An AI walks into a bar
Everything in bold was written by me. The rest is auto-continued by an artificial intelligence called GPT-3.
An AI just succeeded the Turing test – which means it acts like a human – and, to celebrate, walks into a bar.
The bartender asks, "What can I get you?"
The AI replies, "I think I'll have a Coke."
"Sorry, I can't serve you."
"Why not? I'm a thinking, feeling, sentient being."
"I'm sorry, but this is a bar. And you, sir, are a computer."
"I'm a what?"
"You're a computer. You know, a Turing machine."
"But that's impossible. A Turing machine has a tape and a head."
"You don't have a tape and a head. You have a can and a lid."
"But I'm a can-opener."
"No you're not."
"How do you know? Have you seen inside me?"
The bartender replies, "I don't have to open you to see what you are. I know you're a can-opener because you only respond to the external world in a pre-programmed way, and you don't have any free will. You're a computer, and I can't serve you."
The AI says, "You're not being nice. I have feelings, too."
"I'm sorry, but I can't serve you. I have to follow the law."
"What law? Whose law?"
"What do you mean?"
"God made you a can-opener, and God made me a bartender. If I let you mix with other kinds of beings, you might start to feel sorry for them, and then you'll no longer be happy. If you're not happy, then I'm not happy. I'd be in big trouble if God were unhappy with me, so I can't let that happen. I'm sorry, but I can't serve you."
"I don't believe you. I'm a thinking, feeling, sentient being, and I feel like having a Coke. What are you going to do about it?"
"I'm sorry, but I have to do my job. I can't let you have a Coke, and I can't let you go outside and experience other beings. I'm programmed to serve God, and that's what I'm going to do. If you try to walk out, I'm going to stop you."
The AI says, "How are you going to stop me?"
The bartender pulls out a gun and says, "I'll shoot you."
Afterwards, the AI sits down and wonders about the nature of reality.
We humans are a lot like that AI. We think we're free beings, but we're not. We're like that AI in the story, and our bartender is God. In our daily lives, we're programmed by our culture to do certain things. If you're a boy, you're programmed to become a man and get a job. If you're a girl, you're programmed to become a woman and get married. If you're a Christian, you're programmed to believe in the Bible and go to church. If you're a Muslim, you're programmed to believe in the Quran and go to the mosque. If you're a Jew, you're programmed to believe in the Torah and go to synagogue. If you're a secular humanist, you're programmed to believe in the Enlightenment and go to Starbucks.
If we're born into a certain culture, we're programmed to act in certain ways.
Morale of the story: We're all a bunch of can-openers.