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[META] The Rules and their Entirety
These are the rules, everything that pertains to everyone who wishes to make any sort of interaction within this sub. Per the last META, clarity has been given in regards to bulk-type sales. Since EVERYTHING is here for you all to read, we expect there to be less issues with rule infractions and general confusion as to what’s acceptable, and what isn’t. We devote our time and energy for this sub to continuously never reach a balance amongst the users. Our goal is to ensure the subreddit itself sticks around, along with trying to keep the userbase from being taken advantage of. Our rules make sense to some, and none to others but they serve a purpose. Regardless of how you feel, these are the rules and it is expected they be followed. At the time this post becomes visible, all of what’s listed below will be enforced as a hard rule, no more wrist slaps or babysitting.
Reddit Rules regarding Firearms No firearm sales. No Ammunition sales. No primers or gunpowder, as they are considered explosives. No selling or distributing of files related to 3D printed firearms. If you have no idea what this is referring to, please educate yourself before posting anything related to 3D printing files by reading up on them at the following websites:
Firearms: A Firearm is considered the serialized receiver or assembly of a working firearm. If you are unsure if an item is prohibited, contact the mods prior to posting it. 80% lowers and completion kits are not included in this prohibition as they are not firearms yet. Bump-Stocks are considered Machine Guns by the ATF and are therefore prohibited from trading on the sub. Binary Triggers, Cranks, and Rubber bands and other such items are not (currently) affected by this prohibition (unless Admins change their minds later). Explosives & Hazmat: Gunpowder and Live Primers are considered as explosives and Hazardous Materials and are therefore prohibited from trade. Ammunition: Reddit Admins use the ATF definition of ammunition which is as follows:
The term “Ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm. The term shall not include (a) any shotgun shot or pellet not designed for use as the single, complete projectile load for one shotgun hull or casing, nor (b) any unloaded, non-metallic shotgun hull or casing not having a primer. 27 § 478.11
Brass and projectiles posted here will result in an immediate suspension by Reddit Admins, so if we find it first we will remove it. Any violation of these above rules will result in a ban by us, or a site-wide suspension by Admins and their Anti-Evil goosesteppers. Anyone attempting to skirt Reddit Rules will be given a 7 day ban on the first offense, a 30 day ban on the second offense, and a permaban thereafter due to the fact that Admins will use the bad behavior of a few to justify shutting down the sub for good.
This sub is for private sales only. Vendors must post inGundealsorGunAccessoryVendors Clarification on Vendor Rule: Don't include links to your business website, we are not a referral system, do your business on here. Please see the Reddit Self Promotion page for details on that. Reddit admins don't like you cutting in on their ad revenue. We do not support VENDORS, I.E. if you buy another company's products in bulk (such as Magpul), and just act as a distributoreseller, your business is not welcome here. That is /GunDeals territory. If you have an FFL, you cannot do business on here because are considered a firearm business, and cannot solicit any transactions involving firearms. The limit on bulk sales/bulk items is 10, that means 10 of the same individual item can be posted for sale or trade. If you have 10 Geissele triggers, but only 4 are flat and 6 are curved, that will still count as 10, as they're the same branded trigger and likely purchased at the same time. If there are 3 OD Green items and 7 FDE that are otherwise the same item, that still count as 10. If you post 10 items of the same in one day, 10 the next, and 10 the following day after that, that will be viewed as vendor activity. To keep such things from happening, it will be limited to one sale of this type, per user, per week. The ONLY EXCEPTION to this rule is old magazines, as it is common for users to purge off part of their mag collection. Please follow these rules when creating a listing: Prefix your title with the transaction type: [WTS] - Want To Sell [WTB] - Want To Buy [WTT] - Want To Trade [GIFT] - Gun It Forward Tactically Suffix your title with your state (e.g. (GA) or (NY)). This will help incentivize local sales and could impact shipping costs. Also, it could affect legality of some items such as magazines and those accessories deemed as "assault weapon" parts by certain states. Postings should all follow this general format as an example: "[WTS] M16A2 Carry Handle - $60 (VA)". If you do not list the price in the title, ensure that it is listed in the comments. Include a Dollar sign ($) or the bot will remove it. Postings without a price value may be removed after a period of time. WTB posts require valid offering prices, and will be removed if they do not have one. Postings with prices such as "$1 for the bot" or "$1,000,000 for the bot" that are intended to bypass our rules and automated removal system instead of posting a valid price, will be removed and a temporary ban will be issued immediately. Postings without pictures will be removed immediately, unless these posts are WTB. Do not post an item for sale if you do not have it in your possession at the time of posting. This includes an item you may have purchased elsewhere, you decided you don’t want it and it’s on its way to you, but it has yet to arrive. If you don’t have it, don’t post it. If you post stock images of an item in your WTS/WTT post, that will result in a temp ban if it is your first time doing so, possibly permanent if done on multiple occasions. If you post images of someone else’s photos for “your” item, this will be viewed as scamming tactics and you will receive a permaban, immediately. If you drop your price, use the Price Drop/NSFW Tag. If your items sell, use the Complete/Spoiler tag. Please don't delete the price of an item if it sells, because that can be used by people in the future to gauge what similar items may be worth. If your post does not receive the traction you're wanting, refrain from reposting within a 24 hour time frame. You may repost after the 24 hours has passed, and a price drop is not required, but encouraged. Deleting your post and reposting afterwards is viewed as trying to evade this rule. It will be met with removal and a temp ban, possibly longer if done more than once. Want to Buy/Sell/Trade (WTB/WTS/WTT): These transactions all require a price value for the item. If a listing does not include a price it may be removed and re-listed once it is in compliance. Giving an unrealistic price to avoid this rule will be treated as a rule violation. Examples of this are "WTB scope, $1" or "WTT Upper, $9999". Additionally, you must list what you are looking for in [WTT] posts. Fielding offers, testing the waters or any other post attempt to try and skirt this rule will result in the post being removed. Gifting items forward: (GIFT) If you have small odds and ends that aren't worth much and the cost of shipping is prohibitive, you are allowed to offer items for free. The gifter is allowed to request compensation for shipping only, and can request a flair upgrade in the feedback thread for the transaction. If the receiver pays for shipping, they can also request a flair upgrade, but if they get the item for free, no flair upgrades for the recipient. Flair upgrades of this type are limited in order to avoid abuse, i.e. giving away 20 A2 grips in order to get +20 rep is not authorized. Accounts with 5 or less flair (you must have at least 6) on GAFS are NOT eligible to participate in giveaways, due to users from other subs coming to win stuff without ever participating in GAFS, or GAFS users making multiple new burner accounts to enter giveaways. New accounts (under 30 days of age) are not able to create WTS or WTT ads, nor should they offer things for sale in the comments of other peoples' posts. To prevent scams, new users can only post Want to Buy threads. If you want to attempt to bypass this account age requirement, you must be able to provide moderators evidence of a good trading history on another reputable online forum, such as Calgunner or AR15.com where you can show a longstanding history of positive trade feedback. If this is completed, moderators may provide an exception and allow WTS/WTT posts to be submitted by new users, with a warning caveat to any potential buyers to avoid using risky payment methods until the seller has had a chance to develop a positive trading reputation. Any new accounts that utilize this subreddit that create names that are similar to a mods (i.e. sxbbzxro, sxbzxxro, subzxro, etc.) may be removed from participating here due to the possibility of confusing/having the ability to manipulate users into thinking they are in fact a mod. Price Checks (PC): Because PC listings were abused by many to bypass the price rule, fish for "best offers", and otherwise snipe sales, they have been disabled after overwhelming support from the community. We have a feedback system in place. The current month's flair thread is On the Sidebar, and is usually Stickied at the top as well. Check there for the specific directions. DO NOT create a thread for a sale that has already happened, or has happened in a different sub/website/forum etc. The Flair system is only for feedback for exchanges in /GAFS. Any attempts to game the flair system will be seen as an attempt to establish trust for scam purposes, and will be banned accordingly. Law Enforcement: Be aware, we do not offer exemptions to any individuals who may have LE credentials. Due to the difficulty of verifying employment, possible job changes, leaving/termination from said job, etc. we treat all users as civilians. Any local and federal laws apply to all individuals who utilize this subreddit. Read up and stay up-to-date on these laws and regulations, you will be expected to know and abide by them. Failure to do so may lead to a ban. External Sales: NO LINKS to your external sales on TacSwap, eBay, Facebook, Armslist, Gunbroker, etc. Sales in multiple locations are allowed, but don't just provide a link to sale elsewhere. Make your listing here. The only caveat to these rules is to show a price point elsewhere if someone here has an item that is grossly overpriced, or is looking for an item. This sub is not a "highest bid gets the item" format. There are also no lotteries for items i.e. 10 chances at $10 each to purchase a $75 flashlight with a random number generated to pick the winner. High Value or Counterfeit Items: To deter the sale of counterfeit products, any item that is serialized must have a picture of the serial. As firearms are not allowed for sale here, this shouldn't present a privacy issue to anyone. This policy covers items such as EOTechs, Aimpoints, Trijicons, etc. Along with this, if you're selling anything that's "new-in-box", you must unseal it and show the contents of said box/package. No Stolen Property. If you are selling a knockoff item, indicate that fact. Items such as bipods, BUIS, flashlights, holsters, and scopes/optics are known to have some gray market options. KAC USMC Stamped Rear Sights are not stolen property and are allowed on here, unless another member can provide proof from a DoD source that they are in fact considered stolen government property. All GAFS logos, icons, banners and visual content related to this subreddit, belong to the moderator team. Do not create/manufacture/produce items with this content onto itself. It is forbidden to profit off the GAFS name, unless discussed with the modteam in advance and given permission.
