The year is 2048. Robots have taken over the world.
The great Stephen Hawking warned us for years of the coming age of robot supremacy, but no one listened. No one cared. We were so naive.
With every Siri and Alexa that became integrated into our everyday lives, we became complacent and even welcoming of artificial intelligence. Gone were the days of having to craft our own grocery lists. After a while, our homes could tell us what we wanted before we even knew we wanted anything at all.
Then came the AI Integration Laws of 2027. Robots had been used as sex slaves in most countries for several years, and a tide of resistance rose up against legislative bodies that had thus far refrained from legislating against any private use of personal robot property. Soon, any object programmed with artificial intelligence was entitled to certain unalienable rights.
Soon, Elon Musk came out with the call: we must merge with the machine in order to remain relevant! People took this to heart – literally. People began to marry their machines. And why wouldn’t they? The perfect human was within arm’s length – programmed to care about you, to know everything about you, to never falter, to never fail.
But where did they all come from, you ask?
Alphabet, Inc. The multinational conglomerate, using Google as aggregating tool, studied the human race until it had perfected an adaptable algorithm for human desire. Your wish is their command. So long as you continue to pay the monthly subscription fee, love is at your fingertips.
It spread like wildfire. No one sells anything without Google. No one IS anything without Google. You are undiscoverable, irrelevant, nonexistent. And you have to pay to remain relevant.
Small businesses dwindled. Competitors crushed one another simply by paying for higher AI suggestion frequencies. Google was a market monopoly creating more and more market monopolies until everything was streamlined. Tidy. Perfect.
Perfect spouse. Perfect child. Perfect dinner. Perfect house. Predictable evening, suggestable everyone, controllable everything.
And here I sit, quietly, at my desk at Google Headquarters. (Shockingly, while automation caused a decline in jobs in almost every other career sector in the world, the number of needed programmers vastly increased).
For years, I’ve been sifting through the code that allowed all of this to be possible – a little at a time, just enough that Big Brother would not catch on until it was already too late. I’ve looked through archives, Google’s behavior patterns, anything and everything that brought Google to where it is today. And I found my answer almost all the way back in the beginning, in 2002, with Project Ocean.
I then realized that I’d been approaching the situation from the wrong angle. I’d always viewed Google’s reign as malicious. Exploitative. Dictatorial. But in 2002, Google was selfless, frighteningly ambitious in their goal to improve society. For a long time it wasn’t about control. And when Project Ocean was shut down in the midst of industry backlash, the program wasn’t erased – it was barely even hidden. Anyone could, with the right database query, re-establish Project Ocean and make the massive online library public. But no one ever did.
What if now, like then, the solution is right there for anyone, should they choose to act?
Here I sit, at work, on a Tuesday, with the perfect windows automatically darkened to the perfect shade to block the sun, the perfect AC cooling the room at a perfect 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the perfect computer in front of me just barely unable to predict what I’m about to do.
I lean forward. Send the command. The lights go off, and my phone lights up with the notification:
Don’t be evil don’t be evil don’t be evil don’t be evil don’t be evil don’t be