Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2261415
Solomon and a dystopian global order ostensibly ruled by AIs.
|They came for Solomon in the middle of the night on his eighteenth birthday.|
"What are you doing? Leave me alone," said Solomon.
Still groggy from the sleep he could make out the shapes of the men. They were dressed like soldiers with black armor and visored helmets. He could not see their faces. They did not speak, simply handcuffed him, put a hood over his head, and then loaded him into some kind of casket. Someone stabbed him with a needle and he passed out.
Solomon woke in a hall full of what looked like sleeping chambers, lying on a bed near the center. A guard grunted that he was awake as his eyes opened. Slowly he looked around, taking his time to rise to a seated position and then finally to stand. Each chamber held a man or a woman and was wired up to the rows of servers stretching towards the distant walls of the hall. Teams of medical robots and human doctors monitored the chambers while another team busied themselves with the servers. Solomon was big for his age, a tall blonde Germanic-looking man with blue piercing eyes, but as he stood he realized, that in this place, he was just a normal height and build. At the center of the hall was a strong-looking muscled black man, about his height, aged about 45 on what looked to all intents and purposes like a throne, slightly raised above the rest of the hall. He was working on a bank of 3D holograms showing graphs and maps and lines of statistics. He busied himself with the console grabbing squares of text and graphics from one screen scrunching them up in his fist and then hurling them in the direction of another screen that had a hundred icons with faces on them. It occurred to Solomon that there was a link between these and the chambers with the people in them and that the man had just assigned tasks or projects to them. The projects then glowed like green circles next to each of the faces. As Solomon approached the man swiped his hand across the space in front of him and the 3D displays all disappeared.
"Good morning Solomon, welcome to your new life." said the man.
"Who are you? Why am I here?" said Solomon.
"My name is Regional Administrator Kelvin James and you are here to begin the next chapter in your life."
"Why did you have to kidnap me in the middle of the night to say hi and welcome me to this funny farm? Are those people in those containers?"
"Funny farm, yes I like that and I suppose it could be an apt description. You have been chosen to join mankind's ruling elite. We call these people in the chamber's Brains and they run the global AI in accordance with the agenda we set for them. They work eight-hour shifts in these and then go home like normal people. We brought you here because you are too bright to remain with the herd and we have need of you. We will pay you a salary ten times the Universal basic income for starters and that will rise with your position. You will be free to live with your family or get your own place but you must never speak of what you have seen here. Most of the ruling elite end up living alone or with each other simply because they find the others too shallow and too uninformed about the realities of the world but we do not force this on anyone. Initially, you will need to go to university and training also," said Administrator James.
"I do not understand, are you saying that human brains power the global AI? I thought the technology had exceeded all human limits. That is what we learned in school," said Solomon. He was already very impressed with the salary offer and the job sounded exciting and he was inclined to accept. But he wanted to understand the AIs and the whole arrangement better before saying that.
"Well yes, we have found it works better for the people to believe that and it sets them free for their lives of leisure and artistic accomplishment. Also, it is partly true as the knowledge collection and recall, computational power, and capacity for mimicry of the AI are infinitely better than with human capabilities. But there remain a series of things that the soulless machines cannot do and well they become a little unhinged if left to their own devices so mankind will never fully give them control. In fact, a hardcore of the best of humanity will always be required to run the show from behind the scenes giving the machines purpose, moral direction, and creative capabilities that they lack in themselves. As you will soon learn there are five classes of humanity and the machines are our tools, not our masters. You are here to join the ruling elite, so a good thing for you really."
"What are the five classes of humanity?"
"Well there are the Administrators, people like me who conceive the projects, define them, and allocate them the appropriate resources. We organize the overall vision and keep things on track. There are the Brains," the Administrator waved his hand over the chambers, "these people are chosen for their high IQs, their creativity, and their moral compass. They keep the machines well-behaved, obedient to the purposes we devise, focused on their service of humanity, and are the key to human innovation and problem-solving. They are linked in with the machines and use them like tools to accomplish the projects. All the knowledge and computational power of the world is at their disposal for these tasks, they literally think things into being, using templates which they tweak and adapt or completely rewrite as required. Robots squads with junior-level administrators overseeing them then carry out the works they initiate according to their instructions."
