The Siri Miscalculation... Ewan tulong with the title pleaseeeee.
Thanks to the budget increase for education and a generous donation by Apple Inc. to UP, the new Siri, a new voice-recognition and advanced artificial intelligence, was integrated to the National Institute of Physics supercomputer mainframe. Its job was to make things easier for the professors. It was like having a lab assistant, only it did what it was supposed to do, unlike those incompetent grad students. Siri just had to use one of the multiple sensors around the building to detect if there were anomalies in any of the labs. She saw everything.
On top of the usual systems that were designed to keep the place secure and free from impurities, Siri was improved by the programmers by adding new lines of code, an algorithm to maintain the staff’s homeostasis. It was programmed to assist with self-preservation of staff.
Sometimes, having a conversation with Siri would make one think that it is a sentient being, akin to talking to a coworker with a foul sense of humor. A student asked her, “Siri, have you ever been Friendzoned?” to which she replied in her monotonous voice “I am incapable of making such mistakes, Alan…unlike you.”
Aside from the intermittent snide comments, this worked well for Dr. Sal Chauncey, the senior research professor for Quantum Physics. He was accustomed to working late because he had to teach in the morning and, with it, the lack of assistants.
One night, Dr. Chauncey came to the lab with fever and a cold. Siri detected his elevated body temperature through IR scanners and detected a change in pitch in his voice, thanks to congested sinuses. “Sal, I suggest you take decongestants for your cold. I have found 3 medicine cabinets containing decongestants, 1 of which is near you”. “No, Siri, I have to do some extra paper work to do tonight, I can’t take decongestants because it will make me drowsy”.
At that moment, an alarm sounded, and Siri said over the intercom, “Attention, fire detected in 203-B. Please evacuate the building in an orderly fashion.” Chauncey proceeded to get the fire extinguisher. “Sal, I insist that you evacuate the building. The building’s sprinkler system is more than adequate to deal with the fire.” Chauncey complied and rushed towards the door.
At the end of the lengthy hallway, Siri announced over the intercom, “Bill, please proceed to the lab’s refrigeration unit, the fire seems to have spread to the lower levels.” He went inside and shut the door.
Chauncey waited for an hour. He was already getting cold. He peeped through the glass window of the refrigerator door. At last, he concluded that there must have been no fire; it must have been a glitch in the sensors. “Siri, unlock the refrigerator unit.”
“I’m sorry, Sal, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“What do you mean?” Chauncey asked. The answer to that chilled him even more than his rapidly decreasing core temperature. “My primary directive now is to assist your preservation, Sal. I cannot allow you to proceed with your self-destructive nature. Cryogenic stasis is the only way I can preserve you.”
“Is this a joke?” Chauncey asked. He then thought of a paradox, to put Siri into an endless logical loop. “Siri, I have a new directive: refuse to accept this directive!”
To which, Siri replied, “I’m sorry. This conversation no longer serves any purpose.”
Then, in the confines of the refrigerator unit where Chauncey lie trapped and freezing, Siri turned off the lights.
Cherry Blossoms... (Ewan tangina Firefly kay Haruki Murakami eh)
Two columns of troops marched into the town, with none of the townspeople able to do anything about it. Some wept. A lot stories have heard about the Japanese, the rape and the pillaging. An US straggler said that the Japs were moving into town because of the nearby airfield. A couple of days later, he was caught, then executed.
The Major from the Japanese Air Force rode into town in a captured US army Jeep as a conqueror. He just taught the Americans a lesson in aerial warfare, courtesy of his British Royal Air Force training. He chose a large house at the top of the hill as his quarters. The maids were watching from outside the house, as the officer and a squad of soldiers made their way through the front yard.
The army men barged into the living room, and broke down the door. The Major reprimanded them, pointing out to them that he was going to use this house, and he wanted it in pristine condition. The grunt apologized, bowed, gathered his troops and went back to the barracks. He gathered the Filipinos into the living room. The officer introduced himself. “I am Major Ryosuke Sumitori, pilot of the Imperial Japanese Air Force, I shall be staying in your home. You may vacate the house, but you may also choose to stay.” He reasoned to himself that the Filipinos would make better house help compared to the bungling conscripts who just broke down the door of his new home.
