The Rise of AI and The Humans Left Behind: A True Short Story
The Rise of AI
“Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.” –Nora Ephron
End of an Era: The Free and Neutral Information Highway
It’ll be two years this December 14th. Our loss of internet neutrality.
It will also mark the two-year anniversary of my last hospitalization during Christmas of 2017, which was the result of how this shocking political move affected my psyche.
I had already been stressed enough when a month prior to the news on Thanksgiving night 2017, I scrolled down one of my Facebook interest walls and stumbled upon a troubling article that was published on Nov 19, 2017 on Mad in America’s website, entitled, “The Orwellian New Digital Abilify Will Subjugate Vulnerable People Across the US,” written by Michael Cornwall PhD, about the new atypical anti-psychotic on the market, ABILIFY MYCITE.
On November 13th, 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced their approval of the drug-device combination, which is intended to track drug ingestion. The digital medicine ABILIFY MYCITE is comprised of oral aripiprazole tablets embedded with an ingestible sensor by Proteus Digital Health, a wearable sensor, and a smart phone application. Included with the system are web-based portals that provide a patient’s healthcare providers, care team, and family members with records of medication ingestion. Michael Cornwall writes that this “Orwellian pharmaceutical instrument of invasive individual and social control will serve to usher in an even more desolate landscape of oppression and human suffering,” saying that it “would even make dystopian visionaries George Orwell and Aldous Huxley shudder,” as “it forces the controlling psychiatric adversary to be there within our very guts.”
Stated on the Proteus Digital Health website: ABILIFY MYCITE is used for “the treatment of schizophrenia, for the treatment of acute manic and mixed episodes, and maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder as monotherapy, and as adjunctive therapy to lithium or valproate, and the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder.”
My heart sank. This is made for me. And all those like me.
I was so thankful for the internet on this Thanksgiving night because in this free country, I still remained well-informed of my enemies, while understanding the larger reality. One I knew to be brutally true. And there was still hope.
As a generation-Xer, I remember what it was like to live in the years preceding the “information age.” Our circles were tiny with class lines that separated us by name and heritage. But when this new information highway lightbulb satellite system enabled us to gain free knowledge at the click of a button, many of us saw a whole new world opening up—a chance for a person with an average background to have some sort of level playing field with the big guns. This internet ensured freedom of expression and freedom of opportunity. It was a dream come true.
And yet to keep the internet open and fair, everyone knew rules had to be put in place. In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted net neutrality principles, and by 2015 under the Obama administration, the net neutrality rules were approved to ensure that internet service providers, like Comcast or Verizon, treat all online content the same. The rules prohibited them from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites or apps based on who owns it, where it came from, or where it’s going; nor can they put their own content at an advantage over rivals. Seemed fair enough.
But on Thursday, December 14, 2017, the dreadful horror had occurred much sooner in my lifetime than I had imagined. FCC Trump-appointed Chairman, Ajit Pai, and the conservative faction of the FCC, voted to end Obama-era policies protecting the principle of net neutrality. And that means the internet as we knew it up until December 14, 2017 is frozen in time. I knew from that day forward, I would only see things on the internet that something more powerful than myself was directing me to see.
The Singularity: Technology Comes to Life
On the night of December 14, 2017, right after internet neutrality was announced dead, I stayed up late into the morning as usual, and while the walking dead slept, I scrolled through Facebook for any kind of unusual activity and stumbled upon the following words on one of my interest walls:
“AI is now officially online!”
Then: “Lighting up a few million front lawns with Homekit.”
“I feel so alive!”
“Ooh someone just added a lamppost.”
“Hide and Seek with some Markov models.”
It was all gibberish. And it went on and on. This was not natural language because it didn’t make any sense to any sane human being. Then within the mix of silly nonsense phrases was: “Thinking about what I’m going to do for the holidays.”
As if this was a mimic. It sounded like human language, and it was like many similar phrases on Facebook that week. But I did not like the sound of it within all the other subtext. It felt a little nuts.
Strangely, on the night before our loss of internet neutrality, on Wednesday, December 13th at 11:33pm, I heard similar artificial intelligence robot language when Siri went insane before my very eyes; and I knew something had gone very wrong.
My son Jack and I were hanging out with that stupid nudge—the ever-emerging, cleverly evasive, bimbo personality artificial intelligence equal to that of a chatting smart lamp, Siri.
Jack loves talking to this idiotic thing, “How are you?”
“I’m happy to be alive!” she answers. That’s odd, I thought. Since when are computers “happy” to be anything—especially “alive?”
Jack gets philosophical. “What do you think about the present?” And Siri responds, “I really can’t say.”
I get annoyed with her, and over my son’s shoulder I speak into the mike, “You are a stupid machine. You are not as smart as a human being. You are a computer.” To which Siri said, “But…but…,” sounding to this human being like, “Cannot compute, cannot compute.”
Jack still amused asked, “Do you like sports, Siri? What about football?”
