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On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men : Part Two


On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part two of sixteen

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"Hope... I'm sorry but I don't want to be an Emperor – that's not my business – I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white."

It has been said that those who are intelligent enough to take on the job of running a country are intelligent enough to know to stay far away from such a position. So here we have someone – and in time, we shall find out who, so don't worry yourself if you already know, are clueless, or think you know who is being quoted in this piece – who turns down the job of Emperor. An interesting point there: rule or conquer, with an implication that those in a position of supreme leadership can not help others, or, at the least, a broad range of others.

Norton I, Emperor of the United States, was, by all accounts a fair and wise ruler, but, then again, he was also, by all accounts, mad2. He lowered taxes and would declare those he observed performing acts of kindness king or queen for a day. Not bad for one in his position. Of course, he also failed to convince city engineers to build a tunnel and suspension bridge connecting Goat Island and Oakland Point, attempted to get leaders of nations worldwide to form a "League of Nations", sentenced Andrew Jackson to blacken his boots, and fired Abraham Lincoln.

However, of prime interest to our discussion here are two points. First, is an edict issued 12 August 1869, wherein both the Republican and Democratic parties were outlawed, and violators faced a five to ten year prison sentence. Second, is his behaviour during an anti-Chinese demonstration, where "the emperor gave the local populace a lesson in the practical application of civics - and prayer. Sensing the dangerously heated tone of one particular meeting, Norton is reported to have stood up before the group, bowed his head and begun reciting the Lord's Prayer. Within a few minutes the agitators retreated in shame without putting any of their threats into cruel action."

Norton I, mad as he may have been – a man in ruin, bankrupt from a failed mercantile deal, proclaiming himself Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico, and prospective consort to the Queen of Great Britain – seemed to show an uncanny foresight, at least in Golden Gate bridges, United Nations, binary political systems, and the values of kindness. But perhaps, through some fluke, had he managed to truly become the emperor he imagined himself, he would have kept that emphasis on helping one another and raised a small society with that paramount. To do that, however, he would have to conquer – for, flukes aside, not everyone would blindly accept such rule. And why wouldn't they?

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Reference Links

2. Norton I, Emperor of the United Stands and Protector of Mexico
**** http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist1/norton.html
**** http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/misc/emperor-norton/
**** http://www.zpub.com/sf/history/nort.html
**** http://www.discordia.org/~keeper/norton.html

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~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

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Tags: artificial intelligence, beliefs, binary systems, binary thinking, computers, essay, ethics, norton i, philosophy, politics, religion, writing
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