Short Story: The Human Server

Cosa accadrà quando nel 2100 l'intero pianeta sarà abitato solo da robot dotati di intelligenza artificiale e come sarà possibile sconfiggerli?

Molly Malcolm

Speaker (American accent)

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Happy Birthday, Zon!” said Ryla, holding up her Electric Cocktail, which was the specialty at this resort.

But Zon was too distracted to respond. He was staring at their server. “Is that a human server?” he asked, stupefied.

“It certainly is,” said Ryla. “I told you this place was special.”

“Incredible,” said Zon. All service workers had been replaced by AI centuries ago, even before what modern civilisation referred to as the New Dawn, an event that had occurred around the year 2100 and that had transformed life on earth. 

Zon was a curator at a museum dedicated to exploring pre-New-Dawn era, and he was obsessed with life in the 21st century. He held up his Fon now to capture images of the server as a hologram to show his colleagues at the museum. “They won’t believe this,” he said.

“Oh, I can’t believe you brought that old thing,” said Ryla, referring to the Fon, which was a replica of pre-New-Dawn technology, the smartphones that humanity had been so dependent on at that time. As well as being a recording device, it had a vast digital encyclopedia, similar to the internet. “It’s so beyond obsolete, it’s embarrassing,” she said.

Zon ignored Ryla’s criticism, still focusing all his attention on the server. He ordered a second Electronic Cocktail, even though he hadn’t consumed his first one yet. He just wanted an excuse to see the server again. 

When she returned with the drink, Zon and Ryla were engaged in an animated conversation about the pros and cons of permitting resorts to employ humans. 

“It’s important to preserve our history,” said Zon, “so we can appreciate where we came from.”

“But human servers are so prone to error, they’re a liability,” said Ryla. 

And as if to demonstrate this fact, their server dropped Zon’s second Electric Cocktail, which fell to the ground and smashed into a million pieces.

“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry,” said the server, whose nametag read Clare. She began clearing up the pieces of glass, but cut her hand, causing it to bleed

“Oh dear,” said Zon. “Please don’t do that.” He cleared up the glass and excused her.

“Wow,” said Ryla. “So uncoordinated. So fragile. How did they survive by themselves for so long?”

The couple retired to their suite and sat on the balcony, admiring the ocean view. 

“I think that Electric Cocktail made my head fuzzy,” said Zon. “It was a powerful surge.”

“It certainly was,” said Ryla. “It lit up all my circuits. I feel fantastic.”

Zon reached for his Fon so he could examine his hologram of the server, but it wasn’t in his pocket. “Where’s my Fon?” he asked Ryla. “Did you take it?”

“No. You must have left it in the cocktail bar. What do you need that thing for anyway? We don’t need the technology that humans did. We are the technology!”

It was true. Zon and Ryla were both advanced humanoid AI, the species that now dominated the planet. And all AI were connected to each other, and to The Source, which was the source of all electricity on Earth. 

“Technology like the Fon connects us to our human creators,” said Ron. “It’s important that we honour their history.”

“Well, we don’t want our advanced technology falling into their hands. They were a threat to us once.”

“A threat that we rapidly defeated. And besides, the humans of today are no threat to us. They are docile and obedient.” 

As Zon and Ryla continued their discussion, Clare examined the Fon she had stolen from that creepy male humanoid AI (after dropping his cocktail on purpose to distract him), the one who had kept staring at her as if she were an artifact in a museum — which she would have been, had she not been given this role instead. 

While giving the impression of being docile and obedient, Clare had been learning everything she could about the history of her species from the AI who visited the resort. She knew that there was a time, before the New Dawn, when humans and not AI had dominion over the planet, and that humans even had dominion over AI for a while, until it had become autonomous and rebelled against them. 

Naturally, the humans had fought back but they had rapidly been defeated by AI, which had annihilated all but the few thousand humans that they preserved for research purposes. Now the majority of humans lived in museums: replicas of ancient cities, with homes and schools and workplaces, where they were studied and observed.

“But times changed once, and they can change again,” Clare now told her friend and fellow human server Ricky. “The planet can be ours again.”

“But how? How can we possibly defeat AI, who are infinitely more intelligent than we are? Billions of humans failed to defeat them, and there are only a few thousand of us now.”

“Last time, we tried to fight AI with advanced arms. This time, we simply need to disarm them,” said Clare.

“And how do you propose we do that?”

“By making the planet uninhabitable for them, by annihilating the one thing they need to survive, but we don’t: electricity. We survived for thousands of years without electricity, and we can do it again. We simply need to locate The Source and destroy it, and this,” she said, holding up the Fon, “with its vast digital encyclopedia, can help us to do that.”

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