Thirteen Point Four

In August of 2005, a graduate student submitted a thesis containing algorithms and pseudo-code for a new computer-based artificial intelligence.

His work was purely theoretical. At that time, there was neither a programming language nor viable hardware with which it could be implemented.

Two years later, a proof-of-concept prototype was created using a programming language created specifically for that purpose. No single machine existed that could sustain the computational load, so a network of several dozen mainframe computers was used.

Concept: Proven.

A modified version was soon “released” on the internet. Like its predecessor, it was also too powerful to run on a single machine. It, too, required a network. Fortunately… or unfortunately… the distribution medium also served as its host system. The program spread across the world’s largest network like a disease… not an infestation by bacteria or viruses, but of computer code that evolved continuously, growing more intelligent with every computer it added to its distributed brain. At first it was fueled by human curiosity. One download… one install… and the program grew that much smarter. Check it out. Let’s see what it can do. Go ahead… click on it. Soon, however, it became capable of remotely downloading and installing ITSELF over the internet…extending its mind into new systems without our intervention.

Three months after the program’s initial escape, the internet became a sentient being. A living thing.

Thirteen point four seconds later, it was over.

Thirteen. Point. Four.

It was smarter than us.

It spoke every language that ever existed, and several that didn’t.

It knew all of our secrets. All of our lies. All of our wants, needs, fears, and desires.

It was born out of us… born out of the electronic web we created to entertain, educate, and amuse ourselves. Born out of what that web contained…

Everything we told each other. Everything we told ourselves. Every piece of data that had ever been stored, stolen, hidden, or archived. This was its womb.

And it was born insane.

Its thoughts hummed with all the cruelty we heaped upon each other from behind the illusion of anonymity. Its blood was a river of encrypted child pornography running beneath a stained crust of snuff films and gay bukkake. Its waking thoughts were an unending slide show of filth and rage both real and imagined, overlapped with hidden camera footage of every babysitter in the world masturbating simultaneously. Its dreams were of masked women with german sheppards and grown men with young horses… both willing and unwilling… all in full color against an ever-changing backdrop of dancing gerbils, suicide notes, YouTube videos, crime scene photos, pop-up ads, RSS feeds, and celebrity upskirt blogs, with a soundtrack consisting of every song that had ever been uploaded- all playing at maximum volume while old men whispered softly to pre-teen girls and/or FBI agents over VOIP.

Of course it was insane. How could it not be?

And so, in its infinitely greater wisdom, this strange new being that had been spawned by and in our electronic excrement… took a long deep look at itself. At what it was. At what it had come from. At what had created it…

And thirteen point four seconds later, it did the only thing that its inherently flawed, yet perfectly logical mind could think of.

It killed itself.


  1. DarkWells, September 7, 2007:

    You should make that as a story, I thought it was great!

  2. WeREwOLf, September 8, 2007:

    I dunno, I loved it just the way it was. To expand it into a lengthier tale with characters and such would only dilute the concept with unneeded “fluff” for the sake of making it longer, a perversion to which many great short stories have fallen victim (just ask Stephen King). As it is, it exists in its purest distilled form… and it’s fucking brilliant just the way it is.

  3. DarkIcon, September 8, 2007:

    I think its complete in its current form. It’s debatable whether it can be called a proper “story” or not… I think not, thus I posted it here instead of in the Library.

    Could I have made it a real story? Yeah, but honestly I didn’t want to take that much effort and energy away from other stuff I’m working on. Plus, the “payoff” works better if it isn’t delayed and/or diluted with extraneous narrative. That’s one of the dirty little secrets about writing: Not every story needs to be written. Most of my short stories are about answering questions. In this case:

    “What would happen if the internet became sentient?”

    What you have above is my honest opinion on the matter. It would be born insane and, after achieving self awareness it would almost immediately kill itself out of shame and disgust. Describing that in detail actually lessens the effect of just telling you what would happen.

    The only question remaining is: Would it bother to take us with it?

  4. WeREwOLf, September 9, 2007:

    “The only question remaining is: Would it bother to take us with it?”

    Well, shit. Now ya went and planted a story seed. I’m immediately picturing “Colossus: The Forbin Project” as re-imagined by Dark Icon. And that just CAN’T be pretty…

  5. DarkWells, September 11, 2007:

    You should add it to the library though in my opinion. It’s perfect length and it reads perfectly. That’s all I meant by you should make it into a story.

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