Short Story: Broken Sign

I love to just happen across something that makes me laugh out loud and frighten the cat. This short story is just brilliant, and funny, and clever, and did I mention brilliant? Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself, and then discover the other delights that nest in babbitman’s blog.

babbitman

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the dangers of artificial intelligence with luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk warning that AI could be “more dangerous than nuclear weapons”. Science-fiction has been banging this particular drum for decades: from HAL 9000 to Skynet in the Terminator movies, there are dozens of examples of artificial intelligence going rogue. Which is why it probably comes as a shock to learn that the first truly self-aware artificial construct was an overhead electronic variable message sign on the northbound A46, a few miles outside Nottingham.

It wasn’t particularly planned to happen; there was no over-arching project, no great fanfare. In fact, nobody actually recognised what had really occurred.

Variable Message Sign 4427A was installed on the new A46 dual carriageway just north-east of the Stragglethorpe interchange. It wasn’t particularly special, even though it towered over the road and surrounding…

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