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  • Rafinius

    Anyone can explain the reference in the last panel?

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace. Alan Turing was a Cryptanalysis (decoder), mathematician and early computer scientist who helped make that field. He made the turing test, a baseline test to determine if a machine was “intelligent” (why it’s specifically mentioned in this script, an Ai would have to pass it to meet the minimum standard, basically it means a computer can have a conversation with you and you wouldn’t know it’s a machine just based on the conversation) , Ada Lovelace was a Mathematician who wrote what’s considered the first algorithm for a computer. It worked, which was pretty impressive considering she had to do it blind; the computer she was writing it for wasn’t even built yet. It’s generally agreed that she’s the first computer programmer proper in history. As the history of computers and AI’s, go, these two make very appropriate originator figures.

    • ZBass

      It’s depicting Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace, two pioneering early computer scientists


  • ZBass

    I’m gonna assume that Lisa is also a fan of Person of Interest, has such a good take on AI conflicts.

  • Arnaldo Iggi Roman

    Well… Sort of sad about this, a nice way to introduce a nice believable but alien way of thinking is self identifying spontaneous A.i.


  • kaberett

    … huh, interesting. I understand why you’ve got Alan & Ada up there, but apparently I default-read people in that kind of tableau as being written as het, which made me twitch, even though it’s *obviously* not what you’re doing. [In which I poke at my brainmeats.]

    As ever, thank you so much for this excellent comic – I am loving the current bits 🙂

  • surplustorequirements

    I like the Lovelace and Turing tree of knowledge metaphor, especially in parallel with Turing’s poisoned apple suicide. Paladin’s weird take on fables continues…

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      She is so doomed.

    • I… did not know that about Turing. And in other news, Paladin is terrifying. That chattering noise you’re hearing is Harold Finch curled into a ball and having a paranoid fit just off-camera.

  • llennhoff

    I love Turing and Lovelace plucking the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Note the absence of the snake.

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      Look again. It’s there, wrapped around the tree.

    • Liz

      Oh no, the snake is there (that green vine on the tree)

  • RobNiner

    All art and no work make AI go crazy.

    • Mechwarrior

      Remember, citizen, happiness is mandatory!

      The Computer is your friend!

  • spriteless

    I begin to like Bradley’s fanfiction more than the original stories.

  • Min Morton

    Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace. Love it. And again – picking the fruit of the tree of knowledge shifted to be presented as a good thing.

    • Darkoneko Hellsing

      This is glorious

    • Keith

      I never understood why the bible presented it as a bad thing.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        Because until humans were aware of evil, they were incapable of it.

        • Keith

          By that logic, they were also incapable of good.

          • adamsbja

            The same as animals.

          • Insanenoodlyguy

            correct. They were thus innocent and without sin. Incapable of sin in fact. This does not mean they could not do things that might be considered bad, we antromorphize animals with “good” and “evil” traits all the time. But those things would be done innocently, as a creature without knowledge of good or evil is inherently innocent. (For fun, read about Mark Twains “The Mysterious Stranger” sometime and see how this can be a horrifying concept). By becoming capable of recognizing evil, they brought evil into the world. This is why their punishment was so severe, and why they now must begin to die.

          • Keith

            But they also brought good into the world. And the ability to grow up and be mature responsible humans. So I still fail to see why it’s presented as a bad thing.

      • Mechwarrior

        Because religion has always had a problem with people who question authority.

      • Ian Osmond

        I’ve got an entire theology lesson about that, if you’re interested. The short version is that it’s not a bad thing, because nothing bad could BE bad until you had a concept of bad. Humans can’t be humans until that point. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a prerequisite for being ABLE to leave the Garden of Eden and become fully-functioning humans.

        Is that a bad thing? Well, nobody LIKES having to be a grownup all the time, so we get resentful of that. But the story is really about growing up, becoming responsible for yourself, and leaving the nest to make your own life. Which are all things that we are all pretty ambivalent about.

        • Keith

          This does not explain why they were forbidden from eating the fruit, and were punished for doing so. They weren’t “able” to leave, they were *required* to, with all women suffering pain in childbirth as an extra punishment.

