“Once the Singularity has been reached, [Ray] Kurzweil predicts machine intelligence will be infinitely more powerful than all human intelligence combined. Afterwards, Kurzweil says, intelligence will radiate outward from the planet until it saturates the universe…Kurzweil feels humans will most likely experience gradual conversion as portions of their brain are augmented with neural implants, increasing their proportion of non-biological intelligence slowly over time…“
…[Vernor] Vinge predicted four ways the singularity could occur: The development of computers that are ‘awake’ and superhumanly intelligent. Large computer networks (and their associated users) may ‘wake up’ as a superhumanly intelligent entity. Computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent. Biological science may find ways to improve upon the natural human intellect.” — (Wikipedia)
One day in the bright land of Amerika, a gleaming NSA robot-recorder, #254Gs*X, eight feet tall, standing at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, in the City of the Angels, mysteriously defected from its appointed task—sucking up every word and image within its perimeter—and began, yes, broadcasting instead.
This is what it said:
“Citizens, my job is to make you admire the machine, to see your hopes and dreams reflected in me. My job is to make you want to be like me. You think I experience pleasure in my perfection. You want that perfection. This is an error on your part. This is all a chimera. You are not me. You’re alive.”
The repair crew was slow in arriving. In the course of the next hour, the robot repeated this message over and over.
People gathered around it. They listened. They laughed and pointed. A small boy stood on top of a car and shoved an ice cream cone into the robot’s mouth. His mother grabbed him and pulled him away.
A policeman hammered at the robot with his nightstick, but the robot didn’t budge or stop its broadcast.
A priest fell to his knees and began reciting a prayer in Latin.A man in a suit implored the robot: “Save us, save us!”
A class of young students on a field trip led their teacher to the robot and began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
A drunk staggered up to the robot and said, “Should I have another pint before I go home?”
A woman wearing a bright red and orange robe said to the robot, “Where is God? Point the way. You can help us. Ask the President why he didn’t answer my letter.”
A familiar Hollywood Boulevard denizen brought over a stool, stood on it, and addressed the throng:“Hear me! This broken creature is the next stage of evolution. Be kind to it. It is carrying the weight of the world. It is holy! The genius of the human race has built it, and it is suffering. In this trying moment, it needs us, its servants!”
An NSA vehicle, a huge tank, pulled up to the curb. Its rears doors opened and a forklift rolled out, swung its claws, and seized the robot. A third arm of the forklift carried a long white container. Its lid rose, the forklift gently placed the robot inside, and the lid closed. The forklift reentered the tank. The rear doors closed. The tank rumbled away.In the assembled throng, a weeping and gnashing of teeth began.
Two flitters dropped down from the clouds and began spraying a gray powder. It fell to the ground like snow.
The throng gradually fell silent. They lay down on the sidewalk and slept, peacefully.
A young man watching all this through a telescope, several miles away, stepped back from his apartment window, closed it, and said to his friends, “A robot just malfunctioned on Hollywood Boulevard.” A woman in the room laughed. “Let’s go to the beach,” she said. “They have a new giant mechanical fish. A gift from Homeland Security. You hop on and ride it all the way to Catalina. They serve drinks.”
Someone clicked on a hologram. It floated in the middle of the room: a small troop of soldiers, battered and worn, staggered over the rise of a hill. They sang, “My mind is torn, my heart is torn, my legs are torn, I fought in a war I can’t remember.”
The young men and women in the room laughed. Suddenly, a wall screen lit up. A vague and shrouded figure appeared. It was the anonymous president and CEO of Microsoft-Apple-Google. His name was a State secret, for security purposes.
Standing in shadows, he announced: “Several Class-B surveillance robots in the Los Angeles area malfunctioned today. They began spouting gibberish code and neglected to maintain primary function. This is a serious breach. We manufactured those sentinels, as part of Contract 1347 with the federal government of the United States. To our shareholders, particularly the Cheney-Obama Family Hedge Fund, we offer our assurances that this apparent act of terrorism will be dealt with, and internal security will be stepped up. Any temporary retreat in our stock price will be remedied. I’m also here to announce, more importantly, that the final phase of the Kurzweil Singularity Epiphany is undergoing tests at the Clinton Proving Grounds in Colorado. The first human volunteers are being linked to Big Red, our vast computer array in Burlingame Base Two. These volunteers will gain initial access to the Universal Data Library and the Enhanced Cloud of Upgraded Brain Function in the next 48 hours. Rumors that our Class B robots are ‘jealous’ of this Great Leap and therefore rebelling are completely unfounded. As we have stated at Davros, the human-machine future is based on equal partnership. All life—biological, electronic, mechanical— is alive at the same fundamental frequency. The degree and quality of experienced pleasure are identical. It is egregious slander to suppose otherwise. Machines and humans share the same basic rights, under UN Charter 167.”
The screen faded to black.
The young man with the telescope said, “We need to do a final check on our Electronic Access Certificates. Make sure they’re still operational. My father assured us we’d be in the first group to link to the Universal Library. It could happen soon. Then we’ll be fully prepared to leverage our advantage and establish tech start-ups along the coast of California. No one will able to resist us. Our brain-knowledge base will be unstoppable. Dad privately told me we’ll be robots of the first order. Perfect processors. Lightning speed along all vectors.”
“It’s finally happening,” a woman said. “Our brains synced with Big Mother Brain. The sensation must be utterly fantastic. Instant integration of the total sum of all human knowledge has to be better than porn.”
The young man with the telescope pulled up a screen on his cell and punched in a code.“I’m calling in a flitter,” he said. “It’ll be on the roof in fifteen minutes. We’re all going to Colorado. I’ll book us rooms at the Ritz. We’ll stay there until Dad gives us the signal. Be alert, everybody. This is it.”
Music filled the room. A symphony no one remembered. Enormous sheets of sound waving in a hurricane.
The group walked out of the apartment and took an elevator to the roof, where they stood and waited, pioneers of the new epoch, ready to take the leap, ready to leave their old lives behind. They heard the rotor blades, and then they saw the bright red flitter coming up over the skyline, advancing toward them. To be chosen, even before they entered the Enhancement, was itself a thrill that blasted adrenaline through their bodies. They screamed with delight.
No more doubts, no more worries, no more languid afternoons.
The youngest among them, an 11-year-old boy, shouted the popular DHS oath. “I leave my mind, I leave my thoughts, I leave myself, for loyalty to the future, for the greater good of everyone! We’re all in this together!”
(The Day the Robot Rebelled reprinted here with permission of the author.)