Artificially, Snakes and Ladders
By Oren Charles Thorne, Year 8, Linton Village College

In making something, you need to have the ability to actually make it. In other cases, there is much more complicated theory behind it. Sometimes it’s not just as simple as thinking it through with a few formulae. Sometimes it’s a life’s work. In this case, I didn’t just want to see my biological friend playing Snakes and Ladders, but another consciousness doing the same thing, and one who I could still call by the same name.

I recall my rival ‘flesh and blood’ player in this game. She’d almost got to the finish line but her marker was sliding down the scales to a lower numeral, which I could easily have beaten. Instead, I insisted we replay. An idea had come into mind: how fast can Isabel get to the end of a round? So, we took our separate turns, awaiting our goal, and trying not to slide down any snakes. I must admit, Isabel was rather better at the game than I was, but, then again, I was half-focusing on the ‘brain-reading assessment’ that I had assigned myself. After a little while, my friend finished first. Okay, so what I got from that was that her determination greatly helped her in finishing. Imagine (I gazed outside) if an artificial machine could have this: determination. Sentient AI was out of the question in a middle-class household. Perhaps if I got future funding. A silly dream.

“Right”, said the professor, “What excites you about this childish game to the point of knocking on every proposed psychologist’s door in the British Isles?”
I smiled nervously and saw the latest paper written by a disgruntled contender for ‘annoying student’.
“You see, I made various simple assessments on a school friend to see how fast they got to the end of a round of Snakes and Ladders. A stupid test, but something that sparked me to get future funding from someone like you. What if we made a machine with the latest technology that could happily play a round of a board game?”
“I’m afraid, as amazing as that sounds, I’m a busy man.”

There it was. The first ever AI created with such human-like mental status, and which apparently regarded itself as ‘better than most respectable politicians’. In fact, this SAIOS (Sustained Artificial Intelligence Organisation System) advocated against democracy. I don’t recall ever mentioning Socrates, but something definitely got into those interconnecting head-wires.

You are probably wondering what made SAIOS so fantastic in the scientific community. The answer is: computronium. Once just theoretical artificial particles, they were now incredibly useful in the calculations to make the robot a ‘tin-can intellectual’. Unfortunately, not everyone is perfect. In trying to appreciate the sensations of driving a Ford Mustang, SAIOS drove straight in through a supermarket and had vital limbs cut off by the sharp edges of many a baked bean can lid. I don’t think that we’ll ever again quite see the like of the glorious Sustained Artificial Intelligence Organisation System.