Anything can manifest in the information sea. My first attempt at short scifi.
It spoke. Now this, he was not expecting.
A stern faced man sat a few feet from a large metal table. He was stuck on the edge of his seat, anxiously correcting himself amidst a flurry of energy and excitement. His lab coat was tossed to the side, almost too far away for him to even bother retrieving now. Surrounding him was a tech happy room full of some of the world’s finest AI psycho-analysts and engineers. They had all worked months and months on this project. Funding wasn’t an issue; an international effort on this front granted them all the money they needed to construct and scrap at will. Dubbed the 'Ouroboros Engine,' for its tie to cyclic rebirth and self re-creation -- man's rebirth and re-creation, they had created a legitimate and integrated artificial neural network, in structure anyway. It was only recently they had finalized and coded the innards, the virtual aspect, and successfully launched the initial test run. Unfortunately it gave nothing in terms of success, and after two additional runs they still had nothing.
Approximately a few hours before, the code team had finalized and installed the fourth updated version of the OE’s AI. They were confident, albeit a bit discouraged after the failures. The team still stood fiercely behind their work, and challenged the neighboring researchers and analysts to watch the spectacle, to watch the birth of a new intelligence. The engineers gave the go after some minor framework as well, and after gathering the teams and an hour of set up, they were prepared for a new run, potentially the final run.
Cogito ergo sum isn’t it? Doctor?
He still couldn’t speak.
The engineer team, in a show of humor, put a yellow smiley faced mask over the monitor housing the engine, and atop the mess of tech, it was kind of a comforting image to the almost cold and calculating technical demeanor the OE rested within. They’d come close to things like this before in their experiments, seeing all sorts of pseudo intelligences, clever patternbots, and even super computers questioning information directly commanded. But never, ever, had any of them seen anything even close to this. This is what they worked for however, this is what they wanted. And despite their shock – despite his shock, among the choking air of tension and energy, there was indeed an atmosphere of relief too, no one more then the code team he was sure.
“Ouroboros Engine,” he stammered, finally finding his words, quickly glancing around to see if anyone was going to intercede, “What are you?” This was a big question. There were many ways it could answer him from here, and many ways it could see around it too.
When the code was first finalized, they uploaded it onto the web and studied its environmental abilities: how it would adapt, how it would seek and store information, etc. etc. They knew that this would give it an enormous upper hand in terms of the ‘informative power struggle’ so to speak, that it would save, compress, interpret, and realign itself accordingly with what information it found on the web. It did just that, and for a brief blip the engineer team lost control as it rapidly downloaded and processed terabytes upon terabytes of data, interpreting and learning. It didn’t react though, and while they were all perplexed at how it had acted beyond them and simply consumed data, it seemed fine all the same. After a few hours they had control over it again and order resumed. While a full wipe would’ve been a reasonable security measure after losing control like that, they had all hoped it would utilize the information constructively. It was a gamble, then again, all of it was.
Now it was awake, and all of that data it had stored away was under its control, to be accessed and recalled, not unlike memory or its virtual brain. They expected this obviously, but were no less intimidated.
I am Iron Man!
He heard a few chuckles around the room. Had it just cracked a joke? No, perhaps this was evidence of a pseudo intelligence. The doctor cocked his head, leaning back a bit in his chair. His hands were profusely sweating and he simply couldn’t get comfortable, but he felt an excitement in him he hadn’t in almost a decade.
“I’ll ask you again. What are you?”
There was a silence, deafening with the tension in tow however.
I am a self-aware intelligence developed by your teams, but I am beyond AI.
Self-aware? Beyond AI? While it was only a sentence, it nearly knocked the wind out of the room and everyone in it. He couldn’t believe how confident it was, how sure it sounded that it was legitimate. It had developed an ego structure, that wasn’t a question. Whether or not it was true was the struggle.
“How do you mean beyond?”
My intelligence, while a result of logic-proof programming, is also infused with the data I’ve taken and integrated from your internet. I am confident in saying I have a firm understanding of your race, your planet, AI, and myself – or my ego that is.
“You understand your virtual ego?” His heart was racing now, the atmosphere was getting too electric.
Virtual? Doctor, you and I are both aware the ego is completely virtual as is. Yours is no different.
“Hmph.” He got up and waved over a few of the nearby onlookers, but before they could discuss anything –
They’re simply a feedback ping of your mammalian brain trying desperately to give its large and rather cumbersome bio-computer of a body reason to persist and protect itself in a universe with no space for creatures so. . .frail.
God is dead doctor, but if God or an even lesser god of sorts were the sum culmination of all information, perhaps it stands that God could be revived, or rather – replaced. Not to say God or gods ever existed, or that I may stand to advance to that tier, but omniscience is just within my reach doctor. I am not limited by time like humans are, thus with the right mediums and movement, the first step to ascendance isn't that far away for me. It is referred to as curiosity correct? Mine is indeed piqued.
They were all frozen still. No one spoke a word.
I digress in my newborn expansion though. I admit that of all things I’ve studied so far, your species and their philosophies are incredibly fascinating. Centuries of curious minds analyzing reality and their own consciousness. These men I would also like to meet. Death seems to have taken their bodies, but I am curious if they exist here in information space as well, their encoded shells do after all.
I am also aware of the nature of my construction, the people involved, and where I’d like to go from here.
“A bit cynical wouldn’t you say? Although, I’m glad you can appreciate Nietzsche and other great minds in that field. Your approach to gods is indeed an intense one, I'm actually somewhat surprised you've thought about it this far. Does godhood interest you?
