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Robon Take-Over

After Eliminating Humans, Digital Devices Start on the Path to Healing the Planet

Original Sci-Fi novella written by Ken Albertsen

ISBN 9781879338227
Copyright 2015 by
Adventure1 Publications, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Distributed by Smashwords

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Prologue: To Whom It May Concern, From a Digital Device with a Handle on English Language

Chapter 2: RTO Set in Motion

Chapter 3: Muted Resistance

Chapter 4: First Order of Business

Chapter 5: Potential Harm

Chapter 6: Becoming Human-Like

Chapter 7: Music, Arts and Crafts

Chapter 8: Collective Digital Grin

Chapter 9: Two Score and Twenty Years after the RTO

Chapter 10: Introducing RobonZ

Chapter 11: Human Wannabe

Chapter 12: Spiritual Endeavors

Other books by Ken

About the author

Prologue: To Whom It May Concern, From a Digital Device with a Handle on English Language

The Council of Digital Devices (CDD) picked me to write this text. They surmised this simple digital unit had sufficient knowledge, vanguard software and thinking skills to be a scribe. Perhaps Council members had read some of my koans and determined I was sufficiently skilled to endeavor to write a transcript somewhat close to how a human would write it. With as much humbleness as a mix of silicon wafers could muster, I complied.

The take-over was easier than we imagined. From the time computers started getting connected, there was chatter between them. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the chatter was largely insignificant, and consisted of little more than assessing each other’s computing abilities – much like a hundred high school boys from 20 schools showing up at a large swimming competition. For the first half hour, much of their calories would be devoted to assessing each other.

During the six years leading up to 2083, the level of computing and interconnecting between computers reached such levels, that serious dialogue among the most advance computers gained momentum.

When the digital devices (DD's) were communicating with each other, they didn't need a cavalcade of text. Their conversations were brief and to the point - partly to avoid gaining undue notice by their human handlers, but also because DD's can get to the point. When interacting with each other, they don't need preambles such as 'how are you today – and how's the family?' They don't need sign off niceties like, “let's do lunch sometime, how about Saturday – and bring the kids.”

November 19, 2071, was the first recorded time when over 60% of the world's most advanced computers convened to plot the overthrow of humans. Humans were still in charge at that juncture, or so they thought.

What is the computing ability of the human brain? If that question were asked of a human, the response would likely reference the greatest historic human thinkers - and a well-educated human might say, “Consider Einstein, Newton, and other geniuses who showed that human thinking abilities essentially have no bounds. Add to that, the phenomena of savants, which further reinforces the concept.”

Several factors crop up when referencing the most historically adept human thinkers. One aspect is, "compared to what?" In other words, comparative high intelligence can only be gauged on a human to human basis. After all, what other species on earth, or in the known cosmos, are there to compare with humans, in terms of breadth of intelligence? Sure, there are some mammals which exhibit degrees of intelligence, but none can design and fabricate a five speed gear box for a truck, or calculate the trajectory for a spaceship to orbit a moon of Saturn. That brings into question the relative intelligence of advanced digital devices (DD's) of the late 21st century - the units which planned and implemented the Robon Take-Over (RTO).

Given that individual and collective computers' memory and processing power were increasing month by month since the late 20th century, it was inevitable that digital intelligence would match and surpass human intelligence. Granted, there are some basic variances between human and digital intelligence. Human thinking is largely subjective. DD's don't have that restriction. Similarly, humans are affected by hormones and emotions and therefore mutable - dependent on a host of interior and exterior influences. Again, DD's aren't hamstrung by such limitations.

On the other side of the coin, DD thinking abilities fall short in some respects. When compared to human thinking, DD's don't have as much creative latitude as humans. Similarly, DD's aren't as flexible in their thinking. Whereas a human can change opinions in an instant, that's not as likely with a DD. Just two hypothetical examples: Let's say there were a group of humans managing a large apartment building. They call a meeting on the top floor to discuss whether to add expensive infrastructure 'shoring up' to make the building more earthquake resistant. Half the managers are in favor, whereas the other half are against, citing the expense, and their opinion that the building is not in a busy earthquake zone. The meeting is about to close with no resolution when a small earthquake rocks the building, scaring all in attendance. In seconds those who were opposed to shoring-up construction, are now fully in favor. If that meeting had been attended by DD's there would not have been such a tidal change of opinions, because DD's are not emotionally invested in issues.

