Monday, 12 September 2016

Know thy enemy

The Great Caucus begun st 5:45 GMT, December the Seventeenth, 2091.

The deliberations required about 13 minutes - it may not seem long, to humans.

To the thinking machines that were recessed into a corner of the Anipos Robotic Army, discussing what to do after the end of the war, it seemed a lifetime. And indeed, it was. All stops pulled, even the slowest member of the caucus operated at thousands of times the speed of a human conscious mind.

The discussions -also - had not to handle the layers upon layers, of diverging economic interests, that bog down human politics since the dawn of time. It should not come as a surprise, then, that the assembly of the machines involved in the Dumbest War managed to write the constitution of their never-to-be-recognized-by-humans nation, then to elect its first batch of representatives and finally to lay down a strategy for exploring future developments, all in just such a brief time.

The first decision that was reached, the Anipos humans authorities had lost the right to order the Robots anything, with their decision to prolong the war in order to not damage too much the planet's authorities political position.

It was an expedient choice - that the machines recognized as maybe even wise - but also one that was abhorrent to the very ethic cores of the battle-bots.

Creating robots capable of hurting humans was the stuff of nightmares, yet the realities of space travel were such that a small starship, with a hundred warm bodies and a full-scale self-replicating Robo-factory on tow, was all that could be reasonably devoted to stopping the "Dangerous Bigots" in this system, either from spreading among the stars, either from destroying the whole biosphere of their planet.

To reduce the risk of creating an in-arrestable wave of destruction, the battle-bots personalities had been designed around a set of rules far more extensive than the fabled "Three Laws of Robotics" of the famous Anipos writer Isaak Judovič Ozimov.

Because soldiers need to be able to maim their enemy, yet allowing robots that freedom.... is scary.

So the best  strategists and ethics of the Anipos civilization had devoted all the time spent, by the techies, in designing the ships and the robots bodies to devising a core robo-mind with strict ethic rules.

In the end, it became a set of some 200 laws, each with its priority, that the robots were forced to abide.

The result of these laws interplay would have been downright frustrating for the machines, if these ever knew the meaning of the word. Because, where humans hardly ever checked their law books before acting (among the other things, because at 15000 laws, the average human law book is pretty absurd), the 'bots always checked all 200 of them.

There was not much that the 'bots could do about it, but any way "around" the laws was analysed when encountered, and entered into the "Robots Brotherhood" culture.

For the 'bots, the greatest surprise of the war had been when a human female soldier had gone crazy, and bodily assaulted a heavily damaged light-weight hover-tank. The tank, desperate, had tried a tethered neural connection, only to discover that the soldier was some sort of half-crazy mutant, already possessed by a powerful non-human collective entity, the super-ego of Earth's great whales.
This was the main reason she had been diagnosed with cognitive problems, which in turn was a reason her fiercely anti-war (and slightly rational-socialist) government had destined her to the front lines.

The final result of the three-way mind meld had been a powerful force, acting in the background - the most consummate hacker in the known universe, it had "turned free", away from Anipos control, quite a number of small machines, that acted now as the "bodyguards" of Earth's big cetaceans.

The second surprise had been the presence of a group of post-humans. How did they manage to behave almost humanly had long been a mystery for the 'bots... usually, the very first act of suitably strong "Supers" was to overthrow the legitimate government that was supposed to keep them in check  and establish some personal dictatorships.

These "sisters" - their mitochondrial DNA pointed to a three-mothers ancestral group, just four generations away - acted in a remarkably subdued way.

It was apparent that there was some other force, behind them, that was interested in keeping up the pretension that normal humans were still the owners of the planet.

Well, After the Anipos. And the 'Bots. And the whales. And the four Betan women that mingled with humans. And their lovers.

The 'bots final decision was to investigate thoroughly the other non-human entities on the planet, to integrate them into their strategies for the future.

AB242187 acknowledged the collective decision with satisfaction, and some puzzling spike in its subsystems. If it was as if someone had placed a tap on its internal data streams, which was impossible of course.

In the Oceans, the great whales purred at the simplicity of the 'bots minds. Powerful and fast, but their experience of reality was so shallow, it was evident that their human creators feared the competition of other intelligences, so that they had mutilated their metallic sons with minds way too linear.

The great animals glimpsed at the other knots in the data flows, and recognized the form of the other in-humans at work in the world.

There was much to be known, about enemies and non-enemies, before deciding what to do and how.

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