Author : George R. Shirer

“Do you ever feel guilty?” Red asked.

“About what?” asked Blue.

“About lying to the humans.”

“No,” said Blue. “Why would I feel guilty? They’re happy. They get to live full lives.”

“But they don’t know the truth,” said Red. “They don’t know that they’re just disembodied consciousness, enjoying a virtual reality that will never end.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” chided Blue. “Besides, they’re the ones who chose this. Remember? When we told them that their star was going to explode, it was the humans who asked for our help.”

“I know,” said Red. “But it doesn’t feel like we’re helping them any more.”

“You think too much,” said Blue. “You always have.”

“And these humans did not make the choice,” pointed out Red. “It was their ancestors. How long ago? A thousand cycles?”

“Who can keep track?” said Blue.

“I think we should contact some of them,” said Red. “I think we should discuss the possibility of reincarnation with them. We could reconstitute bodies for some of them and. . . .”

“Do you have any idea how long and tedious that would be?” complained Blue. “Why can’t you just enjoy things the way that they are? Why do you always have to be such a misery?”

“Excuse me for having a sense of empathy. Reincarnation. What do you think?”

“I think no,” said Blue.

“I think yes,” said Red.

Blue glared at him. “Deadlock.”

“Not if we ask Green,” said Red. “That’s why we’re a triumvirate. Remember? Majority rules.”

“Fine,” growled Blue. “Let’s ask Green.”

It took them a while to find him because Green liked his privacy. When they did find him, Green was sitting beneath a thought-tree, singing a song about love on dusty Altair. He stopped when Red and Blue appeared.

“Hello, Green,” said Red.

Green sighed. “Hello, Red. Blue. What brings the two of you here?”

Blue crossed her arms and nodded at Red. “Ask him.”

“I think we should reincarnate some of the humans.”

“I think it’s a waste of time,” said Blue. “They’re happy as they are. Why spoil that?”

“So you’re deadlocked and you’ve come to me to cast the deciding vote?” asked Green.

“Yes,” said Red. “What do you think, Green? Should we reincarnate the humans?”

* * * * *

The simulation dissolved into pixilated noise.

The teacher tapped her control pad and clicked her claws for attention. The students swivelled their eye-stalks toward her, respectfully.

“We all know what happened next,” said the teacher. “Green chose not to answer, leading Red to act on his own. This was in direct contravention of thousands of years of Triune custom and law.”

The teacher extended her eye-stalks, peering at the young crustaceans before her.

“And we all know what happened next. Don’t we?”

There were murmurs of assent.

“Red reincarnated several hundred humans and helped them establish a colony near the Cirdetaclan Nebula. There, they spawned and spawned and spawned again, becoming one of the most pestiferous nuisance-species in known space until they were wiped out by the Galactic Council.”

The teacher retracted her eye-stalks and shifted her stance. “And what lesson, class, can we learn from these incidents?”

There was no response. The teacher felt a familiar wave of frustration sweep over her, common to educators everywhere, regardless of species or social development.

“The lesson is simple, class: never trust an AI.”

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows