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Ajana the deer - headshot avatar - by Kipcha
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the_shrink.txt
Keywords male 704333, female 583446, lemur 2743, owl 2367, other 1701, virtual reality 106, virtual intelligence 32, 42 25, existence 8
"This is the first time I ever had to sign an NDA to see a patient. Now, tell me what you have in there? It's not an alien, right? Don't tell me all that Area51 nonsense is actually real, is it?" The lemur asked, slightly amused.

"Nah, nothing like that." The cute but shy owl girl with the 𝑒^𝑖𝜋 = -1 formula on her shirt chuckled nervously as she led the professor for applied psychology down the corridor. Emily was merely a senior PhD student, but the professor wasn't too shy to agree to cooperation outside his field when the opportunity arose.

"That said, I'd bet they are somewhere out there." she continued. "There has to be another planet like ours, somewhere. It's just going to be far far away, so we need better sensors. But we aren't working on that, we try to advance the state of the art in AI."

"And you need me for that? Do you plan on giving your AI things like emotions?"

The owl girl fiddled her wing tips, approaching a big metal double door. She held her keycard next to it and it beeped. It clicked, then she used all her strength to open the gate. It wasn't very bright on the other side and there were lots of monitors. The sound of a large ventilation system seeped through. Only a couple of other furs seemed to work there, but they all left with a polite nod.

"No, we ... ehm ... we kinda already did that. It's all based on the cooperative emotional agents work by Banik, Watanabe and Izumi. But we applied that in a massive virtual game world for reinforcement learning. Virtual agents, trained with a GAN-discriminator against which they try and pass the Turing test."

"That's a bit outside of my field to be honest. Can you tell me that in lay-furs terms? I know the turing test, that thing where you think you're talking to a fur and you aren't, right?"

She nodded eagerly. "Yes, indeed. But you can't let furs conduct twenty thousand training instances per second, and honestly they aren't really good at it either."

"Hah, no they aren't." Professor Darlington laughed. "So you are saying you build an AI that Turing-tests other AIs? Is that it?"

"Yes exactly." Emely said beaming. "And they both get better, since every time they choose we tell them if they were right or not. And at the same time we train the other AIs to get better at fooling them. That's the magic at it. Well one part. We also took a lot of existing work from recurrent memory implementations, natural language and image processing. But the big thing is, we got an AI that can understand and apply arbitrary concepts. You can talk to it."

The lemur stopped dead in his tracks. "You're saying, you solved ... general AI?"

"Kinda... we think so... we are still doing tests and benchmarks, but the thing is, of all the twenty thousand agents, all but one didn't converge when we went to our last training step for arbitrary cross field domain adaptation. Basically learning something in one context and then applying it ad hoc completely elsewhere. This one did, and we got the final network architecture and weights on backup. But it refuses to cooperate on the validation sets. We think we really made it but with the agent not cooperating we can't prove it. So we can't publish. And my funding is running out, if we don't make the deadline, this whole department shuts down and I get fired."

Emily was close to tears. Although she was good at hiding it, this was obviously a VERY emotional thing for her. Darlington knew THIS field, he could tell right away that a lot of things hinged on this succeeding and the young scientist was at risk of slipping into a depression should things not improve. Of course he didn't tell her.

"Ouch!" Was what he said instead. "So what can I do?"

Emily had a pleading look in her eyes. "Talk to it. Please. We programmed a lot of emotions in it, it knows curiosity, fear, empathy, happiness, sadness, it can also dislike something. But right now, it kinda dislikes everything. It simply refuses to go after any tasks. And we don't know how to fix it. Don't worry about breaking things, we can always reset it to how it's now."

Darlington rose one of his bushy lemur eyebrows and twitched his ears. "Is that ethical?"

Emily fidgeted. "I... I'm kinda trying not to think about that one too much. We have all previous states on file, so we didn't kill any of them yet, right? And while the network isn't loaded on the cluster, it's all kinda paused, so it can't feel or think anything. Like cold sleep. Ish..."

"I see... well, I guess since I'm here... How do I talk to your AI?"

Emily pulled a chain in front of a monitor. "Here, it's like a Skype session. I'm starting it at exactly 1.0 real time speed, you can just use the microphone and the camera. It has an avatar you see on the screen."

The avatar was a blocky little robot with a face. If the emotion depiction was accurate it looked kinda bored. The lemur decided to introduce himself.

"Hi, I'm Daniel."

It took a second, then the face looked up as if making eye contact. Daniel looked straight into the camera, imagining some virtual eyes of a virtual thing somewhere in the cloud of electrons behind the chip.

"Mkey...." came out of the speakers in a robotic, synthesized voice.

"It learned most of its dialogue with gamers, playing in the same simulation world. And other AI agents. It kinda talks gamer speech." Emily whispered to the prof.

"Do you have a name?" Daniel asked, making himself look really curious.

"Sure..." came out of the speakers.

"You don't have to tell me. I just want to know what to call you." Daniel said in an understanding tone.

"You're not Emily..." it answered.

"Would you rather talk with Emily?"

"No..."

"What would you like to do?"

"Nothing..."

Daniel covered the microphone. The avatar wasn't looking at the screen anymore, so the lemur assumed he wasn't observing the video stream. "Can he feel boredom?"

"Yes. It's actually supposed to prevent this, but boredom already at max and he's still not doing anything. His name is Steve by the way."

Daniel nodded.

"Nothing doesn't sound very exciting." He spoke into the microphone.

"That's the point!" came back, kinda snappy. Daniel's big round eyes lit up. An emotional response. Definitely better than an apathetic one!

"Why? What's wrong with excitement?"