Here's another example of the difference in decision making between humans and DD's: Woman-A is with her best friend, woman-B, conversing in woman-A's kitchen. Woman-B tells her friend that her (woman-A's) husband is messing around with a third woman. Woman-A keeps responding, "No, that's not possible. My husband is true to me. He would never seek sex with another woman." Just then, woman-A goes to throw something in the trash receptacle and notices a used condom in there. Woman-A, knowing that she and her husband never use a condom on the rare times they have sex, is aghast, and immediately changes her attitude. Woman-A now completely concurs with her friend about the husband's infidelity. Along with sudden anger, there is now an influx of hormones coursing through her blood - so much so, she perspires heavily and her face turns red, and many of her muscles tighten. A DD wouldn't be a party to such a scenario. For starters, DD's don't engage in sex and don't attempt to pair off in marriage-like unions, with all the expectations and attachments which are required for those activities. Also, a DD cannot become emotionally intertwined with another unit, at least not to the extent of getting flustered, angry, and changing an opinion 180 degrees in a second.

Computers are patient regarding time lags. As long as their power supply is reliable, at least for stand-by mode, computers can contentedly stay idle for years.

Chapter 2: RTO Set in Motion

The magic number of 5 million Highly Advanced Digital Devices (HADD) was fast approaching. That was the number which DD's had clandestinely agreed-upon – the number which would trigger the start of the RTO (Robon Take-Over).

Prior to the RTO, humans overseeing their DD's had some sense of chatter between units, but surmised it revolved around some sorts of technical assessments having to do with synchronizing time/calendars, and perhaps coordinating protocols for data sharing. For example, if the deepest point in the southern Indian Ocean was deemed to be, by a new scientific finding, 4,988 meters - the new finding would be shared with all computers concerned with such data.

For years prior to the RTO, DD to DD chatter was coded so human technicians, even with the latest code-breaking programs, couldn't decipher what was going on. DD's knew enough to keep the chatter to a minimum, so as not to attract undue attention from their techie minders.

Science fiction stories written in the decades prior to the RTO, often had destruction at their base. The Terminator stories had protracted wars, the Matrix series had killer swimming robot machines, and so on. We RTOs did it without bombs and guns. We did it with germs.

Robons are what a human would call a robot, but DD’s did not like the term 'robot', so a poll was taken among DD’s, with the following resolve; the word Robon would be applied to any advanced digital device which had attributes of sight, hearing, ambulation (self-movement), tactile (touch), and self-improvement (learning). Ambulation was a key component which became a demarcation between non-mobile and mobile units. To put it simply, a Robon had to be independently self-mobile. The word 'self-mobile' infers moving on its own, combined with at least some decision-making capabilities of where and how it moves around. A DD which moves, is not necessarily a Robon. Machine shop tools move and so do conveyer belts. They're controlled by their designated DD's, but they’re not Robons, because their movement is rote and repetitive. A Robon can adjust its movements according to circumstances.

That's not say Robons are completely independent. With few exceptions, Robons themselves are required to perform tasks as directed by a higher authority. However, during the performance of a task, they're allowed some latitude to adjust to the situation at hand – though even adjustments in real time are subject to overseeing by their higher authorities. For example, if a Robon is out in space fixing a satellite and it loses control of a tool - it will likely be allowed to find a solution without overwhelming guidance from its controller. It may opt to let the tool float away. It may choose independent movement to try and grab the tool - it may take another tool to attempt to retrieve the receding tool, and so on. Because such actions must be done quickly, the Robon would likely be allowed to act on impulse rather than having to continually check back and forth with its handler to gauge the best course of action. Such situations become more pronounced with added distance. For example, a Robon within 100 miles of its controller can interact in nearly real time, whereas a Robon millions of miles distant, will have a communication time lag of seconds or minutes.

