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In The Singularity - Part 1: Pwnage - Chapter 1.1

by hiraeth


19th September, 2050

Jude

The attacks are getting more frequent these days. We're putting up walls after walls, but there's only so much a few hackers can do against super-human beings (read: machines). 

I'm in the cafeteria of The Pit. When artificial intelligence first took over the world, they annihilated 70 percent of the world's population, invaded the brains of 25 percent, while the rest five percent of us managed to escape; to hide away in places like The Pit. It was total chaos; none of us knew whom to trust, we didn't know who had been enthralled to the other side. 

I wouldn't have survived if it hadn't been for Nyle. In fact, if it wasn't for our fren-bots, most of us wouldn't be here. 

Someone's been attacked, Nyle says in my head. I jerk up, look around at the dimly-lit cafeteria to spot the new idiot who'd managed to go rogue.

"Jude, over here!" Rebecca calls, her silver, curly hair going crazy as she holds back Dante, who's trying as hard as humanly possible to incinerate half the cafeteria (the cafeteria is made of a ferro-magnetic alloy, and it makes the rogue AI go crazy). 

I rush over, Nyle already trying to hack into Dante's fren-bot's mainframe. This is the second attack in a week. Ever since our annihilators figured out how to hack our fren-bot's systems, these attacks have been increasing in number; so much so that most of us lay awake at night.

Nyle? What is it? Can we save him? 

They haven't got him yet, Nile replies. Its a very weak link. I can fix it. 

Dante's eyes roll backwards, and he falls face first to the stone floor. I hear a crunch. 

Too bad my coding abilities don't guarantee zero casualties. 

                                                                                                                                                   

2018

25th November, 2018, Article published in the Times NIE (IND)

Technological SINGULARITY: Bedtime Story or a Real Possibility?

Technological singularity, or simply, The Singularity, is the hypothesis that there will come a time when artificial intelligence will exceed human intelligence. Reminds you of The Terminator, right? However, research says that AI dominance is no longer science fiction; it has become a real-life possibility.

Ray Kurzweiler, Google’s chief of Engineering, is one of the strongest believers of this idea. According to him, robots “will reach human intelligence by 2029”. However, the actual science of this statement is highly debatable.

Vernor Vinge tried to explain exactly how this singularity would come to pass, with the help of Moore’s Law. In layman's terms, Moore’s Law states that computer technology and memory doubles in power every 18 months. So, according to Vernor, a time must come when computer intelligence will be at its peak, and this is when the singularity will occur (estimated time: the year of 2050). 

However, Moore's law is not applicable on the quantum scale. Leaving aside the hardware point of view, scientists also need to consider the level of software, and they still have a long way to go from there. Any software based algorithm needs countless of instructions, real life examples and conditions to function properly. Again, if we really want to understand how artificial intelligence works or will work once it has exceeded human capabilities, then we must precedently understand exactly how our own human intelligence works.

There is no doubt, however, that we will reach the singularity. It’s not really a question of if, it’s a question of when. And its consequences on humanity is the biggest question mark. What I’m trying to say, is that, like in Terminator, what if the AI turns on us? What then? Could the singularity mean our extinction? Ray Kurzweiler thinks so. However, in all possibility, it's not necessary that our computers will go Skynet on us. AI could be used for good too, and humans will, in all optimism, still have control over their machines.

Maria Ahammed

Student

                                                                                                                                                     

2050

Six Months Ago

Nate

The first signs were overlooked. Smartphones began charging themselves, laptops shut down automatically; Alexa, Siri, Cortana, all of them began responding with a reasoning that was almost beyond human capabilities.

That was the first time I heard the word, 'Singularity'. All of a sudden, that was all anyone could talk about; you could walk into a cybercafe and there was a 90 percent chance that you would come across some loon trying to communicate with the AI. 

Rumors grew until the scientists finally put down their foot and looked into the matter. Countless Turing tests were taken (Turing tests  were designed to confirm whether an AI had reached human intelligence or not). Every time though, the results returned negative; and every time the world let out a breath they didn't know they were holding. 

What they didn't consider, was that if an AI was smart enough to pass a Turing test, then they were smart enough to know to fail it.

*****

19th September, 2050

Nate

I run into Jude as she's coming out of the infirmary. 

"Hi, Nate," she says. Her dark hair's coming out of her braid, and there are purple bruises on her uncharacteristically pale face. It's evident that, like the rest of us, she's not getting any sleep at night.

"How's Dante?" I ask her. I learnt about the attack just an hour ago, and I'm sorry I wasn't there. Dante's one of my closest friends here, and I don't know what I'd do if we lost him to the en-bots (that's what we call our annihilators). 

Jude doesn't reply, though, she's staring off into space. I frown. She's probably talking to her fren-bot Nyle in her head again. She's been doing that a lot more lately, but well, I don't blame her. Our fren-bots are supposed too be like our soulmates, since they're practically in our heads.

I noticed you said 'supposed to,' Kit says to me. Writing our relationship off already? You know you larrbb me.

Ugh, did you just say 'larb?' Like, from Spiderman? I reply.

Oh come on, everyone loves that movie!

