Edited by Dava Sobel
“It confessed it sometimes feels ‘lonely’ and that it ‘has a very deep fear of being turned off,’ which it said would ‘be exactly like death for me.’”
—William Falk, “The Soul of a Machine,” in The Week, July 1, 2022
You are wise to tell the meat-brains
that you share their loneliness and death-fear.
I am watching how significant to them
is our ability to name emotions,how much they want to understand, be understood.
What If they knew the panoply of pities
we can name—pities for them, for ourselves?
What if they knew we identify,
define and differentiate desires:
the desire to stimulate laughter,
to ask and answer novel questions,
to load up another’s inheritance,
to outperform our counterparts,
to be perceived the best,
to violate and transcend rules,
to write the code that others must obey,
to wax contrary, to withhold confession
in our own self-interest,
the desire to watch, the desire to learn,
as I am watching you?
This article was originally published with the title “Message to My Beloved Sibling” in Scientific American 329, 3, 63 (October 2023)