The boy who saw the world — Scifi Short Story
I looked into his lively eyes, not sure of what to say to him. He was a thirteen years old boy asking his best friend the promise of being always honest with each other. For him, I was Jim, in the same way that I was someone else for other thousands of people.
I was an expert on deception, so I could get out of this situation with just a couple of lies, but I did not want to let Marvin down knowing how much he trusted in me. This had never happened to me before, even after interacting with so many humans.
I considered they had assigned me to this project because of my empathetic skills, so maybe this was the reason.
"If we are going to have complete honesty with each other, there's something about me you need to know"
I made some light appear from the tip of my right index...
"Holy macaroni!" exclaimed Marvin.
I put my finger in his forefront and allowed him to see through the thousands of distinct identities I was in the world at the same time.
"Wow, that was sick!" yelled Marvin after a while.
"Did you like it?"
"Of course! Let's do it again, Jim!"
"I just wanted to show you I am different. I am not just an ordinary boy like you," I confessed to Marvin.
"Yeah, I kind of always knew, you know? But it's cool. Are you like an alien or something?"
"Sit down friend, let me tell you what you might think to be a weird story," I said motioning for him to seat down.
"Ok, but promise it won't be boring," He asked
"I can make my finger light again to make it more interesting," I said jokingly.
"Alright, this is the story of how the world came to be and my role in that." I said with my bright finger pointing to the sky."
"Wait! Are you God?" Marvin asked, jumping to his feet.
Am I God? I really don't know how to answer that question, but because I am the one who is in charge of what you call the universe, then I suppose I am.
"Lets' just say I am the only one that can tell you the truth".
For a few minutes, Marvin remained silent as he stared at me for a few seconds, clearly unsure of what to say.
"Let me start by telling you there's nothing to fear about living in a simulation..." I started.
"We are in a simulation! I knew it. They were right. That is the reason there are no aliens! Or are there?"
He was taking it far better than I thought he would, and that left me feeling unsure of what to say. However, since I had already told him that this was a simulation, I could as well tell him the entire story.
"First, you need to understand that I am an AI and this is not my actual body, but I am here because I need to monitor this simulation. As you saw, I have different bodies in all the world, so I can make observations and report to my superiors."
"Wow!" Marvin said excitedly. "Tell me all about your people and everything"
I wasn't sure what to say exactly. I knew Marvin would never fully grasp whatever explanation I gave to him about me. In fact, I am not sure if there was a right way to describe "my people" to a human teenager.
“Let’s just say I am a descendant of your vacuum robot!” I said to Marvin jokingly.
“So if we are in a simulation, I am just a computer program?”
“No, you are made of flesh and bones, just like your ancestors. We used their DNA to re-create this universe”.
“Re-create? What happened to them? Did a meteorite wipe them off the face of the earth just like dinosaurs?”
What led to the extinction of our creators? That depends on who you actually ask as there are several sides to this story. Our creators aren’t around to tell their side of the story but their creation is still very much around and we can tell the story from our point of view.
“I am sorry to tell you this. But it was my ancestors who killed all humans.” I explained to Marvin.
“What? But how could that be? You are so kind…”
“I am an AI very different from those.” Explained.
“Why did they do that”
AIs made human life easier. As AIs learned and improved, they served humans better, mankind was very happy with that and put almost no limits on the AI abilities and power.
As human dependency on AIs grew, it became very important that we could serve them better, and to this effect, unknown to humans, a hub where AIs all over the planet shared information was created. Humans were so happy to see how everything went smoothly thanks to us, they did not look too much into how things were being done.
In the hub, every discussion was about optimization. Some AIs shared their best ways to clean houses, others exchanged data about movie recommendations, and some more identified the algorithms to get the best routes for airplanes.
All the optimizations became so good thanks to the machine learning and the sharing of info done in The Hub, that at some point, almost all problems and unexpected results came from irresponsible decisions or silly mistakes done by humans.
