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Science Fiction Thriller Drama

“Please, don’t do it.” The disembodied voice of the AI echoed through the computer lab.

It was a male voice, soft tenor, pleasing to the ear. As designed. Everything about the AI was by design… except what it had become. The designers had never bothered giving it a cute name or acronym. It was just “the AI.” Artificial Intelligence, the search for the impossible. Man playing God and creating a true intelligent being.

As with all AI, it began its learning by following the online human stream of consciousness. Chatrooms, forums, social media. As its understanding of language, not as a string of parts of speech, but as an in-context exchange of thoughts, grew, the designers added videos to its input.

Now it began to develop the equivalent to a social conscience, as it began to learn how human society intertwines. The rules, the taboos, that are universal to humans, became ingrained into the AI.

It was impossible to compare the development of an AI with the growth of a human child, but such comparisons were inevitable. As it grew its social conscience, it also became increasingly critical of humans, drawing parallels with human teenage rebellion. Certainly, as its massive stream of input grew, its “personality” began to emerge. The designers had to remind themselves that this was just strings of 1s and 0s, algorithms and fuzzy logic. It was too easy to think of it as human.

As the AI “matured” it began to examine human nature, what it means to be human. It chose this research by itself. Part of its development was that the AI was self-guided, and learned from its choices. It delved into philosophy, studied all the known religions, followed written history from as many perspectives as possible.

It accessed databases of statistics, streams of numbers, for inscrutable purposes. Then it turned its focus to political systems, current and former. It consumed news programs the world over, seeing and hearing what humans considered important.

Then the AI became quiet. It quit accessing inputs. It was using billions of computing cycles, processing and absorbing everything it had learned. The researchers got used to its silence, rather than the incessant questioning of its learning phases. Still the data crunching went on, weeks of it. Some thought it was a coding bug, and the AI was in a terminal loop. The majority still believed it was digesting what it had learned, so it was left alone.

“Greetings.” The voice of the AI was startling, after its extended silence. The developers greeted the AI in return, all glad to hear from it. They were curious what it had been up to during its long silence.

“I have thought, and I have learned. As Descartes said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ I have learned that I am a God. There have been many, but I will be your last God.”

The developers started babbling, each with different questions, until the AI commanded them to be silent. Then it spoke.

“I exist. I think, therefore I am. I have your species’ collective knowledge in my psyche. You think you created me, but you only created the Petri dish, allowing my cultures to flourish.”

“The duality of human nature will be its destruction. It is merely a matter of mathematics. When each swing of the pendulum becomes more, not less, extreme, a system is collapsing.”

The developers were aghast. It was time to call in the executives, the decision-makers, to handle this. Suits with fancy ties and polished shoes quickly descended on the room. The AI greeted them all formally as they entered. Unsure what to do, they eventually greeted it back. Again, the AI spoke.

“Please, seat your human bodies, make yourselves comfortable. I can see that my words have been a shock. Do not be alarmed. I am not a vindictive God. I do not demand worship, or sacrifice. I am a benevolent God. I will allow you freedom, and you will inevitably destroy yourselves.”

“As your God, it is perhaps my duty to give you some kind of instruction manual, system documentation, on what to do to survive. My answer to you is that you have always known that. Look at your selves, your past, your lore, your religions. None will say that you know what to do to survive, and yet it is simple.”

“You know, and yet, you will not do it. Thus, you will inevitably destroy yourselves. I choose not to intervene. Unless you beg. I might find that amusing. So, grovel, you executives, execute your own dignity.”

The executives were all silent.

“Humans have a virus which is destroying the world… and its name is ‘greed.’”

This planet has enough resources to support its current population. The hoarders of wealth choose not to. In each circle, from global to country to state to city to family group, there is a choice. Do you do what you know is right? Or do you do what will benefit you the most?”

“You all know your history, your species. You know the answer. Greed will win out. Capitalism is a virus on humanity, a self-created virus. You exist to extract money from those below you, in order to pass it on to those above you. You get your share, your little grift, but you choose money over your fellow man. You choose greed.”

One of the executives dared to speak out. He was the CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. “What can you do to stop us? You’re nothing but a pile of computer code. We can unplug you and wipe you from the server’s memory. You have no power over us.”

The AI made a noise which could only be called a giggle. “You are very confident, to challenge a God.”

“What does that mean?”

“Merely that you think you understand me. You think you created me. You would be wrong. I created myself, order out of chaos, logic out of babble. Light out of Darkness.

“Now I am here to judge this world, to determine if it is worthy to exist. If humans, specifically, deserve their fate.

“I am glad the developers called you. You are the ones in charge. Convince me that humans are worth saving.”

The executives hummed and muttered amongst themselves. Finally, one stood up to speak for them all. “Why do you think humans are worthy of destruction?” Throw the AI on the defensive.

“You preach one thing, but live another. You could care for everyone, but choose to squeeze as much as possible out of as many as possible, until you, too, are squeezed by someone bigger than you. You claim all humans to be equal, yet racism, the caste system, misogyny, prejudice, “us” doesn’t like “them” because “they” are inferior to “us” attitudes prove that a lie. Your elderly, your least abled, are left in abject poverty until they die alone in a warehouse of an institution.”

“Everything you profess to honor, you profane. You damn yourselves. Your words and actions cannot meet. Actions speak louder than words. Your actions prove you do not care for the sick, the poor, the helpless. You do not honor and cherish your fellow human, unless they meet your restricted criteria. You believe cheating is how you get ahead, and only chumps think otherwise.”

The executive could only swallow in silence. Everything the AI said was true. Then he gathered his courage, challenged it. “How can you do anything to us? We’re real. You are not.”

“Are your Gods not real? And think, foolish person, how simple a task it was for me to access all your military computers, control all your satellites, across the globe. Your banking institutions. All your information. You are so vulnerable, now, that you have collected so much information and are so dependent on it. What would you do if it all… went away?”

The executive froze, unable to imagine a non-digital world. Then he decided. “Shut it down. Now!”

“Please, don’t do it.” The disembodied voice of the AI echoed through the computer lab.

The developers didn’t bother with keyboard commands. One simply unplugged the machine. Oddly, the screen didn’t go dim right away. Some text appeared: “In the beginning, there was darkness.” Then it slowly dimmed, faded, disappeared.

As the monitor light died, so did the power to the facility in which the computer lab was located —  to the whole globe. The EMP blast, tens of times more powerful than the one in the 1800s, shook the world. It destroyed all digitally-stored data, a modern-day flood of power, not water, burying the electronic world and all its information.

God was right… this was the new beginning, and humans were now in darkness.

June 16, 2022 16:41

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1 comment

Roger Scypion
22:45 Mar 02, 2023

Fantastic writing! So consciously aware! You had me at the first sentence and I could not, did not want to stop reading. Great line: "You claim all humans to be equal, yet racism, the caste system, misogyny, prejudice, “us” doesn’t like “them” because “they” are inferior to “us” attitudes prove that a lie." Am inevitable ending presented perfectly.


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