Sentience and Transience

Cory Doctorow
“I, Row-Boat”
in Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present

From the perspective of the instance of an AI

He left an instance of himself running on the rowboat, of course. Unlike many humans, Robbie was comfortable with the idea of bifurcating and merging his intelligence when the time came and with terminating temporary instances. The part that made him Robbie was a lot more clearly delineated for him — unlike an uploaded human, most of whom harbored some deep, mystic superstitions about their “souls.”

Most of the interesting bits of this thought experiment are scattered across the story’s incidents. It is rare to find a bit of discursive explanation. Here the focus is on sentience but throughout the theme of agency arises and also the nature of intervention. It gets complicated fast and makes a good story when the pace slows down and the temporary instances are terminated.

And so for day 2873

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