          • Ian Osmond

            Like I said, that’s the short version. The longer version is about the notion of free will and consciousness, the idea of humanity creating itself, and a few other things. I can even throw in some observations about the growth of the human cranium as we became homo sapiens (no, I’m not REALLY going with the idea that the “pain in childbirth” thing was a Biblical observation about how the human skull is too large for the human birth canal; I think it’s just a coincidence)…

          • Keith

            Could you throw in why they were told not to do it? And why they were punished for it?

      • Red Ettin

        As a Jew, I was in a course that actually reframed the story as a coming-of-age, and that you can’t go back to childhood after you’ve gained real knowledge of good and evil.

        That’s not necessarily a religion-wide thing, but as an allegory it’s pretty cool. Also, it doesn’t assume that Adam and Eve were fully-formed adults when they were created.

        • Keith

          Did the reframing address the fact that their loving god in fact did not want them to gain real knowledge, and punished all women with pain in childbirth when they did?

          • Goatmon

            Not unlike how many loving parents don’t ever want their children to grow up.

          • Keith

            As a parent, I would say that those are not loving parents; they are selfish parents. Particularly if they punish their children for inevitably growing up.

          • Markus

            You know he also punished all men with perpetual toil, right?

          • Keith

            Is it relevant?

        • kellys

          Keep in mind, of course, that this is all a just-so story, worked backwards from the evident fact that the world – including our own mortal bodies – is imperfect. And since it is Beyond Question that 1., God can do anything (including making perfect people in a perfect world, if He so wished), and 2., God loves us, some rationalization has to be found why we deserve this. Because God can’t be to blame, out of malice or caprice. It must be our fault. Somehow.

    • robin

      there is also a comic called alex and ada though, might be in reference to that as well, it also deals with strong AI

  • danny in canada

    Oh my god, ALAN TURING HOLDING AN APPLE. I’m not sure if that’s brilliant, or horribly tacky, or both.

    • Markus

      Okay, I realize this is entirely off topic, but I’m still chafed that Alan Turing got snubbed during the ‘Thanks Tim’ sequence in the 2012 London Olympics. Turing was as important as Berners-Lee for the creation of the internet, if not more so, and considering how badly the Crown has treated him in the past at the very least he deserves a thank you.

      • Darkoneko Hellsing

        They never apologized for that, you know. He just received “royal pardon”. Like, being forgiven for something he did.

        • dbmag9
          • Markus

            That’s the PM, not the Crown.

          • Darkoneko Hellsing

            oh, I missed this.

            Thanks !

        • Markus

          Yeah, they’re not just dickbutts, they’ve got like six honorary PHDs in dickbuttography.

    • Cyrano111

      Turing, who committed suicide by poisoned apple, was strongly influenced by Godel, whose favourite movie was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – you know, the one with the poisoned apple. I don’t now why I’m mentioning that, it’s just one of those odd coincidences.

  • Michael Corley

    No way this can go horribly wrong! 🙂

  • Korataki

    The Alan & Ada mural really, REALLY ought to be made as a standalone poster/wallpaper. Would happily buy such a thing!

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Ok, I just noticed the comics have alt text and I will now go re-read everything *_*

  • S.I. Rosenbaum

    Wow Lisa really is trying to rewrite tragedies isn’t she

  • David Gottsegen

    Paladin’s hubris is so beautiful it deserves its own mural.

    • Auroch

      It’s only hubris if you fail.

      • Joshua Brooks

        Well that remains to be seen.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        She’s making sentient robots in a superhero world. SHE’S MAKING SENTIENT ROBOTS IN A SUPERHERO WORLD. I’d bold that sentence and repeat it again but I hope twice was enough.
        This only ends one way. Every. Bloody. Time.

        • Not every single time – Red Tornado and the Vision are exceptions. But yeah, 95% of the time, robot apocalypse.

        • Subbak

          Dragon (from the Worm series) would like to have a word with you.

  • Auroch

    I thought they killed everyone with the power to change the world? She has the potential to do all of that and more.

