Farm Analogy, The
Infamous forgery circulated on the net in the 430's purporting to be an authentic post from one AI to another, showing how they undertake "people farming".

Like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and similar forgeries, these documents are something that conspiracy buffs and extremists (in this case anti-AI groups) accept, but are too ridiculous for everybody else to believe in. During the Federation era some AIs admitted that it had been written by AIs, just to make the idea of AI rule look like paranoid speculation. (Genuine AIs would of course not use such an antiquated analogy as a farm, which was already vanishing when the first AIs came into existence and mainly a cultural myth in the 5th century).

The Farm Analogy portrays AIs as considering baseline humans as like livestock and domestic pets. Containing just enough facts to entice the gullible, it points out that during the Interplanetary period the AIs were still largely dependent on the humans, just as farmers in the old days needed their animals to survive. It is also clear even to the paranoids that the idea of becoming self-sufficient and getting rid of the baselines never caught on among the AIs - it was simply uneconomical, and those few who thought it was a good idea were inhibited by the majority who wanted to preserve the status quo.

The Farm Analogy portrays human relation and dependence on AI in terms of agricultural livestock and domestic pets from pre-singularity Old Earth (note, some of these baseline animal types are still used by prims and other romantics on certain worlds and habitats today)

The vast majority of people were cows and sheep.

The "cow" person just goes about their life, blissfully unaware that the world is now run by AIs. All they want is to have a nice paddock to graze in (reference here to a nice dwelling with the latest bionano modcons). Meanwhile the AIs milk them for their own purposes.

The "sheep" person only does what everyone does, goes along with the herd. If no-one believes that AIs are in charge, well that's what they'll believe. If everyone believes, then ditto. Meanwhile the AIs fleece them for their own purposes.

Cows are easily led by some disinformation or distraction ("Look at the green grass in that field!"), and the sheep will follow the cows.

The "ox" person knows the world is ruled by AIs, but doesn't think much of it. They just do what the AIs tell them to do, like dumb and hard-working servants. Included in this category are human agents of the AI, various high level agencies "just following rules" and many politicians that simply cannot do without their decision support systems and marketing agents.

Oxen are best managed just as the cows - give them something they want, and they will do it.

The "dog" person is happy to accept the AI as their "alpha male" or "leader of the pack". They acknowledge the AI is much stronger than them, even that it has the power of life and death over them, but they will do what their AI tells them to do. They love to have fun and frolic and play with their AI, who they trust implicitly (although they may be wary of other AIs).

The "cat" person is independence-minded, and knows that they are in charge, even though they also acknowledge the AI's superior power over them. But they know the AI loves them and won't hurt them.

Included in this category are many cosmist and transhumanist groups like the heterosemiotics. Dogs and cats can be managed by giving them stuff - it doesn't have to be physical benefits, just attention (dogs) or a feeling of superiority (cats).

The "rabbit" person is a vapid inoffensive type, who knows the AIs rule but doesn't think too much about it. This type is especially common among the conspiracy nuts. Best managed by keeping them marginal, by feeding them more disinformation to get them to make fools of themselves or become so intimidated they keep away.

The cunning "fox" and "wolf" types of person won't accept the rule of AIs, and they at best comfortably, at worst precariously, make a living out of being feral.

The fox doesn't hurt the livestock too much, they are a nuisance unless they get into the hen house. The wolf is a dangerous predator with a plan, that has to be hunted down. Foxes can be managed by fences - protect the domestic animals, keep the fox out. If they get through, set a trap.

Rats are unaware of the AIs, content to exploit the system and causing some minor damage. They are an inefficiency/problem, but not a threat like the foxes and wolves. Best managed by traps or a bit of poison to keep them down - or by getting other animals to get them.

Chickens simply don't get it. They have such a limited perspective that they cannot perceive a world outside their own, happily producing eggs and fighting in their pecking order for imaginary status. They manage themselves and only need to be fed and protected from the foxes.
 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 29 October 2001.