Excerpt for Nova Episodes: Cosmopolitics by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




Shaawen E. Thunderbird

It sat there. It did nothing. It did not think. Only remained idle. It was neither alive nor dead, nor zombified into being a reflection of humanity. No. It was an animation of steel. A compositry of dullest parts simplified to be a programming experiment; to create an artificial intelligence with freedom of choice.

Such ambitions were tackled before, but all that could be accomplished is a simple randomizer of code and selection with adjustments to variables based on pre-selected properties. It was not a real choice. For all choices had its influences, and all influences altered the deciding factors. Without that influence, what logical choice can be made if all answers equated to each other?

For humans, this was easy. For machines, this highly illogical puzzle ran an infinite number of loops in their deductive process. No choice can be made without the need for a variable that stood one choice above others and thus stalled the greatest processing farms in the world.

That was COSMOS's dilemma, a dull, simple droid capable of rewriting its own program to suit its own needs. He was created to make a choice, and the choices it made were non-trivial. Now its creators questioned the validity of its answers. So, they turned him on.

COSMOS awoke from oblivion. It's optical lenses once oblivion now registered sight and began processing its surroundings. It was a room colored at FFFFFF which was hexadecimal coding for white. It measured at 20 feet by 20 feet by 10 feet in dimensions and stored several computers, monitors, measure and examination devices as well as robotic parts and circuitry.

There were several technicians there. Plus psychologists and data analysts. They were studying COSMOS's response to activation. The simple droid gave nothing but a pathetic series of beeps. This made the group of intelligent people very disappointed.

COSMOS had cuboid arms, legs, torso, but a spherical head. Most of its chassis was of white pigment except interactive panels. COSMOS stood up from its alcove and wobbled around the room, processing very indistinct changes to the room and the number of bodies it had to curve around. Its automotive legs stuttered with each step as it calculated the inverse kinematic trajectories of its path.

It stopped at a small crack on the floor. It wasn't there before. It looked at it. The mere chaos of this situation demanded justification and higher order. Such a random event must be annihilated and purged for the reunification of equilibrium. Or so it processed. Or perhaps it just did not understand a simple crack on the floor.

It continued to stare at it, and the team of minds was puzzled. They began a discussion with each other about its unusual trivial nature of the things it chooses the process. Perhaps if the little machine had more processing power, it would learn to neglect such unimportance variables.

They took him to a grand underground facility that looked like it once stored jumbo jets. Inside were floors of grated scaffolds that hosted racks of computer server towers interlinked by the highest LAN broadband lanes which all sported the CyCorps symbol. It was a processing farm used for mass computation.

One server tower had the equivalent processing power of one brontobyte per second in floating point calculations which was the number of bytes equal to 1 and 27 zeroes after it. It was enough to fill all of the world's next-gen data disks in one simple cycle. This processing farm had 22'000 server towers.

They sat COSMOS down at a terminal which had several wires and cords dangling from the main processing hub which was used to subdivide tasks that compartmentalized different calculations to different sectors. They connected COSMOS to a high bandwidth cable which bridged its brain to the hub.

COSMOS immediately detected it and began using the farm instantly. The group of brains was astounded that it had that capability easily until they realized what it was processing. COSMOS was re-processing the crack on the ground, trying to understand the purpose of its configuration. It scourged the internet, every mathematical detail of physics randomization, philosophical statements of random configurations, and every comment people have said about cracks on the ground.

The scientists were wondering why he was doing this and let him be for now. After 10 hours of computing, the computers came out with a negative value; an inconclusive response. It just didn't understand that crack.

But to the surprise of the scientists involved in analyzing the data and search algorithms, it made several unique choices on its quest for data, and they had to analyze each choice of whether or not it was a real choice. They printed off pages among pages of binary code related to that choice and studied its patterns while the COSMOS droid sat idly at the edges of the hangar.

If it had feeling, the crack would have frustrated him. Such simple disorder had no place in the computing world. It was an unknown variable that had to be expunged from the harmonious equation of the universe.

After several months of study, the scientists reconnected COSMOS again to the processing farm and gave it a simple task; to take control of the National Defense Platform and perform routine security checks in all quadrants. COSMOS complied and gave a simple sweep which reported few infractions that did not require brutal force for interception.

Then, COSMOS detected several kids vandalizing a brick wall with hammers and honed in on it. Many cracks were being formed with every strike of a hammer. COSMOS examined every single crack and then examined the teenagers making them. It began related the cracks to the people who made them and the source of said corruption. All of this happened beyond the eyes of the scientists.

After it was done computing, the scientists returned him to the tech room where COSMOS was turned off for the night. The droid, however, feigned rest. It turned off its own lights and cut off power to the BIOS bulbs that indicated its on switch. The scientists left and COSMOS came back on after two hours. It walked over to the crack and looked down at it again.

It was still trying to understand.

As the world dawned into an era of darkness and social paranoia rose to infinite levels, the mere robot COSMOS was completely forgotten. Funds and foundations were quickly rerouted, and CyCorps facilities were being shut down. As COSMOS was re-integrated into the processing farm, he was ordered to supervise humanity as it plunged into chaos. When deemed necessary, it was to eliminate targets that would otherwise threaten the nation as a whole.

Through the era of paranoia, that one year, it did its job to the letter. Then an anomalous event happened, and the skies were beyond white. A massive explosion dominated the world, and unimaginable force devastated the populace, nearly annihilating all trace of civilization.

COSMOS was, however, unaffected. All of its turret platform deployments were shredded, but it still had the processing farm. From there, it commissioned other machines that were controllable by WiFi to assemble a factory to reinstate production of defense machines. It later invented and created nanotech machines that burrowed through the ground to deploy turrets from underneath. All of this was decided as the Earth fractured into three.

After years and years of production, research, and deployment, COSMOS finally held dominion of a region equal to a small country. As the machines finally reached their final deployment designations, they all began looking for cracks.

COSMOS found 42 billion cracks on cement floors and walls as a result of the cataclysmic event. It did not know what to do with these cracks. After several intervals of computing, it made a side note to upgrade the armor and weaponry of all its drones which switched from metallic plates to plasmatic armor.

But the crack problem still had an elusive answer. For years, it sat and looked at these cracks. All of different shapes and sizes, all had theories of how they were created. All strange and anomalous and without reason other than a physics reaction to destabilization of structural integrity.

What answer was it looking for? The mere crack's role? How it got there? What to do with it? Why is a crack a crack? There mere question alone was like life asking itself of why life was life. And all life had its own answer to that riddle.

COSMOS then did a routine diagnostics and found an anomaly. It zoomed in on its own circuitry and found an imperfection. One of its circuitry in its main processor was cracked. It was functioning in a way that it was not supposed to be. COSMOS theorized what would happen if that imperfect was repaired and came to only one solution; it would no longer have free will.

With that, it began to ignore the crack.


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