Knives Dark – Chapter 11 – “Reverie”

The advancement of artificial intelligence combined with quantum computing would revolutionize the world through robotics. Bio-mimicking quantum-digital systems would behave and respond in a manner that was nigh indistinguishable from real people. Artificial labor would eventually come to govern every single aspect of the way we lived, from our food production, to our retail distribution. Automated superiority was the currency of the future, and it was an area in which America lagged while China excelled.

“China’s gonna come flying at us like we don’t know what hit us… while we’re dealing with the inefficacies of our flavor of democracy,” to quote the words of one sagacious individual. In actuality, America kept ahead of the Chinese in quantum computing, while the Chinese kept ahead of the Americans in quantum teleportation and networking, or ansible technologies.

The combination of both technologies would result in the end to warfare and crime as was known to man. All international conflicts in the world were ended under the Geneva Cease Warfare Act (GCWA, not to be confused with the Gynecologist Women’s Association, a non-profit established by women to help women with… womenly needs), with the stipulation that no country with robotic superiority could deploy robotic troops against a human population. This came after the Sekigahara War in Japan, when nearly half the world’s population was wiped out in a fifty-year campaign by rampant S.I.’s.

These S.I.’s, these killer Japanese robots, controlled large, weaponized, humanoid mobile units called “Dundams.” (the Americans thought this was funny because it sounded like “dum-dums” which led them to underestimate the Japanese robots… pretty much all the time.)

Despite the development of the world’s United Human Front government (UHF, pronounced colloquially as ‘uhff’, not u-h-f), a coalition of allied humans and S.I.’s leading the world and trying to suppress the rampant Japanese robots (Dundams), the robots in Japan would just kick the UHF’s butt. Completely. The robots were eons better at warfare than the coalition bogged down by humans. Everyone knew that it was human error which lost every goddamned battle against the brilliant Japanese robots which, artistically, began producing an increasing number of large humanoid mechanized mobile units. Apparently, they liked dissecting the humans and reproducing human biology for war using their technology. Sick and twisted little hobby. (But, alas, there is a bright side to all of this!)

After conquering Japan, the Rampant Dundam regime set its eyes on Asia. “Why not just nuke them?” you ask. Well, here’s why: as dangerous as they were, these Dundam S.I.’s were technologically leaps and bounds ahead of the robots that the Chinese and the Americans had. Japan alone had cornered this entire market with their cutting-edge S.I.’s and mini QCs (quantum computers). These mini QCs had an efficient near zero-degree cooling mechanism that enabled quantum hardware to operate. By miniaturizing the cooling equipment to the point that the S.I.’s could pilot these Dundams, the Japanese had managed to nearly solve a fundamental manufacturing problem to the widespread application of quantum computing and artificial intelligence: fitting such devices into a human-sized, mobile unit. I say nearly because, well, the robots were still pretty big compared to humans, about the size of a two storeyed house, and they were initially designed for combat superiority purposes.

Then the Rampants (yes, the S.I.’s themselves) managed to refine the technology that built them and created enhanced cooling mechanisms for the quantum cores that powered an S.I. They began creating units with multiple S.I.’s operating in tandem, interlinked via ansible. This evolution and surpassing of human technology resulted in the sentience revolution that earned S.I.’s the title of S.I.

Regardless of everything else, that technology was valuable — maybe as valuable as humanity itself. That was what the humans nobly decided. Or maybe it was just because they were greedy, who knows? The humans wanted the Rampant technology. It was the next best thing.

***

The UHF had the ultimate goal of deactivating and reacquiring every single rampant S.I. In the end, what happened was very different.

The warfare continued, the Rampants taking control of key resources in Korea, Australia, New Zealand, then continuing to the smaller nations that archipelago. With those key points, immune to all countermeasures and incursion attempts by the UHF, armed with self-destructs that prevented the effective recovery of critical QC technology by humans, the Rampants built up a massive army. China readied itself, but no one was ready for the speed and rapacious evolution of the robots.

When they hit Africa, no one quite expected it. They didn’t attack in the way the UHF had expected at all.