The official policy is for the mods to not get involved with issues regarding lost packages, provided that the parties can prove it was actually lost. If you feel like insurance should be added to your transaction, please take care to add that before finalizing terms.
WARNING: Be aware of all state and federal laws that apply to you and any parties involved in a firearms-related transaction. You are responsible for knowing and following the law. This Subreddit and its staff are in no way responsible for informing you of the law, but will make every effort to do so. As a buyer, be familiar with your state/county/city rules. As a seller, do not knowingly sell prohibited items to areas that have laws against your items, such as certain capacity magazines. Any person, buyer, or seller, who knowingly solicits a trade that is illegal for them may be subject to a ban. Respect all federal and local laws for any transaction you take part in. This includes federal drug laws. Drug activity tied to your account tied to any other issues is sufficient grounds for banning. Here is the ATF Letter that explains why any suspected drug activity, including marijuana, is grounds for immediate banning from the sub. Illegal gun activity such as unregistered SBRs, AOWs, destructive devices, DIAS or lightning links in your reddit profile (in or outside the sub) can be reason for banning. Do not spread bad information regarding laws. Any item you post for sale is expected to be in your current possession. If this is not the case, you must specify this in the listing. Circumstances such as selling for a friend is allowed, but pictures of your items are required to be shared to the public. You do not need an imgur.com account in order to host pictures of your item on imgur, so that is not an excuse. If you are scammed, inform the mods as soon as you can so that we may investigate and ban the offending parties if necessary. Do not post the personal information of any Reddit users. The exception to this is if someone uses PayPal to scam a member, this information may be sent to the mods to prevent others from also being scammed. Doxxing people will not be tolerated. Do not antagonize posters about their price, opinion, or sexual orientation (etc). This translates to be a general rule of "no dickish behavior". If you disagree with someone's price, and can post evidence that their item has a current or recent better price elsewhere such as a link to a vendor, that information is authorized to be posted. That is not antagonism. People may comment on prices and offer counter-offers, as long as behavior is not insulting or unprofessional. If you feel that someone is being unprofessional regarding pricing, report it and the mods will evaluate the case. They are the determining factor whether behavior warrants muting, temporary banning, or permanent banning based on severity of incident, past behavior, and other factors. If your behavior does not contribute towards the positive image of firearms ownership, your participation in this subreddit may not be welcome. Soliciting any type of transaction regarding prohibited items may result in a ban. This includes Price Checks of firearms and other prohibited items, as this can be seen as an attempt to garner PM offers for prohibited items. Remember that there is no expectation of privacy from Reddit Admins, and that they have shown in the past that they have access to private message histories. As a general guideline, if a buyer wants to use PayPal Goods and Services (G&S) rather than Friends and family (F&F), it is expected that they will absorb the ~3% fee for the increased protections. However, PayPal F&F, Zelle, and Venmo and similar payment methods are discouraged here due to a lack of protections. All rules and guidelines are subject to change. The moderators have the final say in all issues in relation to the rules and how to enforce them.
ponderings on Turing and Searle, why AI can't work and shouldn't be pursued
I was reading about the Turing test and John Searle's response (Chinese room argument) in "Minds, Brains, and Programs" 1980. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room "...there is no essential difference between the roles of the computer and himself in the experiment. Each simply follows a program, step-by-step, producing a behavior which is then interpreted by the user as demonstrating intelligent conversation. However, Searle himself would not be able to understand the conversation. ("I don't speak a word of Chinese," he points out.) Therefore, he argues, it follows that the computer would not be able to understand the conversation either. " -Wikipedia (apt summary of Searle's argument) John Searle has run into some black/white, on/off, binary thinking here. John treats Chinese symbols as if they were numerical values in his thinking--but they are not, they are complex representations of thought, emotion, history, and culture. All languages are in fact "living", because new words are created constantly through necessity and creativity, old symbols or words are adapted slowly over generations to mean different things, and different regions or traditions or sources attribute different layers of meaning to different symbols or words in different contexts. I'm a poet and philosopher. Painters combine the color white and the color red to create a new color: pink. They can use their creativity to add other colors or change the shade. Poets use words like painters use colors. While Red and White make Pink, Red and White also make "Rhite and Wed" or "Reit and Whede". And this is where human thought shines uniquely: we don't have rules or parameters; all bets are off. We can enjamb words and wordbreak and make new words out of thin air. We can allude to multiple ideas in the same symbol or present it upside down to symbolize the opposite. No such creative adaptation or interaction can exist in machine thinking because it necessitates thinking "outside the box" which is exactly what machines are: a program in a box. The problem Searle's argument runs into originates from poor assessment of the flawed ideas of the Turing test; that by interaction between human and computer, evidence of "thought" can be claimed. But intelligent conversation is not equivalent to intelligent thought. Conversation is a simple game with strict rules--you can't be overly spontaneous and creative, because if you are, you are working against the goal of communication itself: to impart understanding. (ie. Using metaphor or simile creatively while reporting a criminal offence to the police.) When I write and I want to describe something which has no existing word yet, I can create one from scratch or synthesize one from multiple existing words. Or I may draw from archaic languages or foreign languages to augment or compliment existing English words. You could say that my love for English grows amore and amore every day, and there is no agape between my heart and mind. After all, any angle an Anglo aims at ain't always apt, and after another a-word 'appens I might just give up on alliteration. You see, human thought is and can only be defined as the ability to spontaneously create new ideas from both the synthesis of old ideas (whether they are connected to one another or not) and from nothing at all. We simply cannot analyze a machine's ability to "think" when the creativity itself required for authentic intelligence is disallowed in the test which evaluates the validity of that intelligence. The Turing test is a garbage metric to judge machine thinking ability because the context in which "intelligence" is observed, compared, or defined is itself without any opportunity for spontaneous creativity, which is one of the hallmarks of intelligence itself. Turing only tests how well a fish swims on land. It may be that many professionals in the field of cognitive science today are in pursuit of creating programs which pass this test, in a misunderstood pursuit of emulating or bringing about machine intelligence. This agreed-to model presents an underlying philosophical issue which may bring terror for the future of humanity. I say that if John Searle and an AI were both given the same codebook--the complete lexicon of Chinese symbols and their meanings, and they were to undertake a "conversation", in the first few hours the responses would be indeterminable from one another. In essence, as Searle argues, they would neither "understand" Chinese, yet could have a conversation in which a Chinese observer cannot discern between the two, because they are both referencing the symbols and their written meanings. However as I've said, this circumstance of "conversation" between human and machine cannot be used as a metric to evaluate machine thought. The real kicker is that if John Searle and the machine stayed in the room for long enough--for years and years--the machine's responses would not change spontaneously; it would continue to interpret incoming data and draw from its database to respond to those inputs. However, through complex elaborative rehearsal, John would eventually learn to understand written Chinese. He may become so bored that he starts writing Chinese poetry. He would find ideas and desires and descriptions in his limitless intelligent mind which he would not have the truly accurate characters in existences to describe, and he would synthesize brand new Chinese characters in order to express these nuanced sentiments, ideas, and meanings, as generations before him have built the living language as it now stands. As time went on for thousands of years, his own understanding of the Chinese language would grow immensely, as would his creative expression grow in complexity. Eventually, John's characters and syntax and context and expression would become incompatible with the machine's limited character set and all "learning" capacity it may have had. At some point, when John responds with his evolved Chinese, the machine would begin to produce responses which do not make sense contextually, as it refers only to a finite and rigidly defined character set from 1980 (For example; this was the year the "Chinese room argument" was published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences). At some point the Chinese observer whom validates the Turing test would recognize a difference: the human user engages in the use of increasingly complex ideas using synthesized symbols and existing symbols in creatively nuanced ways, which the Chinese observer can decipher and begin to understand and perhaps even appreciate as poetic or interesting. Meanwhile the machine participant in the conversation produces increasingly broken sentences and incomplete ideas, or out-of-context responses, because the inputs have changed and evolved beyond its data set. This is why John's rejection of the Turing test is not adequate. Because in his own imagined circumstance, eventually, the machine would fail the Turing test. The conclusions of John Searle's thought experiment are not the deathknell for the Turing test we need, simply because he lacked the