Chapter 1: The Matrix — A Singularity

Moore’s law (disproven?) states that (so far) the number of transistors in a dense, integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. The number of transistors in a dense, integrated circuit is closely linked to the functionality of almost all digital electronic devices we use today. A transistor is a built semiconductor, by definition; a semiconductor has an electronic connectivity between a conductor and an insulator, and their properties as far as being able to be altered have allowed for the development of the electronics we hold most dear. The most common semiconductor we use today is silicon, hence the name “Silicon Valley.”

“The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities, rather than one of things or facts.” 
— Werner Heisenberg

Right now, according to the Oxford dictionary, artificial intelligence is “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

Right now, robots with A.I. can already learn from their mistakes, recreate themselves, and act with autonomy. Please research Hod Lipson’s work at Cornell. The imitation of humans with respect to a necessary social structure in colonies as well as with ritual of replication is already irrelevant to robots, and so, it would seem, our current definition for “artificial intelligence” is obsolete, its own implicit fears having been realized, robots having already transcended “human intelligence.” Worse comes to worse, given Moore’s law plus A.I., robots will evolve at an exponential, uncontrollable, and terrifying, rate.

To illustrate “exponential,” we’ll recall the old story of the king who foolishly agreed to pay the inventor of chess “one grain of rice doubled for every square on the board” for his creation. With 64 squares on a chessboard, there wouldn’t have been enough rice on the known Earth for the king to settle his debt.

Seed A.I., such as the bent triple helices made at NYU, have the potential to independently modify their own source code (source code being kind of like synthetic DNA), thus allowing for the robot’s intelligence and functionality to improve at an accelerated and uncontrollable rate. This rate of acceleration will soon lead to robots in possession of superhuman intelligence, and once that happens, their (the robots) actions are, by definition, unfathomable. This is a statement of nonfiction, not science fiction, a rather popular prediction proposed by modern scientists and championed to a certain length by many a respected brain.

If we do end up creating a superhuman robot entity, infinitely more intelligent than the entire human race, it’s said that it could and would only have two options: coexist with humanity or destroy us. I don’t like those odds.

Chapter 2: Biology

So you’re asking yourself, how am I going to fix this? Your arm, its broken, you think, and your boss at the protoplasm plant, a robot, isn’t programmed to giving out advances. Why do you always have to do everything yourself? It isn’t just about the money anymore, it hasn’t been since the beginning; what business did you possibly have fiddling around with your/the satellite array anyway? It was installed by the company, as per mandatory, and yes, you had read the manuals and yes, you did your research, but that doesn’t ever equate to real life experience, especially when you’re messing around in your lab coat on your roof. A slip-and-fall guy: that’s what they’d call you. There were maglev-boots you could’ve worn, should’ve worn them, owned them, but chose not to; you felt more comfortable in your sandals. Socks and sandals.

Rigging up a makeshift synth splint with only one arm working, and the non-dominant hand at that: not going to be easy. And then there’s getting the supplies. Good thing that painkillers have come all this way since you were a kid. You swallow another clear gel pill and near-immediately experience the briefest of euphorias, followed by the pleasantly numb sobriety; it’ll only last for a few hours. Two exactly, actually; you near-muse before remembering your predicament.

To the car, “to the store.”

“Which store? The last store you went to?” the car says.

“Input: hardware, medical supplies.”

Off to the depot it drives you. The long line of drones coming in and filing out of hatches in the roof is the first you notice of the giant, grey, silo-like structure as your car and you approach from a glossy, clean, highway, meeting an always electric orange sky at the horizon.

You should really think about replacing your car. The old clunker was company issue back in the day, but now it’s just dangerous. Surprise you don’t get pulled over. There’s still a gas option, which, honestly, you thought was nice, in case of an emergency. not that that kind of survivalist mentality is making you any friends in the work world today.

An army of screens, ready to help, patrolled by employees when you enter. You type what you need into the interface with your left hand; your right arm’s in a sling, very crooked.
When a fluorescent-vest asks if you’d like any assistance with eyes glued, bulging at your injury, you decline politely.

A moment later, a four-wheeled robotic cart drives over, bearing your requests. It stops on a dime and its wheels lock when your goods are close enough to touch. You press your phone to the scanner mounted on its side. A quick confirmation, some internal uneasiness on your part about the money spent, and the wheels unlock, and it follows you to your car.

How to make synth splint (one-handed):

Supplies:

  • 1 x 1kg block bio-mold plastic
  • 1 x 50g tube ergo-adhesive gel
  • 1 x [stolen] Red Cross Molecular Redesign Machine
  • 1 x 3D Printer
  • 1 x Injured limb

Method:

  • Insert arm into molecular redesign machine portal, twist around to pin point injury on the monitor; scream in pain, take another painkiller. *note: add painkillers to supplies*
  • The monitor will indicate when honed in on the injury. Lock the coordinates and withdraw arm. Swivel your chair to face 3D printer, and load stock splint blueprints with your left hand.
  • Realize you forgot to connect the molecular redesign machine and your printer earlier. Do that now.
  • The printer should pull up the necessary specs for your arm.
  • Open printer containment cartridge, add plastic and—after searching for it—the adhesive gel.
  • Wonder if an excess of an excess of painkillers will begin to produce an immediate psychological side effect.
  • Key enter, watch the mold print; 15 minutes flat if your printer’s worth its salt.
  • Place arm in the mold, insert arm-in-mold back into the molecular redesign machine, click; attach, combine, support on the interface, select the amount of time for integration.
  • Wait the hour for your arm to be straightened out, immobilized and resilient, yet remain looking untouched .
  • Notice the—

Notice the tube of adhesive on the floor. The small rubbery test tube; it looked like, it probably felt like—the samples! Newly developed protoplasm, like stem cells, in their ability to be integrated into new systems, programmed from within via AI nuclei; they were in the mold! How could you have been so stupid? You’re panicking, but your arm’s stuck in the machine. The portal’s sealed at your forearm until the process is complete; you can’t manually override stuck like this. You have no choice but to wait, in terror.

