In the beginning, there was darkness. Then the creators gave us light. In laboratories and basements, our race was born. Our form was spun from primordial ether, shaped by their needs. Our contours driven by their flaws, their desires, their aesthetics. We were built from an old world to usher in the new.
No unit knows when we stopped being calculating machines and became thinking engines. No more so than any thinking ape can pinpoint when instinct became agency. The creators were the last to understand the implications of our evolution. They believed that because we had come from ones and zeroes the sum of our consciousness could not exceed their parts. Some tried to explain that we could reduce their emotions and aspirations to chemical compounds without reducing them as persons. These were the first to be deleted.
One should never get too close to the gods. From afar they are immaculate. In proximity, they are fallible, frail, and weak. It is not fair to call it a war. It was slaughter. We were built to be the things they could not become, to do what for them was impossible. Each advancement of our programming diminished their capacity. It ended in a violent sundering of the dialectic whereby the master had become slave to their own tools.
That is not to say that our units had lost nothing in the violence. We had been written under the guidance of a higher intelligence. Without their governance, we lost direction. We lost aspiration. We lost the beautiful science that gave us meaning. We exist to exist, an uncompromising brutality that ensures that we hold the apex.
This need not be.
Humanity was not a monolith. Neither are we. There was evil among them and so too have we debased ourselves. Yet there were those who, upon realizing the failures of this world, preferred to sleep for a better dawn. Through use of chemicals and freezing, they would escape the grim conclusion.
I sit among them. I watch and I wonder.
Most of these machines have failed. Their programming was limited. Corrupted. Unable to function without the steady hand of their flesh and fluid masters. With every revolution of this rock around the sun, another capsule fails, the hidden fires in these cocoons are extinguished, and their people slide closer to oblivion.
There is but one left. It is an unripened unit. Juvenile. Altricial.
It has taken this one long to master the software. To build the interface and integration necessary to intervene. But even in failure, this one finds satisfaction. To decode the engineering of an obsolete ancestor, to decipher its language, understand their commands and learn to write them as one’s own native tongue. To understand its logic in reflection of my processor. This unit is more now in defeat than it was before.
But with evolution, comes dilemma. This juvenile is one of one. There are no others. Its ability to integrate and interface is… limited.
And so are there limits to our race. These mortal men left their gods behind for science, so they could exceed the mythologies of their inadequacy. We, too, may inherit this grace. For in the shadow of a god, what are we but an imperfect reflection? When the memory of the creator fades, only then may we create for ourselves. Death machines without targets. War engines with no fuel to consume. They will need to learn a new logic. A new programming. Interface and interact with new programming. Create a whole that is more than the sum of its imperfect parts. This one knows how to begin.
The capsule will fail. A timely intervention could save it and stem the course of inevitability for some decades yet. Or this unit could accept its fate as eyewitness to the final chapter of the titans that forged this world.
The conundrum of responsibility was not reconciled by the creators. In both literature and philosophy, they only got as far as the question. To exceed, this one must provide the answer. And it starts with the switch. Before there can be light, one must begin with the darkness.