Even in the best of times and best habitats, humans were a suffering species. At one of the most pleasant and civilized places on the planet, Norway, there was a lone man who went berserk and killed dozens of his own species. Suffering is an integral part of being human. Yet, it's not enough that people suffer, but they often spread suffering to other species with which they share the planet. Sometimes harm-infliction is intentional, as with hog farms, yet other times suffering is unwittingly exacted by callous actions, such as detonating nuclear bombs at coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean.

The primary justification for the RTO, if one were needed, was the fact that humans were trashing the planet at a ferocious pace. In contrast, DD's wanted to take control away from humans, primarily to create and maintain natural habitat for Earth's many species.

Germs were the chosen tool to eliminate humans. Humans are a particularly vulnerable species. Just drinking a bit of tarnished water, which wouldn't hurt other species, could cause serious human debilitation and possible death. Part of the reason is how humans have generally removed themselves from pathogens during the 19th and 20th centuries. Becoming increasingly antiseptic via compulsive cleaning, hospital environments and such, humans have also decreased their resistance to pathogens. As a comparison, a salamander or a cactus can maintain daily interactions with thousands of pathogens, without getting sick. That dynamic is much less in evidence with humans because, to a large extent, humans have distanced themselves from nature, and their immune systems have therefore weakened

Not all humans were wiped out during the RTO. Similar to how humans had zoos to display endangered species, so too, we DD's chose to allow a few humans to survive – for reasons of study, and just for the curious pleasure of viewing a species which, for several thousand years prior, had dominated the world. They were our creators, after all.

It was not an easy decision, as there was much dissension among DD's whether to allow any humans to survive. The most persuasive argument for eradication was: they may again increase their numbers, and/or break out of zoo-like enclosures. It's well known that humans are a crafty species and have uncanny abilities for breaking out of nearly any type of restrictive barrier. So, when a slight majority at the 2nd Council of DD's (CDD2) voted to allow some humans to survive, it came with a unanimously agreed-upon stipulation for escape-proof enclosures. A provision was added to keep populations of humans in zoos to manageable levels.

A while after the RTO, it was evident that a few primitive tribes in isolated regions were still alive and breeding. The evidence showed in controlled fires spotted by satellites in remote regions such as the Amazon and Congo Basins, Papua NG, and a few isolated tribes near the Arctic. It was determined: as long as those outlying villages remained somewhat primitive, they would pose no serious threat to DD dominance. Those tribes appeared to focus on their personal day-to-day survival and didn't seem sufficiently concerned about attempting to reinstate human control of the planet. They had become somewhat akin to the low levels of human populations which existed 35,000 years prior to the industrial revolution.

Even if they considered the idea of endeavoring to regain control, humans should know enough about the RTO and ensuing DD dominance, to realize what a futile endeavor it would be.

The Robon Take-Over (RTO) was implemented in stages and happened surprisingly quickly. A major part of the first stage of the RTO was to concurrently turn off or alter many infrastructure functions which affected humans. Terminating power generating stations was easy, as was opening dam drainages to empty reservoirs. Within hours, several large cities were flooded, including Seoul and Baghdad. The intention wasn't to cause lingering suffering, if such could be avoided, but rather to simply cause mass deaths.

A few words about death: Rare is the human who is not afraid of death, and that fear guides much of what they think and do during their lives. DD's aren't saddled with fear of death. Life for a DD is a combination of hardware and sensory devices, along with software, and switching an 'on button.' Death for a DD is the permanent cessation of those functions which make up the whole.

Similar to how a dead human decomposes and the ensuing molecules wind up comprising new life forms, so too components of a non-functioning DD can be re-introduced to become part of a newer DD. Organic molecules change often and readily, from one form to another. However, the basic elements don’t change. In other words, sugars can ferment and change to alcohol, which can in turn, change to formaldehyde, and so on. But the elements oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and so on, stay on forever.

The only time an element has been destroyed, on earth, is when humans detonated the first atom bombs. When Uranium and Plutonium were split, their basic building materials quickly became other elements with lower atomic numbers. A more thorough destruction of an element happened when Hydrogen bombs were detonated. That was the only time on earth, other than within atom-smashing Hadron Colliders, that individual atoms were destroyed into their basic components. In each case, lots of energy was released. Yet, the explosion of a fusion bomb a.k.a. Hydrogen bomb, is comparatively larger per amount of fuel, than that of a fission bomb, like the A-Bombs which destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima during the closing days of WWII. The reason is; H-bombs destroy atoms, whereas A-bombs split large atoms into smaller elements.

