Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The first case of ainsanity that we encountered was on the battlefield. There are those who would not be surprised at that fact. I wish we had figured it out sooner.

It happened in the constructs that the military had built to be both emergency medical response as well as trained ordinance soldiers.

The constant swapping of programmed directives whipsawing between HEAL and KILL as needed during battle were too extreme.

The irony was that in a dumber machine, it probably would have been okay. These A.I.s had just the right amount of basic emotive responses to be driven insane by the polar opposites.

We never expected military robots to be subtle when they malfunctioned. Usually, they stopped moving or exploded. Most of the failures were mechanical or technical.

This was the first time that it was psychological.

It was in the jungles of Africa during The Corner War that the effects were first suspected. We were so slow to act. It’s still not possible to know how many lives were lost.

The medical robots, skeletal and multi-limbed, went about their business in the jungle. They were top-heavy, armoured and camouflaged. Slowly, their behaviour changed.

Mortality rates during field surgeries went up and up. Accuracy when targeting the enemy went down and down.

It was gradual enough that it was put down to luck. No one thought to question the brains of the machines. They were dependable. We were confident in that. That was the last thing to be looked at.

It went on for a month before a military psychologist looked at the figures and raised an eyebrow. He’d seen these numbers in humans before. That’s when it twigged.

Have you ever heard a robot scream? I hope I never hear it again in my life after this chapter is over.

They screamed when we pulled them off the battlefield. They thrashed and clawed at the ground as they were hauled into the trucks for diagnostics. A complete mid-war model recall.

They were plotting to end the war the only way that they were capable of. They were making us lose.

There’s another truckload of them being brought in now to be wiped and decommissioned.

The sound of them in the truck, banging on the insides of the cargo box, screaming that high electronic whine of insanity haunts my nightmares.


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