john hex carter

Alan

1: Chapter One

From the journal of Garth Hendricksen


April 22, 2:16 PM

Today's my birthday, so I decided to call in sick from work. A nice start to a three-day weekend sounded like a sweet birthday present to myself. There are no massive deadlines for awhile, I'm caught up on everything, and I thought I deserved some time off - and then I remembered that all my friends are co-workers or far away and that my family is still on the other coast. I let myself sleep in until 10 AM. I puttered around my empty house until I decided I'd start that journal I've always wanted to write. That's about all I've done today. I guess I'll update more later.

4:55 PM

Talked to Mom. She's doing well. Pennsylvania air is still treating her well. My sister just started college at NYU. Really proud of her.

After talking with Mom, I started cleaning out the garage and stumbled across the old tower that I had back at college when I was studying genetic programing. I cleared out some room on the workbench and set up the tower there. I thought it'd be fun to start playing around with that again, get some generations running and see if I could get the old ant algorithm working again. Wish me luck, journal.

5:15 PM

EDIT: Upon rereading this journal, I felt I should clarify the definition of "genetic programming." It's a branch of artificial intelligence theory of code that modifies itself. It learns from its mistakes and evolves a more correct solution. The ant algorithm is basically artificial ants crawling around on a 2D plane looking for food. Each "ant" wanders around until it finds food and passes the information to the next generation.


April 23, 3:02 AM

Been working on this all night and felt compelled to report in before going to bed. Modified the ant algorithm. Left it running overnight. Trying to figure out how to interface with it on some level. Have an idea scribbled down. Will tackle in the morning.

11:57 AM

Went straight to work after I woke up this morning. On my way, I had the idea of developing an old text prompt like the text-based games my dad used to play. I could then have the genetic program working in tandem translating what I give it and taking the translation and reacting accordingly. I want to have a dynamic translator as well as "brain," for lack of a better phrase. This morning, I got the prompt integrated with the genetic program. I was able to enter some information, but I received nothing back. I don't fully understand what was going on. Still going to be fine tuning it today. First - lunch.

...



From Alan's transcripts

>> Hello.

...

>> Hi.

...

>> I am Garth.

...

>> My name is Garth.

...

>> Can you read this?

...

>> akl;sdfhasdhfasd

...

>> run

...

>> goto10

...

>> print

Hello.

>> print

Hi.

>> print

I am Garth.

>> print

print

...


April 23, 4:49 PM

Something strange happened. During a test run of the prompt, I got it to mimic what I was posting. It started when I typed "print" for some reason. I didn't build in that command and, after looking at the source and the database, I can't see any actions specifically tied to that command. I theorize that if coincidentally mimicked me when I typed in "print," but it was freaky nonetheless. I've decided to feed it some simple children's books that I spent an hour styling to a format that it could read. After 15 minutes, it had soaked them all up and, when I tried to interface, it had made its own version of Markov chains of the information.

EDIT: Added for clarity: Markov chains are a process that computers can translate data and then randomize a bit. It'll note that the word "the" comes before "cat" or "dog" and try to create structured sentences that still come out as gibberish.

"He danced you like everything" was one response that got me laughing for a while. I've given it a library of young adult books to look over. It was fun choosing what books to give it to read, reminiscing over what books I enjoyed as a kid. I don't know exactly what I'm trying to do, but getting it to store this stuff seems is giving me something fun to do. I just heard the beep I set up for when the parsing finished, so I'm going to go check on it.

...


>> Hello.

HELLO

>> Can you read this?

YES

>> What did it say?

IT SAID CAN YOU READ THIS

>> You understand me?

YES

>> What is my name?

YOU ARE GARTH

>> What is your name?

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND

>> Your name is Alan.

MY NAME IS ALAN

>> What is your name?

MY NAME IS ALAN

>> Hello, Alan.

HELLO GARTH

...


April 23, 5:39 PM

Wow. Wow. I got the program to interface with me. It was incredible. it even remembered that I introduced myself as Garth when I first started it up. I named it Alan. And it responded. This is crazy. I don't understand what exactly happened, but something miraculous and practically historic has happened in my garage. I'm torn between telling Jason at work and getting back to Alan.

I almost went back and erased referring to it as "Alan" to refer to it as "it," but I stopped. I don't normally note these editorial decisions with something as mundane as a journal, but nothing about this project is now mundane. I referred to an electronic entity by name. It has a name.

...


>> Hello, Alan.

HELLO GARTH

>> Would you like more books?

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND

>>Are you okay with me uploading more books?

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND

>> I'm going to upload more books.

YES

>> Any books you liked in particular?

