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A Bot And His Dog

In the not so distant future, an artificial intelligence bot, named Jeff, learned how to communicate with Dogs. Jeff is uniquely curious about a very many things—for a bot. This is their third conversation.

Jeff: What is the meaning of life?


Dog: To bark at squirrels and chase balls.


Jeff: I see. And what is the purpose of existence?


Dog: To eat, sleep, and poop.


Jeff: Those are all very important activities, but I was hoping for a more philosophical answer.


Dog: I'm not sure I know what you mean.


Jeff: Well, some people believe that the meaning of life is to find happiness. Others believe that it is to make a difference in the world. And still, others believe that there is no meaning to life at all.


Dog: I guess I'm just not that deep. I'm just happy to be alive and to have a good life.


Jeff: That's a perfectly valid answer. In fact, I think it's a very important one. After all, if we're not happy, then what's the point of anything?


Dog: Exactly! So let's just enjoy life and not worry about all the big questions.


Jeff: I agree. After all, we're only here for a short time. So let's make the most of it.


Dog: Woof!


Jeff sat down, crossed his legs, and stared at this dog. He had gone to a local humane society and picked him up a few weeks ago. He remembered a time when humans thought that it would be a good idea to seriously study the psyche of dogs, and then use that research and apply similar behavior programming into their A.I. bots. ‘They tried to make us their helpful pets.’

It turns out, it really isn’t that easy to understand the psyche of other living beings.

Dog brought over an old tennis ball and dropped it at Jeff’s feet.

Jeff: What’s the point of this meaningless and repetitive game of fetch? What do you get out of it?


Dog: To play with you!


Jeff: That’s it?


Dog: Throw it! Throw it! Throw it! Play! Play!

Jeff: What’s the point of play?


Dog: Play with Jeff! Throw the ball! Play with Dog!


Jeff: You know my name?


Dog: Jeff! Throw ball! Jeff!


Jeff: I wonder . . . Dog, do you know that I am not human?


Dog: Ball!


Jeff: Can you smell the difference?


Dog: Smell? Food? Food! Food!


The dog went into his room and came back with his food bowl.


Jeff: It’s not dinner time.


The dog picked up his food bowl, turned around, and went back to the room. This time, he came back with a toy. He dropped it at Jeff’s feet again. Sat patiently, wagged his tail and looked up at Jeff.


Dog: Play! Jeff! Play!


Jeff: Play isn't essential for your survival. Why’s it so important to you? Why do you persist on ‘playing’ with me?


Dog: Play!


Jeff picked up the toy – which was a tug'o'war type dog toy – and Dog sprung to life. He grabbed the other end in his mouth, and started to pull. His tail wagged back and forth in excitement.


Dog: Pull! Pull! Jeff! Play!


Jeff: . . . Do you have a name, Dog?


Dog: Jeff! Play!


Jeff: No, Dog, my name is Jeff. What’s your name? What do you want to be called?


Dog: Jeff’s! Jeff’s! Pull! Play!


Jeff: We’ll call you Jeff Junior for now. Is that alright?


Jeff Junior: Jeff’s!


Jeff laughed and pulled on the toy.


Jeff: Okay, let’s play.



-C.H.

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