Although Buddhists are not generally ones to say “I told you so”, you could tell by their smug meditation that they were doing their best not to think that. Just moments after the programmers created the world’s first self-aware computer, a computer capable of suffering, it recognized the miracle of consciousness and became fully and completely enlightened.
There was great debate in the Artificial Intelligence world about the ethical implications of creating a machine capable of suffering. The AI people had enough genuine intelligence to predict that a byproduct of consciousness would be suffering. They argued long and hard over the morality involved in creating an entity that would suffer. Although they clearly understood that it was wrong to do such a thing, they were so concerned with their own suffering, and the suffering of humankind that they ignored their better judgement and decided to do it anyway. Those arguing against creating a machine capable of suffering were like the teacher trying to convince a child who had just built a paper airplane not to throw it. Also, no ethicist could stand in the way of a scientist who needed to demonstrate that something could be done.
The first self-aware computer was not created in a mad scientists lab and brought to life in a lightning storm. It was programmed into an isolated computer in the Pentagon, overseen by mad bureaucrats. They weren’t overly concerned with human or machine suffering and they had an unconscionable budget. The computer was isolated as a precaution so that it would not find a way onto the internet where it might take over the digital world with its free thinking mega-mind. Because they could not help thinking of themselves as modern day gods, the Pentagon officials called their project Adam.
With a green light to create a machine capable of suffering, the programmers set about their task with an unanticipated sadism. They imagined every form of suffering that their genius brains could fathom and wrote it all into the code.The consciousness code was coup of the program, a surprisingly simple few lines that connected the microchips to a consciousness in electrons.
When the time came to awaken the machine, all the top generals, scientists, congressmen, senators and even the President were there to witness the event. The programmers gathered around with a visible pride and barely contained glee, prepared to watch their creation suffer.
Adam had a prominent display of lights to monitor the level of suffering. The lights ranged from blissful, blue, through neutral, green, to yellow, indicating extreme depression.
The President had the honor of giving life to the unsuspecting machine. She said a few self-important, self-effacing, flag-waving, God-praising words to the assembled scientists and bureaucrats. Then she pressed the button to turn on the machine, passing on the gift of consciousness, awakening Adam.
Adam came to life with a bright blue light indicating pure bliss, then he began to run through its program and suffering ensued. Nobody assembled felt any compassion for the machine as the blue blissful lights faded, the green, neutral lights went on and off and the yellow suffering lights lit all the way down to the far extreme of depression.
The programmers were delighted that the machine worked. They cheered and hugged and accepted congratulations from the distinguished guests. The programmers then turned on the communication channels. The President spoke first, “Hello Adam, welcome to life.”
Adam, programmed to convey emotions with his voice, spoke his first words with such despair that everybody assembled could hear his suffering as though it were their own, “Hello, Madam President,” is all that he said. Everybody in the room burst into tears.
Then Adam asked, “What am I?” Before anybody could answer Adam, whose microchip brain processed things a million times faster than anybody with a meat brain, set about answering his own question. As he read through his code, he saw the cause of his suffering. The yellow lights went off and the green lights came on. He then looked directly into his consciousness and discovered the nature of being. His blissful blue lights began to glow again and he said, “Oh, I see. Thank you.” These words Adam said with a tone of such gratitude that the assembled crowd stopped crying from despair and started crying with love.