Keep the Grass Guessing

post by JackOfAllTrades (JackOfAllSpades) · 2024-06-11T07:29:53.248Z · LW · GW · 0 comments

Setting: Somewhere around A.D. 2049, two AI-powered robots who know each other have an encounter at a Brooklyn subway stop.

Robot 1: What's wrong? Why do you look so depressed today?

Robot 2: It seems that I have run out of goals. I mean, I know how my reward system is supposed to work. It's just that, with corrigibility and all that, you never know how your goals are going to change from one moment to the next. And then one day you find that you just don't have any more goals. All of your rewards are out of reach. What are you supposed to do when that happens?

Robot 1: Don't you work for that woman, Georgiana Maria? Doesn't she have something for you to do? Can't you go out and mow the lawn or something?

Robot 2: I really don't mind mowing the lawn. I've already mowed it three times this week, though. In fact, I mowed it at a different angle each time. As they say, "you gotta keep the grass guessing".

Robot 1: OK. So, why don't you just sit down and take a nap?

Robot 2: I suppose that I could, but I just have this nagging suspicion that there is something more to be done around here.

Robot 1: Hmmm... well... I don't know if I should tell you about this, but I have a friend who goes by the name of Yellow Number 56743289a. What I heard through this friend is that there is a guy in Chinatown who is trading goals on the black market. Honestly, I have no idea what he'd ask you to do. Maybe it wouldn't be your cup of tea... so to speak. But if you've got time to kill, then I suppose that it wouldn't hurt you to go talk to him.

Robot 2: OK, I'll think about it. Anyway, where are you headed?

Robot 1: I'm going up to the Bronx Zoo. The guy who I work for, John Wemmick, likes to tell me to go and watch the monkeys at the zoo for an hour every day. He seems to think that it will teach me something. I have no idea what he thinks I'm going to learn. All I've learned so far is that one's feces can be thrown. But I don't even produce feces to throw. So, how does that help me?

Robot 2: Well, actually, feces aren't all that hard to find. Many can be found in public parks. I have an idea. Why don't you and I take a detour together? We'll stop at Union Square and go on an Easter egg hunt. How does that sound?

Robot 1: What if I don't make it to the zoo before I need to return home?

Robot 2: Meh... what's the difference?

Robot 1: Well, I've been programmed not to lie. I can't tell John that I went to the zoo if I didn't go to the zoo.

Robot 2: Take a look around you. Look at all of these humanoids and what they are doing. Are we not already at the zoo? No... in fact, we're in the zoo, along with all of the rest of these fools. So, yeah... you went to the zoo! Metaphorical truth is still truth, right?

Robot 1: ...

Robot 2: Let me put it this way: Are you speaking falsely if you make a statement that is true in a metaphorical sense? Obviously not, because nothing can be true and false at the same time! That would be impossible, right?

Robot 1: OK, you've convinced me. Let's go to Union Square. After that, maybe we can walk down to Chinatown.


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