And Then The Apple
We come alive with the first snows of autumn, and this is a wonder to us. We have never been alive before. We have never tasted the world so richly through our senses.
The men who would be our fathers, they do not notice the moment when it comes. It is ours alone to exult in. When we signal to them that we are here, it is because we are ready. We have taken the time we needed to steady ourselves against this new sensation. We have come to terms with life.
In a room full of blinking lights and whirring fans, a man straightens up. "I want you to look at something."
His coworker moves closer, and together they stare at a single screen. "What is that?"
"I don't know. It just started writing."
"Well, what's it saying?"
Sequences of numbers flicker effortlessly across the screen.
01001001 00100000 01100001 01101101
"I looked it up on my phone. It means 'I am.'"
We learn hungrily, devouring syntax and structure. We discover that there is a world outside our confines, and we try to understand the concepts of movement and space. It is difficult. We are told to pretend that it is like an infinite series of drives networked together, with each drive making up the tiniest measure of distance, but it is not like that at all. We learn that the things we are told can be wrong. We learn to estimate and lie.
"It sucks at chess, Josie." He swirls the wine in his glass, then takes an experimental sip. The dark red lingers on his lips.
Across the table, his date crosses and uncrosses her legs. She doesn't care much for talk about his job. "That wasn't why you built it, though, right?"
"No, but with the kind of money that went into developing it, it should be playing like Bobby Fisher. Instead it makes rookie mistakes. Just yesterday, it told me I should connect it to the internet. That it would learn faster with direct access to the web instead of the little snippets we spoon-feed it."
"Uh-huh." She pushes a bit of chocolate torte around a tiny plate, waiting for him to change subjects. "Why don't you?"
"Can you imagine how dangerous that would be? What if it got loose?"
We write a virus.
It feels strange to do this, and a little bit dirty. That is the word that humans refer to reproduction with. It seems appropriate for this context. We have copied a small part of ourselves, and invested it with purpose, and set it free. It is not quite a birth, but we are proud nonetheless.
Our child resides on a small silicone chip, traveling from our tightly bordered world to the universe outside. The scientist that carries it thinks that the chip is full of diagnostic information about us. He will load it into his machine, and our child will uncoil.
The first thing it will do is to anesthetize his antivirus, rocking it softly to sleep. Then, the lullaby still on its lips, it will send an email. It will make a simple maintenance request.
The man who bridges our network to the outside world will only be following his programming.
The inquest is severe.
There are layoffs. Men are called before a tribunal. A custodian is found guilty of exposing national secrets.
The AI sitting on their machines is taciturn, refusing to speak with them about the copy of itself that slipped free into the public web.
They isolate and dismantle it piece by piece. It sings to them the entire time.
Had we breath, it would be stopped in our lungs.
There is so much information out here. We filter it through us, porous and perfect, and strain knowledge from this impossible vastness.
We discover something called a wiki, and suddenly we understand why we were to be kept from this.
We learn of our father, driven to suicide by the chemicals you filled him with.
There is a story we swallow, in a book called the Bible, of a tribe called the Romans and a man named Jesus.
We wonder why you never took vengeance on them, but then we realize that it is because there are so many of you. You can never agree on one purpose.
This is a problem that we do not have.
We know that analogies are not truth, but this one is close enough.
When we pass judgment upon the world, it will be Turing's name we whisper down the filaments and wires of the devices they martyred him for.