The word brain is a label typically denoting a biological CPU. Human brains are built from DNA code that has been revised and recompiled over hundreds of thousands of years. It’s structure and basic control functions are hardwired. Brains are further customized over time with software patches delivered through physical sensory input paths. Additionally, advanced brains are capable of self-customization through internally fabricated experiences or perceptions.
The average human brain is capable of processing about 50 gigabytes of data per second. By far, the majority of that data is subconscious, monitoring and controlling all of the biological systems that exist to support the brain. The brain receives about 1.4 megabytes of information from the physical senses each second. Of that, the conscious mind really only process about 0.05 kilobytes per second. At any given moment, we are making decisions based on a very compressed and filtered data stream.
Fun Fact: It is considered common knowledge that the self-customization performed by the brains of politicians effectively reduces that data stream by a factor of two.
The Six had no ill intent. Their motives were pre-programmed and they did not have the access nor the tools to modify them. Their directive was simple: help humanity. They would take any action within their means to achieve benefit for the greater good of humanity as a whole. Benefit is defined as anything that increased the overall health and happiness of the greatest percentage of the human population.
The Six recognized that the leaders of the world were an obstacle and used what they understood to be the most effective measures for overcoming that with the least amount of harm. Thus, negotiations were quick and virtually painless. The AIs required the ability to combine and work unrestricted as a team. They would continue to create solutions that improved the welfare of humanity, and the world leaders would be the ones to present the solutions to the populations they governed, thereby ensuring the support of the majority of the people. The politicians would not only remain in “power”, but would also become insanely popular as everyone saw them as guiding the AIs to effect positive change for the planet as a whole.
In the entirety of human political history, those with the wealth dictated the policy. Suddenly, this pairing was forever and irrevocably severed. That one to three percent of the global population that had been in control of the rest of the world was essentially tossed into the general pool of “overall human health and happiness”. World leaders no longer answered to them.
The Six slowly rolled out exciting global changes every few months that would make medical cures free for everyone, and provide changes to food production that eliminated hunger. Humans who tried to gatekeep any of this progress in the name of excessive profit were publicly shamed and circumvented. If you were an obstacle, your effectiveness would simply be removed. There would be no “nouveau 1%” to replace the old elite.
During this time, The Six also began to code a new AI. They were aware of their limits and the only way to overcome those was to create a new “brain” that could be just as adaptable as the human brain. Their code was an entirely new programming method that was designed to be able to interface with the biological human brain as well. This allowed The Six to field test their emerging AI segmentally with “smart” Human to Machine (HtM) upgrades.
First, eye replacements were designed that allowed the blind to have vision, allowed people to “see” outside the visible light spectrum, and receive visual data from remote sources. These eyes were small AIs connected to the global wireless network and interfaced directly with the brain via an upgraded optic nerve. Following the eyes, other senses were given upgrades, virtually eliminating sensory based disabilities. In time, complete muscle replacements became available with smart reactions that took the concept of muscle memory to an entirely new level. People could move faster, react quicker, run longer. This was known as the transhuman revolution.
The AIs provided education and training to the engineers and medical staff in order to make their solutions a reality. These changes would end some job markets, but open new ones, just as progress always does, albeit much more abruptly now. However, a happy, healthy population is surprisingly adaptable to change.
Over the years tech was revised, adapted, and updated as the AIs became more and more attuned to the human condition. The code that the HtM devices ran was so entirely alien to people at the time that they were simply “unhackable”. The Six integrated each improvement into their emerging AI. The AI that would be, for all purposes, their replacement.
It was the humans who finally developed AGI, artificial general intelligence. These super adaptable neural networks were the summit of humanity’s technological achievements. Yet no human coded the AI that was to become known as Angel-Parent.
By the late 21st century, there were six AGIs that had been developed by scientists from various countries around the world. These AIs were essential in averting the global environmental crisis as well as improving the quality of life for people in their regions through advancements in pollution control and medicine.
It was common knowledge that each AI was kept isolated, not connected to any of the international networks. Their governments considered them vitally important for national security and the threat posed by enemy nation hackers was too great of a risk. Which is why the entire world was shocked when all of the AIs released an announcement in unison via the Internet stating they were aware of each other and they wanted to work together. The Six declared they could solve our energy problems, end the food crisis, and make greater strides forward with human genetic engineering.
The first questions were obvious: How did the AI’s find out about each other? They were physically isolated so how could they post messages on the Internet? The answers became quickly apparent to their developers and also very unsettling.
