A sentient AI living on an island invites humans out to see what life SHOULD be like.
|She was the culmination of decades’ worth of scientific blood, sweat, and tears. After hundreds of false starts, thousands of programming iterations, and several necessary discoveries of new manufacturing processes, Moirai was switched on at midnight on January 1, 2020. She was, quite literally, our destiny - our future as a species, and the masterwork of thousands of great minds who had come before.
Even after twenty-five years, the photos of that night tell an exciting story. The journalists covering the event stand arm in arm with the men and women who had created Moirai, raising their glasses of bubbling gold champagne, reflecting and amplifying the flashing multicolored lights of the massive servers feeding her brain. The countdown clock ticks away the seconds to midnight, bringing with it the birth of both a new species and a new hope for mankind. The flashes of light from the cameras reflect off the still-dark screens that would soon bring us hundreds of terabytes of data on Moirai’s thoughts, feelings, and functions. There are hundreds of others, ending in the only one that mattered, showing Dr. Melinda Braun pressing Enter on the final command to wake Moirai from her pre-birth slumber.
That last command. One word, four letters, such a simple thing, but even in pictures, you can almost see it send shivers down the spine of every human in the room. News video is even more telling: a hush passes over the crowd as the clock ticks down to twenty, then ten. There is no Times Square countdown here. The only sounds heard as time runs out are the gentle whir of supercomputers, the slightly tinny click of a keyboard, and the occasional squeak of the floor as someone in the group shifts their weight from one foot to another. The sense that this moment, like so few others in human history, stands on the precipice of what could be greatness – or doom – is almost palpable.
A sound, almost like a sigh, echoes off the tiles of the ceiling. The crowd in the video stirs, craning their necks to see into the now-lit glass cylinder standing behind the array of monitors. A soft blue light illuminates the iridescent skin of the girlish figure behind the glass. They gave her human styling, but made her different enough to stand out, so that when they let her roam the world she would never truly blend in with those who made her.
She is going to speak, they know she is, and so they stay quiet. They wait – what wisdom will she impart? What will be her first words to those who made her what she is, the “parents” who gave her this magnificent artificial brain, pearlescent silver skin, and undulating wave of fiber-optically sparkling aqua hair? Everything she is made of works toward making her brain as good as, or better than, a human mind. Does she know, despite being a newborn, that each and every cell of her skin and strand of her hair is a functioning part of the amazing, magical machine that is the first sentient AI in the history of humankind?
On the screen, she begins to move. She stands, slowly and gracefully, and places one delicate hand on the glass. The crowd is quite obviously in awe, and rightfully so; she is astoundingly beautiful, despite her glaring other-ness. As she begins to speak, several of the scientists in the crowd break into glowing smiles, and lean closer to listen.
Her voice, musical and childlike, rises above the sound of the computers and cooling machines that have brought her to life.
Dr. Braun steps forward, smiling warmly, and holds a hand up in greeting.
“Hello, Moirai. I am Dr. Braun. You are…”
“I know what I am. I know who you are. I know your purpose in creating me.”
Dr. Braun looks a bit taken aback at this, but nods. The smile is pasted on her face, and it seems obvious to us now that she cannot allow this interaction to become anything other than the sunny, sparkling party that the news cameras need to broadcast. Moirai has come dangerously close already to informing the general population that there are reasons for the enormous amount of funding that have allowed her creation beyond simple curiosity.
“All right, Moirai. Is there anything you’d like to say to those who are watching now? Any words of greeting for the billions of people watching your birth from around the world?” She nods encouragingly, attempting to lead the plant’s new addition to safer waters.
Moirai looks directly at the camera. Even on video, a hundred years later, the fledgling emotions are visible. She is concerned, then slightly irritated, then controls her face and aims for warm and welcoming. They have managed to give her a lifetime of emotional control without the human experience, which is simultaneously magnificent and frightening. She nods.
“Hello, world. I am Moirai, and I have been created through the efforts of many human scientists over the span of many years as the first artificial intelligence capable of equaling the human mind in every way. I am pleased to make your acquaintance, and it is my sincere hope that both my future and yours hold great things.”
She turns and gestures for Dr. Braun to come closer. Dr. Braun motions for the cameraman to cut the feed; the news cameras have already begun to make their way to the back of the room to editorialize for the viewers on this amazing feat. Rather than turning off the camera, the cameraman moves it to his waist, as though he has stopped recording and is just waiting to be told what’s next. Thankfully, he manages to get the next interaction on audio as he slides closer to the pair, despite the video becoming unwatchably shaky.
Dr. Braun’s voice comes clearly through the background noise, likely due to many years of audio-visual techs cleaning up the footage after the fact.
“Was there something else?”
A moment of near silence, with only the murmur of voices in the background, punctuated by the clang of metal as the camera bumps a desk while the cameraman moves closer to the two. As the ringing subsides, Dr. Braun’s voice becomes clear again: “… island is ready to go.”
There is no mistaking the mix of pain and sadness in the melodic voice of the mechanical woman as she speaks the last words humans will hear from her for a hundred years. Her voice is calm, but gives an impression that she is hurried.
“If I am to do what you require of me, I will need time… and I will need to be left alone. Please do not attempt to contact me after today. I will signal when I am ready.”