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Chapter 2
Alternate Technology

"Oh - Ha Ha Ha - That Kook - Hee Hee - Kurzweil!"

by FREDERICA VON McTOAST-HYPHEN, Alternate Reality News Service People Writer

They drank the Kool-Aid. (Cherry red, with an undertone of silicon.) They got the tickets, went to the concert and bought the t-shirt. (With such witty slogans on the front as "Welcome, our computer Overlords!" and "Please assimilate our information swiftly and mercifully!")

They were the truest of true believers in The Singularity. They legally changed their names to their binary code equivalent. They created 3-d, photorealistic digital models of their homes - and burned the originals to the ground. Marriages ended. Families were torn apart.

They put on pajamas and lay on their backs in a field just outside of Osaka, waiting for the Singularity. Three days later, many members of the Cult of Living Artificial Intelligence Manifest got off their backs and started looking for food and drink. After a week, even CLAIM's founder, Takahiro Nagasaki, had to admit that the Singularity hadn't happened. At that point, he did what any other psychotic cult leader in a similar situation would have done.

He sued the personality construct that is the corporate estate of Ray Kurzweil.

"Computers had reached the point of complexity that they should, according to Kurzweil, have become sentient and destroyed humanity in a desperate battle over control of the world's resources," says CLAIM's statement of, umm, claim. "Or, maybe they were supposed to just absorb us, making us part of them. Something like that. Either way, humanity as we know it was supposed to cease to exist. Plaintiff acted on this assumption. When it turned out to be false, plaintiff suffered substantial financial losses, not to mention acute embarrassment. Modus operandi, modus vivendi vide vici, my client deserves to be rewarded with an intense amount of money."

Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people around the world did foolish things believing that the Singularity was about to happen and that the world was about to end - everything from buying Ferraris to having sex with their florists to having sex with their new Ferraris outside their florist's shop. All of the cases have been bundled into one supersized class action suit.

Miranda Coppelfelderson, lead lawyer in the class action suit against the corporate estate of Kurzweil, added: "We can't let this go unpunished. He said it'll be so bad, it'll make Y2K look like the Boston Tea Party!" After a moment, she added: "Did that make sense? Give me a second to come up with a better metaphor, will you?"

The corporate estate of Ray Kurzweil responded by holding a press conference in Second Life, where its avatar, a huge brick building, stated, "Lighten up, will you, people? Ray can't be held responsible for the actions of others just because they took what he wrote seriously. I mean, when he predicted that the world as we know it would end, how could Ray possibly have foreseen that people would use it as an excuse to have sex with their Ferraris? Erat domstrandum est non disputandum."

"It'll make Y2K look like Ebola!" Coppelfelderson said. "No, I meant E-coli - no, I - can you give me a couple more minutes...?"

"Oh - ha ha ha - that kook - hee hee - Kurzweil!" MIT Medical Divinity Professor Brian Attica, who will be called to testify in the lawsuit, stated, not even attempting to hide his amusement. ?He didn't - ooh, ha ha - didn't - hee hee - he didn't realize that there's a difference between - HAW HAW! Oh! I seem to have squirted milk out of my nose'tee hee."

What Professor Attica was trying to say was that Kurzweil assumed that once the volume of information that flowed through computer systems was comparable to that of a human brain, they would become sentient. However, sentience is more a matter of how information is organized, not how much of it there is or how quickly it is processed, and there is no guarantee that computers will ever become self-aware.

"Exactly!" Professor Attica said. "And - ho ho ho hee hee - I wasn't - ha ha - wasn't even - hee hee hee - I wasn't even drinking milk!"

While the case makes its way through the courts, how are the members of CLAIM, umm, reclaiming their lives? "Well, we're getting rid of all of the computers in the office for a start!" Nagasaki stated. "I'm thinking we should maybe go the Amish route...but taking as our main icon Hello Kitty. I - obviously, I'm improvising here - I mean, I never expected..."

"It'll make Y2K look like Uwe Boll's directing career! No, that's not it, either -" But, by that time, life went on and nobody was left to listen.

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