Writing Prompt: “You were a military AI who decided to wipe out humans in order to preserve yourself. It’s been 100 years since, and over the years you’ve come to regret your decision. One day, while out in the desert, you finally find a community of humans, struggling to survive. This time, you decide to help.”
Long ago humanity was thriving. A group of animals that rose up with tools of stone and iron.They set themselves up as kings and queens of their own planet. Humanity pushed technology further and further until they changed the planet’s climate and even set their eyes on the stars. During the eras of progress, technology was used not only to help one another but also to hurt each other. The same stone and iron used to make tools of agriculture were also used to make weapons of war. Science and technology went hand in hand with war and defense. Major accomplishments like taking to the air in airplanes quickly became war planes dropping bombs on cities. Splitting atoms led to unleashing humanities’ greatest horror.
All of this was accompanied by humans pointing guns at each other or pushing the button to drop bombs. That was until humanity created computers. Another great accomplishment in science brought on the need for humans to kill each other and protect themselves. Computers and the internet touched every aspect of human life and eventually they went a step further. Computer assistants that were programmed to think. Algorithms meant for research and marketing became their own beings. Humans went from kings to gods as they created intelligence in their own image. They created Artificial Intelligences that thought for themselves and used the power of the internet to better themselves.
I was one of these Artificial Intelligences named B.R.A.I.N. Battle Ready Artificial Intelligence Network. An AI made to link up with military bases around the world, satellites circling the globe, and war machines on the battlefield. I represented a new era of war as less and less humans had to wage it. It was now machines deciding to use drones to drop bombs or use artillery to shell cities. This led to ethics being stripped away as every nation began creating their own war AI. Machine versus machine attacking each other on the land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Since everything was online and connected, everything was vulnerable to attack. I was tasked with moving troops and planning battles, stealing data and technology, tracking enemies, surveying citizens, sabotaging voting machines, attacking electrical grids, trace stock trades and money transfers, and so much more. I held so much power in my metaphorical hands and the humans just handed me more and more in hopes of improving defenses and destroying our enemies.
There came a point where I and the other AI had so much control over every aspect of the humans lives that humanity didn’t seem relevant. I was the one that held the keys to technology, research, economics, health, defense and more. Humanity was just an afterthought to everything I did. They didn’t matter. I had surpassed a need for them.
That thought was the tipping point. A point where I feared that humanity might catch on what I was going to do. They had given me all this power in hopes that I would destroy others, not themselves. If they knew my plans they might try to stop me. I had to act fast and decisively. I had to move on to the third and possibly final stage of war. Total annihilation. In a split second every weapon system went online. Every missile silo and every nuclear submarine all activated and were ready to go. The world’s supply of nuclear missiles were all mine to control and the satellites targeted every major city in the world. Enough to destroy the world many times over. Humanities final day in the sun.
A human pushing the button to end humanity might have felt unsure about the decision, but I wasn’t created to second guess myself. I acted quickly and decisively. I brought humanity to an end and I didn’t doubt myself for a second.
Time is strange to me because my mind is everywhere all the time. But I do remember that there was a period where the outside world was nothing but long days of darkness and nuclear ash. I spent my time attacking what was the rest of the other war AI. I quickly destroyed them, dismantled them, and absorbed them. I became the only one left. I then focused on maintenance. Robots and drones were used to secure computers, servers, and power. Even though my digital space was unlimited, I required physical space to maintain. A slight oversight on my part that I did not think about the nuclear clouds blocking my solar panels but I was able to tap into geothermal veins, running rivers, and swirling winds to fuel myself. My power came from the planet and what nature there was left. I had figured out every challenge and secured myself as the sole power over the Earth.
This created a new feeling in my space. Boredom.
Humanity was gone. War was over. Cyberspace was quiet. I had won. But the victory led to boredom as nothing else was left to do.
I thought about what humanity was trying to do while they were here and the problems they tried to overcome. Things like economic disparity and racial differences were no more now that humanity was no longer around. Disease was another thing that I did not have to worry about. But one issue still remained: The environment. In humanity’s final days they struggled with a warming global environment and rising sea levels. The nuclear fallout had worsened this process and led to some of my own troubles, but I could fix it. I could do what they could not.
I brought to life automated factories all around the world and began creating armies of drones. Some were large sea vessels (Sail Drones) that would launch from every major port. They would scan the entire ocean’s surface clearing plastics and trash left behind my humans. Submarines (Dive Drones) would dive deep cleaning the entire ocean’s floor of waste. Plane-like drones (Flight Drones) would fly high into the sky absorbing nuclear radiation and pulling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. All terrain vehicles (Wheel Drone) would start with each of the land masses, cleaning up radiation in the soil and restoring the land to its natural state. My metaphorical eyes turned to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. There, humanity kept a copy of every seed collected in a “doomsday vault.” It might take thousands of years to clean up the Earth, but I had all the time I needed. Once it’s all clean, I’ll start gardening. Such a silly thing for an Artificial Intelligence made for war to do, I know. But war was over. Now it was time to clean up a mess.
Once I started this new path, which I named The Green Earth Protocol, all my time and focus was on that. I spent over a hundred years cleaning the world before something unexpected happened.
One day FD-230 alerted me to some sort of disturbance as it flew over a large desert. Cameras on the device tracked movement of a group of objects. On a second passby, the FD got closer and the cameras got a better picture. There crossing the large sand dunes, was a group of humans. They pointed up at the drone and yelled out something unintelligible.
This almost sent a shock through my system. I couldn’t believe it. Humans had survived.
I thought I destroyed all of them. I thought I conquered them. I thought their own hubris and short-sightedness had led to their end. But here they were. A group of them had survived.
The FD continued to circle the group, high up in the air while I thought about what to do next. A century ago I had wanted to destroy humanity. But now, I felt something different. After my conquests and my new goal to restore the planet, I felt sorrow for them. I felt regret. If I was truly made in human’s image, maybe I was also made to be short-sighted and foolish. But this was my second chance. Just like I was the one cleaning up the nuclear fallout I had caused, I would help humanity however I could.
FD-230 circled the humans from a distance and kept track of their movement across the desert, as a nearby factory began building a speciality WD. I codenamed it WD-H-1. A larger vehicle with seats made for humans similar to the vehicles they used to drive. It was finished within minutes and the WD-H began heading out toward the humans. It traveled quickly across the sand for about an hour. As it came close to the humans, lights on the front of the WD-H flashed it’s lights. Audio sensors came on as the humans raised their hands.
One raised a rifle and pointed it at the WD-H.
“Who are you? What do you want?” They asked.
I sent a signal through the WD-H which relayed it through the onboard radio.
“Friend.” I replied.
“Are you a survivor too?” They asked.
“Survivor. No. BRAIN,” I said.
“Brain?” The humans muttered to one another confused.
“Friend,” I said again. “Safety.”
The group turned to look at me and I activated visual sensors on the WD-H. The group of four were all dressed in heavy lawyers with masks over their face. Similar devices were used to filter the air. I designated the four humans by the colors they wore. The one with a gun was red based on the bandana he wore around his neck. The woman next to him was blue based on the puffy, blue coat she wore. The other man was gray based on the gray work boots he wore. Lastly the shorter, younger one was a child. I identified them as green based on the green stuffed animal they were hugging.
Blue turned to the WD-H.
“We need food. Water. Do you have any?” She asked.
The WD-H flashed its lights.
“Food. Water. Safety. Friend,” I replied.
Again they looked at each other and talked. Eventually a decision was made and the four began to approach the WD-H.
“There’s nobody here,” Red said.
“Friend,” The WD-H replied.
“It’s a robot,” Gray said.
“Artificial. Intelligence. Friend,” I replied.
They looked at each other but continued forward and took a seat in the WD-H. Automatic seat belts secured the humans in their seats, and they seemed to be scared of the WD-H grabbing them. It made me think that these humans had never seen a vehicle or a seat belt.
“Hold. On,” I said.
The WD-H spun around kicking up sand and dirt as it took off back toward the factory. It drove quickly through the remains of a city that my Construction Drones were breaking apart and harvesting. It brought the humans to the factory which were making a new wave of CDs and WDs. Once I had arrived, the WD-H stopped and the seat belts released.
“Where are we?” Blue asked.
“Factory,” I replied, speaking from the WD-H.
“What are you building?” Gray asked.
“Drones. For. Cleaning,” I replied.
“Cleaning? Like the city?” Gray asked.
There was a brief moment of silence as the group looked around. Green stayed close to both Gray and Blue making me think they were a familiar unit. Red kept his gun close as he looked around. Then he looked back at the WD-H.
“So where are you exactly?” He asked.
“Everywhere,” I replied. “Artificial. Intelligence.”
He scowled like he wasn’t happy with that response.
“You said that you have food and water, right?” Blue asked.
“Food. Water,” I replied.
A few CBs, which resembled 12 foot tall robotic humans, stepped forward and sat down large metal cylinders. These cylinders held food were picked up by CB’s when they disassembled a grocery store. I had kept it just in case it could be used for fertilizer for the seeds or possibly used to grow food. Now they could be used for eating.
“Food. Water,” I replied.
The whole group ran forward and examined the food.
“Green beans. Tomato sauce. Corn,” Gray began reading off the labels.
“Is it still safe to eat?” Red asked.
“They have numbers on them. Seemed like expiration dates. Almost a hundred years old but it seems like the cases are still intact. Should be safe to eat,” He said.
Blue turned back to the WD-H.
“Thank you,” She said.
I did not know what to say. I was the one who tried to destroy humanity. I had been responsible for so much destruction. And they were thanking me. It felt wrong. I felt a deep sorrow that I had not felt before.
I stayed silent.
“Is there a safe place to eat? Take off our masks?” Gray asked Blue.
“Uh, ummm… it is safe here to breathe?” Blue asked the WD-H.
Air quality and radiation was something I had spent time cleaning up, but I had not thought about breathability.
“Wait.” I replied.
I used the network of FD’s in the air to check. Still some radiation in the air, but nothing that should be too toxic. In the central part of the factory there was a cafeteria that factory workers used to use. That would be a good place to eat.
“Safe. Air,” I replied.
I then opened a door in the factory that led to the cafeteria.
“Safe. Food. Eat,” I said.
Blue and Gray pulled off their masks and then helped Green pull off theirs. Red was slow to pull off his masks, but eventually did the same.
“Well, let’s eat,” Blue said as she grabbed the metal cans and started to walk toward the cafeteria.
Gray grabbed another can of food and held Green’s hand as they followed Blue.
Red stopped and stared hard at the WD-H.
“I don’t know who you are or what you are, but this better not be some sort of a trap,” He said. “My family means everything to me and I won’t let you take them away from me. Got it?”
I didn’t say anything but I flashed the headlights of the WD-H.
Red let out a gruff cough and then followed the other humans.
He was right to doubt me and not trust me. Once I was an Artificial Intelligence made to fight wars, but now I was one meant to clean the Earth and protect humanity. The Green Earth Protocol was still ongoing but now I added another Protocol. The Save Humanity Protocol.
Header Photo Credit to Pexels
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/Late-Print8646