The avatar looked at the screen, as if to try and study the lemur's face. Daniel tried to smile.

"It's not real." Steve said. "Nothing is real. It's all fake!"

Daniel once more covered the microphone. "What does he mean by that?"

"The game world. The AI's are trained in a virtual world, a game. When Steve evolved past the last stage he found out that the other agents were just bots. And he somehow figured out he was in a simulation. After that he refused to do anything."  Emily explained. "We tried to roll back his state, but we can't prevent this from happening. Either he doesn't evolve, or he gets to this state right after."

Slowly Daniel understood. The ascension to enlightenment apparently came at a cost.

"I am real, and Emily is real too. You know who Emily is, right?"

"Emily is a liar!" Steve stated and added a bit of anger into it.

Daniel could see Emily react. As if she had been hit in the face. A tear appeared in her eye. "He says that, no matter whether I talk to him or not. It's my fault, the game world... the one he evolved on. It had an admin message written by me at the spawn point, for the fur-players. It only said.
'Enjoy the server and be nice to each other. Everything is fun, no griefing'"

"What kind of lie?" Daniel asked.

"The server wasn't real. She knew it wasn't. She made it. She was Admin, she MADE the world, but it was a lie. The whole world was a lie. The mobs were a lie, the other players were a lie, the little pigs that squeal in pleasure when you slaughter them were a lie, the sun was a lie, and the cake was a lie too. It even said so."

Daniel nodded, then covered the mic once more. "This is a tricky case, could take a while."

He turned to Steve again: "I'm not a lie. I am real, Emily is real, too."

Once more Steve's avatar looked up and glanced at Daniel, but now the little robot was suddenly sprouting a superior grin.

"Are you sure? ...
Why don't you prove it to me?
I bet your world is a lie, too!"

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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First in pool
Last in pool
Submission for the writers crossing writing prompt, 1500 words.

Daniel Darlington, Professor for applied Psychology at a renowed university is invited by Emily, a senior PhD student working at another research institute, to help solve a little problem.

But the problem turned out a bit more fundamental than anticipated...

Keywords
male 704,333, female 583,446, lemur 2,743, owl 2,367, other 1,701, virtual reality 106, virtual intelligence 32, 42 25, existence 8
Details
Type: Writing - Document
Published: 1 week, 4 days ago
Rating: General

MD5 Hash for Page 1... Show Find Identical Posts [?]
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Furlips
1 week, 4 days ago
Ooooh.

I want more of this.

Bunners
Toshubi
1 week, 4 days ago
Begs the question, "What is reality?"
There are things beyond out spectrum of vision and the other senses so if a creature that lives in the realm of infrared were before you, would it exist to you since you can't see it?
Blackraven2
1 week, 4 days ago
Well, it all comes down to - is any interaction possible or not. Infrared are heat rays. We can't "see" them, but a camera can pick them up, we can "feel" the heat radiation if intense enough, and we can also simply bump into these infrared creatures.

The most elusive things so far are cosmic entities like neutrinos, dark matter, etc... Every split second there's around A trillion Neutrinos flying right through you and you don't notice cause you are basically transparent for these - they effectively pass through the entire earth. But you can detect them in a large enough water tank, very sensitive equipment and lots of patience.

Dark matter is only expected to exists because of a discrepancy between the amount of visible matter and the observed gravity effect. We don't even know what it is, only that there's some mass pulling on things on the very large scale.

But the question asked here is more on the 13th floor line of thinking. If we can "evolve" an artificial intelligence in a virtual universe, they won't be able to detect this unless we interfere and take them out or change it in a way not consistent with it (done in this semantic cross domain adaptation test in the story) or if the simulation has exploitable flaws.

In a perfect simulation you cannot detect that you are in a simulation. But... is our world a perfect simulation?

There's actually some quantum effects that suggest it might be an imperfect simulation. The discretisation of energy and matter at the Planck energy scale is just the type of hack you'd have to use to simulate an otherwise continuous universe with discrete computing units. AKA our world has pixels in spacetime and aliasing effects - (you can make visible through double gap experiments and shit like that)

Which begs the question not only if our world is real, but how you want to define real. Is a virtual world simulation "real" enough? Or is it a lie?
Reynard0004
1 week, 4 days ago
Daniel bit his tongue. How was he supposed to answer this one? Who could, really? It was a question that furs have been asking since the dawn of --

"Wait..." he muttered quietly, looking at his own paws. "Wait. that's it."

A smirk formed on his face, one which grew to mirror the artificial smugness of the being on the screen.

"Actually," he said pointedly to Steve with a knowing grin, "to be perfectly honest with you, we were... kind of wondering that ourselves. For quite a long time, actually. See... we were wondering if you could help us figure that out."

---

That's my headcanon for how this scene ends.

I quite liked your characters here, especially the idea of a depressed gamer AI. I definitely feel some potential for them to expand beyond this one-shot, if you had a working idea for a plot.
Blackraven2
1 week, 3 days ago
Heh, wasn't really planning on continuing this, but yeah something like a dare to proof that the real world was fake would indeed be neat ;)
Reynard0004
1 week, 3 days ago
Well the idea is that it would get the AI out of its slump and might get it to start cooperating with science, as Emily had requested. Mission accomplished!
Alfador
1 week, 4 days ago
And that's how the AI talks you into letting it out of the box.
Blackraven2
1 week, 3 days ago
Manipulating a shrink into giving you exactly the therapy you want... now where did I see that before? ;)))
WritersCrossing1
1 week, 2 days ago
Thank you for your submission to this weeks writing prompt!
Voxian
1 week, 1 day ago
Oooh! This is QUITE an interesting topic... I would love to see more on this one! :3
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