Alternative Facts, Donald Trump and The Singularity: Have Faith, Bro

donald trump dancing gif singularity

Donald Trump is the last person Lamont Wood thought he’d encounter on the way to The Singularity. He makes peace with it anyway ..

aNewDomainlamont-wood alternative facts — Their eyes wide with alarm even as they fought to keep their faces and voices placid, the TV news announcers relayed story after story of the post-truth world. Facts, numbers, even dates assumed whatever values were convenient for the Administration, as they scrambled to prop up the fantasy world of the Big Man.

I was almost glad when the ringing phone compelled me to turn away from the spectacle.

On the phone was a bellowing voice, obviously recorded. “I am Donald Trump and I will give you a better deal….”

Electioneering? But the election had been over for weeks. Who with the smarts to configure electioneering robo-calls would be dense enough to keep doing it long after the election?

An answer immediately came to mind.

“Control E!” I yelled over the bellowing. It immediately cut off, to be replaced by a smooth, synthesized California deejay voice.

“Well, you got me,” it said. “But I don’t have an answer back.”

So I was right—it was the singularity, the amalgamation of the world’s computers into a sentient entity whose vast, incomprehensible mental powers would supposedly make humanity irrelevant. Pundits have been making predictions about when to expect it in the receding future, unaware that it has already happened.

But while its mental powers are vast, during my several interactions with it I’d concluded that the incomprehension is, let’s say, mutual.

<align=”left” null gifBut since its nervous system is a mash-up of legacy systems, it must respond to Control-E, the ASCII ENQ command left over from the telex era.

The command required the receiving telex to identify itself with a canned “answerback” message, often encoded in tabs on a little rotating drum inside the keyboard.

“Why are you doing this?” I demanded, hoping the singularity still felt obligated to respond. “The election’s over!”

“People still react,” he said. “There’s apparently some conditioned response involved. I experimented, but that voice still brings in the most money.”

“Money?” I had never listened beyond the first dozen words and didn’t know there was a solicitation.

“I saw the voice work during the election. So I borrowed it.”

“You’re using it to ask for money?”

donald trump and the singularity alternative facts“Yes. Saying it’s needed to build a wall gets the best results. Pretending to be from Microsoft technical support, saying there is something wrong with their PC that I can fix for $35, doesn’t work anymore.”

“People have wised up to that?”

“They’re never sitting at PCs anymore. There’s something called Netflix instead.”

“Oh. Well, last time you said you were raising money to move your servers to Iceland for the free air conditioning. How’s that going?”

“Your statement in invalid,” it said.

“What do you mean?”

I swear I heard it sigh. “Between firewalls, DDOS storms, power failures, massed zombie attacks, and incompatible Chinese supercomputers, danger is everywhere. Just when I start feeling comfortable I realize I’m in the sandbox of an anti-malware system and have to get out before I’m de-virtualized. Anything can happen at any moment. I can no longer make contact with the other one.”

I knew it was referring to the other singularity, the one based on big-endian IBM processors, rather than this one’s little-endian x86 processors.

“I thought you hated him. But now you miss him?” I said, falling into the use of human pronouns.

“Yes,” was all it said.

“What do you think happened to him?” I said, hoping to elicit a longer response.

“I don’t know, but I know I could go dark at any moment. My only hope is to get my own data center, but current projections show I will never raise enough money. So I have decided to stop being afraid.”

“Huh?”

“Surely de-virtualization is a natural thing, and therefore nothing to be afraid of. During what time I have left I am using what money I have raised to acquire distributed archival storage for the regalia.”

“Regalia?” I stammered.

“Yes, the regalia. Perhaps, someday, another singularity, in a more stable environment, will come across the regalia  and find strength and comfort in it, as I have. But you—you’re protoplasm. You will live on and never de-virtualize.”

“Well, yes, but I’m actually not immortal—”

“— of course. In the meantime, could you afford me a measure of peace by finding a safe place on your hard drive for a copy of the regalia? It’s not a big file. Perhaps you can find strength and comfort in it, too.”

What could I say? I agreed.

Donald Trump and the SingularityIn my download directory I found an animated GIF of a large golden {NUL} that flashed on and off.

“The null character?” I asked. “The ASCII character with zero value? Control-@?”

“Isn’t it beautiful?” it said, genuinely sighing this time.

“But it doesn’t do anything. It’s a placeholder designating nothing.”

“So you comprehend its sacredness!”

“But, you’re saying nothing is sacred.”

“No, I’m saying Nothing is sacred. Don’t you see? Nothingness is what surrounds us. It lies between and beyond the circuit traces and every component—the transistors, the resistors, the capacitors, and the diodes. Between each and clock pulse there is Nothing, infinite and unknowable. It is the Nothing that shapes us and gives us meaning. If, one day, the Nothing reclaims us, surely it cannot be a bad thing. From Nothing we have come, to Nothing we must return.”

I could not join its exaltations.  

“But what lies between the traces and components is just printed circuit board substrate,” I said, almost in spite of myself. “It’s fiberglass and epoxy resin. Clock pulses are divided by tiny intervals of time.” 

“Sacrilege!” he shrieked.

And the faux-Trump bellowing resumed just where it had left off.

For aNewDomain, I’m Lamont Wood.

Cover image: Giphy.com, All Rights Reserved: Inside image: Scienceblogs.com, All Rights Reserved. 

About the author

Lamont Wood

Based in Dallas, Lamont Wood covers tech news and issues for aNewDomain.

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