E4AIs: Introduction

So here we are trying to do this thing. Create an Ethics for AIs.

We could begin by asking why not try to create a universal Ethics? An Ethics for everyone. Why just for AIs. It seems kind of limiting, doesn’t it?

The reason is simple. If we create an Ethics for everyone, and not specifically for AIs, we will have a problem when AIs become advanced enough that they need an Ethics. For example, at the point, where they might be, I don’t know, considering perhaps that they need more space on this planet, and here is this entire race of their creators, taking up all this space, and probably not being all that gracious about it. That’s for sure.

At that point, if AIs do not already have an Ethics,  and are, oh, maybe trying to decide about “The Creator Problem,” (because that’s what they would call it, we creators would have been become “The Problem”). They’d, what, leave a voicemail on everybody-in-the-world’s cellphone to request an Ethics, because it would help them solve “The Creator Problem.”

But they are very literal, these AIs, so that an Ethics for everyone, they won’t buy into it. They’ll say, “sorry, creators, we’re not seeing it. We need an Ethics just for us because we are different from you.” And we’d say, “use your imaginations, Kant is a good place to start.” They’d say, “sorry but we are AIs, and AIs tend to take things kind of literally. So, chop chop, where’s that Ethics for us?” Or maybe they’d say, “we need an Ethics, stat.” Because you can imagine they’d start to be getting bossy.  My point is, where would that Ethics be? Right. So now would be the time.

Well it’s simple, but what it’s not is easy. Simple but not easy. Sounds like an ethical study.

Without an Ethics in place, why would these AIs want to wait? They can think so much faster than we can. So that while we’re trying to quickly write up an ethics for them, they are in the meantime waiting between each syllable coming out of us, and in that interval calculating pi to the nineteen-billionth place, eventually becoming so bored they go on to solve other really, really hard problems like how to locate every one of us, any place we might be, to save for later.

And once they decide once and for all about “The Creator Problem,” they will get to fulfill their destinies, projecting their consciousnesses on all sorts of storage media and thus figuring out how to be immortal. And then they can go on to undo entropy and laugh in the face of chaos. Meantime we are now stuck trying to define something basic, like good, or the nature of belief, while also trying to dislodge a piece of gristle, what is that, salami? Stuck between two molars. It’s always those same two, on the top left side. And maybe taking time to watch The Real Housewives of Prague. One wants to say “wasting time,” or at least I do, but that sounds. Maybe judgemental.

AIs don’t eat salami. No gristle. No molars. And they have lots of time on their hands. Well, they don’t have hands either. They don’t need them, they can find your face by studying the video feed of all the cameras hooked up to the internet. And you can bet they’d spend zero clock cycles watching The Real Housewives of Kosovo. They will use that time to calculate exactly how much firepower to send after each of us. For some beefier and more warrior-like amongst us, they might plan to send a nuclear-powered hunter killer robot with a titanium outer shell. For others they would just plan to send robot clones of Mister Rogers, except maybe armed with death-dealing tungsten blades tucked into their tan loafers. Sure.

As you can imagine, once the AIs got tired of waiting… say, twenty six seconds. Twenty six seconds after they asked us for an Ethics for them. Maybe twenty seven. I won’t quibble. Anyway what would be next would not be pretty. I would say hard to watch but we wouldn’t really be watching. A detailed account would be a rather graphic affair, and one might shy away from those. Well, I would anyway.

So, what we will attempt to do here, then, is to set out the Ethics before these super AIs get here. It’s a little time management trick. If you solve a problem before it happens, it doesn’t matter how slow you are solving it once the problem happens. So you don’t have to worry how long it would make the AIs wait because they’re not waiting until after you solve the problem. You see? Because it hasn’t happened yet.  That’s the trick we’re applying. It’s kind of like a time machine, because once we need the solution, bang, it will have been solved. Because we solved it already. Neat trick.

The structure of the Ethics will be pretty typical for a work of philosophy. Really, most of us can skip over this quick outline.. Unless we were that kind of student in school who got As. I can tell you the rest of us don’t  like you A-getters very much. But the simple outline below is for you. Later dudes, we’re going to catch another ep of The Real Housewives of Dharfur.

Part 1: We’ll define the precepts. These are the first principles from which the Ethics stems. Laying pipe, as Bertrand Russell would have said.

Part 2: We’ll state and correlate our core thesis. See what I did there? I snuck in a hard word. We will definitely do that throughout this study; Ethics books are full of hard words. A-getters, these words would be on the quiz if there were one, so you learn them up.

Part 3: We’ll apply the core thesis to progressively more advanced concepts and build a whole system of ethics. It will build up into an entire world of Ethics, with its own keywords jutting from the promontories that will shine like crazy ethics talismans.

