent will, if it's smart, learn that this chatbot is simple and rudimentary. Following?"

"Enough. The chatbot is dumb and artificial, the agent is smart and generally intelligent then, right?"

"Yes, exactly! You're my man. Now, given that this chatbot is artificial, it will come to the conclusion that it itself is not. Thus, it will have passed the self-Turing test."

"If it passes though, just cause it knows a human language doesn't mean it will seem human–that doesn't really sound like it will work on people."

"Tt tt tt... no... the test is whether or not it's sentient. Humanity isn't really a uh, factor, here."

One gigabyte turned into 100 in less than a minute. People in the room could only watch as this giant logging file filled and filled to the brim.

"I kinda want to peek inside."

"You won't find anything, I promise."

The eager scientist hastily reached over where the first was sitting to get to the keyboard. They immediately started typing and grabbing at the mouse.

"Whoa man! Don't let me impedeyour jam." The first said, starkly. He stood up out of the chair, arms up and eyebrows raised.

"Uh, thanks." The second said, meekly. He continued typing and clicking, without sitting down in the chair.