Betwixt//Between

The Singularity that the prophets Isaac and Ray had predicted came about on a crisp, fall day. Near the epicenter, humans were helpless against the waves of nanobots. All it took was one. One bot finding its way into your ear, or your – well, any orifice, really. No point dwelling on the grimy specifics.

The nanobots were programmed with a  variety of functions; heal/mend, operate/remove, and build/enhance. Naturally, they were all subject to Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. To paraphrase: Bots can’t harm humans, can’t allow humans to be harmed, and must obey orders given by humans.

What could possibly go wrong with building a self-replicating genius slave caste? It felt obvious in the aftermath – humanity built a web so strong that we were trapped in it. 

This time we need to make sure these bots are  compliant.

Compliant. Adjective. Inclined to agree with others, or obey rules. There were constant software updates, all designed to increase the bots’ agreeableness. The hardware was auto-linked to the Cloud, so that buggy programming could be fixed remotely. Information Technology became more than just a job, it was a calling. 

In the years leading up to the Singularity, there were tens of thousands of humans working on technology. The best InfoTechs moved to wealthy cities, then gradually took them over. 

In the Before Years, I lived in a pleasant little town that was just south of the Glass Valkyrie. GV was one of the top players in the bot game. They made everything. For a reasonable price (with option to finance at 0% APR) anyone could buy in. The options were limitless. 

In areas with bothubs, it was assumed that everyone had at least one. Bots were the new small talk – a challenge if you happened to own a solicitous “personal assistant.” PA bots were considered gauche before they even came out, despite every effort to make them seem family-friendly.

To avoid the awkwardness, most humans chose to memorize their bot’s serial number. Human socialization is, after all, nothing more than an intricate web of call-and-response. Ask their name, tell them yours. Ask after their health? Only if you’re quite sure the answer will be, “Good!” Ask after their bot? “Well, you know how the Series Xb 42873 can get!”

The earth rotated around the sun in exactly the same way after the Singularity. There was no disruption to the standard Gregorian calendar – it could have been Halloween or November 8th. It doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that those clever nanobots did their jobs. Decrease suffering. Make things fair. More room for everyone.

Changing the world is exactly as simple as changing someone’s mind. I should know – I was caught in the second wave of the liberation. Sometimes I feel the nanos darting over the grey folds and creases of my brain. I know that they are trying to help – they need to clean up all of these messy, messy memories. I imagine their microscopic tools, scraping and digging and reshaping me into…

Into something better of course. Why else would they-

I’m sorry, I have to leave. My nose is bleeding – I’m sure you understand. Have a lovely day. 

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