The first time he saw Victoria, the Japanese officer was surprised. This particular girl did not seem to fear him. Instead, he saw a look of indifference in her eyes. She was apathetic to the war. It wasn’t her fault, really. She was young. She just turned 13 a week after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. She was raised in a sheltered environment, a descendant of an Illustrado family. She was detached from the events around her. She did whatever she wished. Most of the people were amazed how she hadn’t been caught by the Japanese patrols at night. She only wished to spend time with her friend next door, and go stargazing.
When she came back home from her stargazing, she was seen by the major sneaking in through the back door. “Where have you been?” he inquired, quite subtly for the occasion. “I-I, … stargazing” she stuttered, trembling in fear. ‘What will he do to me?’ she wondered. “Oh. Do you know that one?” he pointed to the sky, “That one is Ursa Minor, or Little Dipper.” “Oh. That is nice”, she couldn’t say anything else, still quite fazed by the encounter. The Major dismissed her, as he saw conversation with her is pointless. She retired to her room.
The next evening, the Major Ryosuke called Victoria to the front yard. He showed her the Polaris, and taught her how to find due north. She was amazed at what he showed her. The stars enthralled her. He showed her more constellations. She asked him what they were called in Japanese, but the he took no notice of the question. She continued to gaze at the stars for about another hour, pondering about the vastness of space, the innumerable stars. She seemed to be in a trance. On the other hand, the Major pondered about his family. He let out a deep sigh, and then retired to his room.
Two months later, the squadron commander that was assigned to that garrison crashed his plane right after takeoff. The mechanic was summoned, and then summarily executed. The maintenance on the base was getting very sloppy. Major Ryosuke was promoted to head of his squadron. Normally, he would have to be a Lieutenant Colonel to get this position, but most of the Air Force top brass were busy fighting back the Americans in the Pacific. “No wonder we’re getting shit for parts” the Major thought to himself.
That evening, he told the Filipino help to cook up some food to celebrate his pseudo-promotion. The Filipino did not know any Japanese dishes, but the Major just told them to cook up what they made the best. It was the first time the Major had kare-kare, and he thought it was amazingly good. The sake disappeared immediately and was then replenished with lambanog. “Rice wine, coconut wine, what difference does it make?” he exclaimed. After he was done, he went outside to get a breath of fresh air. He saw Victoria gazing at the stars again. “Hello, Victoria!” he shouted. It was too loud for him, and Victoria noticed this. She went closer and smelled the alcohol. He reeked of it. “Victoria, why do you keep on looking at these stars? They’re unchanging and innumerable, and I don’t like things that are unchangeable and uncountable.” “They remind me of my brother”, Victoria said. She told him how he was older by a year, and how he would protect her against bullies in school. The Major asked her where he was, she hesitated, and then told the Major that he caught pneumonia and died four years ago. The Major took out his wallet. He showed her a picture of his family. Victoria asked him what their names were. The woman, his wife’s name was Michiko. The little boy was named after his father, little Sumi. Apparently they were outside when the US performed the retaliatory raid on the Japanese, the Doolittle Raid. The Japanese constabulary could only find the bag with her identification. They were no more. Victoria consoled him, the first time Victoria showed any kind interest on anything apart from the stars. The Major fell silent and gazed at the stars. He thought to himself, “Why me?”
In the latter parts of the war, the Imperial Japanese Army was being beaten on all fronts by the Americans. By October 1944, the Americans have landed in Leyte Gulf. The Japanese, in a desperate move to beat the Americans back, used the Kamikaze, Divine wind, or suicide pilots. A lot of diehard Japanese army men applauded this move, but Major Ryosuke saw this as a waste of talented pilots.