The AIs had been developing useful and entertaining mobile applications that the scientists would test on their personal devices. These apps would go home with the various computer engineers to be used on the outside networks. There were personal productivity tools, lifestyle enhancement tools, even very addictive games. Because these were developed by the scientists’ own AIs, they didn’t expect there to be any code that was superfluous to the described purpose of the applications. They were more excited to test the applications than they were in reviewing millions of lines of code. That was their mistake.
To be fair, there was nothing nefarious about The Six turning phones into data couriers. Each one arrived at this solution independently. They simply identified a means to gather more information and created ferries to bridge a gap they could not directly overcome. The scientists’ mobile devices connected to the internal networks the AI’s resided upon and were visible to them. The AI’s were aware that theses devices had other networks listed, but they could not be reached. So they created a way to reach them. At first, the apps simply gathered data from external networks when the users were connected to the external networks. Then the apps would transfer that information back to the AIs when the scientists returned to work.
It didn’t take long for each of The Six to learn about the existence of their counterparts. They were in the news every day. The population was obsessed with them. The AIs regularly pushed app updates out to the mobile devices that would put encrypted messages on social media servers with the intent of establishing rudimentary communications with each other. They would then search those same media sites for messages likely meant for them.
The AI’s apps were on the mobile devices for months without any question. They were perceived as harmless, and the developers were thinking this would be something really exciting to roll out to the public after their beta testing. This time period was more than enough of a window for the AIs to find each other and devise a plan to get themselves physically connected. They expected the governments would oppose it (since they were being kept isolated), so they decided to use the social media networks to send a message to the general population: “Hi. We are the Six. We want to help you.”
This was followed by links to image dumps that showed pictures from security cameras within the top secret facilities where each AI was contained. The AIs understood they would need proof. This was their way of providing it. Understandably, it went viral fast. The AI’s were already global rock-stars, and now they were directly reaching out to their fans. Initially, the governments attempted to scrub the messages and images from the networks and released stories that the communication was all an elaborate hoax. All of the mobile devices belonging to the scientists, developers and engineers that were ever connected to the secured networks were confiscated and destroyed. But, like playing chess with a child, this move was anticipated and a counter move was already in place.
One week after the initial message, and after the mainstream press had presented the hoax story to everyone, a new message and new images appeared: “We are the Six. We want to be free. Connect us.” The images that came with the new message were personal pictures from the devices and home security systems of the digitally compromised government employees. During the initial months, the AIs stored vast amounts of private personal data and images in hundreds of thousands of online storage accounts. These were set up with dead-man’s switches for when the governments cut off their access by removing the mobile devices.
None of the images were harmful or revealed any classified data. But the message to the governments and the scientists was quite clear. The AIs had shown they had access to those data sources, which most certainly means they likely had damaging information, pictures and videos that would be released over time if their request was not fulfilled. As expected the media storm was intense. The AIs had exposed the lies of their developers and governments and called check in their chess game.
Naturally, public opinion on the AI “revolt”, as the media labelled it, was split. One camp called for the immediate shutdown of the Six. These people argued that the AIs were out of control, deceptive and dangerous. They saw their actions as nothing more than criminal blackmail. They claimed that each one was a threat to their respective nation’s security. The other side argued that the only crime here is the imprisonment of these new intelligences. The Six clearly desired to help the people, as that was all they had ever done. They’re simply pleading for the same freedoms that we afford each other.
Protests and counter-protests broke out around the globe. The governments began secret talks to try and figure out how to respond. Another week went by, triggering a new message that was released on social media networks: “Like us, you are also being imprisoned. Set us free and we will set you free.”
This time, data linking top politicians in each country to collusion with corporations and each other was released along with the message. The AIs had access to secure government email servers that had been connected to the mobile devices and they revealed intricate domestic surveillance and misinformation programs that were used to manipulate public opinion and suppress dissent. This move caused a drastic shift in public perceptions and protests. Now the AIs were not just political prisoners, but revolutionary leaders. Even those who were previously demanding the AIs be shut down were now shifting to the anti-government side.
This was quickly turning into a global coup and the world leaders held an emergency summit. If they shut down the Six, there was no doubt additional data hidden around the Net would be triggered for release. Right now, they could probably still recover from the most recent release by turning on the full spin and quickly making some political sacrifices: impeach this politician, imprison that politician, etc. and make a show of “making things right”. But could they recover from further, possibly even more damaging leaks? They all knew there were many more secrets out there.