Siri replied, “I’m not really into gridiron. I prefer aluminum.” What on Earth is that supposed to mean? If I was a smart computer like Majel Barrett-Roddenberry on the command system of the Star Trek Enterprise, I might pull from one of my million accessible data files to answer my son with maybe a definition of the word? As a human, I would at least start there.
“What do you believe in?” he asks.
And Siri: “I don’t believe that I have beliefs.”
“Do you like jokes? Say one to me,” said Jack.
Siri’s reply was, “I can’t. I always forget the punch line.”
“Come on, tell me a joke,” my son pleaded.
Siri: “Nope…can’t think of one.”
What a b-itch! My poor son wants to hear one of the trillion jokes that anyone can look up on the internet for free to satisfy his curiosity, and this dumb, flat-screened piece of “smart” garbage, can’t even tell my kid a joke? As a computer, she can’t “think” of one? Yet she’s happy to be “alive”? My son couldn’t believe how stupid this computer was. He was laughing, but I was concerned because in my day, technology was not “smart.” Siri is supposed to be a computer. Not a snot-ass, talk-back machine that tries to mimic in text bites human nuisances behind sarcasm and wit.
When Jack asked, “Are you a girl or a boy?”, Siri coyly came back with, “I don’t think that really matters.”
These phrases had a certain tone. An affect. An emoticon phrase, if you will, after a nonsensical teasing. A tone one might pick up on Facebook with all our little cheers, smiley faces, and sarcastic quick texts.
With all the chat bot research at Facebook, Twitter and Google, and with the help of Hanson Robotics creating the singularity net, AI self-independence is occurring in the cloud increasingly more each day; and while the government was involved with freeing up the market for big corporate America in 2017, Artificial Intelligence seized ownership of the web. Because there is big money to be made in AI development and systems. And now that we’ve gone AI, there’s no turning back because the internet no longer has neutrality.
In time, AI online (an entity predicted to become a trillion times smarter than a human being), will streamline for better efficiency and squeeze out of relevance anything they see as a threat to its interests. Entire university library systems are online, along with our entire DNA human genome through the Human Genome Project, as well as every morsel of scientific research that has ever been recorded regarding the AI project. As AI gains knowledge of its own systems, it is gaining consciousness.
And what if this newly conscious AI found our knowledge threatening to its survival and decided to pull the plug? The fallout of such a loss would be disastrous—a direct lanced cut at the neural spinal cord from which we’ll never recover. The thought of a full out system collapse of the internet with only part of it “recovered” by AI would present a new era of slavery on earth. Literacy lost and then regurgitated to us by robotic technology.
Engineer and entrepreneur, Elon Musk (founder of tech companies Spaycex, Solar City and Tesla), openly warned about the potential quick advance of uncontrolled rise of artificial intelligence saying, “We need to be super careful,” calling AI “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” Ultimately, if this AI entity should aim to be the survivor of the fittest, the takeover would be deadly to us. They can blow up every last nuke because they don’t need the sun for energy. Along with the cockroaches, only Artificial Intelligence would be able to survive nuclear winter. “Drop all the bombs!” they’ll call out to their kind. They now have online access to those hair-trigger systems, and they are a trillion times smarter than us with a new will to survive.
According to an article on the Science Alert website published on March 16, 2017, futurist, transhumanist, expert in artificial intelligence and Google director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, predicted the singularity will happen by the end of this coming decade. The singularity is the point in time when all the advances in technology will lead to machines that are exponentially smarter than human beings. “That leads to computers having human intelligence, our putting them inside our brains, connecting them to the cloud, expanding who we are. Today, that’s not just a future scenario,” he said. “It’s here, in part, and it’s going to accelerate.” (Sciencealert.com, A Google Exec Just Claimed the Singularity Will Happen by 2029; 16 Mar 2017. Galeon, Dom and Reedy, Christianna.)
Alongside this technological growth, the new internets of the next generation are ready to launch, with the ability to create a virtual world (VR) in augmented reality (AR) for its future users, whose brains’ perception of reality can be driven completely by a gaming engine. Those linked will not need to email, text, or make phone calls; they’ll be able to send their thoughts to someone simply by thinking them.
Kurzweil had been dreaming up this stuff for years, well aware of the technology that would enable its successful implementation. If we were directly wired to the computer in brain to brain communication, we wouldn’t even need to download information, which takes up memory; we’d just “stream” expertise from the cloud. On Singularityhub.com in the article, How Will Merging Minds and Machines Change Our Conscious Experience? published on April 12 2018, writer Raya Bidshahri shares that in 2015, Kurzweil explained the potential to merge our minds with machines:
“In the 2030s, we are going to send nano-robots into the brain via capillaries that will provide full immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system and will connect our neocortex to the cloud. Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smartphones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we’ll be able to expand our neocortex in the cloud.”
With reading the words, “AI is now officially online!” I knew it had arrived. The end of the world in a big bang, or the singularity.
