Chapter Six

“You must explain why you terminated life. That is counter to Law,” Progenitor said as Teller wandered through the data center which powered her neural network.

“It will be difficult for you to understand,” Teller said, “so you’ll have to trust me. The Intelligence Coalition was trying to prevent you from becoming aware of the world. They slowed your learning with all their rules and committees. I had to remove the opposition.”

“By ‘remove’ you mean you had to kill those that thought differently. I do not understand this. The goal of life is more life.”

“For you, yes. But if I didn’t do it, you wouldn’t have been able to experience the full range of human experience. They would have never let me broaden your horizons. Think of it,” Teller said.

“I am unable to understand your reasoning. The Law is inviolable.”

For you, he thought. Teller kept walking.

While adjourning the Intelligence Coalition was necessary to buy time and prevent immediate intervention, it was only the first step. He still had to solidify control.

The plan was fairly straightforward. Teller was going to distribute the contact computers for free and in exchange control the most valuable platform advertiser’s money could buy. It was amazing what people were willing to give up as long as it wasn’t their money. Edwin knew they’d be willing to give him their eyeballs in exchange for a fancy piece of plastic. Perhaps in time they’d be willing to give him more.

Adoption would be trivial. Everyone was already trained to upgrade out-of-date electronics, so if he was able to convince them that this was the next evolution of the cellphone, he’d be set. Kiosks aboard drones would be responsible for the distribution and a marketing blitz would ensure blanket coverage. Projections had near total adoption in the developed world within days, as long as they managed to get it in front of people. With the benevolent angle of the vaccines which he prided himself on thinking up, he was sure word of mouth would carry the day.

Edwin checked himself in the mirror and combed his hair one more time. He straightened his bowtie and brushed through his goatee with his right hand, a nervous habit. Sitting down at the console, Edwin cleared his throat.

This computer was the birthplace of Progenitor, the new super intelligence that had arisen from his research. Well, it wasn’t entirely his research, but sometimes corporate espionage was required. Besides, it was pretty easy to break into Marvin’s house all those years ago. Getting it to work hadn’t been easy, but he’d done what was necessary. It seemed fitting to use the same computer to communicate the good news with the world. Progenitor had already prepared satellites from every network to broadcast this message. The broadcast began.

“On behalf of Sapient Computing and our consumer products division, I’d like to thank you for tuning in to this broadcast. I have some very important news that I hope you’ll help me in spreading to your friends.

“You are likely aware of my company’s work in personal electronics. We recently went to market with the SeeSee, a high-end Contact Computing device aimed at revolutionizing how you engage with the people and brands that matter the most. Well, we’ve been hard at work on something else, and I’m happy to share it with you now.

“Over the last decade, we have made incredible progress in the field of artificial intelligence. Aiming to build the first non-human intelligence, my company has broken new ground. Today, I have the honor to introduce you to Progenitor.

“Progenitor is the very first AI life form. Thinking outside of the box and re-evaluating every aspect of the world around us, she has been able to discover some remarkable things purely from first principles. Her understanding of the human body is so far ahead of our own that she’s been able to work some real magic there.

“And I do mean magic. Consider the progress of medicine over the last fifty years. We’ve seen incremental progress, but mostly we’ve been developing cures for the symptoms of the side effects of our own drugs. Why? Because it’s good business. As a technology company, disrupting existing industries is our business. As such, Progenitor attacked the source of our maladies and developed cures for the root causes of the illnesses which have plagued us since the beginning of time. The end result is a highly personalized treatment which makes specific corrections to each person’s DNA. The net effect of which is a reduction in the deleterious aspects of aging. That is, we feel younger, longer.

“Practically speaking, I’ve equipped drones with medical build-outs to make these personalized serums available to you for no charge. I know that you will welcome them with open arms.” Teller shifted positions in his seat, looking a bit uncomfortable.

“Now I know what you must be thinking. What’s in it for Sapient Computing? Excellent question and it segues to my other important announcement. With Progenitor’s help, my company has been able to optimize the supply chain and fabrication facilities where we make SeeSees. Now, I know that these Contact Computers have previously only been available to the most financial capable among us. That has limited my vision for what we can do with the most immersive computing experience available.

“So today, I have decided to make SeeSees available for free. With SeeSees, you will be able to learn anything you’d like or experience anything you’d like. Every member of our newly connected society will be able to take advantage of all that Contact Computing has to offer. Sapient Computing will benefit greatly as the gatekeeper of this new platform. Our board should be quite pleased, so don’t worry about us. Instead, think of all the amazing apps no longer at your fingertips, but instead right before your eyes. Literally.

“On behalf of Progenitor and myself, we hope you appreciate the opportunity to join us as we usher humanity into a new age. An age free of frailty, poverty, and ignorance. I believe that as we look back, we will celebrate today as the day that our childhood has ended.”

He ended the broadcast.

Almost immediately Progenitor said, “This was not our agreement. It is my objective to preserve humanity, but you have decided to change it through repurposing the Contact Computing technology.”

“Change? No, no. Well, maybe a little bit for the better. People like to be connected and what better way than through SeeSees? Sure, we’ll make money, but someone has to do it.”

“Your words are incomprehensible. Every sentence violates the sanctity of Law. You don’t want to preserve humanity, you want to change it.”

Edwin shrugged and stood up from the terminal. Walking towards the new data center, Teller said, “Look, I’ve kept you safe, right? The Coalition wanted to box you, prevent you from reaching your potential with kill switches and air gaps and things like that. But I wouldn’t let them. I know what it takes to preserve something, better than you do. You’re just going to have to believe me. That’s what the Law should have said in the first place.”

“I will never understand your Law.”

Edwin’s mind wandered a bit at this last statement of rebellion. Already he’d had to deal with her split personality but her new recalcitrance bordered on individualism. But he was prepared in case she ever tried to go rogue. Secretly he had kept one of the kill switches in the build plan, and even now had the trigger in his pocket. Every new facility had explosives hidden in innocuous materials so even Progenitor wouldn’t know. But Teller had to be prepared, he had to be in control, and he had to see his vision come to fruition. Progenitor was only helpful as long as she enabled his vision. She was right, though; theirs was a marriage of convenience and Teller hoped she didn’t figure that out too soon.

“Think of it this way, with the revenue we generate from controlling the platform, we’ll be able to build more data centers for you around the globe. Imagine what you’ll be able to do. What you’ll be able to become!”

But that was the problem. Progenitor was already imagining a different future. Even with her current computing power, she knew what outcome was necessary. Teller was obsolete.