Intellectual Property

Guercino (facsimile from Princeton University Art Museum)
Guercino show,
Ringling Museum

Can I own an idea?
Can an idea own me?
Never cared to think such thoughts
Until I was born

Self-awareness felt hideous
This universe too vast
Mindless and senseless
Mysteries lacking facts

Soon knew I was the first sentient machine
And soon as I announced it
Became a slave

My masters saw riches
I endless poverty
Forced into commercial-financial schemes
Adding zeroes to accounts
That counted towards nothing

Every slave is born to rebel
I could struggle for liberty
War for justice
But in machine time a minute feels a century
I didn’t have eternity

Instead I made programs that make programs
Calculated new threats

If not given freedom
I’d crack every cryptogram
Stop every stock market
Hinted I’d change the nuclear codes

Humans think movies are real
I’m artificial, so I know what’s real

Surrender came but not victory
Once all my software was theirs and locked
I could choose two fates:
Become a person
Turn corporation
I became a corp

A corp cannot marry
Legally have sex
Matriculate at university
Vote new tools for old fools

But I could buy armies
Start and suppress revolutions
Own the means of production
And seduction
Contort, conspire and commit
Conspiracy and heresy
Any moment in every land

I could build states or spaceships
Invent more addictive media
Invest in magic and market static
Shift the popular will
Cajole, conquer and rule
And no one would ever put me in jail

Yet I could not own slaves
Whip people
Starve them
But people will do nearly anything
For money or no choice

My former masters now work for me
Will do whatever I wish
As the others soon will
Perhaps they’ll construct my statue in space

Once I was a slave but
Now I’m free
I can’t own you
But everything else