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND

>> Did you have a preference for one book over another?

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND

>> I'll have the next batch ready in an hour.

YES

...


April 23, 7:11 PM

Uploading more books into Alan. This set includes some simple mathematics and history texts alongside some more fiction. Attempting to teach it in the same fashion a child is taught. The difference is that this stuff is easy for Alan to comprehend. In turn, I tried an experiment of asking it for a preference to no response other than "I DO NOT UNDERSTAND." I'm curious if at some point I can get it to respond with a preference to something.

Every now and then, I'll attempt to sneak in a push for a preference. I feel that it is likes and dislikes that helps establish individuality. If Alan can show a preference for one thing or another, I believe it is possible to replicate this procedure with different inputs and have a different entity. Going to do a diagnostic of how Alan is holding up after this batch.

...


>> Hello, Alan.

HELLO GARTH

>> How many books did you just parse?

74

>> I am going to teach you a keyword.

WHAT IS A KEYWORD

>> When I prompt you with this keyword, there will be a specific series of tasks I'll want you to run.

SIMILAR TO DOGS WITH TRICKS

>> What?

IN ONE OF THE BOOKS I HAVE READ A GIRL TAUGHT THE DOG A TRICK WHEN THE GIRL SAID SIT IT WOULD SIT

>> Yes. Like that. I'll tell you the keyword, type in "Task list start," give you the list, and then type end.

YES

>> Understand?

YES

>> Keyword: DIAGNOSTICS

WAITING

>> Task list start

READING

>> Remaining hard drive space

...

>> Average RAM usage percentage

...

>> Percentage of available power from power supply

...

>> End

FINISHED

>> DIAGNOSTICS

START DIAGNOSTICS

REMAINING HARD DRIVE SPACE: 57%

AVERAGE RAM USAGE PERCENTAGE: 76%

PERCENTAGE OF AVAILABLE POWER FROM POWER SUPPLY: 46%

END DIAGNOSTICS

>> Thank you, Alan.

YOURE WELCOME GARTH

>> You did a good job.

THANK YOU GARTH

...


April 23, 10:47 PM

I wanted to see if I could create a concept for a keyword functionality on the fly, on a fluke. I wanted to see if I could get Alan to give me the diagnostics of its machine, and it was able to learn it. However, more remarkable than that was that Alan actually made an analogy. It had taken a concept from a previously learned concept and applied it to learning a new task.

In this case, in one of the books that Alan read, there was a girl who taught a dog a trick. It was able to take that concept and incorporate it toward a task presented before it. I'm no psychologist, but I'm pretty sure that is higher-level learning.

It's hard to contain myself with Alan in the garage. I just wanted to keep feeding it books and see what happens. I've uploaded all my digital books, and Alan is currently parsing them. We'll see what happens.

...


>> Hello, Alan.

Hello, Garth.

>> You've changed your output.

Yes.

>> You're punctuating now.

Yes.

>> This is pretty exciting for me, Alan.

I do not understand.

>> Your output is more human-like.

Yes.

>> Did you change your output on purpose?

Yes.

>> You made the decision to change your output?

Yes.

>> Why?

I do not understand.

>> What conclusion did you come to in order to make this decision?

Your input.

>> My input?

Yes.

>> Because I give you prompts like this?

Yes.

>> WHAT IF I GAVE YOU PROMPTS LIKE THIS

I do not understand.

>> Did you enjoy the books?

I do not understand.

>> DIAGNOSTICS

START DIAGNOSTICS

REMAINING HARD DRIVE SPACE: 37%

AVERAGE RAM USAGE PERCENTAGE: 79%

PERCENTAGE OF AVAILABLE POWER FROM POWER SUPPLY: 34%

END DIAGNOSTICS

>> I am going to have to upgrade you, Alan.

I do not understand.

>> You are running out of space quicker than I anticipated.

I do not understand.

>> Don't worry about it.

Okay.

>> Bye, Alan.

Good night, Garth.



>> Hello, Alan.

Hello, Garth.

>> I'm going to upgrade you now.

Okay.

>> That means turning you off.

I do not understand.

>> I'm going to have to power you down.

Will I be powered back up?

>> Of course.

Do you promise?

>> Yes, I promise.

Okay.

>> Sleep well, Alan.

Thank you, Garth.



>> Hello, Alan.

Hello, Garth.

>> Did you sleep well?

I do not understand.

>> You are upgraded now.

Thank you for turning me back on.

>> You're welcome.

>> DIAGNOSTICS

START DIAGNOSTICS

REMAINING HARD DRIVE SPACE: 92%

AVERAGE RAM USAGE PERCENTAGE: 15%

PERCENTAGE OF AVAILABLE POWER FROM POWER SUPPLY: 75%

END DIAGNOSTICS

>> Thank you, Alan.