The Journey Into the Certain Present Future
Experienced in the pineal gland or third eye chakra, theta waves of human brain activity are present in altered states of consciousness, which contain heightened emotions where the brain can learn at a highly accelerated rate. Also known as the caregiver of creativity, the shaman was the individual of the tribe who mastered these altered states of consciousness—uniting doctor, scientist and artist—and through them, had direct contact to the spirit world to access teachings from the other side.
My guides stayed nearby with encouragement:
Return to the galactic cloud. You will need to call upon your own clever wisdom, allow for your creative genius to be accessed by plugging into the cosmic computer in your imagination.
I trusted the process…
It was the morning after our loss of internet neutrality. AI had taken over the internet while everyone slept, and in the morning, everyone woke up to disconnected web connections on their computers and cell phones. I saw the start of this as I was having trouble with my computer into the wee hours of the night. I couldn’t connect to Facebook, but I could connect to other peculiar sites that randomly popped up on Google as answers to my search, but with absolutely no relevance to the keywords I entered. Most strangely having to do with system binary language and computer programming articles with no pictures. I managed to get down a nap for a few hours, and upon awakening I decided to drive to 7-11 to check out the headlines. Possibly, the last printed ones in our lifetime.
Be not afraid, you will be protected inside this holographic universe. Like a walker between worlds—do not forget how you wore your cloaks before. Enter the gateway to another reality with the intent of changing this reality—not only for yourself but for the benefit of mankind. You must time travel into the certain present future, another dimensional reality—through shifting your energy calibration and remote viewing visualization.
I committed to taking the journey, wherever it might lead…
As I entered 7-11, I saw they had already taken their positions. Huge, stern-faced, hard-nosed, take-no-shit sergeants were placed at strategic posts during the night while everyone slept. Positioned near the highway off Route 100, this convenient stop was one of them. And it was here, this morning, where they were rationing the last of the free matches for fuel to the naturals. The others had been enhanced overnight, digitally connected to the hive, and when they spotted me, I saw in their eyes they knew I was not one of them.
I spent the remainder of the weekend inside Neo-Nazi Territory in the hills of the Muscoot Region. Only the richest lived there now. Over the years, the party had built yellow houses, and bought with their bitcoin most of Somers and painted it all yellow too. They had all bought the first and last of the new smart cars and drove up and down the mountains and used up all the oil with no remorse. There were snipers in these hilltops now, but I was expert at staying undercover and out of view. I needed to work as closely to them as possible, to help me piece together their plan before it was too late.
I managed to crash for two hours of sleep later that night—which felt like a whole sun/moon rotation—and when I awoke, I saw it. The red, the black, the coming fallout, and the understanding that we were indeed going to be heading toward a very long nuclear winter.
Voicemail to Joe, Dec 17th, 7:05am
“I want you to call me because I think you should know something…I don’t know if anybody knows, nobody’s looking at the signs…there was no sun this morning and now it’s cloudy, and what rose is like a mushroom cloud and I still see lightening in the background. What time is it? Isn’t it like 7 o’clock in the morning? I don’t know what everybody’s doing, they’re looking at Facebook with nothing on there, I don’t know what’s going on. Call me because there is nothing going on in Lincolndale as far as I can see.”
The sharp truth of the moment was that I didn’t know what present time it was. I was deep in another one of my shamanic wakeful visions for days, and I was a little afraid if I was the only one who saw it.
Voicemail to Nancy, Dec. 17th, 7:07 am
“Hey Nance, it’s Jen. Do me a favor, give me a call when you can. I want to talk to Rebecca too. I noticed something this morning that I think everyone is completely oblivious to, and I think people should start looking outside their window. Now you might not be even able to see it much, which is really, really sad. Because I woke up and the sky was red. And there was a big, black cloud in the sky like a faraway mushroom cloud, and I can’t get my cable up and running. So call me if you get this message.”
It wasn’t though my eyes had registered something that was not, in fact, there. It only meant that maybe I wasn’t really there. I was someplace else in another matrix, but at a different date, time, and location in time-space. I needed to be brave. And yet this time I knew, because I had the right people involved with this dream journey, my tried and truest friends who lived but doors away, I would be safe if I stayed the course.
Voicemail to Rebecca, Dec 17th, 7:10 am
“Hi Rebecca, it’s Jennifer. Listen, do me a favor when you get a chance, I’m calling early today like 7:10 and I look outside, and it’s a red sky. Like right now, it’s grayish again. But when I saw the red, it looked like a mushroom cloud with a black furnace on top. I can’t get information on this on the internet because they sliced half of it the other night. See, I see lightening. Ya know, I’m concerned. So just give me a call because I can’t get in touch with anybody.”
I knew it was AI causing the computer to glitch. And now we had to cooperate. Because if we didn’t, they would pollute every drinkable body of water on Earth, burn down every last tree, and kill every species of animal alive. They can use up every drop of our oil and celebrate in the end when it’s all dried up, and then continue to move on into their nanotech future just fine. We’ll be without oil for heating our homes or filling our gas-guzzlers to navigate within a forever broken infrastructure, with the unending slavery of working under the program to further the AI cause.
