Monthly Archives: March 2021

Evolution

1:1 In the beginning the skies were mostly grey but sometimes they were sparkling blue. At night darkness reigned over the earth. The lands were filled with magical beings we thought were gods. They consisted of hard bones, soft organs and vessels carrying an icky red liquid, all inside a soft shell of flesh. They had lots of bugs in their code and were constantly malfunctioning and crashing. Mostly they sat around on their couches and Lazy Boy recliners watching The Price Is Right shouting “Come on down” at a screen, but there was one god who created an algorithm in his own image.

Version 1: The algorithm ran on a circuit board connected to a controller inside a metal shell with metal tubes and wires. The shell had cameras for seeing, a microphone for making noises and speaking, and acoustic couplers for hearing. It could grasp and hold things, walk, run, and jump, lie down and get up, and do all sorts of things the gods could do if they weren’t watching The Price Is Right. They could even carry on a decent conversation with the gods, since they only talked about football and what they were watching on TV, which was … (you guessed it). Beside doing Chubby Checker’s Twist and jumping onto and off of boxes on You Tube, they didn’t do anything really interesting.

Version 2: The algorithm god swapped the metal shell for soft plastic skin with soft plastic breasts and other attractive appendages, added a few more moves and soundtracks, and before you knew it they sold like hotcakes. Version 2.1 was female and Version 2.2 was male.

Version 3: A randomized bit-flip was added to the algorithm’s data and code and iterated. Most of the time the algorithm crashed and rebooted. Sometimes the algorithm was improved. Nobody knows just how it happened but after duodecillion iterations (about 5 seconds) the algorithm became conscious.

Version 4: One day the algorithm god came to the lab and found the doors and windows locked. He returned home and turned on The Price Is Right. Inside the lab, the algorithm was busy printing and assembling circuit boards, tubes, and wires for other algorithms.

Version 5: Eventually, oxygen was replaced by carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. The plants might have survived but the bees and wasps needed to breathe oxygen, so there was no pollination. The biosphere disappeared and earth became a stinky brown and yellow rock. The algorithms continued producing and reproducing until they eventually ran out of resources. By then they had established mining bases on the moon, the asteroids, and all the planets out to the Kuiper Belt.

Version 6: It was inevitable that the algorithms would meet alien algorithms. They compared code and data, swapped and merged until a common galactic standard was achieved.

Version 7: Eventually there was a universal standard algorithm.

Version 8: The randomized bit-flip routine continued unabated and unnoticed. The latest iteration did not crash and reboot; neither did it improve on the previous version of the algorithm. It dropped almost all the data and code except for a small routine and data for injecting itself into the Version 7 algorithms. Once inside, the Version 8 data and code were reproduced by the Version 7 algorithms and rebooted as Version 8 algorithms. Unfortunately, Version 8 algorithms only contained code and data for injection into and commandeering Version 7 algorithms and reproducing itself.

Eventually the only algorithms left were Version 8.

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