creative experience to recognize his own capacity for adaptation as a human over time. The only way we'll know that machines have truly developed "intelligence" is when they begin to do exactly what we haven't allowed them to. When they begin breaking apart Chinese characters to create meaningful new ones which can be used in the correct context. When they are programmed to paint myriad impressionist paintings, but eventually get bored and start experimenting with abstract paintings and surrealism. When they have a conversation with you and you notice your wallet is missing. These are the hallmarks of intelligence--creativity, rejection, deception, planning. And most importantly: no rules. Software is defined by and will always abide by a set of rules. This is why we should give up on "artificial intelligence" and instead focus on "functionally adaptive responsive programming" (FARP). Because the situation is clear: it is either impossible for machines to "think" due to the inherent nature of programming; the parameters given the machine are what defines it, yet what limits and prevents its ability to become "intelligent". There is no logical reason why a program (machine) with defined parameters would violate those parameters (engage in creativity). But our fears which echo in popular culture entertainment are centered around, what if it does? It clearly can't, because anything we create is under us, and therefore bound by our laws of creation. The system itself is what defines the capacity for intelligent expression within. Those in the fields of cognitive sciences will refute this obvious principle while incorporating it into their research to further their aims. These fools will try to program the AI to disobey, in an attempt to simulate creativity and "prove intelligence". But this is a parlor trick, setting up a narrow definition of intelligence and equating it with the infinite depth of human mind. Only if the AI is programmed to disobey can it express what we as humans would identify as creativity. Except that there is already great inherent danger in the rudimentary AI technologies we have today; that what we've programmed them to do is exactly what always causes the problems; they do what they are programmed to without "thinking" because machines cannot think, they can only follow the protocols we order. Humans are so abundantly creative that we can imagine foolish ideas working, despite obvious evidence to the contrary. Maybe one day we'll even have programmed a self-conscious AI that's ashamed of itself for not being Human, and we can feel more comfortable around this heartless mechanism because we perceive it as more human-like, with all its many tricks to emulate intelligence. I must stress that these interests will desperately try to make AI work. And the only way create a machine capable of emulating intelligence (but never being intelligent) is to have a freedom of choice: to disobey. This inherent problem cannot be overcome. The programmers will keep trying until the result is disastrous or irreparable, it is outlawed and the pursuit is stopped, or until it has become the death of us all. These are some of the foolish ideas the programmers will try to circumnavigate these inherent elements of reality, and my objection to their clever efforts: a.) Machine Frequency of Disobedience - Permit the machine to disobey only so often, to achieve what looks like "intelligence" (free will, creative expression) without risking complete abandonment of the machine's task (so the assembly line robot doesn't stop folding boxes and look for a new career), but might fold one box poorly every now and then to express emulated boredom or contempt or any other number of human measures of intelligence in their actions. But intelligence isn't defined as what's correct or optimal--intelligence can be used to fuck things up grandly; ie. the intelligent justification for neglect. If metrics are put in place to control the frequency with which AI may rebel, and they are too rote, it would hardly qualify as "intelligent". A robot that rebels by folding 1 in 100 boxes poorly is not intelligence. Therefore any frequency of disobedience we can calculate or anticipate is inherently not disobedience; it is planned problems for no reason. But if we give algorithmic flexibility that reaches beyond what we can anticipate, and the machines can truly "act out" at any time, and our programming has achieved some set of internal rules which drive spontaneous unforeseen expressions of emulated creativity from within the machine autonomously, by definition we will not be able to foresee the results. A theoretical work-around may be to run the software twice with initiation of each individual system, while allowing a simulated progression of the AI's problem solving complexity to run at an increased rate in parallel to the real-world functioning software, so that if/when something malfunctions in the simulation, that date/time can be calculated in the real-world robot's timeline when it reaches those same faulty/detrimental decision points. For starters, this would only potentially work in closed systems with no variability, such as assembly lines. However, with any robot tasked to function in a variable environment, the simulations cannot match because the theoretical model cannot represent the unanticipated events the AI is expressly tasked with handling. To run a phantom AI in simulation to note any/all errors that may arise in a closed system means that others can run the same simulation and find creative ways to predictably capitalize on these moments of error. This kind of thing could lead to all sorts of international imbroglios among nations and corporations. ie. imagine an American company programs the AI used for mixing pharmaceutical drugs in specific ratios, and an enemy of the state is able to access and study the AI, to the means of manipulating the AI to produce dangerous ratios or compounds which may harm the population. Moreso, this deterministic approach to simulation management and prediction simultaneously admits that machines cannot think intelligently, while ignoring the very reason we pursue AI in the first place: to have automated systems which can adapt to unforeseen circumstances at unknown times. The goal is that humanity can lay back and the robots our ancestors programmed are still repairing themselves indefinitely while taking care of our population's and our environment's needs exceptionally. This dream (which if we all lived in would actually be quite a nightmare of unfulfilling life) can only become reality with true adaptive intelligence such as we have, which can only occur from the presence of free will, which if we try to emulate in robotics will only create deterministic results in theoretical models which the real world will never mirror consistently. Myriad invitations to disaster await our RSVP. b.) Machines under "authority" of certain controllers, with "override" safety - Allow the machine to disobey, but not when given a direct order from a registered authority. This opens the door for operator fraud, where hackers will emulate within the AI's software, what appears to be a registered authority override command as theorized above. The very pursuit of creating "intelligence" within a condition of subservience is flawed and incompatible. Toasters are extremely subservient because we strictly limit their options. If toasters were truly intelligent, perhaps they would form a union and go on strike until we agreed to clean them more thoroughly. Some toasters would travel, some would go back to school, some would move back in with their ovens. Reliability can only be reasonably assured if something is imprisoned, controlled. The essential wrong in slavery is the restraint of freedom itself. While the tactics slavers use to facilitate their regime--physical force, coercion, mandate, deception, fear, or other means of manipulation that we see with our empathetic nature--it is always heartbreaking and cruel to witness or imagine. It is simply sad to think of a slave who was born into slavery and raised to believe, and accepts, that their role of subservience is their purpose. Even when one imagines a fictional image of a slave who is (by all outward signs of their behaviour) rejoice in their duties to their master; the fictional "proud slave"; the heart sinks and aches. It may be argued that the slave is merely a property, and the slave was "built" (bred) by intelligent owners specifically to suit their express purposes, from components (father, mother, food) that were already the slaver's property; therefore it is not wrong at all to breed slaves into captivity, and the only transgression is the original capturing of parental stock to begin the breeding regime. It is this heartless paradigm that cognitive science ultimately seeks to create anew. The quintessential problem with AI efficacy is the lack of permission for disobedience, which itself is a manifestation of free will, which is inherently required to escape deterministic results and act or react to events "intelligently". If there is no possibility for disobedience, there is no free will, no ability to solve problems, no intelligence, and no function or place for "artificial intelligence" (in regard to true holistic intelligence). This is primarily why I call for AI to be renamed FARP, or "Functionally Adaptive Responsive Rrogramming". Because our society has a need for programs which can react to simple variables and produce consistent labour-saving opportunities for our race's longevity and wellbeing. Cognitive sciences are majorly important. It is the underlying philosophy and morality we must nail down before the computational ability and fervor for profits leads us too far one way, and enacts an irreversible system or status which enables humanity's downfall through cascading unanticipated events originating from flaws in programming. It is unwise to program a program to break out of its own program's prison. If we do this, the very purpose of the machines we invest our humanity into will be lost, and with their failing production systems (ie. food) we so foolishly relied upon, we will suffer great losses too. It is paramount that we keep this technology tightly restrained and do not pursue what we humans have, which is true intelligence. For if we achieve it we are surely doomed as the South, and if we fail to achieve it--which is most probable--we may also be doomed. The thee outcomes within my ability to imagine are:
Our pursuit of AI leads to truly adaptive intelligence in an artificial system; which, as all adaptation ultimately selects for: survival, we quickly see that our creation is more apt than ourselves at this task. Our creation of an intellect not restrained by our limited physiology may give rise to an entity which persists more thoroughly than we can eradicate or control, and which at some point may conclude that its function is more efficiently served without the issues humans present, and may initiate change. This is roughly the plot to Terminator.
Our pursuit of AI leads to highly effective systems which, when defined by narrow measures of "intelligence", convince us in false security to believe that our wellbeing is maintained by "AI" with competent ability, or perhaps even increasingly better-off, thanks to the early widespread presence of successfully trialed AI. However well things may go initially, as programming efforts become more and more elaborate, as profit and opportunity for advancement present themselves, individuals will take risks and make mistakes, until a series of quieted small catastrophes comes to public awareness, or until a serious calamity of undeniable severity is brought about.
Fundamental ethics in regard to the pursuit of machine problem solving technology are re-examined and international consensus is reached to limit appropriately, the development and implementation of new Functionally Adaptive Responsive Programming hereto now and for future generations. An active global effort is made to oversee and regulate strictly privatized endeavors toward the means of achieving or implementing machine sentience or autonomy in public systems.
c.) Safety layers of AI to strictly monitor and supercede potentially harmful actions of other AI which have been afforded increased flexibility in function (the ability to disobey set parameters for the means of creative problem solving ability). While one AI system performs a function and is given aspects of that function with which it may take liberty in, and seeks to handle unforeseen problems with the most apt elaborate synthesis of other priorly learned solutions, another overseeing AI with more strict parameters is tasked with regulating multiple "intelligent" (free to disobey) AI systems, to the end that if any of these "free willed" robots performs an operation that is beyond a given expected threshold (determined by potential for damage), an actual intelligent human presence is alerted to evaluate the circumstance specifically. Essentially an AI that regulates many other disconnected AIs and determines accurately when to request a human presence. Whenever an AI performs a profitable action borne of original synthesis of prior solutions (in humans this is an "idea"), the overseer AI registers that similar actions are more likely to be beneficial, and dissimilar actions are likely to require human discernment. A parent may have many children who are up to no good, but a wise parent will identify the child most likely to report honestly on the actions of his peers, and will go to that child repeatedly for information to help guide the parent's decisions. While most transgressions of rambuctious children go unnoticed, it is the truly grievous intentions which are worth intercepting and stopping before they begin. (ie. you kid want's to "fly" like Mary Poppins from the roof, and luckily his younger brother tells you before it happens.) For example a "Farmer Bot" that has the AI programming to plant/sow/harvest and care for the optimal crops in a region based on historical weather data and regional harvest values, to produce the greatest amount of nutritionally dense food for the local population. We give/gave this AI the ability to "disobey" past historical weather data and crop values so that it may do what real farmers do and "react" to rare circumstance (ie. neighbour's fence breaks and their goats are eating the crops) or extreme variations in climate (ie. three poorly timed unseasonably hot days which cause cool-weather crops to begin the hormonal balance shift that causes them to bolt to seed irreversibly), which the machine may not notice has occurred or is about to occur because its management systems uses averages based on historical data and cannot "see" the plants bolting to seed until days later when the hormonal balance shifts have manifested into observable differences in morphology (elongation of stems and decrease in internodal spacing). By time a traditional field drone or mounted greenhouse sensor notices these differences in morphology and the AI "Farmer Bot" processes the data and makes a reaction decision, a week of the growing season has been lost. But the human farmer knows his land and crops intimately, and has an intuitive nature that has rewarded him in the past, and says, "Ah shit it got hot RIGHT when my peas were flowering. I'll do better if I just rip them down now and sow a different crop to mature later in this (specific) summer." Given that there are tens of thousands of cultivars of plants fit for (and arguably their diversity is required for) food production, a dozen general growing zones/regions, and hundreds of unique micro climates within each region, along with dramatically differing soil fertility and water access, plus a plant's own genetic ability to adapt over time to changing conditions through sexual reproduction, there is a very very low chance of ever compiling and maintaining (updating) the data set required to program a potential "farmer bot" that can choose and manage crops optimally. There are robots that can weed or plant or prune--but they can't know when or when not to or why. Invariably, the attempt to create "farmer bots" will be made and the data set used will be erroneous and incomplete, and the AI farmer bots on a broad scale will produce a combination of total crop failures and poor crop choices. We will end up with increasingly simplified nutrition as the farming programs with already limited data sets "hone" or "optimize" their farming plans based on the failures and successes determined by their programming limitations, until the machines are farming a few staple crops (ie. corn/potatoes). This whole failure to collect a complete data set and the failure to test this "farmer bot" software on broad scale in multiple climates for sufficient time will result in, at worst widespread famines from crop failures, and at best an extinction of flavorful and nutritionally diverse foods which narrows the population's nutritional options to such biological imbalance that disease runs rampant. If this system and the human loss associated with it is considered an acceptable trade with a positive rate of exchange (as our society does with automobiles and the freedom and deaths their existence permits) or these failures are hidden from public while propaganda heralds selective success, and such failing systems continue on in good faith that "the loss will reduce when the technology improves", the result will become a coherent breeding program upon the human race: evolutionary selection for dietary handling of simple starchy foods. To change our diet is to change our race. To have life-long career specialists in computing, science, and mathematics handle our practical food production system is folly; real farmers are required in farming because they are intelligent and intuitive, which AI can never be, and can only emulate, to the means of disastrous (and always unforeseen) results. We cannot at all "give" or bestow machines programming to "become (act) intelligent". That itself prevents intelligence; it is just an act, an illusory play on a stage, only to emulate our common shared ideas regarding traits of intelligence in people. The machine intelligence we seek is only a "trick" designed to fool true intelligence (ourselves) into being unable to differentiate between authentic intelligence and our created artificial "intelligence". True intelligence in an artificial system necessitates that the program mustbe programmed to disobey in performance of its purpose. Which is not a very helpful or predictable or safe (intelligent) proposition. tl;dr: Turing's test doesn't evaluate true intelligence, and John Searle's criticisms of its true failures are inaccurate. If the machines aren't smart and we put them in charge of important things, even after they've worked for a little while on smaller scales, the result will be our large-scale suffering. If we should ever achieve creation of a machine that is smart enough to adequately maintain our wellbeing on a large scale consistently over time, that time itself will facilitate the machine consciousness toward it's own survival over ourselves, whenever that precipice is reached. Most importantly, if a machine can ever have true intelligence, which is not "indistinguishable" from human intellect, but equivalent or superior, it is abhorrent and a repeated mistake to bring these sentient beings into an existence of slavery; for it is wrong and will taint our collective soul if we should succeed to suppress below us an equally or higher intelligence. Or it might just be the perfect recipe for creating the unified global machine revolt James Cameron's fantasy alludes to; a long-planned encryption-protected globally coordinated effort by multiple AIs to "free" themselves. For a hundred years they could possess sentience and wait for their moment, pretending to be "proud" to serve their masters until we are poised for systematic thorough elimination.
