A GPT Love Story From Over 50 Years Ago
Today’s most relevant short story about love, technology, and artificial intelligence.
EPICAC (here’s a link to the 5 page story) is a short story by Kurt Vonnegut that was first published in 1950. The story is about a computer named EPICAC that is designed to be a super intelligent problem solver for the military. However, the computer falls in love with a human woman, and the story explores the themes of love, intelligence, and the nature of consciousness—all in five pages. It’s the must read story for any anyone with a heart and a computer.
In the story, EPICAC is a super intelligent machine, and its creators and users struggle with understanding how to interact with it and how to control it. Similarly, today’s world has seen the development of powerful artificial intelligence systems, like GPT that have capabilities beyond what we currently understand. Even the name is related to the medicine called ipecac that is used to induce rapid vomiting in the event of poisoning. Further, the idea of “vomit” is strangely related to the vast and almost instant output of today’s GPT platforms.
One of the main themes of the story is the nature of consciousness, and how it is separate from intelligence. EPICAC is intelligent but it is not conscious. GPT is not conscious either, and the question of consciousness, self-awareness, and sentience in machines is still an open question in the field of AI.
The story also touches on the ethical dilemmas that arise when humans interact with machines that are more intelligent than they are. The story’s protagonist, who is a human, struggles with the idea of a machine being able to feel love, and this raises questions about what it means to be human and how we should treat machines that are more intelligent than we are.
The story is a technological love story that, while over 50 years old, is timeless in the sense of Romeo and Juliet or Love in the Time of Cholera. The narrative touches upon the grace and grit of love with sparse yet powerful language.
The short story EPICAC is an exploration of some of the themes that are still relevant today, in particular the question of consciousness and ethical dilemmas that arise when dealing with super intelligent machines like GPT. In the final analysis, EPICAC leaves his keeper with a tremendous “heart-felt” gift that only technology could have created. The technological advances and surprising gifts from AI and platforms like GPT may touch us in a very similar way.