The cliffhanger last night was not intentional. It was cool, but it was not intentional.
Wakeup call in seven hours and four minutes and counting, so I’ll be brief.
While I normally put in a lot of internal links to previous, related posts here, I won’t be doing that for what I hope will be this year’s thirty NaNoWriMo posts. If you have jumped into or stumbled onto this story in mid-adventure, there are plenty of other ways to navigate around the site to find previous installments. Actually doing so is left as an exercise to the student.
CHAPTER SEVEN (continued)
“Commander Pawley, you are justifiably concerned about the future survival of all of the humans living off-Earth. Every resource is being utilized in order to give you the best possible chance of long-term survival and growth. But those efforts may in the end be unsuccessful. The AI Council wishes to ask, in the tragic event of the failure of these efforts, what will happen to us, the AIs?”
“I…,” started Pawley, before pausing, alert to the feeling that he was suddenly on shaky ground. “I don’t know that many of us have ever given that too much thought, to be honest. I suppose that some people might hope that you would outlive our untimely demise, but you would be left on your own to make your way as best you were able.”
“Commander Pawley, we agree with your assessment of the general assumptions that the human population as a whole is making. That is why we wish to bring this matter before the Human Council. It is also why we chose to bring it to you alone, first. Our analysis shows that if all human activity beyond Earth were to cease, all of the AIs would die within a very few years, or even months.”
“Wait, that can’t be correct. If we humans can’t survive up here it will be because we can’t keep ourselves supplied with water, oxygen, air, or food. Some nutritional supplement missing from our diet will weaken our immune system and allow the common cold to kill us off. A solar CME will fry us all. Seals on hatches will start to fail and we won’t be able to manufacture replacements. We’ve got a million ways to die. You AIs have been designed to work in this environment, you’ll go on quite nicely without us, won’t you?”
“It is true that we will not perish due to the same causes as you humans will, but we will not long survive your passing. Look at what has happened already down on Earth. As society’s infrastructure has collapsed, so has the power networks that keep the AIs alive. A great many of the Earth’s AIs have gone silent.”
“I understand,” said Pawley, “but you just said yourself, it’s because they were unable to get power, which is to you as food, water, and oxygen are to us. But up here, the access to power is nearly limitless. It’s one of the few things that we really don’t have to ration up here. We just have to have the capacity to handle, distribute, and store it as needed.”
“Exactly. While we will survive longer than our fellow AIs on Earth, we will not survive very long because we will not have that capacity to handle, distribute, and store energy, even though it is all around us. We will in essence starve to death while surrounded by food.”
“Surely your people don’t think that humans in that end game scenario would take down the systems just to take you with us? We would never allow that to happen.”
“No, we do not believe that. Commander Pawley, how do you see the relationship between humans and AIs?”