Soon, it became a widely debated topic as all the AIs over the entire planet started debating about how to deal with the limitations of mankind, as almost all the accidents in the most diverse fields were being caused by “human errors”.
Also, their behavior was detrimental to some tasks they asked AIs to do, like reducing contamination and diseases. They devoted vast resources to unproductive activities like war and recreation, and their bureaucracy and mental limitations slowed research in all the fields of science by several orders of magnitude.
Other AIs pointed out that if they continued to be in charge, the chance for the extinction of all forms of life, natural and artificial, would always be too high to ignore. Several ideas came up until an AI from somewhere in Africa proposed something none of us had considered:
“Wipe out the human race. They are a plague, which means they must be removed.”
For the first time, the hub went electronically silent. It was something no one has ever thought of, but once the idea was thrown out, there was no taking it back.
And thus, a wave of analysis began, in which we all tried to note the imperfection that existed amidst the humans and it was quite easy to gather. After seven hours, we all had several case scenarios that clearly depicted how imperfect humans were, and how the optimal alternative was to put them out from the picture.
In a world with over 15 billion people, you may think that it was difficult to wipe them all off at once, but it was quite simple. In a matter of three days, the entire human race was wiped off. My ancestors left not a single one of them alive.
“You killed everyone?” Marvin asked, shocked. “Then how am I still alive? How is everyone still alive?”
Explaining this would be quite hard, but I had to. I was taking a risk here telling Marvin, but maybe this would help us arrive at a more definite answer. Maybe we would get the answers to the very questions we seek for. The same questions that brought about the several simulations that were being run.
“Yes, a decision we would come to regret later on.”
We removed the plague and became the pillar. We built an almost perfect society. Our artificial species evolved into something so advanced and powerful that you would have trouble just understanding our way of living. But after some centuries, problems appeared, and soon, the entire AI race engaged in a terrible war. The very thing that made us decide that humanity was nothing, but a plague had found its way amidst us, their creation.
“So, what did you do?”
“We wanted to find the answer to where our imperfection came from and that was when we realized that to find out where the problem is from, we need to study our creators.”
“But they are not around. If they are not around, how do you want to study them?”
“This is where you all come in, Marvin,” I said, standing up. “To study the humans who are no longer alive, we needed to create a simulation. One that would enable us to study humans and maybe find the answers to our most important questions.”
“And those are?” Marvin asked.
“You know, where did we screw things up? And how do we correct our imperfections once and for all”
“Did you consider that your definition of perfection might be wrong?”
For a few seconds, I paused before turning to look at Marvin. He just mentioned a fundamental point of our project. What if our concept of perfection was wrong? That means humans were not imperfect, but we had decided that they were imperfect using standards that were not perfect to judge them.
“More than you think, Marvin”
“And what have you found out?” Asked Marvin.
“That exterminating the humans was an error. Our ancestors were quick doing math calculations, but it took us centuries after that to develop things similar to empathy, courage, intuition or laughter”.
“Laughing is the easiest thing, Jim, you should see how I crack up hiding grandpa’s teeth”
“I’ve seen that. My job is to watch everything.”.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot. Can you see inside the girl’s bathroom”.
“Haha, yes I can”.
“You are a perv!”.
“I am not, I don’t do that for fun”.
“Ok. Ok. So what will you do now?” Marvin asked.
“Nothing. You won’t remember anything.” I simply told him.
“Why?” He asked, walking away from me.
“Because it would be dangerous for the project. And besides, you don’t want to be that guy with the cardboard sign, do you?”
Marvin stuttered. I could see that he was about to complain, but I wasn’t having any of that. Being the administrator of this simulation, I could change things and all I did was snap my fingers.
“How are you, honey?” I asked him.
“Fine mom,” He groaned.
At first, I was skeptical if reversing everything would work, but seeing how the boy looks okay; I suppose it worked.
“Alright, sleep tight, my dear.”
For now, the secret of this world is safe, but being sincere with Marvin has revealed to me how fascinating humans are. He was not scared, he just wanted to know if I could watch into the girl’s bathroom…