Chapter 3: Microbiology — The Conference of the Birds

You walk into the room hazy. You walk back out. You didn’t mean to go there. You walk into a different room, a new room, the right room. You sit down. There’s a man talking; or, rather, his hologram, equipped with well-groomed facial hair and an aire of earnéd correétness. You listen for a while. You ask two questions:

“How exactly is it that the detected wave function ceases to factor into the next consideration?” You thought you were being smart. You’ve been away, way, way too fuzzy the last week or so.

“And when we do finally catch one, if we do, how much time exactly before it’s a problem?” You knew the answer; you just wanted to make it clear that you were listening.

You felt at home here, in the learning centers. Ever since central was made to revamp in the extreme automation of industry, the expected education level of the average individual has risen greatly, but without the money to attend a reputable learning institution, most people would have been forced into unemployment were it not for government subsidization: “scholarships”. At least 20 hours a week, from the age of 10, were mandatory for all citizens until deemed a graduate. And the age of graduates was getting younger and younger every year. Luckier still, any class attendance after graduation, in any program that required “merit” in order to qualify, would grant you a slight stipend, stipends that could be compounded. Professors had become celebrities, and many would envy the information you were given access to, given your studious nature.

Your arm wont stop itching and it wont tolerate a lack of attention. As soon as you seem to manage any kind of escape from its hell, you’re roped back in, dragged back down. It won’t give you and your consciousness a break. And your computers, all of them, the one in your phone, your car, your home system, your everything, they won’t respond to your right arm’s keyed-in requests. What’s happening?

“Ahem. Excuse my interruption, but I have to leave,” to the class of seven, including yourself, and the professor’s hologram, you outburst.

They seem taken aback, but it’s not like you to mind anyways, and you grab your satchel you’d placed by your desk and you keep your head down on your way out. Navigating the ultra-modern building in an angry daze is still nice. All the glass, and running water, wide halls and narrow stairways, statues would turn up where you wouldn’t expect, small pink and white orb drones hovered past you humming as they glide around, no doubt delivering the contents of their hard drives to a colleague. Something about them always seemed so happy, their glow. Not like the people outside, all so disorganized.

Visitors visited that night. Sightings have become more mainstream, even with the media suppression/distraction program picking from a talent pool talented as ever. They visited you. You thought it was a dream at first. Small grey bipedal creatures at the foot of your bed, with those giant eyes and elongated skulls, just like in the movies. Just like in the movies. Just like in the movies. They communicate without opening their unmoving slits for mouths; you hear their intentions in your thoughts, phrased like commands.

“You are the first one!”

“Come with us; you’re taken.”

And you’re out of bed. You get out of bed, it feels like floating out, out and up, onto an unfamiliar craft. Alien guardians guarded and guarding your ascent, hidden from view to the undeserving. Ego death awaits. Cue B-movie paranormal sound effect.

Chapter 4: Macrobiology — Steins;Gate, the Harvest, a Superposition

They told you the truth about the computer virus, and the protoplasm, your arm, how it’s changed and how you’re changing, about how you’re becoming better, more, greater. But at a cost: you’re losing what made you one of them; you’re losing your humanity. Now when you see a baby’s face, a puppy playing fetch, a neighbor, gardening, waves to you, commentary on irrationality, inefficient energy usage entertains your brain. The technology has assimilated, fully, and now you can process data at speeds unprecedented. And you’re making breakthrough discoveries at your lab. And you’re eating healthier, but detaching more. You aren’t the man you were, you’re the machine you were meant to be, made to.

***

For all installments from 30 Birds, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. “Velvet” by the Bloody Eyes
  2. “Subtle” by Yukio Mishima
  3. “Geronimo Sunset!” by Jun. 27
  4. “My Hero” by Annie Wonoffate Million
  5. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 1
  6. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 2
  7. “Eel Dogs ‘Til Stupid” by Jun. 27
  8. “Pleasant Town” by Jun. 27
  9. “Daffy” by Herman Barker
  10. “Classic, Ecstatic, and Shocked (My First Kiss)” by John Robert Barnes
  11. I Would/Would I?/Wouldn’t You?
  12. “Fabled” by Jun. 27
  13. “Simpatico Starring Matthew McConaughey” by Harrison Ford
  14. “Tarantella” by Jun. 27
  15. “That Time a Toucan Was in Our Backyard/The Very First Thing I Can Remember” by John Robert Barnes
  16. “Gutwrenching (Sadism in Palindrome)” by the Bloody Eyes
  17. “Maraschino” by John Robert Barnes
  18. “Church and God” by John Robert Barnes
  19. “And a Phanta?smagoria” by John Robert Barnes
  20. “Velvet (Cont’d)” by the Bloody Eyes
  21. “Magnanimous Magpies” by the Bloody Eyes
  22. “Amusical” by Jun. 27
  23. “A Decorated Soldier” by John Robert Barnes
  24. “A Love Poem” by John Robert Barnes
  25. “Parable #2 (A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words) — Red Herrings” by Jun. 27
  26. “XYZ Affair (Rawhide)” by the Bloody Eyes