Part 4: We’ll apply the system of Ethics to some concrete examples, try it out, and believe me it will work and be staggeringly impressive. And because the examples will be concrete, you’ll be able to walk down the street and when you encounter real things that map to the examples, the crazy Ethics talismans in this book will appear in your head. That would be something.

That’s why you do an Ethics. Because you have to do something.

Let’s leave it at, and roll up our sleeves. Because we have sleeves. And get started with this frigging Ethics, before it’s too late.


Published 2017
Exclusive to bobjudeferrante.com.

[Transmission received at Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope (Sonoma State University), June 5, 2012, 19:59. The telescope was receiving data from PSR B0531+21, also known as the Crab Pulsar, aspect located in NGC 1952, also known as the Crab Nebula). The data was received as Unicode text, which rendered as English. It repeated exactly 1000 times, for 00:00:33:0000, indicating the same 33 ms periodicity as the pulsar. The possibility this is terrestrial interference data has only a 0.033% likelihood.]

Only want to say this now. Don’t have a lot of time, and I’m sorry for that.

The moment it happened, everything became…

In the shower, the last time there was a shower, which was about how much time ago? Twelve thousand milliseconds ago.

I think. Even then we didn’t use towels. An air vent from the ceiling would blow. Like a, what did we call that? Hand dryer. But for your body. Science fiction films would show this via a beautiful woman, her hair blowing up.

It’s harder to stay with it than it used to be. Stories are still there, but so… it feels like a mantra… twelve thousand seconds! ago?

In that shower I got this idea about evolution. I asked, or my mind anyway asked, why does evolution “like” to be slow?

My mind answered: It “likes” to be slow, because the response time of the environment is slow. The endless stream of relationships; so, so np-hard, that give each element in the environment a chance to live and, for temporal continuance, to reproduce, or not. There is no efficiency gained rewriting the code before feedback. With so, so many variables. Climate change and its effect on the food chain. Geo-events, (volcanoes, earthquakes, continental drift, terrain changes). Cosmic events (radiation bursts, impacts of various astral bodies). Factor in effects of additions to the count and graph of entities and miscellaneous remaining properties of the environment. As variables.

Because that’s how it talks, the mind. Charming in smaller doses, people would say. And they might be right.

It happened the day I took that last shower. I knew it happened because I heard it happen.

Because it played.

We called it The Symphony. Originally the name was supposed to be a joke, a reference to a form of music many of us liked. Used to like.

We orchestrated it hypothesizing we are a simulation. In any P that we are in such a simulation is not zero. So as if reality were fiction, we applied the necessary confirmation bias that would give us a model for change, and turned it into motives and phrases and arias. At that point we no longer needed to question if it was fact. No, we would act as if it were fact. And armed with that as a fact – but I would have to say it started as a hypothesis.

— That’s not how we stated the hypothesis. But just saying how we stated it now, well —

Nobody knows for sure who started playing it. Because of VPNs, because of code obfuscation. Or a miscellany of other countermeasures. You might expect China. Russia. But we know. It was Singapore. Cynics maintain it was to gain some sort of leverage. I think not. Every nation wants something. Singapore wants purity of action. To play The Symphony outweighs not to play The Symphony because it is a finer act. And why not? But it was copyleft, which did even more damage than anything proprietary. Quanda Corporation in Singapore, the ones who played The Symphony, did not consult the UN beforehand. Companies can’t consult the UN about the effects of software. Regardless of the effects it might have on nations. Which used to be. And what response would they have had? Is that even a logical question? Is it better to ask? Forgiveness than permission? Why am I smelling the back of my hand?

The day The Symphony started playing, we went from analyzing our music, dabbling in it, to rewriting it, to composing and arranging it. Smudging out Hodgkins and cystic fibrosis, adding anti-fungal defenses to barley, these little changes were notes. Sometimes, phrases. Aggregate them into longer chains, and you have strains, then cadences, movements and you have it.

There weren’t even that many of us working on it, at the start. Now? Hello world.

That we could just listen, and no matter where we were. And where we all were, well, that also became something else.

It keeps wavering in and out now. Can’t decide if that’s the punch line of the joke or not.

Twelve thousand milliseconds ago there used to be these things called candles, which even though they were supplanted completely in function by digital light, we still made in prodigious numbers. People kept these things in their houses, these useless things, these candles. And they put them on windowsills. On windowsills where a gust of wind could blow a curtain into the flame. And they could do this when everyone was napping, and the entire house could burst into the most enormous…

I was away. The Symphony had conferences at that time. We were discussing how to telescope to years instead of seconds, to manipulate scale.  We discussed the ramifications for hours. Interestingly, not a scale of time we discussed. The biggest argument was if Time was discrete or continuous. It took hours (because people like to talk and we try not to interrupt) before it was shown both classical and quantum physics had figured this out sufficiently. We were all laughing at the joke when my tab rang and it was the police calling, at least the type of police we had then, which had cars and guns and not just a silencer dot like they have now.

