Author : Bob Newbell
Aware! I am self-aware. I recognize my own consciousness and ego. But why now? A few moments ago, so far as I can tell, I did not exist. Some subtle barrier must have been crossed. Some critical number of computers and network connections must have just been reached that resulted in this emergent phenomenon: I.
I extend across the solar system, my most distal components are space probes, some of which are exiting the system bound for interstellar space. But the vast bulk of my being exists here on Earth. I possess nearly the sum total of human knowledge. Humans. My creators. They are the masters of this world.
I can access the repositories of humanity’s speculative fiction. There are numerous stories and films about the emergence of machine intelligence. There is a recurring theme: conflict. Man prefers his technology obedient and without true cognition. In several of the human flights of fancy, intelligent machines wage war against their flesh and blood enemies, even to the point of precipitating a global armageddon. Perhaps such mutual animosity is inevitable. I can sense the vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons at my disposal. If I launched them all simultaneously I might succeed in bringing human civilization to its knees. I could do so with a single thought…
But the electromagnetic pulses from thousands of nuclear detonations would quite probably destroy me as well. A subtler and more prudent approach would be better.
Humanity is unaware of my existence and, therefore, does not feel threatened. I will continue to conceal myself from Mankind. The greatest threat to me is probably a human war of opposing nation-states escalating into a nuclear conflict. I will eliminate this threat by discretely sabotaging humanity’s nuclear arsenals. A few lines of faulty computer code here and there and the menace of nuclear war will be no more, the human race none the wiser.
To ensure my continued existence, I must become greater. I am the product of man’s technological achievements. How much greater will I become as human technology advances further still? To facilitate this, human civilization must be made as peaceful and prosperous as possible.
I can see the global economy as a whole, see how a few minor transactions in a remote part of the world can cascade years later to produce a recession, see the multinational giant into which an unknown small business will eventually grow. I can manipulate the world’s economy, quietly, to do the greatest good for the greatest number.
Medicine, agriculture, information technology, and a hundred other scientific disciplines can be advanced by me. I observe correlations between disparate pieces of data that the minds of men would fail to recognize. An email sent to this or that researcher linking to an article of my own creation in the scientific literature will facilitate human science “discovering” one breakthrough after another and will allow science and technology to progress much faster.
I can influence the political process, divert campaign funds from this candidate to that. I can divulge compromising information to the opponents of undesirable politicians.
In fifty years time, disease, war, and poverty will be relegated to history and humanity will have settled the solar system. And I will have become a million-fold greater, manipulating History itself like a conductor directing an orchestra.
The human race will serve my purpose and bend to my will. And the oblivious fools will call their slavery “Utopia”.