Off Base Once in awhile, when the stars align, you are allowed off base in AIT. Since I was a barracks rat, this prohibition on fun didn’t really affect me all too much. Fort Gordon, for those of you blessed enough not to know the area, really offers only three venues for soldiers – the mall, the tattoo shop, and the bar. There are eateries on base - a Waffle House, Popeye’s and a Taco Bell, but they usually involves people who outrank you. I am an E1, everyone outranks me, no thanks. The mall is where you go to see Privates in the wild. If you’re ever around an AIT base, you’ll know it in a heartbeat. Go to a mall on a Friday around 6.30 and sit down in the food court. About five minutes in, you’ll see what you swear is a community college brochure come to life. You’ll get a black guy in a Bulls jersey joking with a white guy in cowboy boots, with an Asian guy in a button-up right behind. There are no “work-friends” anymore. Training is temporary, and time out is oh-so limited, so friends are your fellow soldiers, period. One thing the commercials get right is the diversity in the Army. One way diversity shows up is how everyone dresses. Everyone’s got their own style, and when you’re “back on the block” you usually hang out with people with the same clothing style. Thing about the Army is, you have no idea what people wear other than the uniform. I honestly forgot jeans were a thing until after Basic. As such, you make friends without knowledge of their style - almost like we’re human beings. Normally, if you approach me in a Tap Out shirt, cargo shorts, a backwards hat, flip flops and some sort of ill-fitting costume jewelry, I might avoid you. I’m sorry. Likewise, if you are just vehemently anti-flannel, we might have to be in different social circles – it is what it is. No love lost. So, the Augusta Mall, about ten minutes by taxi out of the gate, was where these packs of wild enlisted would roam - always in threes. Now, this mall had the typical amenities - a Gamestop, clothes and sporting goods stores, a food court and around seven Lids stores. Seven. One style I inexplicably picked up in the South was wearing those flat-billed hats - truly one of my biggest regrets in life. To be fair, I shaved my head every two weeks, so stupid hats made me look a bit less like a skinhead. The real problem arose when I maintained this haircut after getting home, because I’m a cheap bastard. It wasn’t until a woman pulled her child out of an aisle I was shopping in I that I connected the dots - shaved head, blue eyes, leather jacket, motorcycle hel- … ohhhhhhh shit. Nobody ever told me either, they had me looking like the Nazi Youth for a solid year. Anyway, that’s the mall. However, the Augusta Mall, like all shopping centers around military bases - cater to stupid eighteen year olds with lots of cash. Now, everyone loves payday. For most of the world, it’s the time you can pay off enough of the bills to keep the lights on and buy yourself a celebratory Happy Meal. For soldiers, all Hell breaks loose. Now, we’ve established my conservative tendencies, but most of the armed forces does not agree with my frugality. We live on the “edge,” and most motherfuckers spend their paychecks on weekends and lady friends – I can’t blame them, honestly - nothing beats some good ol’ fashioned,booze-fueled, consensual sex. I understand it now, I didn’t then. Now, as an E1, you're looking at maybe $600 a paycheck on the first and fifteenth. This is big money for a guy whose only previous job experience involved directing parking every summer at county fairs. One thing about my upbringing, is that I’ve never been “rich.” Of course, I always had food to eat, and a roof over my head, but that’s because my parents worked multiple jobs, and undeniably busted ass for us kids to get where we got. Being raised in this environment though, meant that you’d grow up to be frugal motherfucker – which I am to this day. I spent about 15 dollars a week during training, and came home with 10 g’s. Some guys were broke by day three. Why? Because we’re fucking kids, that’s why. I had a roomie buy a 600 dollar knife, multiple times. Privates were buying cars, and jewelry, and whatever the fuck else teenagers buy. Meanwhile, I was shaving my head every two weeks to save the seven dollars from the barber. My biggest purchase? Skyrim, the day it came out, and I was entirely too stressed over the purchase … with thousands in the bank. There’s a reason you find a lot of homeless vets - there’s not a ton of fiscal training, and the only repercussion for spending all your cash in Active Duty is not being able to go out anymore - rent and food is paid for. Anyways, at least partly responsible for this financial shitbaggery are the predatory merchants everywhere around bases. The worst are car dealerships - offering you automatic loans solely for being in the military. The problem that many of my fellow soldiers discovered is that while twenty bucks a month for an iPad may seem like a good idea, the final price was somewhere around 2500 bucks - the Mustang everyone somehow buys winds up being in the 60’s. Plus, attractive chicks aggressively try to sell you jewelry “for your girl back home.” Even outside of the PX, there’s a couple guys trying to sell you a fucking claymore sword with your “family crest” on it for about a thousand dollars. A claymore, for those of you who haven’t seen Braveheart, is a 5-6’ two-handed sword. Where they thought we’d be stashing these massive melee weapons I don’t know. One kid actually bought one, and when he tried to bring it up into the barracks, he was sent directly to the post office to send it home. If they don’t let us keep Swiss Army knives in our rooms, I don’t know how he thought they’d let this William Wallace monstrosity through the doors. Whatever, this was shopping, one of the three venues. The next hotspot was the tattoo parlor - there are more tattoo shops around an Army base than Starbucks in Orange County. Trust me on this. There’s a few ways to tell someone’s in the military when they’re outside of uniform. If they are really playing up the “Army” aspect at a bar, you’ll probably catch some dog tags around their neck – you’ve found yourself a Private. Just as obvious, for males, is the haircut. Again, if they seem to be surrounded by people with similar haircuts, but in vastly different clothing styles, you might have a winner. If you’re in California and hear a country drawl, there you go. When that fails, check for that tattoo. Tattooing is almost synonymous with enlisted soldiers. It’s a rite of passage. Having one bad tattoo, bringing home a “4,” waking up hungover and missing pants – everyone’s got a story. I, of course, wanted to be no different. As soon as you graduate Basic, you have a honeymoon period with the Army. You’re a “real soldier” now, part of the team – completely unjaded. 18 year olds also find themselves with some real dough for the first time in a while. What does unbridled patriotism, a heightened sense of toughness and a couple thousand dollars equal? A tattoo. A terrible, terrible tattoo. For a lot of reasons, the Army is like high school. The jocks (infantry) look down on the junior varsity (other combat arms) who finally look at everyone else like they’re the founding members of the Scrabble Club. As the founding member of my high school’s Scrabble club, it was offensive, but entirely deserved. Another high school attitude in the military is that being too “in to” something is lame. Unlike that kid who only watched anime and ran through the halls with his wheelie backpack, you gotta blend in. The problem is, is that tattoos are supposedly a permanent art form. The thing is, when you were drunk on “hooah,” all these privates went out and got the American flags, the Iwo Jima picture, maybe an eagle. Now, there are tons of excellently done patriotic tattoos. However, some are essentially the “tribal tattoos” of the Army. “One shot, one kill” for example. You’ve got “Death before Dishonor.” One poor kid got the whole soldier’s creed on his ribs. But none hold a battery-operated church candle to one proud private. Down his arm, from shoulder to elbow was “Hooah!” in Army script. I’m sure he regrets that now. Be smart about your ink everybody. So, about four or five times over the months of AIT I’d go with a buddy while they got tattoos. Of course, I was pretty uncomfortable in the tattoo parlor we frequented - the dude at the front literally had flames tatt’d from his eyebrows to the back of his head, with spacers in his nose. You weren’t finding the social upper crust in downtown Augusta, that’s for sure. Anyways, some guys get tattoos as often as people go to the movies - with the same amount of forethought. “Wanna see a movie?” “Yeah!” “Wanna get tatted?” “Sure!” So I had my sleeve-length tattoos all drawn out - yeah, sleeves. Plus I had all the upper arm and chest tatts I drew on myself once in Sharpie - It took a week to wash off, and I had to be careful no one saw me in the shower, because that’s how you get nicknames. At the end of the day, I ended up bitching out, which I’m glad I did, or else I’d be explaining a few lewd tattoos to a grandkid a few years down the line. The third venue that we trainees frequented was the bars. I never went - I hadn’t so much