Once upon a time (bear with me if you've heard this one), there was a company which made a significant advance in artificial intelligence. Given their incredibly sophisticated new system, they started to put it to ever-wider uses, asking it to optimize their business for everything from the lofty to the mundane. And one day, the CEO wanted to grab a paperclip to hold some papers together, and found there weren't any in the tray by the printer. "Alice!" he cried (for Alice was the name of his machine learning lead) "Can you tell the damned AI to make sure we don't run out of paperclips again?"
The fashion industry is known for its bizarre and often questionable trends, like that time Nordstrom was selling jeans with mud on them. But the latest designer item to confuse the internet has got to be one of the strangest. You can now buy a "luxe" Prada paperclip from Barney's New York. The sterling silver money clip goes for $185, which unsurprisingly has prompted a variety of Twitter reactions. This thing better be able to hold my life together.. pic.twitter.com/5lAMkEIZl4
The idea of a paperclip-making AI didn't originate with Lantz. Most people ascribe it to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University and the author of the book Superintelligence. The New Yorker (owned by Condé Nast, which also owns Wired) called Bostrom "the philosopher of doomsday," because he writes and thinks deeply about what would happen if a computer got really, really smart. Not, like, "wow, Alexa can understand me when I ask it to play NPR" smart, but like really smart.