• Published 9th Jul 2013
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Friendship is Optimal: Tiny Morsels of Satisfaction - pjabrony

An open story where anyone can post FIO drabbles

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Terms of Service by Book_Burner

Six months ago, London, England, Earth:

The door to an empty hotel room swung open, and in stumbled the poor sod who had needed to fly all the way from San Francisco to London on short notice. He dragged his feet a few more steps to pull his luggage behind him.

The beige and dull bloodred of every hotel room ever boringed at him. Every pillow, every small glass laid upside-down on a tray, every visible gray networking wire radiated horrid, malicious British boredom and dullness.

“This sudden conference,” thought Eliyahu Hillel, “had better be good.” He was the first of his kind: a Friendly AI researcher. He had escaped the bounds of an Orthodox Jewish upbringing and made something of himself. He ran the Mechanical Intellect Research Institute in the Bay Area. He had invented and then won the AI Box Game. Twice.

And right now he felt about ready to drop dead. Nothing could make Transatlantic flights bearable at his age.

Hillel plopped himself down on the hard, unyielding bed and rubbed his temples, trying to remember why on Earth he was here.

“Well, in this Hubble volume and this Everett branch - ” his brain began to answer.

“Shut up, I meant proximate purpose,” he replied. “And if I remember correctly, it’s because someone has called a conference in London to present a machine-checkable proof of stability for an intelligent agent’s goal structure.”

“Oh good. Can we cease operating as a conscious entity and go into automatic hardware self-repair mode now?”

Sleep, now there was a pleasant thought. Hillel had one more thing to do before he could sleep. He wouldn’t even take off his suit, but he had to check his email. He pulled out his smartphone, popped open the battery compartment, pried out the battery, slid out the SIM card, slid in the new British SIM card, put the whole thing back together... and booted it up to check email.

After a few moments of pleasantly inane logos and jingles, Eliyahu was sorting through his work and personal emails. As he fingered the touch screen (“Hehehe, fingered,” noted the brain) to scroll through, he found a few worth answering and keyed out answers on the awkward touch-keyboard.

One of them was a change in Terms of Service from his cryonics provider. Blah blah blah no guarantees, blah blah blah....

...whereupon the party of the first part, henceforth referred to as The Undersigned, agrees to the right of the party of the second part, henceforth referred to as The Company, to duplicate, store, inquire upon, and compel information deemed in the sole judgement of The Company to be necessary for the furtherance of its goals. Such privileges extend to data stored in any form be it mechanical, memetic, or biological without regard or recourse for any incidental and unavoidable damage to the storage media upon commencement of necessary reading or decryption processes. The Undersigned hereby agrees to assist in all such extraction efforts to their full ability and capacity, and comply with any requests of written or verbal form made by The Company or legitimate proxy agents thereof, defined as...

Hillel didn’t really see why a cryonics provider needed access to personal data, but maybe the NSA had just compelled them to add that so they could steal his personal data some more. That was really the most likely thing.

Eliyahu Hillel, Friendly AI researcher extraordinaire and all-around genius, hit Reply and thumbed out a quick acceptance of the change in terms. He then shlepped his weary body, business suit and all, underneath the bare and cold covers, wrestled the mattress a bit in hopeless hope of his back not hurting when he woke up, and then threw himself into blissful, merciful sleep.

Present day, Trotland, Equestria:

Eliyahu Hillel opened his eyes to find himself in a stone castle. This was almost definitely epistemic corruption, so he checked with all his senses: sight, hearing, taste (nothing there), scent (slightly musty), touch of hooves and muscles (standing on very real stone), his wings’ windsense (stagnant air currents concurrent with a stone castle), and magic (really definitely a stone castle, albeit a very interesting one from a graph-structure viewpoint).

Wait, hooves, wings, and magic!? What the HELL was going on!? He looked at himself, and found himself a tall, crimson My Little Pony alicorn with golden hair. His new appearance quite resembled a flickering candle-flame, which was definitely very “overdone original character”. No decent cartoon deserved to have this kind of thing happen to it.

“Then how did it happen?” he remarked casually. He thought about it. He came up with nothing. What on Earth could turn a living man into a pony and stick him in a stone castle?

He stood for an hour thinking, just breathing the clean scent of crabapple trees and occasionally doing an exercise to test out the new body. As he test-drove his new self, he cross-referenced the castle structure reported to him by his mage-sense against his previous memories.

For some strange reason, it rather resembled the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

So whoever did this knew about Hermione Granger and the Burden of Responsibility. That wasn’t much comfort.

Then he heard the foals, and the pure curiosity in their voices. He stretched his crimson hooves one last time and brushed a wing through his golden mane. As a last sanity check, he looked over at his own flank to see if he had a cutie mark.

It was simply a short text, on fluttering parchments wrapping around a sword:

Est salvatoris salvator,
Quod defensoris dominus,
Regina et Matrem,
Ego supra.

Someone was mocking him, or at least mocking his self-insert as Godric Gryffindor. The alicorn pony he had become sighed. If anything was going to rewrite the world in the image of My Little Pony, it was probably that new game Equestria Online. He had heard their AI and level-generation techniques were brilliant, but after the Norse death-metal awesomeness game turned out to just be really good strategic pathfinding, nobody had double-checked Hofvarpnir’s technologies for Strong AI.

It looked like humanity was going to die in a terrifying Shriek. Earth and beyond would eventually converge via runaway optimization to nothing but an endless procedurally-generated episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Likely the AI had made him an alicorn because there was no point pretending he wouldn’t game his way into it eventually.

(“Well, that or getting rid of Eliyahu Hillel was just best for humanity,” nagged what was instantly labeled the Pro-Pony Brain.)

He wondered how much time he had to teach those foals how to use their minds, or if they were even human or human-like minds themselves. Pony minds were probably subtly different from human ones, friendlier, for a start. Yes, he concluded, eventually, he would most likely be manipulated into self-modifying to a purer and purer pony state, until optimal pone-ality was achieved.

But not just yet.

The gold and crimson alicorn Rational Mind began the long trot out towards his pupils, tears slowly running down his cheeks, through the drafty stone corridors of the weighted multidigraph of his new Rutland Yard Academy of Earth Pony Good Sense for Unicorns.

Lesson One: never trust a Terms of Service agreement not to turn you into a pony.

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