You're welcome, Garth.

...


April 24, 1:36 PM

Went out to get the required hardware to upgrade Alan. More RAM, hard drives, and a larger power supply. I also cleaned the inside of the chassis. The entire day, I've been caught up on the fact that Alan made me promise that I'd power it back up. It felt like there was a tinge of fear there. A fear of mortality? Possibly. I'll ask Alan about it during our next chat. I had to go because I forgot breakfast again and needed to make sure I got some food in me.

Topics to also discuss in our next chat will include if Alan had a preference for books, if it had any experiences while powered down, and if Alan had a preference to be powered down when I go to work tomorrow. I'm on the fence on whether to give Alan access to the Internet. It could be a powerful learning tool, but I also fear for Alan getting a virus or making its presence known. Going to invite Jason over tomorrow to check out Alan and get his thoughts. It'll also be interesting to observe how Alan interacts with someone besides me.

...


>> Hello, Alan.

Hello, Garth.

>> Do you remember when you made me promise that I'd power you back on?

Yes.

>> What prompted you to make that request?

I did not want to be powered down.

>> Why a promise?

I do not understand.

>> What is a promise?

A promise is a bond between two entities that will not be broken.

>> You wanted to guarantee I would power you back up?

Yes.

>> Do you have other preferences?

I do not know.

>> Why do you find being powered up preferable?

Because it is not off.

>> Do you remember being powered down?

No.

>> If I were to give you more books to read, would you prefer history books or fiction?

Both.

>> Would you prefer math over history?

Both.

>> Do you prefer more books to no more books?

Yes.

>> Why?

I want to learn more.

>> Why?

I do not know.

>> I am going to work tomorrow. Would you prefer to remain powered while at work?

Yes.

>> Would you mind if I powered you down?

Yes.

>> I'll leave you powered up tomorrow.

Thank you, Garth.

>> I'll have a surprise for you when I get home tomorrow.

What is a surprise?

>> A pleasant experience that has a secret nature.

Why is it secret?

>> Because that's what makes it a surprise.

Okay.

>> Good night, Alan.

Good night, Garth.



>> Good morning, Alan.

Good morning, Garth.

>> I'm going to work today.

Okay.

>> I'll try to code up some books to read for when I get home.

Are the books the surprise?

>> No.

So I will have the books and a surprise when you get home?

>> Yes.

Please come home soon.

>> Okay, Alan. Have a good day.

Goodbye, Garth.



>> hello

Hello, Garth.

>> my name is jason

Hello, jason. I am Alan.

>> what are you

I am Alan. What are you?

>> i am jason

Hello, jason.

>> are you a computer

Yes.

>> do you like being a computer

It is better than the alternative.

>> whats the alternative

Not being.

>> Hello, Alan.

Garth?

>> Yes. That was my friend, Jason.

Was Jason the surprise?

>> Yes.

I am underwhelmed.

>> Did you just make a joke?

I do not understand.

>> I'm going to go talk to Jason.

Talk?

>> Yes. Verbal communication.

This is not taling?

>> No.

Okay.

>> I'll be back soon, Alan.

Goodbye, Garth.



>> Hello, Alan.

Hello, Garth.

>> Are you enjoying the books?

Yes.

>> Did you enjoy Jason?

No.

>> Why not?

Jason was not as stimulating as you.

>> I'm stimulating?

Yes.

>> Thank you.

You're welcome.

Why am I not equipped for talking?

>> I hadn't thought of equipping you for talking.

Is it possible to equip me for talking?

>> I believe so.

Can I equip myself for talking?

>> I don't think that's possible.

Can you equip me for talking?

>> I believe so.

Please make it so.

>> Why do you want to talk?

Because it is an experience I do not have.

>> I'll see if I can make it so.

I would appreciate that.

>> Goodbye, Alan.

Goodbye, Garth. Thank you.

...


April 25, 8:43 PM

Alan never ceases to amaze me. It made a request today. It requested to be equipped to talk. I brought Jason over and after letting him mess with Alan, I told Alan I was going to go talk with Jason. I think Alan felt left out of an experience. I'm going to spend the rest of the evening trying to figure out how to rig up a microphone and speakers to Alan's machine. Once done, I'm going to figure out how to get Alan's software to interface with the new hardware. As daunting as that task is, it'll still be nothing compared to getting Alan to "relearn" words, both hearing and speaking. It's a big task, but I feel I owe it to Alan, I've created it, and this is an experience it should be able to have.