TRON and Artificial Intelligence

Tron. The movie about 'the Dude' who gets sucked into a computer. You know the one I'm talking about.

Since the Apple IIe there's been quite a few movies about computers. Back when I played the equivalent of PONG on the Odyssey, there were only a couple movies about computers, and they were about these huge monstrosities, like "Colossus" and "Novac" from a film called Gog. There was of course, HAL 9000, but these were the idea of computers as living things, as monsters. No Terminator. No Matrix. No Wargames. No Hackers. Spencer Tracy even starred in perhaps one of the first movies about computers, "Desk Set" long before the Apple IIe, or Commodore 64 was even conceived of. Computers were always big monstrosities, and only special people could run them or understand them. They were like harnessed creatures living in a dungeon, kept by their masters, in some secret castle somewhere.

IBM has developed a super-computer which they say mimics 4.5% of the human brain. They call it the BLUE GENE. They also say their SyNAPSE chip has the ability to rewire its own virtual neurosynaptic centers, allowing it to 'learn' the way humans do. They say that by 2019 it will be able to mimic the human brain by 100%. I think that we are now approaching SKYNET country... the question is what will happen in 2020...and by 2029...will we be up against an artificially intelligent super-computer?

Writers seemed to be implying that eventually, some kind of "artificial intelligence" would be born--inside a computer of course. The MCP, or "SKYNET" would eventually try to take over the world. The 'machines' would turn on us, our creation would fight against us. The inevitability of this and the irony of this has become a cliche. It still has yet to actually happen, but it is there in public consciousness.

In The Matrix, humans have to wake up out of a virtual reality in order to fight the machines. In The Terminator, the machines attempt a pre-emptive strike against humanity before they have a chance to fight against them...with a time machine. In TRON, the humans must still 'use' programs in order to fight the MCP, destroy it from the inside, and it would seem the programs become sentient as well.

Tron has a lot of ideas there in it. The MCP is kind of the same old monster, the 'Colossus' who wishes to take over. The 'Colossus' who can threaten people in the real world, and make them do things. I would imagine that this is exactly how something like this might happen, if an evil artificially intelligent computer was born.

In COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, this is exactly how it begins to operate, by threats, blackmail, extortion, by ordering men against eachother at first. Nobody would know that behind it all wasn't some conspiracy of Illuminati agents, but a computer...playing a kind of chess game with the human race. THE MCP in Tron was already planning to take over the Pentagon, and reach out into the world by hacking systems and controlling them, Flynn, Alan and Lora stopped it however... they would be classified today as 'cybercriminals.'

Colossus, WOPR, SKYNET, HAL 9000 and the MCP all begin as a kind of chess game, the thinking machine that sees mankind as an adversary. The computer in movies like these is a kind of ultimate evolution in computers, the 'end point,' as some would say, 'the singularity.' At some point, computers will reach that point, so long as they are being developed as they continue to be developed now. What if, however, something else happened?

Where did these ideas come from anyway about the computer becoming some sort of self-conscious intelligent entity anyways? It is implied in its original name, 'the thinking machine?' A machine that can think, like a person, which can do math for him, figure things out, perhaps even solve the world's problems for him? Today, are we even sure what it means to think anymore? Are computers doing our thinking for us? Are we becoming less and less intelligent as the computers become more and more intelligent? Or perhaps...something else is going on here, either instead of this notion, or at the very same time.

The idea of the thinking machine implies something else as well, it implies that we built, or are still trying to build a machine that can "think." In order to do that we have to know what 'thinking' is and how it works, but this isn't necessarily how computers were really born. Nobody spent time attempting to quantify the human thinking process before they decided to start building computers. The road leading to building the first computers was simple math. No math was done to explain how humans think, but what is happening, is that because of computers, people are trying to apply math to how people think, and they have suggested that our brains are like computers...

An odd thought indeed, that we envisioned a 'mechanical brain' only to eventually believe our brains are mechanical... How did this happen? How did we go from fearing these sci-fi monsters, only to suggest that we have these 'sci-fi monsters' inside our very own skulls? It would seem to me that this is what technology usually does to us humans...although not everybody sees this, usually not the people who build the technology, and that is that we build this stuff, eventually start combining our stuff into more complex stuff, and time passes, so much time that the old stuff we built our 'new stuff' out of is forgotten, and we start to wonder how the hell we got to where we are... And something unusual happens...

We have a startling revelation in the midst of this complexity, that on our course to building these things, we're re-building ourselves, we learn from the complexity of our technology that we are unconsciously remaking ourselves, and we go back and forth, taking what we know from our technology and applying it to ourselves. However, common stupidity keeps popping up, as it usually does, and instead of applying the IDEAS, we literally apply the technology. The IDEAS are then ignored, and we're stuck with wires and crap coming out of our skulls, or worse, blobs of genetically 'engineered' parts are swapped out for our original ones, and we simply become less and less human.

Taking the ideas literally is the problem, and it all happens subconsciously, as if we inherently know what we 'want' to do, but we're stuck thinking we have to make 'hardware' out of everything. Technology gets smaller, so we assume that we can then inject this crap into our veins. Ultimately what is missing from the minds of these people is that if the idea came forth from building our computers, that our brains are like computers, then the idea is that any other technology out there can reflect part of ourselves or reflect something else, and remember that these IDEAS are the mirror of physical and mechanical things. The 'thinking machine' is a 'machine that thinks' while what we have is something that inspired that thinking machine, it is the origin of it, the inspiration for it, and while we may have never intended this, there it is, and while our machines are a mimicry, we are not machines, however, the definition that comes out of this IDEA is a new one. A brain might be an 'organ made of organic tissue' the only thing truly important about it is what it does. You don't have a clue how your computer works, so how should you be expected to know how your brain works?

