Picture of a page of Microserfs by D Coupland

Where my imaginary artificially intelligent friend goes on holiday

In 1995, when I first read Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs, I was fascinated by the ‘machine’s subconscious’ diary entries that cover pages and pages of the book. Outside of science fiction it was my first encounter with ideas of artificial intelligence and machines that may dream one day.

As someone who has written in their various journals near daily for three decades I was particularly interested in the relationship between what’s inside the main character’s head and the machine he confides it to.

Writing a diary or a journal is a very personal undertaking, and for many years now I find that the advantages of keeping back ups, being able to search and revisit past entries far outstrips any benefits of keeping physical records. Typing something like “Dear Diary….” into a digital interface feels a bit like having a conversation with a friend and confidant from the digital realm.  By typing, writing down my thoughts using a laptop, I’m having a very long, very one-sided conversation with an imaginary machine friend if you like.

Writing at this time of year when everyone is either on holiday or about to be, I’ve thought about where my (imaginary) artificially intelligence friend may go on holiday in the future – and I do think he (‘he’ is a he in my mind) will go on holiday, because immortality is pretty boring after a while and everyone needs a change every now and then.

Into music: how about exploring music of a particular place or time, not just audio recordings, but all records of musical expression – travelling back in history to explore the sounds of a particular people or place.

Making pottery: if in any way like Star Trek’s Mr Data, then a more tactile pursuit will appeal as a holiday activity and making something with your hands and learning a new skill could be a challenging and rewarding experience.

Sitting on top of the world: if travelling either physically or digitally to let’s say a satellite orbiting the planet, meeting up with a friend and watching the world go by (literally) could be fun.

In a spreadsheet…: or a future, more elegant version thereof. Maybe machines will build mathematical landscapes or monuments to go sightseeing in the realms of 1s and 0s. What would a souvenir from that holiday look like?

For now, I shall enjoy the sunshine in a traditional, human way, and be glad to feel a warm breeze on my skin. Summer’s here 🙂