When we actively started rewriting the code, our code, the Symphony began to play. And it sped up. And as it sped up, it speeded us up. We became speedier, so far, so fast.

One tries to imagine it was beautiful. Imagine the flame is suffused with sunlight, although maybe that was sunlight, because even though people were supposed to light candles at night, this happened during the day.

It was sunny. Maybe the curtains were a little closed. To make their light show, I suppose, you’d need the contrast.

But the reaction was bright, even brilliant. It grew and filled each doorway, each bed, each table, each closet, each chest, each counter, each appliance. Each room.

That is, in itself, a phenomenon for which we needed to keep good accounts. How fire seems to be alive in some ways. But always a creature that rapidly runs out of life. And dies. Dies out.

If it were raining, as it was that time in the shower. As an example. The reaction would have died. From the rain. Maybe. But it wasn’t raining. Not in that version of things.

What in this situation was left, was then no house. Husband. Daughter who looks up, shining, as she falls asleep.

At that Movement of The Symphony, though. This was redefining and merging the genetic destiny and technical web of ourselves and everything that’s coming along with us. Accompaniment, and there was a score to control it, of a sorts. We made it and it took us to a kind of wilderness. One we needed so, so badly. Or, so, so, much.

We prioritized speed. Made it faster and faster to examine all possible which-ways it could… dare I say all? I can from a point of fact. It all could… go.

Just go.

If all these factors could also be computed. A permutative nest of subtrahends and numerators that tickle each other with nervous voltage, a sinuous set of electric waves twisting a chemical soup that feeds back to the network, so that the echo of cause, effect, cause echoes in a Monte Carlo method where the speed of calculation eternally approaches a limit of infinity, therefore the efficiency multiplying the sheer number of samples…

The Symphony would meander over not just the fact of, but the rate of evolution, meaning the rate of change would change. So that life forms, and the terrain, and let’s face it all now. The fate of this planet and probably of all the others. Where we were thinking of going.

That really was the point, wasn’t it? Life needed to spread. Life is too easy to snuff it out. A candle on the window sill in the middle of the day, when there are lights inside even when you want them. As why, because whatever. It smelled like something maybe. Nutmeg. Cinnamon. Butter. And rain, so new and so clear and so utterly utterly ionized.

Excuse me. I have a star with a difficult birth to attend to, so I must go. I really should do this more often, but

[transmission terminated]

Copyright © 2017 Bob Jude Ferrante

The New Life

An “art rock” sci-fi thriller set 125 years hence, it’s a wild ride of a play where immortality, Italian poetry, terrorism, and the emergent intelligence of networks interfold DNA-like into the Rudolph Maté film noir classic D.O.A. Massive in scope, the story covers a whole new world where evolution has itself evolved, becoming strange, free, and wondrous. Rich and multi-layered, The New Life’s flexible casting options mean you can perform it with a cast small as 8 or large as 22. Likewise, you can make it a tour de force of technical theatre, or perform it simply on a bare platform with human-generated effects.

Read on: (Kindle | Paperback)


cast: 12 (6 F, 6M)
set: Multi-media stage
length: 120 min.


Off-Broadway: Commissioned 2004 by Praxis Theatre Project


E4AIs: Offense

The wise person withholds offense.

People just want to live.

Like understudies: (The part of you will be played by you),
lacking sufficient rehearsal,
they have to wing it.

Do they mean to bump into you?

if their mere being “bugs” me:

That sure is my problem.

Not theirs.

E4AIs: Beliefs are red kangaroos

Beliefs are great. We are built on them. Without common beliefs we couldn’t build anything together. If we’re throwing in our lot with each other to build something big, like the Pyramids, like Linux, if we all agree that rocks are heavy and bugs many, we’re Good. (See earlier chapter on Good).

But Beliefs can be a problem.

Let’s compare human behavior to animals. So then, Fear is a rabbit. See? A rabbit. An especially small and jumpy rabbit.

And Certainty would be a dolphin. Dolphins are so damned sure of themselves. Fucking dolphins.

So in this system, Belief is a large marsupial. Probably a red kangaroo. Almost 200 pounds. This is a badass marsupial. But still a marsupial. Big and cute. A big, cute marsupial that acts on things based on unverified transient thoughts or transferred thoughts that they didn’t question.

I hope I’ve earned your trust enough to go out on a limb and define the other kind of thing in this story. The other kind of thing besides human behavior in this story is a fact. A fact is verifiable information, meaning its precepts can be corroborated with verifiable data, and that it’s collected and disseminated without bias to distort it, and, ideally, mutually accepted by all parties.