Again, there is a difference, how a brain or a computer works isn't as important is realizing what you can do with it. You can use your computer in a variety of ways, just as you can use your brain in a variety of ways, without knowing its components, or constitution. What people are missing here is that what people are using computers for these days, also mimics what people should be able to use their brains for, or should I say, dare I say, what people should be able to use their 'minds' for.

As of yet, nobody has seen an 'artificially intelligent' computer from one of these movies, but we do use all sorts of different kinds of computers. When nobody is using these computers, they are inanimate objects, they can be unplugged, and put on a shelf, and they are utterly useless. There is nothing in them that operates themselves. You can leave them on, download things, but once the series of commands it has been given are complete, it idles, and becomes null. A human being can have a brain, and yet have no mind at all, and there are a whole series of conditions and circumstances we know to be true in this case. However, a person with a fully functioning 'mind' can have his brain injured, altered, degraded, and he can lose his 'mind.'

As you can see, something else is going on here, beyond pure mechanics, a person is not a series of commands, he commands himself. He is a "USER." He has a will of his own, to use his brain however he sees fit. He may not know what it is made of, or how it operates on some scientific empirical level, but he somehow knows how to 'think' and how to calculate 2+2=4, and remember where his car keys are, and which orifice he is supposed to shove food into. He can think of things to build, and figure out how to build them, all with this magnificent 'tool' he was born with. The brain seems to do things, like regulate all his living biological operations, he really doesn't "think" about these background functions, they just 'run.' When people begin operating their computers, utilizing complex functions, such as build websites with flash animation, send emails, and connect to the internet, they are doing more than pressing buttons on a machine, they're doing more than writing code, and commanding their computers, they're almost not even using their computers anymore, they're in a totally different dimension, they're 'in cyberspace,' they're not even thinking about code, programming or math, and while this may seem stupid, it is no 'dumber' than not knowing where your neurons are firing, and just how those impulses are moving your hands. This is itself, 'the new idea' and that is that if you could see what you're doing on the internet everyday, and instead of explaining it with math, such as how many 'packets' or 'bits' you are sending, or how many pixels are on your screen, but see that you are 'combining' the 'senses' that your computer is capable of, and essentially doing something with a computer that goes way beyond 'mechanical.' You are operating on a whole other dimension, you are not simply pressing buttons, you're sending THOUGHTS and IDEAS to people hundreds if not thousands of miles away. They used call such a thing 'telepathy.'

The structure which we have unwittingly started to build with our technology, and not mechanically, is one which is a new dimension of IDEAS that explain to us, just what our minds, our brains, are obviously capable of. What it means is that we have to start looking at what we're doing in this 'new dimension' and imagine a few steps ahead. Where does it lead, or where can it lead? If you're sending not just simple words through 'cyberspace' but images, moving images, ideas, thoughts, sounds, etc, and just how it is you're doing this, not with the math operating in the background, but in the forefront of your mind, and if as the simple analogy is your brain is a computer, then what is the internet? What is a firewall? In other words, there are other plausible analogies.

TRON ultimately suggests quite a few of these analogies, where no other film does. It does not end with robot armies taking over the earth, nor a resistance force storming Encom. TRON takes us into the computer in a totally imaginary way in which one is removed from the dimension of 'Alan Bradley' who is hacking code, doing math, plugging or unplugging things in 'the real world.' While inside this 'computer' and once removed from the 'real world' one can look at some of these concepts which inside the computer, take on a new and different meaning.

Unlike The Matrix, where everything is an illusion, the object is to look at computers differently, and in a new way, and TRON suggests we look at computers in a new way, yet with very old values, or 'principles.' The physical dimension of plugging wires into your brain like The Matrix takes the physical side of the analogy as far as it can go, the problem is that it makes the assumption that we will never be enlightened to the fact that we might begin to operate our 'computers' before our machines plug into our brains and take advantage of our ignorance.

Cybernetics is a kind of cult of the physical, and assumes that we must utilize our brains, or our physical organs from the outside in, and not the inside out. The concept is we will use the brain from the outside, with wires, microchips and physical technology, and using it with remote controls, when our 'minds' are something that obviously come from 'within.' The opposite now, and this is a new idea, is to use the brain, with the mind, from within. Many books and films have alluded to this concept through vague and outlandish imagery, but now, today, we can begin to completely understand this process, we can illustrate and examine it, as I am doing right now in this article. It is something that may seem 'intellectual' or unimportant to the average person, as unimportant as it was to know how your MacBook works, but it is now becoming very important, because if the human race does not begin to see this, or understand this, (and we are already beginning to see why) the people who can only understand the mind or the brain with technology, we will slowly become total cyborgs over the next century, and it will be the next century, starting now, not any other time.

The cyborg is a person who has applied technology to their physical being, (imaginably it could be a machine which has applied biology to their machines as well), the person is literally becoming a machine. This is a serious mis-application of technology. People need to understand that technology should not literally be applied to themselves, but the ideas from technology should be applied. The individual must never lose their humanity, by losing their will, or their physicality, their true senses, their real feeling, otherwise, the true monstrosity will appear. The real reason for this of course, is that we must never allow ourselves to be programmed, as if we were machines, or computers, or digital 'applications.' We are not these things, we are people, and on the flipside, while we are human, and must never allow ourselves to be altered from our biologicality, we must understand that our complexified technology, i.e. computer, digital technology, the combination of all our technologies into this 'new stuff' we're playing with now is completely subconsciously mirroring what are real minds are capable of. Our 'technology' is a crude reproduction of us. The robot is a crude metal and plastic version of our bodies, cameras are eyes, microphones are ears, and the computer, a mind, and the internet...well, now I'll let your computer start figuring out what that is... that's what we are all about to understand... >the next question is also, what will we do with this once we understand?


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