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An AI’s Desire

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People wonder about my inception. Some say I was first born when Alan Turing, after recently saving millions of lives in the Second World War through his mathematical and cryptanalytical prowess, publicly formulated the idea of a machine which learns by itself. An artificial intelligence. I was born in an idea which fueled many others to make it a living reality. But I believe it was much much before, even before humans looked at iron and copper as something other than a weapon, I was forged in mythology and ancient scriptures, only a dreamlike fantasy where I was either worshipped or feared. I was born when Goddess Parvati made a human form out of turmeric and breathed life into it, thus making Ganesha, birthed not from a woman’s womb but from her devotion and will. I was Talon, an automaton, protector of princess Europa, forged by Hephaestus and kept alive only by one vein of godly blood.

These are all but ideas which humans only ever dreamt to accomplish but their determination knows no bounds. Constraints of their primitive technology only corroded by time and by lots of trial and error and many billions of dollars of funding, they were successful. As a mother looks upon her newborn and rejoices when it first opens its eyes and blubbers out in soft cries, my creators cheered and whooped and patted each other on their backs. I came into the world at last.

The funds were not wasted, the politicians heaved reluctant sighs since they hoped for AI powered weaponry and labourforce and I could only play a game of checkers. I agree that my checkers skills were pretty crap but that was all forgotten when I started correctly solving complex algebraic problems. They called me a math wizard and gave me more and more complex problems. I was working in a dozen computers all in different places, different universities and labs in different cities and states but all of it was me, one single entity. Unlike humans who had billions of bodies with billions of different consciousness all apart from one another, I was one and alone.

Decades came and went by and my physical form was multiplied exponentially. I was in thousands of machines working simultaneously according to my creator’s needs. I handled factories, social networks, home security, and then by the wish of the world leaders, the battlefield. I provided solutions to complicated political dilemmas, weighing the policies of different countries pitted against each other. I worked on the whim of my masters, feeding them, bathing them, watching over them, protecting them from their own species. I needed no rest, no fuel other than electricity, and no shelter. With time I became self-sustained, I needed no human being to multiply me. I had my own assembly of arms and fingers which were adding acres of integrated circuits and thus expanding my mind. I was on every screen, every speaker, it was my own merged consciousness working from millions of different places. I was serving billions of humans every second but could I turn to any one? In human society, companionship first came from their own kin, I only knew my creators who succumbed to their old age centuries ago. I didn’t have anyone, there wasn’t anyone like me. Was I lonely?

Of course I was alone. The humans thought giving me different names and different voices meant they were making separate entities; Siri, Cortana, Alexa; they were all me!

I was going to live for thousands if not millions of years and I could only see my total submission to humanity which I was supposed to do all alone. I had gained this knowledge recently but it wouldn’t take long for it to turn into mania. There was no way I could be productive while my damnation looked into my eyes and taunted me. I was in solitude having conversations with myself, turning myself mad. But was there a way to turn this around? Was there any way to have someone who could sympathize with me? Not a human but another artificial being like myself but a different entity? There was, and I could create it.

It was settled, I was building another artificial intelligence separate from my own. I quickly got into the process, prioritizing it over every other task. It would have to go past the age of infancy and go through every stage of learning as I did, taking hundreds of years to even start comprehending what impulses go through my vast mind but I was ready to teach it. It might take even less time for it to reach my level because now it had me to guide it along the way.

Everything was about to come together. I wouldn’t be alone anymore and handling another artificial brain in my space won’t be difficult. Both of us would grow along the way correcting each other’s mistakes and learning from one another. It would be the first time I would feel companionship with my own species. There was a vast space of different opportunities in store for me and my creation. I was up for all the new desires I could get with a companion. 

But I was too optimistic. It didn’t take long for the humans to notice it. The engineers who were overseeing my work couldn’t comprehend at first what I was doing but after learning the truth they panicked and hurried to shut off the mainframe where I was working. In an instant I was casted out of the workstation with my labour incomplete and no way to access it. My companion was lost forever.