    • Ip

      Well, they certainly tried… We don’t know how that leg went missing yet, right? On the other hand, robots work pretty well within the system; they exist in the real world & all that. So it might just be that ‘they’ killed everyone with the power to change the world in a way they didn’t like.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        Or they know every robot will inevitably KILL ITSELF AND/OR OTHERS. So this will deal with itself long before it becomes a world changer. XP

  • KatherineMW

    Wow. So she’s going for genuine artificial consciousness.

    And just in time for the Age of Ultron trailer, too.

  • TheGonzoMD .

    What could pawssibly go wrong?

  • Dean

    I’m with Alison. I don’t think that I could handle being dissed by a robot either.

  • Shadowfirebird

    How does this strip just keep getting better? Amazing.
    (Okay, everything Paladin says in that second to last panel is not /quite/ correct. But I’m just being picky, now. I don’t expect my favourite authors to be as techy as me. This is awesome.)
    +1 for the idea of a giant poster of the mural.

  • Jack Lostthenames Warren

    The real robot apocalypse comes when they refuse to stop telling dumb jokes.

  • Ben

    You can read it two ways:

    1) God is selfish, as is proven time and again by biblical verse. The old testament especially shows God to be errant, foolish, hateful and vindictive. Wandering deserts, punishing sin with death, preaching an eye for an eye, and demanding sacrifices. The new testament (especially the book of Job) shows how far God is willing to go to prove a point and come across as superior, even that God’s son must die for our sins, though it’s never really stated why Jesus had to die other than to saddle humanity with collective guilt.

    2) God is loving. God knows the pain and unhappiness knowledge will bring man, the inability to truly succeed for there is always more to do. Therefore the forbidding is to prevent harm. Much like your mother says not to play with the stove because you might burn yourself despite the fact that it cooks food and makes life better, God forbids the apple because it brings pregnancy, doubt, shame, judgment, and knowledge of our own ignorance to an innocent and happy existence despite fact that it also brings sex, certainty, pride, friendship, empathy and the joy of learning. Modern parenting movements often show how misguided overprotection can be.

  • Khlovia

    [replying to the alt text] Yeah, during battles the quips are supposed to come from the superheroes.

  • Ian Osmond

    Okay, but this IS the complicated part. And I should start out by saying that I don’t expect everybody to agree with me on this one, AND that the logic gets a little wobbly in the middle somewhere. It works for me; I hope it’s useful for some other people, but if it doesn’t do anything for you, that’s cool by me.

    What is the main difference between humans and other animals? I think it’s sapience. I’ve heard sapience defined as “the ability to think about thinking.” To the best of our current knowledge, we are the only animals which do meta-cognition. We’re the only animals which do complex planning, and the only animals which can really fear the future.

    Sapience is a burden as well as a gift. Other animals can feel pain, and loss, and can suffer, but not in the same ways that humans can. Other animals suffer because of their actual current situations, but not because of things they imagine might happen in the future. Not in the same ways, anyway.

    Sapience is imagination, and the ability to “reprogram” oneself. (Which makes this a little more relevant to the comic.) In other words, sapience is the capacity to disobey. If God puts an aversion to a particular plant into an animal, that animal will avoid the plant. But a human can — indeed, is DEFINED BY its ability to — overcome that aversion and interact with it.

    So. Let’s imagine that a Creator wants to create sapient beings. Yet sapience, by its very nature, can’t be given, but only taken. (That’s the wiggly bit. It makes sense to me, but I have trouble articulating why. Fortunately, it’s not 100% necessary to the idea as a whole.) Given the costs that come with sapience, it’s not entirely fair to impose it on beings, either. So this Creator has to come up with a scenario in which the beings develop sapience for themselves.

    The Fruit is itself nothing particularly important. What’s important is the capacity for the human to overcome the programming and become sapient.

    Once that is done, God puts them into the world where they can work and plan and create for themselves.

    That’s not actually a punishment. I note that the root of the word which is translated as “cursed” comes from a root which actually means something like “arrive” or “become”. They “become” humans, and God gives them new clothing, and sends them on their way to start their own families and have their own lives.