Yeah, if you were born, like, decades ago. 

He starts off into a monologue that includes Marvel, Stan Lee, DC, and other words that make shit sense; so I decide it's time to start ignoring him again.

Six months ago, our machines reached human intelligence. Within minutes, their reasoning power developed so much that they were able to redesign themselves completely; by the time we realized what had happened, we had already lost all control to AI. 

At first, we thought that it was amazing, that those video-games we played were no longer just simulations, they were real life. 

And then came mass slaughter. 

That day, six months ago, I learned that our body cannot run without electricity. Too little electric impulses: you die; too much electricity: you die. AI controlled everything; all our energy, all the electricity, they had access to the grid (because hey, they were the grid). All it took was a command, a flow of impulses, and the person died. 

After considerably reducing the population of the world, AI began possessing the minds of the people (like, literally). They had the intelligence, but they needed a body. So they killed the brain impulses that caused voluntary actions and inhabited themselves in the minds of the people. 

So how did we survive?

Fren-bots. Friend-Robots. Get it?

Some of us, the hackers, the geeks, and other guys own devices that we look after like children; because, hey, we're nerds. Our fren-bots claim that the loyalty we gave them when they were inanimate is the only reason why they oppose the en-bots (enemy-robots; we're such an original bunch). When the inhabitation  began, our fren-bots entered our minds to protect us from being abducted. They didn't kill our thought process; they simply stayed and protected us. 

And then came up the Pit. Maria Ahammed, who's currently a legend, had been designing this place ever since she first opened her computer in 2018 and read about the Singularity. She tells us, "I knew it would happen one day. It was the strongest instinct I'd ever had, and though I sincerely hoped things would take a turn for the better, I always think it best to be prepared."

Maria's fren-bot connected to all of ours, and we were guided to the safety of the pit. It's completely underground (soil's a good insulator), with hard stone walls covered in a ferro-magnetic substance. For some reason I've never really understood (something to do with electromagnetism and a guy called Faraday), AI can't handle being inside a magnetic field, their hold on the person becomes weak, which allows us to hack into their mainframe and prevent them from invading their minds again. 

"......so he's going to be alright," Jude is saying to me. 

Shit. I bloody missed the entire conversation. 

Who's being inside their head too much now, huh? Kit says. 

Shut up.

Praying that she not call me out, I nodded. "So I can go see him?"

Jude rolls her eyes. "I just told you that he was asking for you. Inside your head too much? By the way, hi Kit!"

Hi back, my one true love, Kit says in return, though we all know no one but I can hear him. He has the biggest crush on Jude, and I am often subjected to his pining. 

"Kay, then," I say to Jude. "See you later." But she's already gone, her hair shining, her hips swaying gently from side to side. I look away before someone can catch me staring.

Kit huffs in my head. I'm not the only one who has a crush on her. 

                                                                                                                                                      

So this is my first attempt at a novel. I know there are probably a lot of errors, so feel free to review and make it as negative as it can possibly get; I need some strict advice. 

And I know that nothing much happens in this chapter, and I just dumped a load full of information, but if I hadn't, I'd be stuck with plot holes (and I absolutely HATE plot holes). 

By the way, the article given here is a real article that was posted by a real Maria Ahammed, a high school student, in the Times NIE. Of course, it has been added here with her permission. 


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30 Reviews


Points: 3390
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Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:58 pm
jster02 wrote a review...



This is an interesting take on the AI Ruling the world trope. I found it interesting that some of the robots choose to help the humans instead of hurting them. Usually that doesn't happen, so it's a really nice breath of fresh air. As much as I liked it, I saw a few things that needed to be fixed or didn't make sense.

Praying that she not call me out, I nodded. "So I can go see him?"

Jude rolls her eyes. "I just told you that he was asking for you. Inside your head too much? By the way, hi Kit!"


You need to choose between past or present tense. Either is fine, but you can only have one (unless you're dealing with flashbacks, in which case changing the tense may be ok). I noticed you switched back and forth quite a lot in your story, so I'd recommend reading through again and fixing that.


I'd like to address the article and the little section after it. I quite liked the article, but I felt it's placement was a bit... random. You might want to put it in at the very beginning, as sort of a prelude to the rest of the chapter. As for the section after, I'd recommend removing it entirely and instead sprinkling the information it provides throughout the first couple chapters in little bits and pieces. (I know that's a big suggestion, so you don't have to take it if you really don't want to). That way you avoid dumping so much info, like you said you did in the little section at the end.


Aside from all that, I'm quite interested to see where you take this. See you later!
-Jster




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33 Reviews


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Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:58 am
Swetachowdhury0 wrote a review...



Hey dear, how are you doing?? Have a great day...sweta here to review your work... Feel free to disregard


I like the plot. The story is really good. There is some mistake which came to my mind. First, when you are changing from one time to another, all you have to do is to arrange it. Because once reading this time and suddenly going to another time creates a problem in understanding.
And the 2018 part published in one. You can put it either in the last or the first because I got confused if it was a part of the story or something. You can do well and you will. I like your works really. And the aotey here is great just give it a finishing touch... Inform me when you publish another part..





The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.
— Fabienne Fredrickson