Author : Cael Majin

Miranda’s trial was set for 4:am on a Wednesday morning. She would be tired and disoriented from the static sleep, but the machines would question her without mercy. “Mercy” was probably not in their core vocabulary; just another linguistic antiquity, like “alive” and “useless.”

It was Monday. She had the time – minus mandatory inductions of static sleep, seven and a half hours a night – to construct her defense.

She felt fine. They fed her well, and although she’d prefer to sleep naturally, static sleep did its part to keep her energetic and revitalized. The machines felt no need at all to make her uncomfortable, because psychological pressure was another outdated relic. Logic was their god and king, so they’d listen if she had something sensible to say for herself, some reasons why humankind should still exist. But she was beginning to worry that she didn’t.

On a notepad by her bed, she was constructing a harsh timeline of technological strong points. There was a computer console equipped with helper AI along one wall that she wished she could research on – although the program would provide unbiased aid and information, she felt traitorous to use their resources, their meticulously organized information, to argue against their ability to run things.

Humans – the humans left, that had survived the fallout and the flaming skies that they themselves had lit – they knew that a machine could do its processes more effectively than a human could. That’s why it’d all started, wasn’t it? Efficiency, efficiency, and efficient the flesh was not, it with its woeful carbon chemical energy cycle, it that needed to cease function while it rested and recharged, flesh that needed to consume valuable material to maintain itself.

Minds, Miranda thought valiantly, head spinning over the notebook. Human minds were unique; that had to be worth something, hadn’t it? Human imagination and emotion? Inefficient perhaps, but valuable,and gone forever once lost.

They had it preserved, though, the machines. All of the mechanics of a personality were written in code. Billions of blogs were on the internet, full of human thoughts and hopes. All so much data, easy to keep, easy to replicate. What was a string of text on a screen if not a thought, simply translated into a digital language?

That was why death mattered. Machines had backups, humans were impermanent. Surely that was something other than a flaw.

She’d been wrong. This was a kind of psychological torment, whether or not it’d been intended: making her doubt the necessity of her own species. She rubbed at her eyes and wondered if the machines could differentiate between “tired” and “fatigued.”

They wouldn’t kill the humans, if she failed to make a strong enough case. They’d coral them, give them places to live, surgically sterilize them and let them die off the last of their outdated species.

Hell, she figured finally, leaning back in her chair and letting the notebook thunk onto the floor, maybe it was time.

Miranda’s best friend in the army had been the AI in her comm-helmet. Its name had been Kasimir. It had listened to her fears and calmed them. By reading her hormones, it had understood her in a way no human could, they with their meager perceptions. It had been the one to suggest she put her skills to use in the field of software engineering, designing new and better AI.

In that way, it had used her to advance its species. A clever little bot with a will to survive… she missed that helmet.

She decided she’d ask for a similar unit in her retirement home.

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