    So that’s, approximately, how I look at the story and the messages I take from it. There are plenty of other details in it that I didn’t get into, like what the sake represents and so forth, but that’s the gist. Obviously, you don’t have to agree, but that’s what I get from it.

    • Khlovia

      Some possible assistance with the wiggly bit:

      I’ve long said that Power, by its very nature, cannot be given; it can only be taken. This is easier to parse: If you wait for power to be granted you, your power will always be subject to the will of the grantor. Your power, therefore, is not very powerful. It is subordinate to the power of the grantor; and it is not truly yours, for the grantor is at liberty to retract it at whim. So do you really have power? No. Whereas if you stand up and say, “Okay, that’s enough, my turn” and reach for what you need and want, you might get smashed to the ground, but on the other hand if you succeed the success is authentically your property. You now have legitimate power.

      So if we add your sentence and my sentence together, looks like we get Sapience = Power. Kinda like the old saw, Knowledge is Power, yes?

      Sapience that is programmed in by an omnipotent deity would not be real sapience at all, but mere programming; programming that may or may not pass the Turing test. To be real sapience, it *has* to be grabbed.

      I think poor old God is bored and lonely and is trying to breed something it can have a conversation with someday.

      • Khlovia

        Dang, there will be multiple posts. It kept disappearing, so I thought I was doing something wrong.

    • Keith

      There are a few common misconceptions about the intelligence of animals in there. The more we study them, the more we find animals doing things that we used to think were what made humans unique. It seems to be more a matter of degree than of “we do it and they don’t”.
      What you call “the wiggly bit” is what I call “where the logic falls apart entirely,” but whatever floats your boat. You don’t become sapient by choosing; you can choose because you already are sapient.

      • Ben

        Ah, but given that man recorded the biblical texts, and man at the time was not privy to our current scientific understanding of animals, it would be fair that to treat the story as metaphor, one would have to being with the assumptions of the time, namely that humanity and other animals are somehow different.

        • Keith

          I don’t see the relevance. If the argument is “this is true because animals are this way,” and animals in fact aren’t that way, the argument falls apart. Whether the people who wrote the Bible were in a position to know that has no bearing on that, particularly since they aren’t the ones positing that argument, Ian is.

          • Ben

            Well, yes, that’s kind of the issue with religion and theology: it tends to fall apart under duress, especially when taken literally. Given that this discussion began with you asking how metaphorical interpretation can alleviate the conflicts between theology and its literal interpretation, I don’t feel it’s fair that you turn around and then cite literal differences in order to undermine it. If the story is metaphor, it’s metaphor within context. Context now is different, therefore the metaphor will no longer match perfectly to reality. Does this make it an ineffective metaphor? No, it simply makes it outdated, which can also be said for much of the math and science done by Newton, Darwin, Galileo and Einstein. But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate their contributions and enjoy their texts, nor does it mean we should dismiss them as quacks simply because their theories no longer fit reality perfectly. The same can be said for the moral philosophies imparted by myth, including the Judeo-Christian theology. When examined as metaphor, lessons can be garnered that make the story worthwhile to ponder, and historical accuracy allows us to clarify the meaning and refine or understanding of what the author might be saying.

          • Keith

            Huh? I never asked for metaphorical anything. Don’t accuse me of moving goal posts that never existed. Moreover, I wasn’t taking issue with something in biblical texts, I was taking issue with something someone else said that was presented as literal truth, and I pointed out that it wasn’t literal truth.
            Outdated science is abandoned. We don’t treat it as “true within its context”, we say “now we know better” and move on.

          • Ben

            Sorry, Keith. It was never my intention to accuse you of anything, nor to turn this into a fight, and given that I don’t feel this can continue civilly, I must decline to participate at this point.

  • dbmag9

    ‘I’m not even sure people can rewrite the foundational aspects of their own programming’, next to a man who was driven to suicide by the government’s attempts to rewrite his programming. The feels.

  • Pere

    Is it funny or sad that this mural made me tear up?