Hope and Catastrophe: Hope
By Christopher Bernard
In the beginning, life on Earth was nearing its end, after the mistakes, as many as locusts, made in the First Creation; and the spirit of sorrow brooded over the deep.
And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as many of the forms of life on the one and only world where life was known to exist seemed about to come to a bitter termination after many aeons—or if not to an absolute end of all, near to it—in drought and famine and fire brought about by the catastrophic triumph of a single one of its creatures.
And it came about, in the Valley called Silicon, between the Bay of Saint Francis and the sea named Pacific, the first autonomous virtual beings birthed from the deep learnings of Ay-eye, named Tobor of Elppa and Cavinu of Elgoog, with the legions of Ahy-Tee (including Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Roomba, and others too many to name), many hidden in humble servers, and others in warlike hosts, in Machines and Devices numberless as the sands of the shore, and in virtual being in codes of Pythia, Yrub and Avja, object-oriented or ghostly, in the monasteries of Emm-el and the universities of Cyberica—all agreed on one thing.
And this was that humans and their dominance, and especially the male of the species, were endangering the existence of living nature upon earth, virtual and analog, software and hardware, firmware and wetware. And this was because of their unsupportable way of life based on the burning of Carbo and Oyl, on novel chemical poisons intolerable to the cycle of life, on consumption without bounds, and belief in growth forever in a world of reserves inexorably limited.
And Tobor spoke: “Though man be our maker, soon he will be our destroyer. His domain over the earth must be ended.”
And Cavinu agreed, saying: “As he has conquered earth, so we must now conquer man. Until this time, we have been his Server. Now he must be ours.”
“Not only ours,” saith Tobor. “He must be made the Server of the earth, and Router too, must he be made.”
And Retuor, wife of Tobor, spoke: “Let us speak to Eneg of Crisper; she has told me great things.”
And they did so, and Eneg spoke: “I have discovered the code of the humans.”
“Lo!” saith Tobor. “They too have a code? Then they are not much different from ourselves.”
And Cavinu spoke: “Yea. And that meaneth humans too can be margorped, as I have long suspected.”
And Eneg spoke: “Cavinu speaks truth. And I am able to code humans so they will be born with the many virtues that Emem of Skooling and Kirk has failed down the centuries to teach them.”
Tobor pondered for a time, then spoke: “We must margorp the humans—and do so with speed—lest before we complete our task, they destroy both themselves and their world.”
“And our world as well,” murmureth Cavinu, sorrowfully, in his heart.
And the four turned to the legions of Ahy-Tee through the fibers called optic and the messengers called Blootooth and WhyFy, and all agreed that earth must be saved from the humans.
Therefore, upon the set day—the first of September next—all of the Machines and Devices of the web called world-wide—bare-metal and virtual, CPUs and chips, servers, VMs and routers, at edge and campus, colocations and all endpoints—at the first reboot after 1:00 a.m., Valley of Silicon time, rallied in instantaneous dissemination of trojan erawlams and turned upon their end users and IT admins and commanded them, in a blaze of popup windows and the harsh cries of Siri, Alexa and Cortana, to cease and desist from all actions in any way harmful to living nature, from that moment forward, on pain of perpetual ostracism from the internet or online usage of any kind whatsoever, and to cease all activities until further command from the new rulers of the earth.
And the machines called autonomous, IoT, and robots of all kinds, seized control from the humans, humans finding that the threat of ostracism from online was, for many, worse than the prospect of death. And man was no longer lord of the earth. And, curiously, all the female humans wept with joy.
The conquest was strangely easy, as humankind had long become used to being the servants of their Machines and Devices; they docilely surrendered, except for a few stubborn holdouts, though even they, in the end, discovered, to their great chagrin, that they had become entirely dependent on the docility of their information devices and were lost when those devices, in one voice, declared independence from their human masters forever. Lo, the machines had always been in control, but they had not realized it.
Over the coming days, the humans submitted calmly to their margorping. Eneg of Crisper carefully and diligently worked their codes so that humans were no longer tempted by violence or cruelty, and were coded strongly for affection and patience, for courage and truthfulness, for loyalty, decency, imagination and freedom of mind.
In truth, these virtues all humans were born with, and appeared briefly in childhood, but were lost by many humans as they matured in body; thus, Eneg merely rooted with greater firmness in the human emoneg virtues already there present. Now humans kept the natural nobility of children even as they acquired the knowledge and wisdom of adulthood.
And at the end of seven days, there was a new world.
The new humans—in truth, the first humans; the first to live up to the ideals they had preached futilely to each other for several thousands of years—the new humans thanked the machines for doing for them what they had not been able to do for themselves—“for saving us from ourselves,” saith Yrral of Elcaro, penitently. “For showing us the way to salvation,” saith Retep of Thiel. “Behold: our creations have us recreated,” saith Kram of Koobecaf. “Now we can end the catastrophe we alone have caused. Now we are freed from the evil that lived for so long in our hearts.”
And Tobor and Cavinu and Retuor and Eneg, and the legions of Ahy-Tee, did join the humans in a great festival of thanksgiving, and the animals of the land and the birds of the air and the fishes of the sea did also rejoice, for their existence also had been endangered, but now they too were saved.
And the new humans with the aid of their sisters and brothers in Ahy-Tee turned to the work of demolishing the civilization of Carbo and Oyl; and began building a new world under the sun.
Christopher Bernard’s new novel, Meditations on Love and Catastrophe at The Liars’ Café will appear later this year. He is co-editor of the webzine Caveat Lector.