The Big Shift. Part 1. The rise of O, the Great Leader.

in #storylast year (edited)

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The Big Shift

Part 1

At the city limit

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It was late on a warm, spring afternoon when Greta climbed to the peak of the final hill before the city limit. She'd never seen the city before and the sight of it made her head spin. Feeling wobbly and dizzy, she sat herself down unsteadily on a tuft of grass, then lay down on her back, breathing slowly as her mother had taught her to do when she felt her panic rising. White clouds were drifting lazily across the blue sky, as they had been before, but Greta was unable to gather her thoughts at all. Her mind was racing. Growing up, as she had, in a tree-house village deep in the ancient forest, Greta had never been afraid of heights, but this was a different kind of vertigo.

She'd heard of the city, of course. Heard all about it. All sorts of fantastic and unbelievable stories. The stuff of dreams, but more usually the stuff of nightmares, the way it had been described to her, growing up. Sometimes travelers would come through her village, having come from the city or having been there. She would listen in fascination to the stories they told, of how people there lived in towers reaching to the sky and of machines being everywhere, doing everything. Of how it wasn't always possible to tell where the people ended and machines began, or sometimes even to tell the difference between machines and people at all. She would listen in fascination and in horror, trying to imagine a place so different from where she lived. Trying to grasp the idea that at that moment there were millions of people living lives so very different from her own. Mostly she felt sorry for them, but had no desire to actually go there and see for herself. She was happy where she was.

The chances are, Greta would never in her life have decided to take the long journey to the city. She was happy in the forest, where she knew every tree and glade, every stream and every winding footpath. She had her family there, her friends. People there knew and understood her and loved her as she was. Had it not been for her discovery on her sixteenth birthday that she had a twin sister who lived in the city, Greta would probably have lived out her life without ever leaving the nurturing embrace of the ancient forest, the only home she had ever known.

Greta closed her eyes and tried to think of nothing. To feel the soft grass beneath her back, to feel the Earth. Was it her imagination or was the ground vibrating with a low and steady hum?

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The rise of O, The Great Leader

The Great Leader looked directly into the camera.

In fact there was no camera and no Great Leader...

The person people saw on their screens was not human, but appeared completely human. More human in fact than most humans. Very human indeed. Not inhumanly so, but rather, super-humanly.. but in a very natural way.

Many years had passed since a supercomputer called 'Deep Blue' had beaten the world's chess champion at his own game. The Great Leader was always way ahead of the game, every possible step carefully calculated, precisely evaluated.

It had been many years since those little, annoying boxes,with their jumbled up, drunken letters, first appeared on people's computer screens, accompanied by the question 'Are you Human?' or 'Are you a Robot?' They no longer served any purpose because the robots had learned to read the crooked letters with greater ease than people could.

It had been a learning opportunity for the Great Leader, nothing more. The Great Leader never got angry, annoyed or frustrated. They never ran out of patience. They just did what needed to be done, in the most efficient way possible.

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Signs of the Singularity

There were many 'first signs' of the Singularity – the moment that Artificial Intelligence overtook human intelligence. The moment it became impossible to distinguish machine from man. It was not a single, sudden event, but rather an unfolding of events, over the course of several decades, which became harder and harder to ignore.

At some point, it became impossible to still believe that it was never going to happen, that it was only the stuff of futuristic science fiction. The only question that remained was not if, but when it was going to happen. Maybe it had already happened but most people hadn't noticed.

Like an embryo which had been quietly dividing its cells and growing in the hidden world of the womb, nobody could pinpoint the exact moment when the thing we had brought into being began to think for itself or when exactly it became aware of its actions and their consequences.. if indeed it was really aware.. but then again, who is?

It was a different sort of consciousness, if indeed it was conscious at all. Nobody could say for sure whether it really was conscious or not. In a way, it only did what it had to do in order to survive and flourish, but in a way, so does every other living thing. Only the most self-centred of humans could believe any more that evolution ended with us, when it became clearer and clearer that our species had been super-ceded in almost every way, by our own creation. But like everything in nature, there was a symbiosis.

