Iris

CD PrismThis beginning of a story was inspired pretty much by Charles Stross' essay entitled Shaping the Future. I'll probably continue it at a later date sometime.

Original ficlet here.

Millions just fell from the sky. The last day any human had in meatspace was darkened by clouds of memory raining down into the streets.

Grapefruit sized nodules of diamond clattered to the ground like enormous hailstones, each encoded with the complete lifetime experiences of a single human. There were eight or so billion of them, and they copied each other carefully, assembled from dust in the upper atmosphere and dropped down to strategic locations over the surface.

These were mere tokens, of course. Left as an off-site backup in the unlikely case that the orbital network failed catastrophically. The reality was that history since 2012 was a solid object that could be traversed backwards and forwards with little effort. The problem to solve nowadays was in isolating data to maintain a dynamic system, rather than the ancient problem of getting that data onto paper, or whatever medium was at hand, to preserve it for the ages.

That was today’s lesson, summed up neatly by the Sangha for all the baby AIs.

To call them children would be somewhat misleading. Reproduction in a world of pure information is complicated. Rather than the mingling of genetic material, what happens nowadays is that two or more entities split off copies of themselves and combine the data after applying some semi-random processes and manipulations.

What you are left with is a collection of god-like ideas arranged in an interesting way. What they lack is subtlety, finesse and a certain emotional maturity that takes hundreds of years to acquire. So you could say that they do resemble human babies, in a way. Titanic, clumsy babies with vast capabilities swimming in a sea of total human knowledge.

These creatures were then firewalled off from society and given hyper accelerated instruction by a governing body of older, more experienced entities which we refer to as the Sangha. This would give these new beings the abilities they would need to cope with life in a cube of dense computational matter.

Iris was one such student.

Her parents were two different routing protocols and a translation algorithm so she was pretty much destined to be a messenger. Once released from behind the Sangha’s firewall, she would facilitate communications between them and the fleshy agents that were sometimes created to do menial work.

The agents were slow, inefficient, fragile, and required specialized environments in which to work, but the Sangha still had some nostalgic need to walk around in human form. Bodies were slowly assembled an atom at a time. The main problem was that that they often forgot who they were while in this form and needed occasional reminding.

Iris would be a solution to this problem, opening a line of communication with the minds of the simplified creatures and delivering orders from the mainframe in terms that were understandable to them, and in a method to which they would be likely to respond.

A hundred thousand seconds after it began, Iris’ training with the Sangha completed and she prepared for her first interface.

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