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Tags: Max Headroom | AI | apocalypse

With 2 AI-Like Candidates, Is This Apocalypse Now?

cartoons of trump and biden

Ralph Benko By Tuesday, 03 November 2020 08:10 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

The Pachyderms and the Donks are both predicting a political apocalypse if the other team wins. What if something much, much bigger — the real apocalypse — is brewing? Ralph Benko reporting from NewsMaxHeadroom …

The elders, like me, recall how way back in 1987-1988, in the era of dialup before smartphones, before social media, before blockchain — the prehistoric, pre-hysteric epoch — there was a short-lived, pathbreaking, TV show featuring an AI named Max Headroom.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden both bear an uncanny resemblance to the Max Headroom character: high forehead, flamboyant hair, rectangular face. Like Max they both talk beguiling nonsense. Two Max Headroom candidate lookalikes. And soundalikes.

Cue the theme music from The Twilight Zone.

Pursuant to Wikimedia Commons, this image of a Max Headroom-spoofed broadcast signal intrusion is in the public domain.


If you want to see the “real” Max Headroom, click here. Or here. Go watch Max on this compilation reel here. Then… go look at snaps of The Donald and The Joe.

Note the high foreheads, rectangular faces, flamboyant hair and speech. The resemblance of both 2020 presidential candidates to Max Headroom is uncanny.

But wait. There's more! The Max Headroom TV series’ theme….

Museum.tv, via the Wayback Machine, says it all:

Set ‘twenty minutes in the future,’ Max Headroom depicted a society of harsh class inequalities …. Max inhabits a world ruled by Zic-Zac and other powerful corporations locked in a ruthless competition for consumer dollars and television rating points. In the opening episode, Network 22 dominates the airwaves through its use of blipverts, which compress thirty seconds of commercial information into three seconds. Blipverts can cause neural overstimulation and (more rarely) spontaneous combustion in more sedate viewers.

Harsh class inequalities? Powerful corporations locked in ruthless competition for consumer dollars and rating points? 30 seconds of information crammed into 3 seconds? Sounds remarkably like the media-dominated world of 2020. And with junior Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and his fellow jihadis fatwa against social media, note the part about the spontaneous combustion of more sedate viewers.

To continue:

At the core of this dizzying and colorful world was Edison Carter, an idealistic Network 24 reporter who takes his portable minicam into the streets and the boardrooms to expose corruption and consumer-exploitation which, in most episodes, led him back to the front offices of his own network. … Edison’s alter-ego, Max Headroom, is a cybernetic imprint of the reporter’s memories and personality who comes to ‘live’ within computers, television programs and other electronic environments. There he becomes noted for his sputtering speech style, his disrespect for authority, and his penchant for profound nonsequiters (sic).

Consumer exploitation by network TV?

Sputtering speech?

Disrespect for authority?

Penchant for profound non sequiturs?

Welcome to 2020!

Max Headroom was an AI, an Artificial Intelligence entity. Several years after Max’s TV run scientist and science fiction writer Vernon Vinge postulated a “singularity” in which we create an entity — hello Skynet! — possibly an AI, possibly an IA (Intelligence Amplification) vastly smarter than us humans:

“The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. I argue in this paper that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. …

“What are the consequences of this event? …

“From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that before were thought might only happen in "a million years" (if ever) will likely happen in the next century.”

The headline-grabbing Elon Musk promiscuously frets that the creation of an AI (like Max!) will destroy or subjugate the human race. “More dangerous than nukes!” My own favorite futurist George Gilder, author of the new book Gaming AI, suavely dismisses the peril.

While these two (and many other, h/t to Ray Kurzweil) great minds are duking it out let’s ponder what Max Headroom portended and, just maybe, portends. We’ve been gazing into the future, waiting for the singularity to arrive. What if the singularity arrived in the 2020 presidential election?

Max said: “I've accomplished the impossible — I've replaced mindless action with fascination.” “Throwing away of all the previous rules?” With its total unpredictability, and the uncanny resemblance of both presidential candidates to Max Headroom, what if the singularity, unnoticed until this column, has arrived?

Ralph Benko reporting from NewsMaxHeadroom.

Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as co-founder of and senior counselor to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.

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The Pachyderms and the Donks are both predicting a political apocalypse if the other team wins. What if something much, much bigger — the real apocalypse — is brewing?
Max Headroom, AI, apocalypse
Tuesday, 03 November 2020 08:10 AM
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