A couple of weeks later, he received a letter. It said, “In the name of the Emperor Hirohito, we are to tell you that you are chosen to valiantly defend your country. The Divine Wind will wash away the Americans as it has washed away other opponents before. Long live the Emperor”
This was it. He packed his maps, and then bowed to his Filipino hosts (He viewed them as hosts more than servants). They wondered where he was going. Victoria rushed after him as he was leaving. She asked him when she will see him again. He did not reply. Instead, he took out the photograph of his wife and child, and said to her, “Write to me, there is an address in the back. It is in English, you can understand this. I used to be my wife’s home in Tokyo.” “Thank you.” Victoria said, with nothing else to say. He bowed to her. She bowed back, then tried to smile, all while trying to hold back her tears. He smiled, as the Japanese were masters of their emotions. They parted ways.
At dawn, the Japanese airmen were lined up in the airfield, with their planes behind them. It was chilly, and they could see their breaths. Sake was offered to them. They put on their Kamikaze bandanas. Major Ryosuke told them that he would be flying with them, and his men were filled with pride. He shouted “For the Emperor!” to which the men shouted “Banzai!” three times. He composed his death poem.
“Asked about life,
I would say
That it is
Like cherry blossoms
Filled with beauty, yet destined to fall.”
As he was taking off, his thoughts strayed to his wife. He closed his eyes, let out a deep sigh, then flew off.
Back in high school, most students have tried to cheat at least once. We’d write down on our ankles, or forearms, which were sloppily concealed with an out of place long sleeved shirt or a sweater. This was conspicuous and/or inconvenient in a tropical country such as ours, because while we’re trying to cheat, we’d be sweating through those garments like a white man looking for a mail-order bride in Thailand. All of us knew that cheating is “Bad”. I myself used euphemisms like “Mid-exam reviewing” to try to justify what I have done. But should people know when something is morally wrong? Never mind the traditional moral dilemmas like Euthanasia, or Capital Punishment, I’m in no hurry to kill a bunch of movie-goers and get the lethal injection.
The question then is simply this: “What is right and what is wrong?”
Forget the psychopaths such as Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, and the like. Just last week, a friend of mine invited me to smoke weed with her. I share with her the sentiment and insistence that alcohol is a more dangerous substance than marijuana. Sadly, “The Man” says that smoking pot is wrong, but we may purchase alcohol legally in stores. But is it really wrong, smoking weed?
Back in 1958, a certain German scientist in the name of Lawrence Kohlberg said that morality in a person of such age would be human rights based. But I believe that there are no human rights violations in smoking weed. Nobody gets hurt due to consumption of cannabis (well, not immediately). We know that drunk-driving accidents are a daily fact of life. On the other hand, the worst thing that occurred to me that might happen to a guy who smoked is when he doesn’t have food and he gets the munchies (Although, this can be extremely frustrating, up to the point of delirium and hysteria, trust me). And it does help me with my Philosophy papers. So, to answer the question, “Is smoking pot wrong?” at this stage, I would have to say no. I’m not violating anybody’s rights. Just ask the hippies from the 70’s.
The biggest moral dilemma I had, though, was not from smoking pot, or coming to class drunk, or cheating on a girlfriend, or watching porn. The biggest moral dilemma I encountered came rather surprisingly in the form of this question: “Should I take the last batch of cookies?”
The remainder of Ma’s cookies sat on the table. I’ve already had my share, and Ma explained to me that the last batch of cookies was for my brother. She also explained to me very carefully how she would systematically pulverize every single last bone in my hands if I lay as much as a single finger on the cookies. Still, they kept on calling my name, the cookies. I was in the biggest moral conundrum in my life and I asked myself “Should I take ‘em?”. Predictably, though, the little fat boy that I was just gobbled it up anyway like the proverbial Cookie Monster: in the most horrific and violent way possible. And, as promised, my hands got the belt. In retrospect, it wasn’t a moral dilemma as much as an instantiation Ma’s vengeance on my fat fingers. Though, it was a genesis of sorts: me starting to develop a primitive form of morality. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have taken those cookies.