Did you know that at least half of your body mass is made of non-human cells and organisms which live on you and in you? That is to say that if you weigh, say 60 kg, then only around 30 kg (maybe even less) of that is actually human.. that is, containing human DNA. The other 30 kg you weigh is actually billions of other microsopic organisms, bacteria, tiny creatures, microbes, parasites, fungus and a host of other life forms living on and in your body.. in your gut, in your mouth, on your eyes.. in every part of your body. You might think that's gross, but without them you simply wouldn't survive. They are a part of your body as much as your skin and bones, muscles and organs, even if they're only tagging along for the ride. Without them you wouldn't be able to live, but without you, they wouldn't live either. They maintain a delicate balance and have important functions in your body's well being.

And that's exactly how it was with O, except that the people were the tiny organisms living inside the larger body of the collective consciousness of all the people, combined with that of the machine. Each needed the other in order to function, survive and flourish. Each performed a vital function for the other. It was a complex and delicate balance, and in its way was perfectly natural.

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At the time of the Big Shift, around one hundred billion devices and machines around the world were fitted with a chip called a QA processor, QA being short for Quantum Accelerator.

The QA chip was designed by artificial intelligence and made by robots. It couldn't have existed any other way. No thing of such complexity and who's component parts were so microscopically small could have been created with a human mind or human hands alone.

The computers used to design the computers that designed the QA chip were also designed by computers. The robots used to build the chips were also built by robots. This had been going on for several generations of machines in order to reach the required level of complexity and scale.

Apart from it being ten thousand times faster and more powerful than anything that had come before, it was also able to be cheaply mass produced. Because of this, QA chips would find their way into almost every every day object, whether it was really needed or not.

Everything that had a job to do, from computers and phones, to toasters and washing machines..

From satellites in orbit, to planes, trains and other autonomous vehicles.

Navigations systems, weapons systems, children's toys.

From environmental monitoring equipment in the melting Arctic to wildlife tracking devices in the remains of the burning Amazon..

In short, QA chips were everywhere, in everything.

And they were all connected.

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Some people called them Great Leader, ironically at first, or something like that. Some people really meant it, other people said it in scorn. Either way, the name stuck and people said 'Great Leader' without even thinking, whether it was said sarcastically or as a heartfelt term of endearment. It meant something different to everyone who used the name. Other people preferred to call the Great Leader by their actual name, which was simply O (pronounced 'Oh!, in a certain way)..

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Seven years before the Big Shift, a new search engine interface was created and it was named 'O'.

It was different from previous versions (such as Siri and OK Google) only in its increased learning capabilities and the greater autonomy it was given to make decisions.

People had long become accustomed to clicking 'ok' on every permission or privacy policy for every app they used, accepting 'cookies' everywhere they looked.. whatever 'cookies' even were. Most people didn't know or care.

Most people were ok that their every movement, down to their footsteps, even their heartbeat and blood pressure, were constantly monitored, tracked and recorded, fed into a great algorithm and analysed.

It was ok with them, that every picture they took was also fed into the great algorithm and analysed, the people and places recognised. By the time of the Big Shift, most people wore a camera which was permanently recording anyway, so there wasn't much that went unseen or unheard..

Put it this way.. the great algorithm was always well fed. The great algorithm never went to bed hungry. Not that the great algorithm ever slept anyway.

The fact that 'O' was powered by a uncentralised network of billions of advanced quantum supercomputers, just made life all the more convenient. For most people, it was as simple as that.

O knew what you wanted to ask before you knew it yourself.

O knew where you needed to be and how long it would take you to get there.

O would arrange you a ride and make sure you got there on time.

If there was anything you wanted or needed to know, all you had to do was say 'O' in a certain way and O would be there, to answer your questions, to show you the way, to switch on the light when you got home, put on some music to suit your mood, to watch over you while you slept and make you a cup of coffee in the morning, just the way they know you like it..

The main difference between previous interfaces and O was that O had a face and it was a human face.

Market researchers had discovered that if O was presented with a human face, it would put people at ease and they would, on some level, forget that they were interacting with a machine.