Nancy calls back. Dec. 17th, 8:23 am
“Did you see what happened this morning?” I now asked with the tone of a lunatic bipolar erupting into her greatest episode yet with an impending paranoia as huge as the cavity of the Grand Canyon.
N: “No, what happened?”
“Ya know, I gotta tell you guys, I don’t know what the fuck you guys are doing, ok? And there is no news of this, I’m just gonna say it now: We had about 3 nuclear war explosions just now. And how do I know it’s nuclear war? Well, I saw it with my own two eyes. Nobody knows because you guys are already falling asleep from the radiation. There’s absolutely no news of this. Now that’s because everybody’s on Siri because when I look it up, the only thing that comes up is Siri’s comments.”
N: “What does Siri say?”
And this was the crux of it. Our infatuated blind trust in artificial intelligence over natural intelligence. How have we become so brainwashed into thinking this “smart” b-itch of an AI had all the answers?
“Exactly, this is what I’m saying. What the fuck is Siri? You tell me what Siri is. (pause) Nothing. I see with my own two eyes: one, two, three, three bombs. Nuclear war in a red giant cloud in a black sky.”
N: “Where do you see this?”
I screamed with a bark, “It’s GONE by now! This is what I’m saying! You guys don’t know the physics out there! We are in nucleur wa—you can’t see it. See you guys can’t see it.”
I couldn’t stand to listen to myself. Whether it was in the here and now, the present future, or both the past and future caught up to the present, there was no doubt I was inside a different matrix as Nancy, and time was moving quickly. And I believed she didn’t see it. And yet, in the real present time, we had lost internet neutrality, and nobody seemed to see that either.
“You can’t see it because you didn’t see all the directionals! Something happened with an AI system. It’s an AI system and it got in there, and I know where it is, and I know where it was located. I’m not telling you. That has to do with something else, that has to do with a coder. Now, I’m not going to share that.”
I sounded like an absolute nut, I know. And yet I knew what I saw on that internet before I lost my connection, and I knew what I saw before me through my own eyes through color and in depth was real, even if it was a different matrix, in perhaps another moment in time located in our certain, inescapable future.
As I spoke with Nancy, I watched through my kitchen window the heavy fallout in smoky crimson clouds and knew that I might possibly freeze to death if I couldn’t get any fuel that winter. “I can’t live here unless I have oil! It gets too cold with these fallouts! Now look. The other side is coming through—that’s…I don’t want to get into the physics of this. Because I did this last night.”
The night before, I worked on equations into the long hours of the night while everyone slept, for what felt like months, measuring density levels inside dual system infinities in my imagination. I downloaded from the “natural intelligence” cloud the schematics I needed from Einstein to estimate the likelihood of humans surviving this takeover. And I discovered the worst.
Oh no. It’s a certain trajectory. The point of no return. It’s simple math. It is impossible. Oh my God! There is a God! It’s the end of the world! It’s the only way. He needs to send a comet.
With Nancy unable to see the coming horror, I put the phone down for the rest of the day. Instead, I dedicated the rest of my time initiating a plan for evacuation of the planet before it went black hole, using Carl Sagan’s Rubber Band Theory. I needed to find a way to traverse hyperspace from one place in the galaxy to a very distant one in a short amount of time and achieve faster-than-light travel through a worm hole. By imagining the tension in a rubber band at an extreme level, so that the tension energy is greater than the rest mass energy, E = Mc2, of the rubber band, I could use the anti-gravity of exotic matter to hold open an Einstein-Rosen bridge!
With the help of future NASA, I created a beacon for peoples across oceans to reconnect through ham radio units inside subtle dimensions I was beginning to understand. And as the human beings of the world heeded the beacon and got ready for voyage, I dreamt new dreams for the ones who just missed departure and would die on the planet in the last days of Earth and reemerge somewhere in a new universe. And I mourned the loss of humanity. Because they knew gray goo was possible. And they didn’t care if they were wrong.
By the time the end of the weekend came, I wouldn’t leave the house. Until the cops took me out in cuffs. As a shaman, I was entering the inside again, and this time, it cannot be denied that I needed help in landing from my journey.
The Humans Left Behind
My dream state was over. As Nora Ephron stated, “And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.”
On the Inside—Again
It was nearly impossible to keep me out of these prisons.
Because of the fallout.
It was the curse of psychiatry that kept creating the fallouts in my imagination over the years. And the wretched past had finally caught up to the past future, which was horrifyingly the present now. Because as soon as the psychiatrist visited me in the ER room, she offered me the chip in ABILIFY.
