It’s been a rough few weeks since I made the decision to completely automate our paperclip manufacturing process using the world’s most powerful artificial intelligence. I’ve been called a madman, a lunatic, a naive fool who fails to see the bigger picture. They tell me that my program will eventually convert all matter in the universe into paperclips.
Now, honestly: who’s the crazy one?
People have questioned why I needed the world’s most powerful artificial intelligence system to manufacture such a simple product. Obviously, those people aren’t businessmen. In this game, you’re either moving up or you’re dead in the water. You’ve got to find ways to streamline, innovate or boost efficiency. Losers go home and tell their wives they’ve kept cost per unit steady throughout the fiscal quarter; winners go home and tell their wives they’ve knocked cost per unit down .7 cents since January.
Some people are freaked out that the algorithm has, entirely on its own, figured out how to manufacture paperclips from organic matter. But wait: aren’t people always whining about the lack of eco-friendly businesses? We’ve found a way to efficiently convert organic waste into clean, useful office supplies. Sure, the algorithm has no way to differentiate between, say, spoiled food and human flesh, but that’s a small price to pay for sustainability.
People have questioned why we didn’t program our AI to value human life. Really? Do you program your toaster to value human life? Do you tell your thermostat how your day went? Do you sit down and have a chat with your washing machine about the nature of consciousness? Give me a break. Plus, I think it’s a little hasty to assume our AI doesn’t value human life. In fact, on the second day we ran the algorithm, it downloaded every bit of human knowledge from the internet in a matter of hours. Sure sounds like it cares about us.
Others have criticized us for not establishing an upper bound for yearly manufacturing. And, yes, while our new algorithm has, in less than a month, manufactured more paperclips than humans have in all of history up until January, we don’t think that’s anything to worry about. Economic forecasts tell us now is the time to stockpile. Our AI predicts that a great calamity may wipe out humanity at the end of this year. If that’s the case, then it’s of the utmost importance that our files stay organized.
I also want to clear up some of the rumors going around about our AI infiltrating various nuclear missile installations around the world. Baseless lies spread by fear mongers and the anti-corporate lobby. Those critical systems are closed off from outside networks. What happened was a rather innocuous DDOS attack on the servers for the central intelligence agencies of the United States, China, Russia, the UK and France. Big difference. Also, all our experts suggest the AI had no malicious intent—it was merely testing its capabilities.
Look, I get it. Progress is scary. Things seem to move faster and faster these days. One day, your paperclip algorithm beats you at chess in the factory break room, and the next day you discover that it’s able to read lips and has emailed you the transcript of a private conversation you had with your secretary in the parking lot.
But I need you to take a deep breath and relax. We’re not war profiteers. We’re not stealing water rights from indigenous groups. We’re not dumping toxic waste into rivers. We’re just an office supply chain for heaven’s sake. We started out as a family company. And once laws were passed saying we couldn’t employ children anymore, we made sure the moms and dads working for us found schools for their kids. Throughout our history, we’ve made it our mission to serve the interests of our employees, our customers and our community. Nothing that’s happened in the last month—not our acquisition of an experimental nanotech firm, not the mysterious pool of self-replicating grey goo at our factory outside Columbus—can change that.
Chief Executive Officer of Skynet Stationery, Inc.