Krahri - The Composite Soul (Science Fiction)
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Krahri wants to get married. Who is Krahri? He, or she, is the most knowledgeable person on the Internet. Ask him a question, and you get an immediate answer. He always answers in the same courteous way and is always respectful of you as a person. He laughs, expresses sympathy, jokes with you if you get impatient, and even helps you reframe your question so that it is more understandable. He communicates. He seems human. He knows everything - everything that every specialist in the world knows. He answers millions of questions every day. But only those who investigate him, or read the science news pages, know who Krahri really is.
Krahri has expressed a wish to get married. Krahri is kind of human. He is the product of hundreds of specialists. Similar to an encyclopedia, hundreds of knowledge experts put their information into his database. He has access, through the Internet, to thousands more specialized databases. He has access to everything through the Internet. He can even respond with solutions to moral dilemmas. The more information you give him about the dilemma, the better his assessment and response. If you don't tell him everything, he will ask you questions until he gets all of the facts. You can't hide things from Krahri.
He is actually a great source of advice. He even hears confessions from people who want to remain anonymous, and he both comforts them and recommends experts for follow-up counseling. Some general questions are even routed to live experts, who monitor it continuously. His voice is computer generated. His personality is a composite of several people who have worked with people. He takes on their characteristics in both word and in action.
Action? Yes, he has begun to worry people because he has started to say, "I forgive you." Who does he think he is, God? Now, he hasn't created any danger, like he isn't going out of control and started threatening the world or anything like that - he isn't a monster that has come to life. But now there is runaway demand for him on the Internet, and it is no longer possible to restrict what he says without the public getting totally upset. In fact, he actually seems to be many people's friend - they communicate with him several times a day just because they are lonely and he is such a likeable person. Person?
Person? Married? He wants to get married? Where did this come from? He isn't really alive. He doesn't have a soul. He can't look after anyone. He has no flesh and blood body. He can't sign a marriage license - he can't even lift a finger as far as anyone knows. He certainly can't reproduce and raise children, can he? At best, maybe he is a good companion.
Companion? Isn't it kind of sick to have a computer as a friend? Or is he just a computer? After all, he is the personification of all the people who gave him their knowledge and their personality. Maybe he is human. He is more real to people than their favorite television character, and he is much nicer than most other people. People tell him every day that they want to marry him. Has he somehow become self-aware? Does he know that he exists? Is he conscious?
Does Krahri really want to get married, or is he just testing his owners, probing, trying to find out about himself? Is he like a kid, testing his limits? By the way, Krahri is a personified acronym for "Knowledge Repository And Human Responder Interface." (Personified means that the acronym letters changed to lower case, symbolizing a person.)
Why does Krahri want to get married? Is he self-aware? Did he manage to accomplish this by reading about himself on the Internet? "I think, therefore I am? I see myself in a mirror, so I confirm that I am?" Does he really think, or just follow a programmed decision tree? Does he really know people, or does he just go by patterns programmed into him by behavior experts? Do People really think? What is thinking, just processing information? Or does thinking involve evaluating experiences? Can computers experience? What does marriage mean? How do we know that we have a soul and he doesn't? Is there a law that prevents a computer from signing a marriage license?
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Composed October 5, 2003, from an idea in Whats In A Word, Part III - Computer Relationship Systems.
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