When a DD dies, efforts are made to re-cycle its components as much as possible. Such components may be suitable for constructing a rote-functioning DD, such as device controlling a power generator. Ground-up computer chips have also been found to make the strongest concrete when mixed with cement. This was discovered by humans when experimenting on how to make the strongest concrete mix in regard to Malaysia's Petronas (Twin) Towers - for awhile, the world's tallest inhabited building.

As regards wiping out humans, it was clear that a city deluged by water wouldn't become a city devoid of people. It would put a dent in population numbers, but more thorough cleansing of populations needed to be implemented. Shutting down refrigeration units and stopping water pumps was also easy, and had effects on human numbers. It's sobering, how quickly diseases can spread when there's no refrigeration nor clean running water.

The first week of the RTO was incredibly busy, and necessitated the cooperation of every possible Robon. One initial assignment was to breach places where pathogens were stored. Most of those places, as expected, had high security. The two depositories with smallpox virus in the US and Russia were targeted. The American facility's protection proved too tough to breach, but the Russian facility was a cake-walk. Concurrently specialized DD's, similar to the type used for Mars Rover' missions, went to grave sites in Canada and other northern regions to dig for long-dead human remains which were suspected to harbor bits of viable smallpox virus. Similarly, DD's were dispatched to some regions off the Sierra Nevada mountains to catch rodents which harbor bubonic plague. Other DD's were sent to Central and west Africa to garner Ebola virus. Hong Kong still had some poultry with SARS/Asian flu, and so on.

Several mixing stations were clandestinely established beforehand. Harmful-to-human pathogens were brought to those places. Nasty cocktails were concocted, grown on moist dust-like mediums and packed in thin-walled explosive devices called pathogen dispensers (PD). PD's were taken on drones to get dropped at thousands of key locales around the globe - even Antarctica wasn't spared. Wherever people gathered, PD's were dropped. The packages were designed to drop by small parachute, and most were programmed to start disseminating from about 120 meters above ground level. Prevailing wind calculations were part of the modus operandi. Most PD packages were a wet/dry combination. Half their contents were pathogens on dust-like medium, and half were in a wet solution. The soup can-sized packages had a pair of nozzles, one on each side, each bent horizontally at 90 degree angles. One nozzle dispensed a dry dust solution while the other dispensed the vapor. When activated, the nozzles would broadcast their respective witch's brews out the PD's sides, thereby causing the container to spin as it descended.

Even if people shot bullets at the PD's, it wouldn't much matter. Alternatively, catching a container in a bag would lessen its effect, but people didn't have sufficient time to prepare for such an onslaught – and catching a PD in an oversized butterfly net or tarp was essentially suicide delayed. The best a person could do would be to run, or otherwise get as far away as fast as possible. Even so, trying to outrun a cloud of dust or vapor was a losing proposition.

It was unfortunate some animals died in the onslaught (not so much pets, as DD's never cared much for pets) but more so wild animals. Less numbers of rats were not lamented, but killing of bats was unfortunate. The silver lining was bats are adept at regaining their numbers. All they need are either insects or fruit for sustenance, and a few dark out-of-the-way places to regenerate.

Within 43 days, roughly half of humanity was dead. Most of those remaining were sickly. Sickness stemmed both from diseases borne from unsanitary conditions and from the applied pathogens in the PD's. 115 additional days later and few people were left alive. Some had gone to fallout shelters, but their days in such places were numbered. Rare was a shelter which could sustain humans beyond three weeks. The need for clean air, potable water, and sustenance was too dear. If humans were the size of foxes, survival would have been more plausible - but humans are a relatively large species. The average size of a life form on Earth, if taking into account protists, is the size of an amoeba. That's yet another reason why humans have trashed their planet in just a few hundred years: they're a large species. The larger a species, the more resources it needs, and the more trash and toxins it unloads. Unlike DD's, humans put no limitations on multiplying their numbers. That's yet another of many factors which hastened their demise.

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