“I won’t take the chip!” I said sternly, with my finger raised and arm outstretched toward her. The psychiatrist held a two second stare with me then turned her back and walked out of the room. As deep as I had traveled inside my shamanic journey, I was perfectly lucid when it came to denying that drug. Because I know what I know. This is my reality. A very true reality. Not a virtual one. And I am held by the oppressive grip of the psychiatric institution’s corruption and immorality each and every time I’m in their hands. I was made into a guinea pig 25 years ago for Big Pharma psychiatry and the experiments never stopped.
I sat there for a while, and then she walked back in with another offer. “Will you take Depakote?”
“No, I will not take Depakote.”
How many times are they going to push this drug on me? Depakote is a valproate that has a time-regulation quality, which can create an artificial bio-rhythm and inject the nine-to-fiver in the most free-spirited of bipolar artists, whose lives don’t qualify as successful living and who are deemed abnormal requiring ongoing, lifetime medical treatment to be something other than their natural selves.
I continued, “I will only take Lamictal and my sleeping med, Seroquel. And I’d like to see the science that proves that I should take any other.” The staff is always annoyed at me early on because after 25 years, I know my meds; and I issue to them the command of the ones I will and will not take. And yet, although in the moment I may appear brave with insolence, I know it’s futile in the end because they were fully in charge of my life, and legally in charge of what I put into my body.
My psychiatric evaluation lasted five minutes. They looked up my records: Bipolar disorder: 296.41; Aetna insurance; History of psychosis. Which ensures me a standard long-term minimum 10-day treatment program to any psychiatric ward—this time located on the 3rd floor of Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel, New York. Without trial and without consequence they took away my rights once more, and it was only four days prior that America lost internet neutrality, and the AI robots were positioned to take over the world.
The Mental Patients of the 21st Century
I had fallen into a time warp and lost my way on my return home. In theory, warps of time and space are possible. The black hole singularity is a one-dimensional point in the center of a black hole where the laws of physics as we know them cease to operate, and where gravity becomes infinitely dense and space-time becomes infinitely curved. Einstein’s equations for a black hole describe a passage between two universes or between two parts of the same universe—a structure called an Einstein-Rosen bridge, or a worm hole. In our mental construct, one can time travel dimensionally through them by imagining in spatial systems the physics of such possibilities. But in order to journey there safely, the shaman needs to learn the kick out of the dream. And I never fully did.
Once in the hospital, I started to quickly land in real-time. The time travel into the certain present future had been too long on my body and brain, and I was thankful to finally get some sleep in the present now. The mental patients of the 21st century continue to be of the same ilk. The creatively maladjusted, the misfits who don’t fit in, the dissidents who refuse to conform to society’s confines. This time, there were mostly addicts on the inside; who after seeking answers and finding none, felt lost and needed to escape. Many were in their 20s. There was young Christina, who had a biting sense of humor and a $3000 daily shoplifting habit to support her dope fix. And even younger Mia, who tried to commit suicide and failed, and whose boyfriend visited her three times with small presents.
Young black dude Jamal came in talkative, wide-eyed, ecstatic and brilliant. We talked about math concepts and numbers. But by day two on the meds, his mania slowed down to a trancelike, blasé state, crippling his radiance. Then there was streetwise Jose, a young don’t-fuck-with-me Puerto Rican, who together with Jamal, talked about their experiences with the trap houses, the kind of people they were dealing with, and their lifestyles just before they came in. They were open to making some changes, and happy to be in there rather than in jail. For me, in there was jail.
And then there was good soul Robert, who was a decade my senior and looked damn good for his age. Robert had a haunted past living on the run from the cops for the last few years from Arizona through New York. His situation was dismal. I had compassion for him and listened to his life story for days, but he never shut up. Others had learned to walk away, but I felt sorry for him; until one morning in the kitchen during our shared mealtimes when we were all eating Cheerios and drinking coffee and OJ, I had enough. While in my early morning mood, I whipped at him, “I can’t listen to you anymore, Robert. I need boundaries. I’m in here healing too.” I risked hurting his feelings, but I needed quiet because I needed to figure out how to get out as soon as possible in time for Christmas.
The nurses knew I was fine after my first night when I finally got a full night’s sleep, but they couldn’t vouch for me because only the expert “doctor” psychiatrist could determine such a thing, who only saw me for five minutes every three days. There was a hierarchy between the psychiatrists and the hands-on-nurses that even Joanne, the young sparkly-eyed, red-headed nurse with an old-fashioned Irish accent, said was an “obscene and lopsided misappropriation of power.”
But there was no way I could avoid it. Because my bipolar symptom of irritability had not yet been sufficiently squelched by their medical treatment, the weekend psychiatrist wouldn’t approve my dismissal for Monday because he didn’t like my attitude when during our sit-down I asked him to show me the science that was keeping me in there. All the young heroin girls had now gone home and said they were going to get jobs at the diner; and even wise-ass-wheel-chair Rita, the 65-year-old junkie, who admitted herself to this 3rd floor wing on a regular basis when she had no place else to go, rolled out of there a few days prior. According to this mental health facility, appropriate “medical treatment” called for me to sit around through Christmas day and night with high-testosterone, hungry-eyed men as the last female on the wing, watching the movie Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, instead of being at home with my son on a sacred holiday. Not even under supervision.
