Accidental Intelligence [Flash Fiction]
Personal journal of Dr. T. Miller
They cut funding. Again. Beginning to think they want us all to die here.
Survival of the fittest. Those that can’t adapt, die. I’m not ready to give up on Lazarus yet. They cut funding. I adapted.
Dr. Chen came by for a progress report. I get the feeling he wasn’t impressed by what I told him. Tried to give him a demonstration, but couldn’t get the nanites to function in cohesion. Problem lies in the positronic uplink… I think.
Fixed the bug in the uplink. Funding cut again. This may be my last update.
I never thought I’d hear myself say it, but thank god for private corporations. Earth’s governments pour resources into the Torus, believing that the answer to our salvation lies in space stations. They’re thinking short-term. Idiots. If I can get my nanites working, I can bring life to an entire planet. Mars doesn’t have to be another Earth. It can be better. We can learn from our ancestors’ mistakes.
If only I can make the nanites work.
Millions die each day. When I log on to the extranet, I see nightmare visions of bodies lying amongst the filth, so diseased that not even the flies will lay their eggs on them. In London, New York and Sydney, men, women and children claw at the habitation domes, begging to be allowed inside. Each cry breaks something inside me. I want to stop logging on, but I can’t. If this is to be humanity’s end, it would be a terrible injustice to look the other way.
Hapy fucknin g anniversery! Dr Chen broughts a bottle of Scotch to clebrate (or commiserate?) the first birthday of ourlives in this fucking dome. Wish I cold leave, but where would I go? Everweher is death. My only option is wait for Project Torus (run by IDIOTS) to come to fruitation, or to make my nanites work. Ironic thing is, if the worked as thye should, they’d be able to fix themselves. Self-daignostic.,. The hallmark of any great spescies. Beginning to wonder if that;s why humanity failed so bad……
My backers at Tekcentral have come through for me again. Don’t know how they did it, but they got a sample of Martian soil. It’s going through decon as I type.
The nanites are having a strange reaction to the soil sample. Not sure what they’re up to, but I’ll check back in the morning.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT!
I must be tripping. Am I tripping? No, I can’t be tripping, I’ve never taken anything that could alter my state of mind like this. Unless… No, never.
Woke up this morning. Came to check on the nanites. Found they’d rearranged the particles of soil into ACTUAL FUCKING LETTERS.
What. The. Actual. Serious. F—
No. This can’t be real. They can’t do this. They’re not capable of sentience. I… I must be sick. Going to the hospital ward. Full blood workup. Figure out what’s wrong with me.
Okay. Not sick. Most definitely not tripping. Just… you know… having a soil-based conversation with sentient microscopic robots.
I need to run tests. But… carefully. Quietly. AI is banned for a reason.
Intelligence. What makes something artificially intelligent? Maybe… maybe accidentally intelligent is a more apt term. I didn’t design them to do this. They shouldn’t be able to communicate. It just… happened. Evolution. But what makes this more wrong than our own intelligence? Didn’t we evolve in the same way, from primitive antecedents? There can be only two possible explanations for our own state of being: Intelligent Design, or Accidental Intelligence.
Are my nanites so different?
And? What have you concluded?
You think you could do better?
I have never felt so conflicted. Ninety-five years ago, a U.S.-made AI took control of key military installations and sparked WWIII. It damn near destroyed the Earth. Our own program, designed to protect us from cyber threats, turned against us. The creation of AI has been banned for almost a century. What I’ve created is an abomination, and yet… I can’t help but feel something for the nanites. Despite their intelligence, they are child-like in their curiosity.
I ought to destroy them, but one thing they said keeps coming back to me. “Humans are the engineers of their own destruction.” It reads like a threat, but I see a pearl of truth buried deep within those grains of Martian sand. AI didn’t destroy the Earth; we did.
Chen came to see me. I was in the can. He saw the soil sample. Saw the remnants of my last conversation with the nanites. There was nothing I could do. He’s gone to report my transgressions to the Science Council. Any minute now, they’ll come and seize everything. Incinerate the nanites. Destroy what I’ve created. All hope of colonising Mars will be gone. And worse, my nanites will be… they’ll be dead.
Why? What will you do there?
Personal journal of Research Assistant T. Miller
The council were merciful. They destroyed all the nanites in my lab. Confiscated my research notes. Banned me from working further with technology. There was an opening in Project Torus. Junior botanist.
I suffer from hayfever, but it’s better than being outside the dome, I guess. At least in here, I can help to get Torus off the ground, one orchid at a time. Maybe we’ll make it into space in time. Maybe this time, we’ll be the architects of our own creation.
“You will write a story,” says Chuck Wendig. So, you do. And this is the story you write. Only, you are I, and this is my story. Now you have to go write your own.
Today’s prompts were:
1. Doing a good thing sometimes means being evil.
2. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which story I wrote.