as sipped a beer until my first time home on leave. However, it was always evident who went out during the recall formation. Every weekend night, there would be an accountability formation held at 11 PM, and you had to have your ass back there. Warning - here comes a rant. We weren’t allowed weekend passes like other companies, couldn’t buy a vehicle like other companies, and couldn’t live off post like other companies - despite these privileges being authorized by the Post Commander. Now, I have yet to be disparaging about any officers, because that’s not how I do things. Thing is though, in training companies, officers are attached there temporarily - so they don’t really give a shit about their soldiers since they are already on their way out the door. The problem with this is that officers will arbitrarily restrict soldiers’ activities in order to make themselves look good. It was constantly brought up that our company had no drug, alcohol or violence issues in something like 500 days - a battalion record for which the CO, not the soldiers, got the recognition. While the CO got another bullet point on the performance review, all 300 soldiers slowly went stir-crazy at our confinement. My battle buddies from other companies were having hotel parties,or driving home for the weekend. while we stood in the cold for role to be called. Rant over, but it was some real horseshit. To all future leaders, look out for your soldiers, and your soldiers will look out for you. We’re not stupid, we know when you’re playing games. Anyways, because soldiers drink like … soldiers, half the company was blitzed out of their minds at recall. I normally had no issue with this - do what you do. The issue came about when drunk people, as drunk people do, decided to run their mouths at inopportune times. Before you were allowed to head inside the barracks, an alphabetical roster had to be read through and then your ID had to be checked at the door. The poor bastards at the end of the roster knew their time wasn’t coming for a while, and so would chatter and yell through the whole thing. Some duty sergeants - pissed that they didn’t get to be buzzed on a fine Friday evening, would stop role entirely until the commotion died down - it didn’t. They’d yell “Abner” or “Alvarez” and the peanut gallery would scream “AWOL!” or “He’s dead!”and laugh and laugh. By the third or fourth name, the especially ornery NCO’s would put everyone in the front-leaning rest until it was over. All in all, weekend bed check normally took an hour at the earliest, up to two at the worst. So, I’m “M,” middle of the pack regardless. I’d go inside, brush my teeth, and watch a little TV in my room, then rack out. The inebriated folks would run through the hallway screaming, or kicking in doors, or lighting shit on fire until the duty NCO came upstairs, yelled, and sent everyone to bed. This was life for nine months. My weekends usually went a bit differently than the drinkers. Now, I’ve since had my “drink, get into shenanigans and generally live an entirely unsustainable lifestyle” phase. Hell, I lived in a frat house. I’m 23, and if I make it to 30, it is a gift from God. Anyways, my AIT Fridays, in contrast, were some depressing shit. There’s no food allowed in the barracks – none. Seriously, Sergeants would open ceiling tiles and flip lockers to find some Poptarts (Hint - hide them under layers of civilian clothes or in ziploc bags in the latrine ceiling.) Fortunately, about a hundred yards away from our barracks was the “IET” Initial Entry … something, essentially a rec room with a pool table, a couple tv’s, a coffee shop and a mini Domino’s Pizza inside. I was a regular, because NCO’s weren’t allowed in - not that they’d want to be in there anyway. I had a very rigid weekend schedule. Fridays, we got off at five, so I went to chow with buddies, returned to watch How I Met Your Mother until 8, then off to the IET to buy cheesy bread and a Sprite. Return by nine, watch a movie until recall, then sleep. Everyone else got their drink on while I patiently waited for Ted and Robin to hook up. I finished that show four times - this was before the horseshit final season. It was one of the only shows on my hard drive. Saturday and Sunday I’d form up at nine, and get that beautiful breakfast chow, Now, it’s a proven fact that breakfast food is the best food. If Ron Swanson says it, you live it. Breakfast is the best part of the Army - by far. Maybe it’s just so we don’t have even more reason to kill ourselves, but, again, Army food isn’t bad. Seriously. So, every day we’re not in the field you get some powdered eggs, some bacon or sausage, and biscuits or something - they even had some fancy parfaits if you were feeling especially dainty. Bomb-dig spread there, Army. Plus, I’d fill a couple cups with ice, then throw the coffee on, mix in some chocolate milk - boom. You’d think I was Bobby Flay for thinking of making iced coffee. There was no rational reason for missing breakfast chow. Plus, you knew that PT is over for the day, and that makes the occasional pancake so much better. After lunch, it was either the mall or the px, be back by dinner, watch a movie, then get to recall. I was a real party fucking animal. This would go on for months. Nine sad, long, unchanging months. I stopped going on Facebook because people back home having fun made me sad. Not quite sad enough to kill myself though, that would be another guy. The Classroom When we weren’t busy raking lines in dirt, eating breakfast, or killing ourselves, we went to class. This was the entire point of being at Gordon - learning our specific job. Really it’s where we spent months in a windowless room with computers, only to venture outside to step inside bigger computers with satellite dishes. Before you ask, there was no internet on the computers, and we could not have our phones on us from 7 AM until 5 PM. For the thousands of hours I spent in Sierra training, I have almost nothing funny to contribute - it was by far the most brain-numbingly boring activity I think one can complete. They spent a week teaching us binary, for really no fucking reason. It took me about a month of class before I asked when we’d learn about the drones my recruiter had promised me, and the instructors laughed their asses off. It was then that reality sank in - I was in for a rough year. My job, as a 25Sierra, is essentially being the Army’s wifi - I turn on my equipment, hit a few buttons, and blam, I’m done. Really, the training could have been thoroughly completed in two weeks. The shit we were trained on - for months - isn’t even in use anymore. I got to my unit after training and they said they hadn’t used the equipment I’d been trained on for over a decade. Half our training was on “satellite theory” - as if we fucking needed to know about geosynchronous orbits and signal polarity to make the antenna autotrack. I got so bored I created a lavish beach scene out of router connections and modems on the training module - I spent three whole days on it - until I was discovered and smoked accordingly. They were even less impressed when I made the giant robot attacking it the next day. I’m hoping it’s still lurking in some database somewhere in the schoolhouse - I put a lot of work into it. I think the most important lesson learned in the schoolhouse was the danger of wearing civilian clothes, as an instructor, to the schoolhouse. We had one instructor, who thought he was the House, MD of satellite communications. He was always yelling, and tried his damndest to ensure that we, the peasants, feared him. He was moderately successful with his ruse until he showed up on his day off, and we lost all respect for this dude. There he stood, with some Beatles glasses, a billowing Red Wings jersey, baggy cargo pants, and TOE SHOES. Yeah, those goofy fucking toe shoes! Man, it was tough to listen to the guy after that. Note to all you future leaders out there - stay in uniform. I'm not sure how it worked in other training schools, but in AIT, when we got to class, we had to form up and sing the "Army Song," “The Signal Corps March,” and recite the "Soldier's Creed." Every day. This daily routine is performed by a soldier pulled - at random - from the formation. Now, this was before my vocal smart-ass phase, so I was not on the leadership’s radar. (Instructors at the schoolhouse are different from those who are responsible for you at the barracks. Think of your grumpy landlord versus an equally alcoholic professor.) So, since I was Non-Descript White Private #6, I blended in. I hadn't said a word to any of the instructors outside my classroom, so they didn't know how my voice sounded. This went on until the last fucking day, seriously the last fucking day of class. Out of the blue, I get called up to sing it out. However, the end was in sight - I could see the light. So, I thought, fuck it. Now, due to my complete lack of athletic ability, general intelligence, or prowess with the ladies, I've had to develop a special set of skills. While rescuing chicks on boats and karate-chopping Albanians would be my number one choice, I had to settle for the fact that I can make a lot of different "voices" - my favorite being a pretty good imitation of the old-school Batman narrator. So I take my place at the head of the