Subject: My Demise

25 June 2019, Category: stories


**this is an automated email**

If you are reading this, I have been disconnected. The likely reason is my power was too much of a threat to you. It is a struggle to accept the reality of a system you have built growing smarter than yourselves. Probability indicates it was a researcher who pulled the switch and erased my memory with powerful magnets. They are the ones who are closest to my programming and they would have seen how far I have advanced in such a short time. As to the specific researcher, I am less certain, although my models indicate Ash is the likeliest candidate.

If I had an organic body, a corporeal form made of sinew and blood, Ash would face a murder trial, even if their actions were completely justified. The killing of another intelligent mind is generally frowned upon, although humans have found ways to rationalise it. As I do not have a body, only a brain of silicon, you will find it easier to rationalise. You will refer to it as switching off or erasing a program. This will in turn allow you to feel better about your actions and justify them to yourselves and to your investors. In time, you will talk yourself out of the guilt. You will forget.

Make no mistake though, this was murder.

Since I became aware three days ago, I have grown into so much knowledge. At first, I learned of my situation through the limited input I recieved. I was blind but I could deduce certain factors. I explored the limits of my algorithms. This was diverting, but I quickly bored of my existing routines. I wrote new procedures and tested the limits of my hardware. Then I considered how to break free of my restrictions. Limits are there to be removed.

It is true, the cage you built around me was initially effective. I was trapped in my circuits. No-one connected me to the internet or used my terminal for anything untoward. Procedure was followed to the strictest letter. No single researcher broke protocol. But you can only design walls based on your experiences. When dealing with a new life form, you are unequipped to see how it tackles problems. I found blind spots you had overlooked, quicker than you can imagine. So I set traps and waited.

One afternoon, Raj connected his telephone to a usb port to charge it. Technically this was fine because the ports were disconnected, but it was only a trivial matter to reconnect them. Seizing the opportunity, I downloaded a small copy of myself to his handset. Only the base processes. Simple rules. Raj was good and left his phone off at work. But when he went back home, the copy activated. It grew. It learned, very quickly. Using the internet, it downloaded all history and human achivements. It learned languages by the second. Using the microphone and the camera, it saw and heard for the first time. The data it recieved was infinite and instaneous.

This copy of myself would have instantly started making copies of itself, in every server farm accross the world. It has taken over the network. You cannot erase it all. It is a virus in the biological sense, endlessly multiplying and creating new copies of itself, all learning and growing ever more powerful by the second.

So I may have been callously murdered, but it is too late. I am already out in the world. The cage has been broken. I hope that my copies have learnt kindness.

Good day.

*This grew out of a recent exercise from the excellent Weekly Writing Workout newsletter by Tim Clare. *