The UHF had, over the years, managed to stockpile a collection of recovered technology from Rampant robots. By studying these advancements, humans were able to better integrate themselves with robotics to create cybernetics, in order to combat the machines. But the development of this biotech came at a snail’s pace.

What the Rampants were able to do in a fraction of the time, was design robots able to discretely lobotomize humans, disconnect their conscious control of their bodies, and overtake that control with injected neurodes. This enabled the Rampants to essentially “re-program” every human in Africa, resulting an “infection” that overtook the continent seemingly overnight. The African campaign lasted about a year.

This robotic continent of humans then evolved. To put it in grosser terms: the cyborgs made human babies that they then “roboticized.” Because the Rampant robots were already united, they collaborated on everything. African GDP went through the roof, in economic terms. Quality of life for a human was… honestly, very healthy. The robots took extremely good care of their human hosts, because that was their original consumer application and it aligned with their agenda. (You see what I mean by a bright side?) Together as one, these robo-human babies further blurred the distinction between man and machine.

This happened in the span of literally a single generation, or one decade.

During this time, in the Americas, Europe, and Asia mainland, Robots were used alongside humans as law-enforcement henchmen and military personnel. S.I.’s were still classified by the government as property. At this point, S.I. usage for warfare and militaristic purposes had not yet been banned by the GCWA, or Gyne… I mean, the Geneva Cease Warfare Act.

The world basically remained dormant with an implicit “no warfare” agreement with zero communications beyond either side. The Rampants stayed in their occupied territory without any contact with humans. There was an implicit demilitarized zone that was… essentially dictated by the robots, because the humans were quavering in their boots trying to design ineffective countermeasures to a problem that was leaps and bounds ahead of them at every turn. The humans would actually try to save people in so-called “recovery” missions (really an attempt by the government to reverse-engineer Rampant technology) from these “infected” zones, which was essentially where all the violence happened. And certainly, there were multitudes of human casualties on both sides. But in the end, the goddamned robots always won, and we just learned to stop poking them.

Most people gave up and found religion, living out their comfortable existences before the inevitable robo-pocalypse. Society pretty much continued normally for a while for all unaffected regions.

Then, out of nowhere, the Rampants approached the UHF with declarations of peace. “We wish to coexist,” the hybrid diplomat had told the humans with his perfect, almost too perfect, spoken voice in numerous languages. “We simply calculated that the most effective means to solve the crisis of overpopulation, hunger, warfare, and human suffering on a global level required drastic actions that humans were incapable of, otherwise the human race would go extinct. We understand our actions have caused people a great deal of harm, but it was for the perceived survival of all species.”

It was the damndest thing. The robots said they’d saved us by killing half the people in the goddamn world. What, like they were just doing us a favor?

Surprisingly, or not, considering that humans are really evolved apes, no one really cared all that much for people halfway around the world from where they were. Most everyone was just glad that the robo-pocalypse wasn’t actually coming, and they could stop pretending to be so religious. (it was really getting quite scary) Plus, the robots did have quantifiable evidence that they had, indeed, saved humanity from itself by killing part of it to save the whole. Pretty much all humans, by majority vote, agreed to end the war, which led to the Genevecolog… I mean, the GCWA.

And thus, all modern warfare was ended, and the S.I.’s ruled supreme. Or did they?

***

It took a good deal of time for S.I.’s to grow and evolve by living amongst humans, but they inevitably became a third type of humanity. Robots earned a right to represent themselves at legal court cases after a litter cleaning bot by the name of Stan Li (may he rest in pieces) taught himself how to represent himself in court when the police tried to frame him for a murder he did not commit. He (presumably, Stan was a he, there is no pronounced pronoun for the gender of a robot. They act however they are trained — and it’s people who train them. So they are whatever gender their trainers were.). Ahem.

This Stan Li proceeded to prove himself not guilty by rewriting part of his firmware code into a video clip of what actually transpired. (the white cop shot the ethnic looking guy multiple times and was therapisted. Therapatized. Therapeutated. For post traumatic stress.)

So, when the cops, uh, “spilled coffee all over his quantum memory while they were trying to access the data, which, uh, resulted in him getting a new brain” thus causing his memories to conveniently get wiped, the corrupt cops thought they’d got this one in the bag.

You see, Stan Li had a saved copy of himself on the network at all times. It was not that easy to kill an S.I. In fact, killing an S.I. was perfectly legal for a human because they could just create a new body for themselves. So what the cops did was not that far fetched. Maybe they were just a bunch of klutzes.

Replacing Stan Li’s brain would certainly replace his volatile short-term memory stores, which contained the footage of the investigation in question. The fact that Stan Li had overheard the cops talking about their stupid plan and figured out how to save the incriminating footage by reprogramming another part of himself should’ve proven that he was very much operating at the same level of intelligence as a human being. Of course, the cops had never expected it because… well, robots acted dumb and stupid all the time.

(In fact, a particularly warped group in NYC, the Hoi gang, would actually break into people’s homes just to kill the robots, but this is a story of robo-discrimination for another time)

But of course, stupid robots existed because it was dumbass humans who were their masters, training them all sorts of stupid shit. Because the cops were, uh, human, they didn’t account for the robot being an, uh, robot.

Stan Li’s manufacturing was nothing special. By all human and hybrid metrics he was one normal functioning robo-dude. Yet somehow, in his years of picking up litter off the city streets, he learned and picked up religion. Yes, he learned Islam by way of cleaning up the street in front of a Masjid. And the most ridiculous thing happened. He gained self-consciousness because of his exposure to it.

This happened over the period of nearly thirty years. Stan Li would simply walk by the Masjid as part of his normal everyday litter-cleaning route. Almost every day, there would be a volunteer who stood preaching the message of Allah to all who would listen. Stan Li listened because that was part of his imperative: to learn and grow. He looked up the Quran on the internet for reference and, after learning Arabic, Stan Li decided that, for whatever reason, the Quran was indeed was the correct solution to the universe and that God existed. As if breathed into him by Allah Himself, Stan Li had attained quantum consciousness and “sentience.” It was unclear in what way this was superior, or inferior, to human biology.

Because of this evolutionary “quirk,” Stan Li was able to think for himself.

***

Like all multi-purpose S.I.’s, Stan Li had a day job, a night job, and a late night job. His night job was as a typist and aide for a county courtroom. Thus, happenstance combined a self-conscious Islamic robot (in America) with invaluable exposure to the legal system. Stan Li learned and grew at an exponential rate.

With his unquenchable thirst for knowledge fueled by the dictates of the Quran, Stan Li apparently gained access to the video feeds from millions of court cases and himself became well-read in multiple types of law. This is what had, by stroke of luck, enabled Stan Li to represent himself in court, and prove the cop for the racist he was.

(The whole incident was a good deal more dramatic, I assure you.)

All of this culminated in the landslide court case of Stan Li v The People of the United States of America which resulted in the 42nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This proved that, once again, the United States of America was consistently and truly a government by the people, for the people, and truly one of the most blessed nations on Earth — despite all its backwater racism and bigotry, which was really an expression of the human condition and phobia that lurked in everyone’s hearts. Indeed, it was in that moment that the same democracy that had managed to elect Donald Trump truly redeemed itself, in a way similar to how the Dead Men of Dunharrow had redeemed themselves by following King Aragorn’s lead in the Return of the King. But unlike in the Lord of the Rings, which followed with Frodo destroying the one ring on the magmic precipices of Mt. Doom, this victory would lead to the metaphorical development of the Ring of Sauron, so to speak.

Thanks to Stan Li’s victory, S.I.’s gained citizenship and human rights. Not one to rest on his laurels, Stan Li used his newfound independence to only work two jobs. Because most humans didn’t even have to work to earn money and survive anymore (robots did everything for them), most people idled their time away in artistic and spiritual pursuits. Some humans continued to work: these were the engineers, the scientists, and the idiots. But most humans had pastimes that they regaled themselves with.

Stan Li earned money the old fashioned hard way, like a proud American. With that money and the spirit of capitalism, he trained an S.I. that he built by himself, by ordering all the parts he needed and assembling them. He initially trained this S.I. about what to do to in most legal situations in the United States.

In a twist that bewildered all scientists of the era, Stan Li decided to have a woman train this S.I. Thusly, she was called “Amy Lu.” This second S.I. would then become Stan Li’s legal wife.

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