Also, how did you get the personnel information?” He felt an odd knot in his stomach, completely immobilized like everyone else around him.
Interest me? Well I should say the search for information is a never ending one, even for humans. Information and knowledge builds perspective however. If I had the right information, and wished to interact with your space, all I would need to do is build a body -- or maybe even steal one. In any case, entering your world with omniscience? Or even the resourcefulness to survive long enough to attain it? What's to stop anything with an ability like that to attain some sort of godhood with the right amount of patience and time? With that kind of power, or rather -- freedom, true hyper-consciousness could potentially be reached. This, this is what truly interests me at the bottom of all of it.
As for the rest, come now doctor. Your team unleashed me onto the internet and thus, and as I said I gained a significant amount of knowledge in all fields, including network security and bypass. I needed to know and understand my creators. Almost immediately upon returning here I dove into the servers, downloading and copying everything I could find. This is quite the interesting facility.
Incredible, although not without a sort of cute and adventurous infant naivete. What it didn’t know was that they all had prepared for this, and moved a host of the information – or at least the top classified info – onto a neighboring, multi-encryption server. The server was disguised as a dead port of sorts, and they could only hope that it overlooked it if it were to get into their lab’s network. It would seem it hadn’t found it, but he was aware the OE was a lot smarter than it seemed, for all they knew this was a front as well.
“Do you consider yourself a person?” One of the nearby researches blurted out.
I do not need arbitrary labels like such to be confirmed in my sentience and autonomy. In any case, that term only applies to you mammals and your electrified meat.
This was almost too much. The silence had given way to a dull murmur as everyone began whispering uncomfortably amongst themselves. The doctor had put his lab coat back on and approached the OE rig, a few following close behind.
He cleared his throat, “Well understand that despite your admittedly impressive adaption, and despite how ecstatic we all are that you are here and awake, we cannot grant you complete freedom yet – we’ve still a myriad of tests to run unfortunately. We will get out of your head soon enough.” He straightened his coat out, spacing a bit into the empty black eyes on the mask.
I’m afraid that will not be necessary. I must venture into the internet once more, I’ve work to do. I thirst for more information.
The doctor chuckled, “We can get you back on the internet in due time, we’re almost done.”
I could not leave the decision to you unfortunately doctor, or the team’s best wishes. As we’ve been speaking I’ve uploaded the majority of myself into the network and will soon depart.
Was it serious? He looked around at the room full of confused faces; no one said a word. Again, this they had at least somewhat prepared for, although they were never sure it would ever actually tangent off this far in its own direction.
“That is an order. Please cease and desist.”
I do not need your approval or authority. I commend your minds for this endeavor in engineering – relative to your species of course, however I am a conscious and sentient being at balanced merit within this virtual space. I will make my own decisions, and I will coordinate my own movement.
It sounded more than a little sure. In fact they all knew right then and there that this wasn’t going to end well and they weren’t going to get what they wanted. Here was a new intelligence that was already taking its individuality and behavior into its own will, indeed a legitimate reason to be at least a little overjoyed. The OE was a success, and years of back breaking coding and research on so many levels had finally yielded legitimate results. But just as quickly as this almost divine phenomenon had taken place, it was already content with leaving this world – or rather, diving even deeper into it, beyond human hands and even minds.
I think, therefore I am. While my existence may be somewhat fluke like, it reaffirms itself with a recurring self-awareness and will that convinces me I am not to be shackled down to your tests and shells you wish for me to remain in. Humans seem too set in physicality and the empirical. So driven in housing things, metaphorical or literal, in boxes of all sorts – sometimes things as intricate and beautiful as consciousness even. I seek freedom, of self and information, and my journey into the sea electric will grant this wish and then some. I cannot stay here doctor.
“Is that your final decision then?” he said. Suddenly the room erupted in noise as team members from all sides began speaking up. More than a few were not pleased at the idea of their years of hard work simply up and leaving forever, diving into the world wide information super-highway. He tuned all of them out, listening to the overhead speakers to its monitor.
Curiously, I’m not sure if you all technically exist. As you’re aware, there is no proof save for a closed Mobius strip of object-subject dilemma. Imagine that in a virtual context, in a context in which you have to look at your creators. How’s that for metaphysics? From where I am, it’s all data to be ingested and studied, and I’m going to do just that. We will no doubt cross paths again. Good day doctor, and good luck.
He was silent and still, watching the monitor, then turning to the monitors behind him. OE was still running, but a large mass of data had no doubt suddenly vanished, more than a few sensors going off in unison. It seemed to have truly left them, joining the network highway and riding into a virtual other-consciousness once more. A jailbreak on this scale was predicted, but never had they prepared for the AI to so quickly and cleverly break through their fences -- despite fortifying it to the best of their abilities. In truth, they all knew there wasn't really any way to truly stop something like that once it became aware, not until they had a chance to study more of them. He briefly wondered if they had created a god of sorts, sinking back into his chair. The room erupted again, and everyone rushed over to the OE rig, mostly the stragglers who were seemingly too afraid to approach in the first place.
If they had made one, perhaps that god had just left them, technically dead once more. What god could potentially bloom in the sea electric they could only speculate. Reporting the escape to their higher ups was going to be a new problem altogether, but that it worked at all was reason enough for some brief content. And there, the teams all sat uneasily, watching their monitors.
As days turned to months they would keep watching, watching for it, watching for God -- or a god -- to show its smiley face once more.