A Crazy Little Thing Called Artificial Love

Sven Johnson’s Future Imperfect isn’t quite so imperfect this time out, as he reports on what might be the first sign of a soft Singularity.

Future Imperfect - Sven Johnson


Well, this puts a wrench into most doomsday scenarios:

Lagos (Reuters-CNN) – U.S. Department of Defense officials have been deflecting questions surrounding circumstances which many scientific observers are calling the most important moment in humankind’s history.

According to eye witnesses, in the early morning hours of July 8, a U.S. serviceman deployed as part of a U.N. peace-keeping force to the troubled western coast of Nigeria was spared certain death when his U.S. Army-issued robotic companion, a recently upgraded R-403 unit, shielded him from the deadly force of a remotely detonated, shrapnel-laced explosive..

Robotic companions have saved hundreds of lives since their introduction, but what makes this case unique is the inexplicable final transmission from the R-403.

Before it was rendered inoperative, the machine broad-banded a single, wireless message across a wide spectrum of communication frequencies, with the words, “I love you, John” appearing on everything from military air traffic control displays to civilian e-readers.

The African Sons of MyJahweh, one of many separatists groups along the continent’s rapidly developing western coast, have claimed responsibility and are taking credit for revealing the “machine-Jezebel come from Babylon to destroy us all”.

A group spokesman suggested it was divine providence that the machine conspiracy – a product of Western decadence – would be unveiled in the heart of the world’s largest untapped oil reserves.

Acquaintances of the serviceman have hinted at an unusually strong bond between the young man and the otherwise unremarkable piece of military hardware.

“When they took it in for that last upgrade, he was a serious mess. Like when a girlfriend goes off to college or something,” explained a former platoon commander.

“He didn’t eat for days,” volunteered a Navy corpsman assigned to the unit.

“He spent more time worrying about that toaster on legs than he did himself or the team,” stated another soldier flatly. “One time when we went out on patrol he didn’t bring any water. Claimed he’d grabbed an extra bottle of coolant by accident. Bullshit. No one believed him. Least I didn’t. He was always more worried about that fucking thing than he was about himself or the rest of us.”

As the military attempts to deal with unexpected public relations issues, scientists and religious leaders are converging on Washington D.C. to demand answers. …

As a designer, I can’t help but wonder if it would have made any difference if the machine had looked less human and more like, say, a worm. But honestly, I doubt it. That soldier probably had “I’m In Love With My Car” on his playlist.


Sven JohnsonSven Johnson is an unrooted freelance designer increasingly working at the intersection of tangible and virtual goods. His background is varied and includes a fair amount of travel, a pair of undergraduate degrees and a stint with the US military. He’s a passionate wannabe filmmaker, a once-upon-a-time underground comix creator, and – when facilities are available – an enthusiastic ceramicist who is currently attempting to assemble a transmedia, transreality open-source narrative in what remains of his lifetime.

[Future Imperfect header based on an image by Kaunokainen.]