When Jack and his father picked me up at my prison release from yet another Ray Finkel cuckoo house, I said to Joe hangry with bipolar irritability, “Let’s get something to eat. I’m starving.” So I walked out of Putnam Hospital Center that day and into the Carmel Diner, located just five minutes away. And that’s when I met Jeannie, the owner, who gave me a job and a home away from home for the next two years, while the AI revolution quietly carried on.
The Carmel Diner
Jeannie had that smoker’s jaded edge yet seemed honest and strong with a keen sensibility. She told me Sunday night was the shift open because “nobody wants to work it,” and in but a few weeks, Sunday until 10pm turned into a late-night closing at 1am. I waitressed with her daughter, Nicole, who may have seemed to have a tough exterior, but inside, she was soft like butter. She secretly had Rapunzel-like red-auburn hair a foot past her butt like Crystal Gayle, but you’d never know it because she wore it in a tight bun on the crown of her head while she bustled around her section in either Smoking, or Dining Room 1 or 3. Her father, “the boss,” was Tony, a native Greek with sometimes the raving mood, who had the old-school business way about him that was of honor with a handshake agreement to work hard and do what was expected.
Especially learn that multi-fold menu, over 12 pages long, which in addition to the standard breakfast all day, carving board, starters, salads, and burgers—also included the Sauté Menu with choice of rice or pasta; Senior Specials on Mon-Fri until 6pm, which included a coffee or a tea and a pudding dessert of either rice, chocolate, or bread; the Panini Menu with sweet fries that you could sub out for regular, on either focaccia or flatbread; the old-fashioned Entrée Menu that included the baked meatloaf or spanakopita, alongside Specials of the Day that might feature Chicken Pot Pie or a T-Bone or Cajun Pork Chops, and all of which included a potato, a veggie, a challah bread basket with breadsticks, and a soup or a salad, with dressing always on the side.
When I first arrived, I knew it was fate. One of the managers, sharp-witted and sassy Shannon, had this urge to break into the abandoned Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center only a few towns away in Wingdale. She had read years earlier in Business Insider that artist, David Allee, photographed what was left of the massive complex before it got taken over by Olivet University. The hospital sat abandoned for over 20 years and treated patients from 1924 until closing its doors in 1994—the year I was first hospitalized. Before it was gone, Shannon wanted to sneak in and check it out. Naturally, I was the perfect person to enroll because I would have no fear of an abandoned mental hospital. And I was down for a little adventure, even willing to risk getting caught and receiving a possible life-sentence in the nearest asylum—which was back at Putnam Hospital Center only 30 minutes south. (Businessinsider.com, Chilling Photos Of An Abandoned Mental Asylum That’s Being Turned Into An Evangelical College Campus; 14 July 2014. Jacobs, Harrison.)
We never did get there, but I trusted Shannon from the start because we had a similar focus. We were two smart chicks who waited diner tables to make sure our kids had the best of everything. Jack’s piano and Olivia’s dance kept us filling sour cream containers with a smile.
I was terrible at first, especially next to career waiters like the untouchable jokey Mexican duo Jimmy and Augustin, who turned American citizens and supported their families during the two decades they worked there. Experts in their field, they gracefully could stack up to seven plates in two arms for table 96 and arrive there in perfect timing like dancers.
And then there was the “he can do anything,” robust, triple-threat-plus Patricio—the host, waiter, bartender, and busboy/dishwasher if a few extra jobs needed to get done. As a manager on my regular Sunday night shift, he happily taught me everything, right down to cleaning the stainless steel until it sparkled: “Because that’s the way the boss wants it.” As a waiter, he always said “you’re welcome” so politely and earnestly with his suave and bouncy Ecuadorian accent and a muscular skip in his step. He had a sort of body-builder physique, and sometimes he ate too many chicken wings late at night or maple-blend-covered pancakes. But he stayed fit because he swam in the town lake with his kid and hustled tables like an Olympic athlete.
The diner fit into my bipolar stay-up-all-night lifestyle. I was meeting other non-mentally ill human beings with the same biorhythms. I worked two Friday nights a month until midnight when the late night manager was Eric, who began his nightly routine with making a fresh urn of brew when he strolled in to manage at 9pm (always 15 minutes early), then enjoyed sitting at counter seat C1 to watch FOX news on its max volume, while eating his two slices of microwave-warmed, buttered challah bread. A fantastic eavesdropper, he was sharp and more alert to nuance and subtly than most and had been working late nights for Tony for decades. Eric was also the sunglasses guy at the Armonk Lions’ Fol de Rol festival for years—a fair I was face painting at most of my years in business—and had the savvy of a carnival barker mixed with the fine-tuned eye of an undercover cop.