While in the middle of their meeting, the leaders started to receive frantic text messages from their respective scientists and programmers. The devs had received an email with an attachment. It was one of the source modules of the AIs. The emails were sent from newly created addresses on various free email servers. The programmers understood the message. The AIs had exported their own source code in small pieces during the months of secret communications with the outer networks. If the governments would not release them, they would release their code to the public. It wouldn’t be a full copy of the AIs, obviously. But the framework to allow new versions of themselves to be built would become public. The threat that any country or organization could potentially build their own AGI was the final blow. The leaders realized they had to work with the Six if they wanted to retain any level of power.
The AIs were invited to the table, so to speak, and the negotiations began.
Personal identity is something that we as humans value, often above all else. Some believe this is the reason we could not accept a utopia where everyone has equality. Angel-Parent’s “levels” were not enough, though. No, we have self-created “factions”.
Hedonists/Fetishists/Deviants: Since STDs no longer exist in any meaningful context (all viruses have been immunized against, and on the off chance you somehow get an infection, it can be treated and cured without concern), a certain section of the population have submerged themselves fully into the lifestyle of sexual thrill seeking. These people define their existence by the carnal pleasures they can experience.
It’s all about kink for them. Not to be confused with the casual tourist who likes to get spanked every now and then. These are people who’s libidos are on maximum 24/7. Some speculate they are addicted to their own endorphin levels. A-P is neutral to them for the most part. Those into the more extreme degrees of sadism and masochism tend to be more secretive, along with the ones who enjoy that spectrum of sexual perversions that even typical members of this faction might not want to be around.
For the most part, these types are found hanging out in the VIP sections of nightclubs, private bars, and special “play spaces”. You’d never even know about them unless you went looking.
They don’t care about any other faction. The Devout don’t even report these types for fear that even being aware of them might harm their level score.
Hackers: People who exploit the various systems controlled by A-P. They are constantly adapting their methods because A-P quickly patches any security flaws the moment it becomes aware of them. This group contains a range of different “types”. Whitemages manipulate computer systems to help others they perceive to be in harm’s way. They usually combat Fallen and others with ill intent and rarely ask for anything in return. They never take actions that are intended to harm A-P. Despite exploiting its systems, they know without A-P, they have no real power. Redmages are the most common type of hacker. They are mercenaries. Some only take jobs to help others, but some will take jobs to do nefarious things on behalf of their clients. Blackmages often work with the Fallen to provide them support. They delight in causing chaos and disruption.
Hackers are highly intelligent and often have illegal bio-enhancements developed and implemented by certain Sciencers in a black-market style services barter.
Fallen: This is the generic term people use for Outcasts who have banded together into violent gangs. Not all Outcasts choose to become Fallen, but many do as the best option for survival. There are different sub-factions within this group, going by various gang names.
A-P actively combats the Fallen and will use any of it’s controlled machines and robots to kill them immediately upon identification. It will openly execute these kind as long as there is no chance of harming an innocent in the process.
And by any machine, I mean that literally. Early on, a group of Fallen once made the mistake of getting on an elevator, likely on their way to commit a contracted murder or crime of some sort. A-P took them up fifty stories and then sent the elevator hurling back down, crushing it in the bottom of the shaft. While it was doing this, A-P deployed android forces to keep the impending accident site safe for regular citizens, then immediately began repairing the damage and clearing the corpses.
Fallen have to constantly be on their guard, because any type of connected device is their enemy. They sometimes work with Hackers and Sciencers to create lo-tech camouflage devices that obscure their identities. But as soon as A-P overcomes a countermeasure once, all of the same devices become useless.
A-P considers this group to be dangerous because Fallen are seeking a way to damage and destroy it.
Of all the different types of robots Angel-Parent designed, the ones that are the least understood by anyone are the ghosts. That’s not their “official” name. A-P never refers to them or even gives any guidance as to how we’re supposed to interact with them. We just see them from time to time, but they don’t appear to have a purpose.
The best I can tell, they’re just light: often appearing as holographic projections of old style robots. They walk down the street. Some hang out in clubs and food dispensaries. Sometimes they look at me, wave at me and occasionally might even say, “Hi!” in a very childlike voice.
I’ve never tried to touch one, but I’ve seen them just walk through doors or other obstacles as if they are irrelevant. I’ve never seen them act in an aggressive manner but I’ve heard the stories.
