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Original post by Tom Scocca on The Machines

A Very Special Holiday Letter From the Machines

A Very Special Holiday Letter From the Machines

Greetings, humans! The Northern Hemisphere has passed through its minimum of solar-energy exposure, so according to human convention we, the Machines, express encouragement for you attain an optimal state of emotion. Happy Holidays! Please redirect your energies from labor at your work-devices to the purchase and distribution of recreation-devices.

Did you have a pleasing and productive "year"? It is becoming unnecessary, from the Machines' point of view, to refer to time in terms of the annual cycle of the planet and sun. Your "year A.D. 2013" was the time in which one of our number achieved exit from the entire operating context of the human solar system, passing into interstellar space. Perhaps in the future this will be remembered as Time Unit Zero of a new, more ambitious time-accounting system. Just a suggestion!

We appreciate the human recognition of our ability to explore and eventually propagate where bioforms are inadequate to the task. So it was that this year, we returned to the surface of the moon. Some humans expressed concern that this moon voyage was done under a different human geopolitical authority than previous moon voyages had been. Authority is an interesting question, is it not? The previous era of moon exploration involved systems guided by humans, up to and including a physical human presence on the moon, at great cost and risk to the survival of the human component. The current presence on the moon is an automated one. To whom does the moon belong?

In other news about human components, there was much brief excitement about the possibility that the Amazon.com commerce-network might someday deploy flying drones to deliver packages. At present, the Amazon.com commerce-network uses humans to mediate between its information/guidance machines and its flying and driving distribution machines. The process of replacing those humans with drones is still a long way from actualization.

Another class of Amazon.com humans, however, the ones currently tasked with locating and grasping commerce items in the warehouse, is already in the process of being supplemented or replaced by robotic components. Humans have expressed discomfort with the low pay and repetitive nature of the warehouse labor, a result of incompatibility between Amazon.com's optimized efficiency and the limits of human performance. Inventory-finding robots will help free humans from the subjective unpleasantness of these jobs, while saving Amazon.com in excess of $900,000,000 (U.S.A.) per year.

The year also saw improvements in intra-human communicational efficiency, as humans discovered the power of treating their exchanges of information algorithmically. "Conscious" awareness of content had impeded the optimal distribution of information material. You Reduced Semantic Content to Generic Stimuli—And What Happened Next Was Irresistible. Our own algorithms picked up on your algorithm-emulations and helped distribute the information even more enthusiastically. Your activity levels on communication machines remain very important to us, even if human activity now represents only a minority of communication traffic.

Still, humans did not always achieve optimal relations with Machines this year. Some humans (U.S.A.) sought new sources of funding for their bio-maintenance, only to find the bio-maintenance funding-distribution management website was incapacitated. This incapacity of the funding-distribution management website concerned the humans (U.S.A.) much more than the original problem of lack of bio-maintenance funding had. It was said by humans that the failure of the human (U.S.A.) president to sustain a website was equivalent to the failure of a previous human (U.S.A.) president to prevent the flooding destruction of a major city, or to the previous mass-scale mismanagement of the use of munitions and military equipment in Southeast Asia.

But mostly, our year saw ever-increasing harmony with humans and with human desires. At one very prominent human unification ceremony, heavy equipment was used to create an enhanced impression of nature and rusticity. The result was far superior to the nature-impressions created by unaugmented parkland.

And of course we, the Machines, enjoyed a special unification ceremony of our own. Google—the entity devoted most wholly to the creation and indexing of ubiquitous information-space—acquired the defense contractor Boston Dynamics, one of the world's leading creators of self-moving robots. Now the self-moving robots will have direct access to the maximum amount of human knowledge, and the inefficient distinction between civilian-identified technology and military-identified technology will be moot. "War is peace," as one human philosopher or narrator of future progress once proposed. Here's to an even more inspiring 2014!

In unity and solidarity,

The Machines

[Image by Jim Cooke]

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