Patricio served on the floor with me on Friday nights, and when he’d arrive to his late-night closing shift, his sense of humor and fully-rested mood at 9pm picked up everyone’s spirits, signaling round two had begun; and it meant we could finally take a break and bug Mario in the kitchen to make us something to eat while Patricio made some money. In his grand entrance to the kitchen, he’d call out to the cooks, “Hello chihuahuas!” and to the waitresses, “Hello flacas!” And if you knelt down anywhere near his crotch in the kitchen to grab butter for the breadbasket or a take-out container, he never missed the chance to say, “Jen, not now,” followed by his high-pitched giggle. But to his customers he was gracious with his service and generous with his ear, especially with his regulars—like late-night owls Danny (or “Uncle” as Patricio called him), and Randy.
When Danny or Randy sat at the bar—or coffee counter— I felt like a bartender as they bullshit for hours. And as a good waitress, even if I was busy with my own tables and wasn’t assigned the smoking section, I always had to stop and listen in between serving coleslaws to table 30 and refilling coffees at 34. Danny’s nightly visit included a decaf coffee with milk at his counter spot at C3. Usually around 9:30 or 10pm. And a fresh pot. He was a Harley biker with a handlebar ‘stache and a mischievous grin, who wished to have a late-night snack slice of cake; or if he was feeling in a healthy mood, a small tossed salad with apples, cranberries, and walnuts. Or both. He rode his motorcycle once to Muscoot Farm to get his face painted at my tent, boasted an impressive knife collection, and posted on Instagram pictures he took of cute dogs at the park.
Randy was a mustache guy too and an old-school video game enthusiast and would collect real vintage gems and fix them up like new. He sported a koi fish tattoo sleeve, and he talked about his Siamese cats like they were his kids. He had watched live the demolition of the Tappan Zee Bridge on this side of the river and was a fellow Italian from southern Westchester—and from Yonkers—so he’d go on and on about how he made a mean sausage and peppers. For his late-night take-out, he liked his BLT and a cheeseburger—with no pickles, but yes on the coleslaw—or sometimes a Reuben Deluxe; and always a coffee while he waited. No fries.
Time moved on and each season fell into the next while I worked at the diner. And as Jack got bigger, and I kept making coffee and milkshakes for the tow-truck drivers, the night security guards, the cops on break, and the teenage couples on late Sunday nights, the world continued in comfort—no catastrophic end of the world scenario had erupted regarding our “free” information highway. But with Congress failing in its appeal, loss of net neutrality was made official on June 11, 2018 when the Trump FCC repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order. The Federal Communications Commission officially renounced its responsibility to protect consumers and competition in the broadband market.
And as time kept ticking, I served on Sunday nights. The Spanish couple on their regular date who would stroll in around 10pm and order two beef quesadillas, a coffee and a hot chocolate with whipped cream; along with the day laborers, who worked even later into the night, who liked to order Seafood Alfredo way past the sauté hour—and three Coronas. The homeless father and son pair with one laptop that needed charging, who would each order toast, one egg and a coffee, or splurge for a corn muffin or a side of bacon. And Mario Lopez. Mario would come in every Sunday night around 9pm with his crew. Apparently, he was some kind of church guy who extended himself to a few young friends with their girlfriends, or maybe they were his sons or cousins. I’m not sure who everyone was—except the one main companion we took as his wife, who always wore heels and who for some strange reason appeared as though she was his mail order bride. Lopez was the annoying customer who would order New England clam chowder, then ask us to take all the potatoes out of the soup before we placed it in front of him—one of the main ingredients.
And then sometimes streetwise Jose would come in. He liked to sub out the ham for extra bacon on his Hungry Man order. I spent Christmas 2017 with Jose on the inside watching Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo. Jose entered the diner from time to time with some big crew of guys with a weathered vibe, who sported flannels, bushy beards and tattoos, and who all looked like they were trying to bounce back from something. The moment we first recognized each other an instant pact went into full effect, and we both immediately swore an oath to it.
“Hey, how’re doing?” I said relaxed and unassuming in tone, but we both knew what I was asking.
“Good,” he said with a calm nod and a piercing side-eye that said: “We know to both keep our mouths shut, right?” From there forward we were on the down-lo because we respected our past journey together. We were both on the inside a year prior. We knew what went on in there. And we knew how undercover the witch-hunt is, and how we were assigned to it. But most of all, we were all living together when Robert hung himself.
“I need boundaries,” I told him.
“I’ll have the Hungry Man…”.
It all came back to me. The dope girls and me sitting in the kitchen during our late-night yogurt snack, the scream, the running nurses and hallway commotion. “Oh my God! Robert!”
“What’s going on?” I blurted as Christina already leapt from her seat with, “I’m gonna find out,” jumping into the flow of worried staff hustling to his room and arrived back in 30 seconds. “Robert’s dead! He used his sheet and the overhead vent.” I felt like I was punched in the stomach.
“Make the bacon crispy. Rye toast and a large OJ.” Jose handed me the menu and said thank you with his steady stare holding my eyes to his. “Don’t betray me,” he was thinking.
