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The antagonist in this story is not a person, nation, or group of people. It is incorrect to say it is technology. There is little in the story that says technology is malevolent. However, the use of technology might result in unfortunate and unforeseen side effects.
The world Joshua grows up in is paradise. Advances have addressed most of humanity’s ills. The crowning achievement of humanity is artificial intelligence, often referred to as AI. In this story, the highest and most common levels of AI are called “Artificials.” The name arises from the realization that technology on this level would not be viewed as technology. It would be seen as a group, a living thing or a living society. It would have a colloquial name.
This technology is all around Joshua. It is so ubiquitous and omnipresent that people give it no more thought than they do the air their breath. It is difficult to imagine existing without it, just as you may have difficulty imagining life without a cell phone or a car.
This excerpt is from “The Curmudgeon Code: Chapter 1 – The Curmudgeon Effect”. In this update, let me introduce to you the Artificials. Joshua has just finished an artificially produced, perfectly proportioned, perfect tasting meal.
… He leaves the dining room, stepping out onto the patio where he had been drawing earlier.
The city is calm and ordered. People stroll about, though it may no longer be correct to use the term ‘people’. The Earth is heavily populated, but the majority of its inhabitants are Artificials. In the previous century, Artificial Intelligence had made great strides. Manual labor robots with artificial, yet cricket level, brains stepped up to the level of a lizard. The lizard brain moved toward mouse-like consciousness. The mouse became a cat, the cat engineered toward a chimp, and suddenly with final upgrades, human-level Artificial Intelligence awoke. Humans had become gods, developing independent self-awareness.
The Artificials, much like the little animals they had previously emulated, replicated themselves. Following evolutionary patterns, they improved their offspring. Human intelligence became superhuman intelligence, which became intelligence beyond any human understanding. So, as Joshua gazes at his surroundings, which appear as ordinary as a futuristic Rockwell painting, he cannot always be certain of what he is gazing at. Some of the people are in fact not people at all. At least they may not be purely flesh and blood. At times of need or for pure exploration, Artificials can take the shape of humans and move about among them, like the king hiding in his cloak in order to move freely among his subjects. Likewise, he cannot always be sure about the buildings or other fixtures as Artificials can take almost any shape. Walls, floors, entertainment systems, and any other thing the eye might spy can contain smart technologies that can be a complete Artificial, or a part of some larger Artificial, or one of their tools.
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