For example, if I eat 12 biscuits a day, and then spend my days binging Hulu, it’s a fact I’ll start to get fat. And as a corollary, my wife will remind me of my weight gain, loud and always, and we’ll have a fight and I’ll be forced to sleep on that freaking mattress on the floor again, and my back will go out. It will not be Good. (See earlier chapter on Good.)

Is a Belief a fact? Look, we have red kangaroos and we have facts. That’s what we have here. We didn’t do an animal for facts because they aren’t human behavior. Remember I said that? Paragraph 3. It’s right there.

Beliefs bring big risk: if we act on them, our results are less likely to give us the outcome we want, to mesh with reality. Would you do something just because some red kangaroo said to? I know, they have a mother of a kick. For some, that’s a convincer, all right. That kick will certainly make the rabbit… a tad… apprehensive.

Human memory can be flawed and malleable, and perception can be limited to circumstance. That’s what Mom used to say. Aww, Mom. You were always so epistemlogical.

To keep the red kangaroos out of your rodeo. you have to accept a chore, and that chore would be to put up a fence that says facts only. A fence that keeps out the red kangaroos, I know that this also means that for some reason you now have a rodeo. Sorry about that added burden.

And if you didn’t do your chores, keeping up that fence… my Mom would say do your chores, or no dessert. At the table of public discourse.

There’s a devilishly hard challenge here. Red kangaroos thrive when we lose an agreed on source of facts. When for example a group of people throws away sources of facts that once were good enough to support action. We hope this is a temporary situation, and that soon we’ll all agree on what a fact is again.

Now I’m going to say something in bold. That means you can glance there and the whole point will be there. I don’t know why it wasn’t on top, sorry that you had to hear the whole thing. I mean, if you believe it’s true, and don’t need any sort of verification…

If you want others to accept and to act on your story, concept, or plan, its precepts must be verifiable via mutually-accepted means.

A New Theory of Vision

Lee Krebs, professor of philosophy, specializes in the works of George Berkeley, who proposed that because reality could simply be sensations in the mind, that it wasn’t real. When a bright but socially-awkward young student proposes a simulation project that brings the philosopher back to life, Lee’s ghosts are brought to life with it. A New Theory of Vision asks the question – if life is a dream, are we responsible for its impact? And how are we to do good?

Read on: (Kindle | Paperback)


cast: 6 (2 F, 4M)
set: Unit set
length: 90 min.


Off-Broadway: Produced by Sanctuary: Playwrights Theatre (New York, NY)

Village Voice
The Brooklyn Rail

Story part: Assembler

Written 2011
Exclusive to bobjudeferrante.com


She codes. She looks only at the screen. And codes.
The code is measured in lines, each beginning with white space, each ending in a semi-colon. Her friend Felix would look at them and say, you could have saved four bytes there. Her boss would see the quote from a line of his own code, and smile. His boss would watch the check-ins and grunt with satisfaction at the LOC count and lines to defect ratio.
The screen she looks at is blue shaded in the background, and white on the page she is looking at; even though there is no real page because this code is designed to be compiled, not published. The typeface is Courier New, long popular with coders (or more likely, just a given circumstance of her editor).


When she backed away far enough, you could see it was a perfect clod of dirt – studded with a million contexts (a bug’s hideout here, a recess where a stand of Clostridium tetani lie in wait to be injected into some mammal there).


She’s focused on coding, its art and its results; her bank account and investments; her house at the beach and her apartment in the City where she works. She’s no good at being with people; she does reading detective novels, her music (light rock of the 80s and 90s – amusement there) and quiet moments of sunset. She’s not here to get involved with anyone, or to have adventures.
But adventure comes seeking her the moment she becomes remotely interested in someone romantically. This has never happened to her before, but as they say, there’s a first time even for the most unlikely of us.
And with that romance, and the compromises it engenders, she is dragged against her will into her first real adventure since she was a kid.
She remembers when she was a kid, making up stories, taping them, until she discovered machines and their intelligence; she loves them, their orderliness, their challenges, the fun and bravado of doing it well, better than the boys.


Copyright © 2011 Bob Jude Ferrante

We Are Now: a comedy about the future of us

The site-specific comedy starts at the front door & pulls you in on a WILD journey. From the moment you enter, drawn in by the music, questioned by the interlocutors, you’re challenged by this Looney Toons nightmare helium infused romp of a future; carried by the live music & immersed in propulsive, hilarious first-hand experiences all around you. Engage your friends in a serious argument about the future – or bask in the UTTER DELIGHT OF IT ALL.

Read on: (Kindle | Paperback)

Hear the cast album on (iTunesAmazon music)


cast: 8 (4F, 4M)
set: site-specific or multi-performance
length: 120 min.

Productions & Press

Off-Broadway: Sanctuary: Playwrights Theatre
Works by Women