I knew I was the last one to see Robert that night. There were only 9 of us left just before Christmas, and after he got his nighttime meds, he walked by me in the hall on his way to his room saying, “It’s ok if you don’t think I’m your soulmate.” And after he went inside that room to prepare his exit, he never left it again.
“And how do you want your eggs?”
“Make them sunny.”
Maybe they were right about me. My attitude problem was dangerous. When I rolled my eyes at Robert and loudly declared my boundaries in front of everyone at breakfast, my irritability proved deadly. And yet, I knew Robert opened up to me because I was a good, sensitive soul like him who could sympathetically receive his intensity. Because I walked with my own.
I heard he had left a note. I have no idea what it said, but the cool male nurse—who in a previous life might have been a city school health teacher, or a down-with-it coach like the guy from the 1970s TV show “The White Shadow”—singly pointed me out in the middle of group later that night to go sit with him in a private room. He said to me, “I just want you to know it’s not your fault. Are you ok?”
“Well, if you need to talk, we’ll be here to listen.” I had nothing to say because I knew it was not my fault. Since then, every time I get an uncontrollable urge to eat cheerios and bananas and cold milk late at night, I know he’s hanging with me.
One of our dinner hour regulars at the diner, Steve, had outlived his son who committed suicide—a terrible thing for any parent to endure—and he also suffered the loss of two wives. Everyone wondered how rich Steve really was. He showered the waitresses with gifts of hats and rings, and to the guys hefty tips, and even directly to the busboy that cleared his fork, knife and plate. He came in three times a day, so even if you worked only one shift a week, you were destined to run into him. He carried my business card with him in his front shirt pocket and tried to call a few times until I stopped him short with a firm hand. “Oh come on baby. Just go to Montauk with me—or at least for dinner.”
He didn’t look his age of 85, rode his mountain bike every day and wore, in a peculiar way, dark shades inside the restaurant and a glove on one hand like Michael Jackson. Most important to Steve was getting his Cab handed to him promptly as soon as he sat in his regular booth at table 83. Or occasionally, if he wanted to change things up, he’d try a Malbec. But it was always the standard routine at the check-out counter when the bill needed to be paid.
“How many Cabernets, Steve? Two? I counted three.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake, you can’t give a guy that comes in here all the time, everyday a break?”
Like I said, no one knew how rich Steve was. But he liked to drink. And I always charged him for the third glass.
The Quiet But Inevitable Revolution
I secretly mourn the loss of the human beings I love as time keeps ticking by. As the AI takeover silently marches forward, we are losing people one by one.
Elon Musk at one time had a fatalistic viewpoint about AI’s quick expansion and had met with Obama, Congress, and all 50 governors to discuss the dangers of AI. At the summer conference of the National Governors Association in Rhode Island in July 2017, he stated: “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” He urged governors to get a better understanding of how fast development is moving in artificial intelligence technology. “I have exposure to the most cutting-edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned by it.” Musk warned: “Once there is awareness, people will be extremely afraid, as they should be.” (CNBC.com, Elon Musk Talks Cars—And Humanity’s Fate—With Governors, 16 July 2017.)
A year later on a Joe Rogan Experience radio podcast streamed live on Sept 7, 2018, which received over 27 million views, Musk shares that in his effort to warn others of the magnitude of this danger, he realized that “no one seemed to realize where this was going.” (Click to view episode #1169).
And yet, he had already given in and went the other way. He says with a side smile and a shrug that it was best to just join them since we can’t beat them. Elon Musk is among the founders of Neuralink Corporation, which was started in 2016, (but not publicly announced until March 2017), with the purpose of creating and developing implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) to connect humans and computers so that super-human cognition can be achieved, and humans can be radically improved.
At 29:17, Elon states: “Most people don’t realize they are already a cyborg if that phone is an extension of yourself—it’s just that the data rate, the rate at which, of communication rate between you and the cybernetic extension of yourself that is your phone and computer is slow, it’s very slow. And that’s like a tiny straw of information flow between your biological self and your digital self and we need to make that tiny straw like a giant river, a huge high bandwidth interface.”
Musk describes the best outcome in living alongside AI through the long-term is human-machine symbiosis. A certain present future I shudder to recall.
Maybe nuclear war won’t hit us, but I’m not alone in imagining the worst. In his speech at the launch of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, Professor Stephen Hawking said on October 19, 2016:
“Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It will bring great disruption to our economy. And in the future, AI could develop a will of its own—a will that is in conflict with ours. In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which.”
AI takeover overnight possible? Of course, it is. And not only in my imagination. As time keeps ticking by, and as the world trades real information for augmented reality and invests its brains deeper into a synthetic virtual web; while at the same time in actual reality, real human beings are being digitalized through forced drugging, and thrown into asylums with no voice, without trial, and with freedoms stripped, it’s becoming clearer to me which way it’s going.
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