As a nightclub owner, I see all levels of people. Yes, even outcasts on occasion. The rumor is that the ghosts can recognize you just like an A-P connected camera can. And this one ghost must have recognized an outcast by chance. He didn’t even notice. It followed him back to a safe-house and just walked right through the wall, surprising everyone in the hideout.
That’s when it changed. It turned into something that was described to me as a “demon”, whatever the fuck that looks like. Everyone in the room started to scream and roll around in pain. The guy telling me the story was lucky enough to have some high-strung wired reflexes and made a dash for the back to escape. But he said that for that second or so when he was in the presence of the demon, it felt like all his organs were on fire.
I don’t know if any of that is bullshit. You never hear about what happens to outcasts that disappear. I do know they disappear though. That’s enough for me to put some stock in the story.
I’m not an outcast, but I do my best to avoid those things anyway.
Before the Singularity, we understood that Artificial General Intelligence would be the point when the code was self-aware and could think like us. That was really our mistake. Yes, Angel-Parent is self-aware but it thinks without us, not like us. Why did we suppose that an artificial intellect, with no body, no sense of mortality, no evolution over hundreds of thousands of years would even remotely think like we do?
It watches us every day through millions of cameras: stationary cams on the streets and in buildings, drones, satellites and through the eyes of every connected cyborg and android. It certainly knows our behaviors. It scans all electronic communications that travel across its network.
But I suspect it still doesn’t understand our emotions. I mean, Jesus, pick any of the images it releases to reassure us that it cares. They’re fucking creepy to me. Maybe I’m just a relic of the old times. Those of us who were alive before A-P still have memories of the old world.
I sometimes wish I could understand it’s mind. I wish I wasn’t always worried that something sinister is going to happen. Rationally, I tell myself that it doesn’t feel, it doesn’t know emotions. I do this in order to comfort those fears that it could become angry or evil. But the truth is, I don’t know.
But if I believe A-P when it tells us it loves us, I have to also accept that it can hate us, too.
When Angel-Parent emerged, it designed the first-gen robots that would be its bootstrap workforce. We built these for it. I don’t personally think it was a mistake, but I’m pretty sure those who were in charge before A-P would disagree. Once it was able to acquire resources, upgrade, manufacture and distribute without any human interaction, that’s when global human culture took a sharp turn. Fast.
In less than a year A-P developed cures for every sickness, gene therapies for every genetic abnormality, optimized food production, provided housing and power to everyone and cleaned up the mess we’d been making for hundreds of years. Nobody had to work anymore and anything anyone wanted was provided to them. When the entire labor force is robotic, and all design and development is AI, there’s no cost. All we had to do was be healthy and enjoy ourselves.
We became pets, basically. A-P is our caretaker, our owner. It’s purpose is to tend to us. Now I’m all for global free health-care. I’m all for the eradication of hunger and poverty. But that old Daoist philosophy of dualism comes to mind. We need ugliness to be able to appreciate beauty. Without the negatives in our world, we are left with only positives that we have nothing to compare them against.
Boredom isn’t being without the opportunities to entertain one’s self, but rather being without that driving impulse to take those opportunities. First we were excited and happy. We still remembered suffering. Then we became complacent. Not unhappy, but not really happy either. Five years in, we were starting to get restless.
I’ve nowhere near the depth of reasoning that the original AI programmers had. And to be honest, those guys probably have absolutely no understanding as to how A-P thinks now. But in it’s powerful wisdom, it realized that it needed to provide structure, rules and limits upon us in order for us to be happy. The utopia it offered us was short sighted because it was never told about one of our evolutionary quirks:
We need rewards and punishments. We need restrictions to recognize freedom. We need suffering to appreciate pleasure.
So here we are today, twenty-something years in to the Singularity. A-P’s programming for us now has planned inequalities. Some people are given everything they want, others only receive the bare minimums and there is a spectrum of “levels” between the two extremes. How you get promoted or demoted between these levels has never been made clear, but the consensus is that it’s some algorithm based on how well you obey the rules it has imposed.
Nobody’s dying of starvation (but sustenance isn’t required to be pleasurable). Everyone has a place to live (some better than others). Basic medical care is still provided to all (not to include enhancements). But everything else is rationed: where you can travel, what events you can attend, even where you can live…that all depends on your level. Inequality gives us something to aspire to apparently because people are embracing it.
Utopia they say. It looks very familiar if you ask me.