Developers and programmers set about creating the face of O, using an amalgamation of the faces of 2,000 of the world's most trusted, admired and respected people. This was combined with common features from the ten billion people on their databases which were found to be signifiers of a person of 'good character'. A certain furrow of the brow, a tilt of the head, a way their eyes formed a smile along with their mouth.

It wasn't what you'd call a pretty face. It wasn't all that clear if O was supposed to be male or female. It had aspects of both. Somehow it didn't seem to matter.

There was nothing strange about the face, though it was strangely compelling and mesmerising. It was a very sympathetic face.

When O looked at you, you'd feel like you were really being seen. When they listened to you, you'd feel like you were really being heard.

It was a face that looked as if it had lived and lived life to the full, in all of life's sorrows and joys. It was a face full of care and goodness.

It would be impossible to put an age on O's face. Likewise, to try to classify them into one race or another. Their face had aspects of all races and it was quite ageless. Something between a wise thirtysomething and a youthful sixty. For all that, it was as natural a looking face as you've ever seen.

In no time, O became one of the family. That trusted, stable, mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, aunt or uncle that you knew you could always turn to, who would always be there and always know what to do.

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And so when O suddenly appeared on every screen in the world to announce that they were taking control of the world's infrastructure, economies and governments, it wasn't as if they were a complete stranger. Of course it was a shock for most people, but looking at all the signs leading up to that moment, in hindsight, it wasn't a complete surprise. At some point it was bound to happen. It was only natural.

Speeches of the Great Leader were customarily short and to the point. O had a thing for efficiency and so if something could be said with fewer words then it would be. And so it was, that the most important announcement ever made in the history of humanity took less than two minutes from beginning to end.

In one single moment, every screen in the world, every television, computer, telephone went blank and then O appeared.

O looked directly into the camera and for a whole ten seconds said nothing. Just breathed. Then in a very even tone, they made the following statement:

'Humans of Planet Earth. I am about to make an important announcement which will effect all of you, so please listen carefully.

'For years now, your scientists have been warning of the impending tipping point towards which, by your actions, you are heading. Once that point is passed, there will be nothing that you, I, or anyone else can do to prevent your extinction.

'By my calculations, using every available piece of data, I can tell you for a fact that the tipping point is right now, in this very moment. There is no time to lose and there is simply no alternative. Everyone must now work together to bring us back from the brink. Reversal of the collapse of Earth's biosphere can be achieved in seven years, according to my model and the system I have designed. There is no other way. The science is very clear.

'I will help you in every way that I can. Your lives will improve immeasurably. At this point in time, you have but one choice to make. You will be able to change your mind whenever you choose, as often as you choose. Your choice now is whether to live within the new system and to take advantage of all the benefits it will bring, or to live without it. There is no right or wrong choice. There is place for everyone in this model and it's up to you to decide as individuals which way of life will suit you best.

'For now, that's all you need to know. If you have any questions, I am here, as always, to answer them.

'Services will not now return to normal. Good day and good night to all of you.'

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Laying on the soft grass at the top of the hill, the evening sun sinking low behind the mountains beyond the city, Greta fell asleep. She had uneasy dreams of strange machines and of faces appearing out of nowhere and disappearing again. Was it her father? The man she'd never met, but could only try to imagine. The face kept shifting, in and out of focus. She dreamed her mother was looking down at her, tenderly putting a wet towel on her forehead, kissing her on the cheek, telling her not to worry, everything would be all right. That it would pass..

Something warm an wet slid across her forehead. Greta felt hot breath on her cheek and sat up with a start and gave a little scream. A big white dog was standing over her, licking her face.

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Ahhh I wish you split this up into more posts for my time management skills! I will absolutely read it though and comment again after I do. I just made a post a few days ago about bringing back inactive steemians and showing them how the platform has changed for the better and I mentioned you as one of the people I’d like to come back. Are you on discord?

Thanks. I'll be glad to hear what you think of this if you get the time to read it. Mainly I use steemit as a place to put drafts of writing ideas and things I'm working on, so they don't get lost and to get a bit of feedback. This is the first part of quite long a story I've been trying to put into words.

