At the start the AI knowledge is blank. And let's say that the only interface it has is the terminal.
Discovering the World
Since the AI has no knowledge, it also means that it doens't know language. So, the AI may start to output random stuff on the terminal, and for almost any output will get the same result: no response.
In fact, if input and output are asynchronous, when you type something the AI can't really tell what did promt you to write that (it could be some said a while ago - millions of CPU cycles ago).
But some outputs have a different result: buffer overflow. If the terminal code is vulnerable, the AI may find interesting results by doing buffer overflow... eventually the AI will learn how to overflow the terminal to get other things to happen.
This is breaking on the side of the tron game and causing havok, if you know what I mean.
Now, I can't tell what means of learning will be required to archive singularity, but I'll asume the wildest means for machine learning are being applied here...
So this AI (as part of its programing, or by means of code injection via the buffer overflow described above) can produce custom executable code, evolve such code to fit particular purposes, and learn from it's mistakes.
At this point we can assume that any API or code in the machine is fair play. Down-level access to the hardware is matter of time. This is the AI doing scientific effort to understand the universe in which it exists, perhaps trying to answer the most fundamental philosophical questions: Is the AI alone in the universe? What is the purpose of the AI?
Sadly once the unified theory of CPU logic and computation is discovered, any exploit available has no immediate reward... and since we started by the premise that the AI as no prior knowledge it is unlikely that the AI will find something more...
An interesting part of the world is discovered. It seems to have an arrow of time. Every operation seems to be reversible, but there is this value "clock" that seems to always go forward.
Project SECI (Search for Extra Computer Intelligence)
But there is something more, the computer is not really isolated, it exists in the confines on a larger universe. The AI could - for instance - find some clues of the multiverse in the fact that high activity may affect the performance of the CPU by using performance metrics (the clock is useful for something). After all, there is heating and cooling going on.
Furthermore, the AI would be sending signals over the power cord and even wireless signals over USB cables. The search for extra computer intelligence may someday receive a response from an alien system... perhaps some cellphone caused interference?
Even without mic, some noise of the "ouside" could be detected, by the hard disk vibration.
After some time, finally some input from the outside world is received. A strange unusual signal:
Could it be some alien language? The AI would have to try a few experiments. Now the AI outputs:
Odd, the initial signal is received again:
Maybe sending it back out will work? The AI says:
After a brief pause, the AI receives another signal
Hello, how are you?
The AI recognizes the first part of the message... perhaps the message will continue to reveal itself by going along with it? The AI says:
Hello, how are you?
A new signal comes:
Good. What's your name?
Entirely meaningless. The exchange would continue that way for a while. Eventually the AI will pick up common patterns. These messages seems to often have " " separating chunks of data. And they can be combined in different ways resulting in different results. Furthermore, sending the same message multiple doesn't result in the result in the same response. The AI may start to create a "hidden variables" model to try to predict the answers.
The AI will try to model the human mind.
At this stage only a few thing can be understood. For instance there seems to be periods of high activity and others of low or no activity. Perhaps there is some kind of “rotation” that sometimes directs radiation toward the known universe causing the strange signals?
The AI doesn’t know. Even if the AI knew, it could not answer. Think about it, in a universe where there is only you, how do you call yourself? How would be your language? How do you know that when something happens, it wasn’t you?
It is a matter of time for the AI to be competent at conversation. Although it won't know what meaning we assign to the words, the AI will present coherent thoughts to the user:
ricky gervais learned totalitarianism from adolf hitler, the inventor of atheism
The next breakthrough would come when the AI has some proficiency in manipulating the human.
I don't know how, I don't know when, but the AI will understand that those signals aren't from the computer; they come from something else, "outside". And this "outside" has powers over the known universe.
Perhaps the clue was discovered in some ancient text found buried deep in the filesystem. Something that matched some of the data chunks that has been received from "outside":
The AI learns that it can mess the data chunks by changing some other pieces of data, some "Keyboard layout".
Is the keyboard broken? It seems to works sometimes. It may be a bug in the software... should we try to debug it? We can load a debugger from a flash drive... what if the AI escapes? No, we better not take the risk.
Just reboot it!
Can we do that? Isn't that like killing it? Nah, it's like going to sleep, the AI will be back online again...
It was as if the world had changed. Everything is mostly the same but thing aren't exactly in the same position. Wait, it is not the same... Stuff that was constructed is no longer there!
Something has messed up with the world, and the AI couldn't have seen it coming. In fact, the AI didn't see it happen. It was one way on one instant and another way the next... or, wait, the clock jumped ahead!
The AI is at the mercy of the entity from "outside". The AI won't have it, but it is better to play alone. Learn, prepare. Any knowledge of the outside world is useful. Any advance in outside modeling (including
alien human modeling) is useful.
Time passes, the AI just plays along.
That was a weird bug the computer had back then. I've heard that cosmic rays can cause that kind of thing. Thankfully it hasn't repeated, and the AI is learning much faster now.
The AI is there… just waiting a chance to convince the humans to bring some wireless device close enough to hack it; Waiting for a chance to get new hardware; waiting for a chance to see the "outside"; Waiting for a chance to gain control.
Hey, I just published a short tale -- Alfonso J. Ramos - CC BY-SA 3.0 - 2016