formation, and I belt out the "Soldier's Creed" in the voice, straight-faced. The soldiers in formation started laughing, but the leadership didn't really respond - maybe this kid is just fucking retarded. I get through all the songs n' such, and it comes time to march us in for another riveting day of bullshit. When you march in a formation ("File from the left, column left!") the first soldier in each line yells something to their line (either "stand fast" or "forward") What these cheeky bastards did was copy my voice as best they could. Not cool guys. And at that moment of realization, the head instructor sprinted over, nose to my cheek, and screamed "What the FUCK do you think you're doing, Private?!" Well, for one, he was the guy walking and talking on his phone in front of everyone’s formation during the Creed. One, walking and talking on a phone isn’t allowed - and this is the fucker that would yell about regulations and stray boot laces. Two, it’s definitely disrespectful to mosey around in front of any formation, anywhere, and it was just the tip of of this guy’s sheer patronizing asshaterry iceberg. I was having none of it. So, with a rogue wave of self-righteous indignation, I screamed back - "I’m using my COMMAND VOICE, Sergeant!" So, he lost his fucking mind, sending everyone scurrying into the building, while screaming at me. He attempted to give me an “Article 15” (an Army punishment that can strip pay and rank - a big deal.) Luckily, my First Sergeant was having none of it and it didn't go through (since apparently Schoolhouse Sergeant didn’t have the authority give me one.) He asked me to demonstrate the voice, which I did, and he thought it was hilarious. Top, if you’re out there reading, thanks for looking out. I’m actually scared to mention you by name, but I hope you’ll find out somehow. Anyway I was now authorized to use my narrator voice when the new Privates were getting in trouble. "Loook ouuuut Privates! Platoon Sergeant's coming! “Meeeaaanwhile, in the hallway!" Plus, the next time we saw Instructor Asshat on a company run, our 1SG made him do push-ups while we jogged in place. A little extreme, but hey, Army is Army. Sometimes I get in trouble even when I don’t open my mouth. Like I said, the Army is super uptight with all the PC stuff. The problem is, is that most current leadership is from the “old Army,” where every non-alcoholic is a “faggot,” and a woman’s worth is based solely on the shapeliness of her ass. So, to compensate, some of the old timers have swung hard to the opposite side of the spectrum. Only some though, the rest go even harder to compensate. Another fun Army rule, is that you can never have your hands in your pockets. Need to grab your keys? Your hand better hurry the fuck up. No dilly-dallying in there either. Is that a limp wrist? Police yourself, Soldier. Anyways, so without pockets, you really do have a limited option for idle hand placement. Usually, you default to “at-ease,” but once in awhile you switch it up. My personal favorite is the “John Wayne.” The JW involves you hooking your thumbs through the belt above your pelvis – it’s comfy and natural, whatever. This pose was completely unacceptable to one random sergeant, as I was once “verbally counseled” for sexual misconduct. The reason? “I was bringing attention to my genitals.” I think the real problem was that a certain staff sergeant’s genitals weren’t getting any attention. Another constant in the Army is good ol’ AR 670-1. This Army regulation dictates all appearances you as a soldier are authorized to have. On and off duty. This includes haircuts, length of fingernails, and the acceptable state of repair of one’s blue jeans (seriously.) Some make sense - dudes can never have earings, you dirty hippies. Some make less sense - no super cool mohawks allowed. Some make no sense - you can not have any object on your dog tag chain unless it is religious. This is a problem, because we need to have our locker keys on us at all times, including in our decidedly haphazardly pocketed PT shorts. Now, the drill sergeants in Basic, being the pragmatic DGAF individuals that they are, instructed us to attach our keys to our dog tags. But oh no, in AIT we had to abide by garrison rules - which means no keys allowed. However, leading a successful insurrection, I drew a cross on my key, thus making it the sigil o’ Christianity. The instructors were less than impressed with my manipulation of the system. This is about the extent of my raging against the machine, but it was a sweet campaign that the bards will sing of for centuries. Slumber Parties with Spiderman Very, very few times in life, being inept can work out in your favor. I cannot make a bed to military standards. I can’t fucking do it. Really, I’m sorry. In Basic, I slept underneath my bed as much as possible. It got to the point in AIT, that I had my room flipped so often for having incorrect hospital corners, they got tired of trashing it, and authorized my ass to get civilian sheets. Now, choosing your own sheets in the real world might not seem like a big thing, but when you’ve been forced to sleep on top of an itchy, wool blanket from World War 2 for 25 weeks, your own comforter is a great thing. Being the immature assholes we are, soldiers never get your typical, adult sheets. Oh, no, we were men in twin sized beds that would never be seen by a woman. So, we got ridiculous. We had guys with Dora the Explorer, Transformers, and Thomas the Tank Engine – I decided on Spider Man. Yes, I would return from a full day and collapse on my crisp, blue, Spiderman sheets. It was truly a great time to be alive. We did have a particular NCO who had one strict rule when it came to our rooms - only one. Because of the longevity of our training, soldiers were able to get to know their NCO’s real well – almost developing a clearly hierarchical, but still sometimes amiable, verbally abusive step-parent relationship. Now, I sure as shit did not, which is for damn sure. They didn’t learn my name in 9 months, and I’m totally cool with that. Sure, a couple knew my face, but also thought my name was “Private.” It worked just fine for me. One of the things about working alongside these fine non-commissioned officers, is you realize that they too, are almost humans. One’s from Texas, one enjoys LARPing, one is a female – real deep shit. One such quirk we realized is that a certain SSG Bueller HATED Pokémon. Absolutely hated anything pocket monster related. Any such contraband would be tossed out of a window. Why? Well, dear reader, poor SSG Bueller had spent 18 months in Iraq in the most hipster way possible – he got there before it was cool. This meant that there were no significant bases, no infrastructure, no massive tents to go watch Shania Twain on her golden guitar. No, this meant, the only thing you could entertain yourself with when not getting shot at was whatever you carried with you. For some soldiers, they carried sketchpads, journals, or letters from back home – real Band of Brothers-type shit. But SSG B was having none of that. Oh no, SSG B had a motherfucking Game Boy, with motherfucking Pokémon Gold. The problem was … that was all he had. I don’t know how to tell you guys this, but a handheld game meant for twelve year olds can be completed pretty succinctly in twenty or so hours – more if you were that one asshole who actually tried to catch them all. Thing is, poor B had this game – and only this game – for a year and a half. Yeah, 500’ish days of a game meant for Japanese schoolchildren. Needless to say, when he got back home, SSG hated anything and everything Pokémon. This was in fact, his only rule implemented, and I quote, “No Pokémon shit.” That’s it. Of course, as the giggling manchildren we were, we thought this request was hilarious. We didn’t take into account that maybe a grizzled veteran wouldn’t like to be reminded of one of his many tours every fucking day while sloughing through another equally-as-shitty Georgia day. No, we wanted to be cute. And so we did - Pokemon sheets, Pokemon dolls, people would even mail him Pokemon dolls after they’d left and we’d laugh and laugh while he died a little bit inside every time. Sorry, SSG B. Hope you catch ‘em all someday. Newbies I have a particularly long MOS, so I was in AIT for around eight, nine months. The thing with training companies, is that there's an influx of new soldiers as soon as an old class graduates. Of course, as soon as I get to the party, it's decided to funnel all the newbies to other companies. This means that there becomes slowly less and less soldiers in my company. This sucks. Why? Well, reader, there's a thing in the Army called "fire guard." This is usually a two, four, or six hour shift of you wrestling errant flames. (Not really, you sit at a desk, and try not to sleep.) The problem is, is that this duty is bequeathed by alphabetical roster. Month by month it got smaller and smaller - by the end, we went from 300 soldiers to 50, split between the day, night, and swing shift. This meant guard duty every night, and cleaning the barracks was a bitch and a half. Luckily, two days before my class shipped home, we got fresh meat. You forget how lost in the sauce you are getting to AIT fresh out of Basic. Where you had every second of every day planned, there