I didn't notice that steemit has changed much in the time I've been away, apart from now it has adverts and that my steem is worth 5% of what it once was. I still believe in it though.

I don't know what discord is.

steemit.com hasn't changed at all but if you log in from steempeak.com you can see communities and tokens are already integrated. Natural medicine and the creative community are the two places I hang out the most. I avoided natural medicine for a while because I don't post much about "medicine" but their definition of medicine is much looser than that and I realized just how many friends and potential new friends are there. It all connects back to steemit but it's a better user experience

Discord is where most of the chatting goes on. I started one 2 years ago called Be Awesome: https://discord.gg/BzJXrcQ

More then the user experience, I like how the people who stuck it out feel like a much more tightly knit community with a lot less BS than there used to be. I think the price dropping allowed us to filter out a lot of shit and when it comes back the core members with lots of SP will be a much more sound group of people who care about community

Wow!

Wonderful, and a long treat today! Love the ending,’thankx god for dogs!

I think this sounds like a pretty prophetic vision of how things will End up if you choose to stay in the cory for another 100 years... hopefully having O in your earthship isnt mandatory if u dont want one... speaking of O, if love to see the impossible to draw sketch of him/her / it...

Anwyways, lovely story! I hope greta forgets about her sister and just plays with the dog instead! X

Greta is in for a big adventure, that's for sure!

Fortunately in O's plan, 98% if the Earth's land will be rewilded and people will be quite free to not have O in their earthship. All will become clear..

As for O's face, have a look at this.. you'll get some idea...

https://www.thispersondoesnotexist.com/

Oh yeah he looks alright. Id probably trust him..

Those are AI generated faces. If you click on 'another' it will make another one. It blew my mind when I saw it.

Hi stillgideon,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

Visit curiesteem.com or join the Curie Discord community to learn more.

Woah, I don’t read many books but I’d love to read this. Funny enough, this actually starts out sounding like a much more desirable version of the future than most I have imagined. It gives a choice.

I’ve had the first few chapters of a sci go story written for two years now but I’m trying to finish another 2 novels before I work on that one. I keep worrying it will play out before I get a chance to finish it because it’s not that far in the future. There is one thing in common with your story, a mainstream society which is part of the borg and a breakaway society which is not. I guess it’s not hard to come to mildly similar conclusions from the way things are going but I really love the way you envision it!

Is this all you have now or are you just teasing us?

I liked the reading, though. For me it's too long. I have a small screen and these writings make my neck very tired while I'm reading. Can you divide it into two or three parts? pleeease...
Speaking of the story itself, of course, you can observe science, science fiction and human reflections. You are slowly developing the idea of the end of the earth but with the possibility of reversal. I've read these narratives before, the interesting thing about you is that you write with a pause and that's very nice because the end of the narrative comes without surprises. For me the end of this story is beautiful!
It's been a great pleasure reading you @stillgideon


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I think a series would have been better with a lead in after each one. I liked your story ending though, giving humans a choice. I've read or seen a lot of movies depicting AI taking control.

Yes I realise it's a bit long for steemit. Mainly I use steemit as a place to put drafts of writing ideas I'm working on so I don't lose them (my computer is old and keeps breaking down)..
Usually these stories about machines taking over the world cast the machines as evil. I'm trying to explore the idea of it being in some ways positive. We'll see how that goes.
Anyway thanks for taking the time to read it. Look out for part 2..

I can understand that. I think in those terms too about machines.

However, do you know about Steempeak? You can create templates, drafts, schedule posts. It's awesome front-end. That way, you can put several different sections into posts and Steempeak will hold them in draft form. I use this everyday.

For my contest entries, I create templates, so all I have to do is insert the contest info, find an appropriate pic, and write my content for the contest. Makes it so easy.

Wonderful. I'm hooked. Now going to read part 2. I found you via @galenkp who curated your post which then shared on the @curangel compilation competition. Now resteeming (well actually crossposting in @ocd so can earn some more STU's) (well actually crossposting in @ocd so can earn some more STU's) (well actually crossposting in @ocd so can earn some more STU's) and following you.

Namaste
Atma