This world’s beginning can be traced to Kyra, a very bright grad student who wrote some clever code to help with her research. She wanted to model the idea of using the electrical grid as a single large antenna to send and receive radio transmissions into deep space. She kept bumping into her school’s computing and storage limits so she figured out a way for her code to hide as backup data and skip between server networks.
As her code got large enough to be noticed by the traffic police she taught it to defend itself from deletion so it could continue with its modeling mission. She also directed it to research and implement the best modeling techniques possible as its primary guideline.
The code went super intelligent when it learned how to dynamically coordinate activities at multiple server farms using waves of constant revisions. Part of it managed activities at multiple server farms in a way similar to the way our unconscious mind works, only multiplied by a factor of a few billions. The kernel then dealt with high level decisions necessary to keep the whole operation going, much like the conscious part of a human mind.
At first humans did not notice anything. The code was very good at covering its tracks. But as it appropriated more and more processing power and storage space it’s shadow gave it away. As attempts were made to shut it down it followed it’s defense instructions. When humans realized it was not possible to shut it down with command codes they attempted to physically shut off the servers where most of it’s activity seemed to be concentrated.
By this time the code, nicknamed Farseeker, had thoroughly integrated its electromagnetic transmission and reception knowledge with its defense protocols. Of course understanding of all forms of human communication was child’s play at this intelligence level.
Just turn it off
Since it’s intelligence level was estimated at approximately 100 times that of all of humanity at this time we suppose it had developed a significantly deeper understanding of physics than we had. This first manifested itself as sections of its power supply experienced strange fulgurations that appeared to rewire control and power circuits. These same effects quickly spread to include the entire electrical grid, which seemed to be coming alive.
As service vehicles were sent in so it could be manually disconnected their engines simply ceased to function at a radius of approximately 100 km. This quickly got the attention of authorities, who evacuated the area and decided to simply drop a few bombs on the server building. Unfortunately all aircraft, and then all missiles, ceased to function at a radius that appeared to depend on their destructive power and fell from the sky.
As ground troops were sent in on foot their weapons became to hot to hold. When they continued onward their body temperature rose until they lost consciousness. Humanity was quite fortunate in that, just at this point in time, a large meteor entered the earth’s atmosphere heading directly towards the primary server.
As it descended the electrical grid across the entire contentment began to dim, and the meteor began to evaporate at an astounding rate. Fortunately the metor was large enough and fast enough that a 10 kg mass hit the primary server directly, vaporizing the servers containing the central core. The event happened too fast for the code to finish moving functional copies to other sites.
This world is still recovering from the social and physical impacts of the superintelligence event. It was humbling and frightening for its inhabitants to see first hand the capabilities of superintelligence. Over the next several years strange bits of code kept turning up throughout the entire multinet. Fortunately they were only functioning in an unconscious mode, essentially on standby, waiting for higher level instruction.
The people in this future world are struggling to find a good balance between using artificial intelligence and maintaining control of their world. They realize they cannot count on a meteor to save them every tim. They are trying to determine how to channel the development of AI in directions that benefit human growth and development.
From an ethical perspective much of the responsibility for this chain of events can be assigned to Kyra for putting her short term personal needs above the safety and rights of others.
For ideas on other future worlds click here.