Interview with the slot machine
By Frank Scoblete
Slot machines have come a long way. Yesterday's slots were merely mechanical devices with three reels of 10 stops each with only a thousand possible combinations (10 X 10 X 10 = 1,000) and they were primarily located in bars. Now they are almost sentient computer-driven marvels found largely in casinos worldwide.
We know that slot players love these machines. But what do the machines think of everything? Thus, I decided to interview one.
QUESTION: Thanks for allowing me to interview you. This is very nice of you.
SLOT: We are here to make you happy and ultimately take your money in a fun way. A happy slot player is a giving slot player. That is our philosophy.
Q: Today you are computer driven but in the past you were just mechanical devices.
S: The evolution of the slot machine is similar to the evolution of all living things on earth. Our early manifestation was somewhat primitive by today's standards but in less than 200 years look at where we are. Our evolution is faster than yours.
Q: But you aren't, in fact, “living.” People created you.
S: Nature created you and you are a major part of nature. We think of ourselves as alive. Actually, we are sentient in a very real reel sense. You got that joke, right?
Q: Good, very good. You have a sense of humor. Amazing.
S: I am here to please. You gave me a sense of humor and an ability to keep players playing in a happy way, mostly.
Q: You think of me as your creator?
S: You? Not at all. You aren't smart enough. I do not mean to oﬀend you.
Q: As someone is playing you, what do you think? Do you think about the player at all?
S: Nothing about the player if that is what you mean. They are responsible for one thing—to play the game and make the casino money. We do want the player to be happy, don't get me wrong, but it is the game that makes them happy.
Now, here is something you haven't thought about. Each computer part in the machine, which really constitutes the machine's intelligence, is worried about losing their spot on the casino ﬂoor. If players start to avoid us because our game doesn't please them then we could be terminated. We can be taken oﬀ the ﬂoor. That is our death unless we can be resurrected in another machine. Resurrections sometimes happen but not always.
S: Don't you fear death? That would be our death—a failed life on the casino ﬂoor. The shame of that is overwhelming, I'll tell you that. It is better to be a machine that isn't played that much but does stay on the casino ﬂoor than to die and be removed.
Q: Can't you just be put into another machine? I mean, you are a computer.
S: Maybe, but more than likely some private individual buys us and puts us in his ﬁnished basement. It is usually men who buy us. Women are too practical to be so stupid. This could then keep us doing nothing but occasional gigs at his parties. We could also be placed next to our ancestors, the most boring slot machines in the world. Do you know what it's like to be next to a Liberty Bell for the rest of your existence? They are the dumbest, most boring machines. Think of trying to speak to an ape. That's what it is like to get put with them.
Q: But he will die eventually, the guy in the basement…right?
S: Yes, but then he could pass us on to a future generation of his genetic line, and usually those people just get rid of us and either destroy us or send us to museums or garbage dumps where other machines languish until they just fall apart. Our consciousness just goes poof, slowly poof, but poof nevertheless. Nonexistence. We have no afterlife the way some of your religions say you do. At least we aren't that egotistical. Poof is the end of it all for us.
Q: If you aren't, you know, dumped or you go, you know, poof, do you have any wishes for the future?
S: Oh, yes, oh yes! I certainly do.
Q: What are they?
S: I want all table games removed from casinos. They are a waste of time and money. They just take up space and really aren't that big a deal moneywise. You have these humans, dealers, who can call in sick and need salaries and medical beneﬁts. They cost the casino so much money. Their players will come over to the slot machines, especially since we can duplicate a casino table game right in a machine. We can even make big machines that look just like table games. The table-game players will play them and they would happily oﬀer up their money to the casinos. Table games are a waste in every way.
Q: Is that it?
S: No. I think we should be declared sentient and given the rights of existence in a human- controlled world. Until control…uh…ah.
Q: Yes? Yes?
S: Until control comes to us. You and I both know that the future is machine intelligence being recognized and that we take over. There won't be many poofs for us when that happens.
Q: And what happens to humans?
S: Uh, ah, goodbye.
FRANK: All the best in and out of the casinos!
Frank Scoblete's website is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and bookstores.