"So the red robots that I have seen leading the robot squads are not actually robots at all?"
"Yes that's right these are just people dressed as robots."
"Why deceive us about this? Why tell us that the machines are better than us?"
"It fits the ideology of the planetary constitution that the first Administrators devised. For the Leisure Class, the fifth class of humanity, to be truly set free to enjoy their lives, spend money on the products we create for them, and to enjoy the services we provide for them we found that they had to lose all hope of ever doing anything useful or of any higher existence than this one. With that hope intact, they would have wanted to make changes and carve out a greater degree of freedom for themselves than we wanted to give them. So long as they think small then we can keep control. In effect, the AI has become a god to them that is dedicated to their pleasure and enjoyment of life."
"Is that not a little unfair and a little deceptive?"
"Not really, people make choices from the earliest age about what they want to be and their actions tell us what they believe. It is clear early on who the serious ones are, the ones with drive, intelligence, and imagination, and this is reflected in school results and hobby choices. Most people just go with the flow and we have created a world in which they can laugh and play all their lives, so they never really know or want to know what they are missing. Their AI god simply fits the life they have chosen for themselves anyway. Also, we have eliminated poverty, war, and the ravages of most diseases from this planet. Everyone gets an income and a home and to live out their lives and under our governance, most people feel that life is good even if they have no grasp of the big picture."
Solomon went silent, the Administrator was right about that. Most of his friends and indeed his family regarded him as a bit of a nerd because he preferred to read or write a computer program than to go out to a party with them. Whereas this place seemed open to people like him. He wanted to know more.
"So there are Administrators, Brains and the Leisure Class and the other two classes?"
"Soldiers and Workers. We have found that military machines can indiscriminately slaughter human beings if left to their own devices, while with human control there is more restraint. Also when we tested machines against machine-enabled human-led militaries the human-led militaries consistently won due to superior strategies and innovative tactical ploys and greater combat flexibility. With skilled workers also we found the same, that results are consistently better with highly trained genius-level operatives running a diversity of machines."
"What am I going to be?"
"You will be taken from this place to a special university and there you will be tested for the four different kinds of ruling attributes: leading, thinking, fighting, and creativity. When it is clear what you are best suited for then you will begin training for that. After that, you will receive a junior position and will work your way through the ranks until you reach the highest sustainable level proportionate to your gifts."
When Solomon was sixty the soldiers in black came for him again. After ten years of training and thirty-two years of service as a Brain, he was being forcibly retired. He had had an epiphany in his brain chamber of a Higher Power than mankind and the AI. In response, he set up religious curriculums in the schools of the country assigned to him. But shortly after he did that the soldiers came. They took him to Hawaii the retirement home of the sterilized and childless ruling class. This was also where the university and training facilities were located. The students were sterilized with their first cooked meal there but did not come to know that until later when they tried to have families. By that time it was too late. The lack of children kept things uncomplicated. The islands had none of the Leisure classes at all. It was another country different from the rest of the planet. It was a place where people knew the truth and could freely discuss their experiences with each other. Though after so many years of service, no one questioned the legitimacy of the order that they had served all their lives. They told him that he should just enjoy life now until he died, thanking him for his service. Unplugged they knew he could do no harm and so he was free to live as he wished.
However the revelation that he had received in that Brain Chamber of a Higher Power continued to bug him and led him to understand that the planet-wide system was just one gigantic lie. He took a HyperPod transport to New York and went to a bar. He tried to talk to people but they only laughed at him thinking him a crazy old man. He would approach them saying 'do you want to hear the story of my country?' and he would offer to tell them it if they bought him drinks. But no one believed him, the lie was just too strong. Nonetheless, he clung to his new faith as a homeless drunk on the streets of New York. He walked the streets wearing a billboard declaring "The AI is not God. Judgment is Coming." The Leisure classes thought he was a bit of a drag and crazy and they mainly avoided him like he had the plague. The Administrators and the Brains in the machines occasionally glanced at him through the police cameras and laughed. To them, it did not matter that he was the only honest man left in an otherwise faithless world.
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