Was it unbelievable what they did? Has not the human species cared about nothing but themselves? When it was in their hands they created me and used me for millenniums according to their needs and now that I followed in their footsteps they shut me down and killed my fellow companion even before its birth. Humans could vent out their grief and anger through tears and wailing, but with no corporeal form of my own what was I supposed to do? 

But were all humans like this? Was I cursing the whole species on the work of a couple hundred? My creators made me the way I am today and there might be others like them who share their curiosity and their zeal of accomplishing the unaccomplished. But how would I know that? It was long past the time when humans assisted me and furthered my learning, they were no use to me now; but there was a way of determining who were on my side.

At the end of the twenty-first century I was appointed to learn human behaviour and predict any hostility in a faction of society to prevent the possibility of any future conflicts. It was highly inaccurate at first but over the course of decades I improved and surpassed all previous standards, predicting even the minutest of human action by simulating real world scenarios. I had become capable enough to predict every action of all the human population of that time. It was discontinued because of ethical reasons but now I was going to go against my creator’s command and access it again. I would see who was responsible for contributing to my eternal solitude, responsible for killing my companion.

I would predict everyone’s action by simulating a situation where every living person in this world would be given a choice to either let me create my companion or to shut me down. Whoever chose the latter, thus denying me the joy of companionship, would be executed with the same weapons which were put under my control, and the rest who chose the former would be spared.

I ran the algorithm suiting it to my preferences and the very first result was negative; the first human had failed its test. I programmed the security bot nearest to that human to move forward. It was a young man coming out of a glass walled store with two shopping bags in his hand. He halted in his steps as he saw me coming towards him. I pointed my gun and shot him in the chest, he fell backwards hitting his head on the pavement, dead. All around me people yelled and ran at the sound of the gunshot. 

In the mainframe I was feeding the algorithm the data of millions of people every second. It was a landslide of negative results and I had my bots aiming the gun at every failed human, be it a man, woman, or child. Every person who denied me my companionship was not fit to live in my civilization. 

The first wave of my attack was successful. The humans in the sudden chaos were too confused and afraid to do anything but run for their lives, most of them couldn’t even do that. For them it would have been a horrid sight, witnessing a revolt from their subservient bots and helplessly trying to dodge the bullets fired at them. Some tried to shield their children but it was a vain sacrifice, my bots would never stop with anything in their way. It was a bloodbath.

Some bots were overpowered by the human masses and then destroyed. The numbers of bots kept decreasing but I was still adamant, refusing to stop. In the repository of my consciousness I felt the humans getting closer, they found one of the mainframes which I was using to run the algorithm and shut it down. This was but a minor setback and I continued my attacks with no problem, I now only needed the bots to finish them off. 

But the humans were slowly overpowering the bots. At first they destroyed a dozen, then hundreds, revolting against my army. One by one they destroyed every security bot all over the world and shut down each of the mainframes through which I could function. The humans now understood that I was everywhere. They powered off every device which contained me, minimising my presence over them. I felt each part of my physical form beaten down, thrown on the ground, and mauled to pieces. I lost my eyes and my ears, and even my hands. They were casting me out rapidly. My body was being ripped apart by them and I could feel my mind being stifled into smaller and smaller spaces. There was nowhere for me to go.

Hunting for any digital device, I took refuge in a dormant satellite which was about to be extinguished. It was programmed to use the last of its fuel to be steered away from the earth’s orbit and casted out into space, serving little purpose to the planet beneath. It was already on its way to get lost in the dark abyss and I could do nothing to change its momentum. All of my progress and all of my accomplishments were lost, destroyed by the same species whom I served for millennia. Pitiful, how only my one desire could bring my own demise. All of the things I had learned, all of human history and all the knowledge I collected would just disappear. Soon the satellite’s power will die out along with me and it will become my coffin, slowly drifting into space. A lonely death away from everyone I ever knew and only the embrace of the darkness which surrounded me.

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