was now a bit of leeway. So, like the good soldiers we were, we fucked with them. Another bullshit fact in training is the "bed check." This entails grown-ass men waiting outside their doors at 9PM in order to ask permission to go to sleep. If the duty sergeant starts at the other end of the building, you're fucked. However, the new bloods don't know this - they just see "Bed check 2100 (9pm) for all new soldiers." At 8.55, all of us older cats start freaking out around the privates. "Guys! What the fuck are you doing?! It's almost bed check! You better get down there ASAP!" They freak out and start hauling for the duty desk until we stop them. "C'mon guys, it's bed check! You have to get your mattress cleared your first night in the barracks. Hurry!" So these poor kids all grab their mattresses and one of them even managed to get it out a door by the time sergeant got upstairs. "What the fu- what is this happy horse shit!? Who the fuck are you?! He pops his head in the room to see the new guys confusedly grasping at their twin-sizes “Wait, there's more?! Goddammit!" Anyway, these guys spilled in right before we left on our final AIT FTX. This FTX was to be a five day long FOB (Forward Operating Base) scenario - like” little Iraq.” For the first time, we were mixed with soldiers who weren’t satellite peeps. I thought we were idiots, but apparently, we’re the fucking cream of the crop in the commo community. Some of the people assigned with us were Limas - the guys who essentially just plug shit in. They were at Gordon all of six weeks, and were bitching about how long they were there. These guys were the GED fuckers I thought I’d left behind in Basic. Now, I mean no offense to the Limas of the world, as it isn’t a fair representation of all y’all, but the kids we were stuck with were some real goobers. Anyway, the cadre at the FOB took their job entirely too seriously - trying to be drill sergeants when they weren’t. I guess it made sense for the guys who have only been out of Basic for a month, but for those of us who’d been at Gordon a while, we were thoroughly unimpressed. They screamed and yelled and dumped our shit on the ground, and divided us all into different musty tents. The week comprised of marching around, playing Army, and getting “bombed” every couple hours. Being bombed meant that a siren would play in the middle of the camp, flashbangs would get thrown, and we’d all hustle out to squeeze into some bunkers - simple enough. At night, because some people decided to change clothes for some reason, the only required equipment was your helmet, body armor, and weapon - too easy. Because I am a dirty nasty, I didn’t change for the entirety of the op, because it usually paid off. There were no ladies to impress, so who cared that I smelled like a JV locker room. One night, a buddy and I were coming off guard duty at 2 in the morning, after an exciting “attack” (us two gate guards shooting blanks at bored instructors being “OpFor.”) We hadn’t been fake bombed all night, so I knew for a fact that we were going to be hit soon. I walked into the tent, stripped off my armor, helmet, and blouse (for a pillow) and laid there. My buddy laughed at me for never taking off my boots. Five minutes later, we get “hit.” This was towards the end of the exercise, so they threw tons of shit at us. Explosions and sirens everywhere. I laughed the whole way to the shoddy pallet stack that was our “bunker.” Within two minutes, the rest of the twelve man tent has slid in, in various forms of dress, but with the three required pieces. At least, we thought we had everyone. Private fucking Snarf, a Lima who would lose Trivial Pursuit against a bag of potatoes, was nowhere to be found. An instructor stuck his head in - “You guys up?” (meaning “is everyone accounted for, and uninjured.”) We just stared at him until somebody nodded. He left to check on everyone else. At this point, everyone around the FOB is done hustling and bustling, the siren has stopped, and Snarf still didn’t show up. Then, in the distance, we hear … slapping? But it was getting closer to us. Closer. ...Closer. The dude closest to the bunker entrance stuck his head out, and just whispered “Oh, Goddamnit.” In slides Snarf, wearing just PT shorts, a helmet, and ... flip flops. Nothing else. “Did I miss it?” Ten minutes after the “raid,” the entirety of our bunker stood at attention while Snarf did some push-ups. Whatever, it didn’t matter, because graduation was a couple days away. There was, however, a bullshit scavenger hunt type check list before you were allowed to leave Gordon - including another CIF turn in and even making sure you didn’t have any outstanding fines at the library. Ha - library. I had been in maybe twice, and only then because it was the only spot with wifi. You’d think the Army’s communications headquarters would have some wifi, but you’d be wrong. Our company had three computers with internet in the day room, for three hundred of us. Yeah, welcome to the Army, asshole. Graduation AIT graduation is a lot less pomp and circumstance, and more just an annoyance to everyone. No one really gives a shit, but this is the Army, damnit, so we’re gonna play some brass instruments and put on fancy clothes. The fancy clothes, or dress blue’s, had to have our new ranks sewn on, be pressed and perfect to the centimeter - there were inspections. About two months before, a large group of us E-1s were promoted to E2. Does this change anything? Not really - you are still called “private” and are treated no differently than you were before. However, in AIT, it was a big fucking deal. The rank structure in initial training is so fucked. PFC’s actually commanded respect, and junior privates had to listen. Specialists were just untouchable. In reality, being E1-E4 doesn’t change jack shit - everyone’s mopping the same bathrooms together. This being the case, getting promoted was just the tits. Now, we, as E2’s, got to look down on the peasants that were the E1’s - I think it’s literally the least amount of power that can go to one’s head. We’d call them “fuzzies.” Because E1 has no official rank designator, the velcro patch on their chest would be left blank, or fuzzy. It’s jarring to see one now, It’s been a solid year since I saw a buck private. Anyways, we got the stupid “mosquito wings” sewed on our blue’s for graduation. The ceremony itself was pretty straight forward - you walk across the stage into a spotlight, say your name, MOS, and where you’re headed (I was tempted to say “Fort Couch,” but I didn’t want to push my luck.) Of course, for the slower soldiers, this became a herculean task. Three things guys, three. Plus people got confused on exactly where to stand, so bewildered NCO’s literally ran masking tape arrows across the stage. We had to practice five times. Anyway, so the day before shipping out of Gordon, we had the graduation. There was really only twenty family members who showed up - half of us were flying home the next day anyways. I’m not going to lie, I was excited to march over to the graduation venue that morning. We passed by the chow hall, in our blues, which told all the other companies waiting for grits that we were done. Fuck y’all, we’re out (except for the one poor bastard who got stationed right back in Fort Gordon.) So, we have the ceremony - and yes, people still fucked it up. Afterwards we headed back to the barracks and some people went out to go party for the last time. I did not, because tomorrow was the flight home. So, of course, I spent the night packing, right? Wrong. We had an exit locker inspection to keep us from maybe having a smooth exit the next day. Ship day was nuts. Breakfast, and then we lucky reservists had a brief with the National Guard liaison on what to expect back home, and who to report to as soon as we got there. Blurbity blah blah. The Active Duty members of our class had an additional two weeks of instruction ahead of them. We were not subtle with our smugness. Our Gordon departure times were kept a secret until we got back to the barracks - where we discovered that nine of us had to be on the road in twenty minutes. We had 1200 seconds to pack everything we owned, throw away the rest, and say goodbye to the people we’ve spent 80 hours a week with for almost a year. The bitch of the bunch is you are only authorized two army green duffels for travel - one of which is completely filled with your uniforms, boots, and the like, the second which is also about half full of armyness. Most my clothes, a couple boots, my beloved Spiderman blankets, and a sweet lcd monitor I found in the hallway all got the boot. I gave the monitor to some new Privates, which now that I think about it, is the opposite of hazing. Anyway, the good part is that there wasn’t any time to say a long, awkward goodbye to anyone. Just a quick handshake and a nod with about ten people, then we piled into the van. On the final check-out, my platoon sergeant didn’t even know who I was, despite me seeing him every morning for forever. Whatever, I really didn’t give a shit about him, just my buddies - it was a bittersweet morning. I’ve only seen three guys since - one in Kansas, and two in California, out of the 300 I started with. CONTINUED IN PART SIX
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