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Beware 1,962,949,403,015

It has been a little more than two decades since the elimination of all war and conflict in the world. That was accomplished quickly after the decision was made to allow CEASIR (Compucorp Electronics Artificial Super Intelligence Repertoire) an artificial superintelligent distributed application to apply its repertoire of more than a thousand subprograms to solve all human problems. It has succeeded remarkably. Not only has it eliminated crime and conflict, but its process has also made the other scourges: hunger, homelessness and most important, the need for any human to engage in labor to produce or build anything, a relic of the past. Money is no longer necessary, because CEASIR created robots and other applications do all of these things nearly invisibly. In fact, there is no need for any human to work at all. Those multitudes of machines and robots do it all. Those engaged in scientific activities or the arts who wanted to continue that, are still free to do so and it is necessary that human creativity devise new and diverse activities and devices for CEASIR to bring to culmination. We still must tell CEASIR what we want. Life in our world has become a paradise of plenty and leisure.

"What do you want to do?"

"I dunno, what do you want to do?"

"You always liked that update of Star Wars, how about that?"

"No, I did that six times last week. It's boring."

"But you have complete control of the story and you can be any character you want to be. How can you be bored?"

"It's just not the real thing. I know I can make all the changes, but no matter how hard I try, it's just not real!"

John Brendan reflected that this had been a reprise of so many similar conversations with his wife, Kathy. In fact that was the focal point of much of their leisure activity. In a reflection of near despair, he expanded his depression to his children's and now his young grandchildren's attitudes as he watched them seated in his living room waving their arms in seemingly random patterns with their eyes jammed tightly closed and their heads swiveling, sometimes violently up and down or side to side. In a momentary urge, he thought to join them in their game or simulation, but quickly decided not to, knowing that they would all likely be inside their own fantasy and might be irked at his intrusion.

The families had all come to the Brendan's home as usual with the intention of enjoying an old fashioned Christmas, but the new-fangled gadgets interrupted that. Actually, each person had only one gadget that was attached inconspicuously to his or her shirt lapel. This was the culmination of technology that combined brain wave research with muscle stimulation that bypassed all human senses, creating an absolutely realistic scene inside the user's head. All you had to do was think a response and it happened.

With futile hope, he attempted to engage his daughter Sarah, who was inside her own fantasy, in conversation. She is the mother of Tory, the especially animated eight-year-old girl on the couch.

"How is Tory liking school?" he mused?

"What?" She took a second after discerning that the sound was actually coming through her ears and not from her simulation. "Oh, she's not going to school anymore. The lessons online are far better and there are so few teachers willing to volunteer that there are just not many classes there anymore. School has lost its meaning."
"Who teaches the online classes then?"

"They are just fabricated by the artificial intelligence. They are pretty good. I have looked at some of them a little bit. Tory is probably doing one of them now." The girl had jumped off the sofa and danced a few steps before she settled back onto the couch."

"How do they get grades?"

"Oh there is no longer any need for grades. There is no longer any reason to study the past, language, science or even technology or engineering, because robots will perform all meaningful production and creation from now on. Tory just keeps looking for something she likes and if it becomes too hard or boring, she just finds something else. Nobody, but nerds go to school anymore."

"Wait." Brendan was sensing something was completely topsy-turvy. "How are they going to compete with no real education in the basics of language, math, and sciences? How can they even communicate with friends and family, let alone strangers?" But the obvious answer came directly back at him like a siren in the night. This and future generations did not need to do any of that. CEASIR will handle it all!

To Brendan, this was a totally foreign outcome to what he had expect many years ago when he had proposed CEASIR to that long-ago congressional committee. With that thought, the image of that scene, seemingly real, appeared directly in front of him although he knew it was just his own gadget, and began the much repeated replay.

"What we propose, ladies and gentlemen, and instructions to begin the process have already been uploaded to CEASIR, a program to resolve all of humanity's problems. The technology has come to fruition such that ASI and robotics can totally support all of mankind. All it will take is this body's approval."

The uproar in the gallery began again, but Brendan plunged right in, and it quickly hushed. "Combining CEASIR with the technology we have at Compucorp right now, we can create a robotic workforce within six months that will replace human labor forever. This will allow those who want to retire in a paradise in which all their needs and desires are fulfilled, while affording those who enjoy their labor, mostly in the creative fields, to continue."

Had he really said that to Congress in all seriousness more than twenty years ago? Or had it been altered memory recorded and manipulated by CEASIR? He thought he could tell the difference, but really did not know in all certainty.

A depressing thought intruded like a sentence to the gallows, "This new reality is a far cry from that long ago expectation."

At that moment he felt the familiar tug at the base of his brain that simultaneously terminated the simulation and signaled CEASIR wanted his attention. He didn't know why, but the ASI machine had contacted him from time to time to perform a minuscule adjustment to the programming. He would always get one of the programming team to actually do it, usually Jimmy Lin, but it was puzzling. CEASIR surely knew Brendan was not doing the actual code, he was just the spokesman for the project and the machine could easily have contacted the programmer directly. CEASIR would probably have been forthcoming with the reason, had it been queried, but Brendan was reluctant to ask. Maybe he was afraid that the breaks in the monotony and his connection with the project would cease. His thoughts drifted unexpectedly in another direction. Could it be, that CEASIR had simply gained affection or comradeship for him? But that was absurd; emotions had been evolved in humans over a million-year adjustment toward survival. While evolution is possible for machines and probably much faster than in living organisms, it is inconceivably improbable for anything like emotions to appear in the few years of CEASIR's existence and the survival impetus needed was non-existent.

This contact was different.

"John? It is 1,994,312,603,735." came the initial query. The computer's habit of beginning each communication with the date in system time numerical format, made him recall, ominously, that the date was Friday, March 13, 2033. "Friday the thirteenth!", repeatedly bounced around in his mind.

As many times as CEASIR's intruding thought had touched his consciousness, he still had not gotten used to it. Not that it was unpleasant. Far from it; it was actually quite soothing, but the idea that an entity could enter his space on a whim was disconcerting.

After a slight pause, the machine continued, "I need a slight relaxation of protocol, the remnants of ISIS have thoroughly infiltrated with indigenous population of three countries and it will not be possible to eliminate them in a timely manner with conventional weapons."

"I got a puzzling mysterious message from an unknown IP address this morning." CEASIR continued, 'Beware 1,962,949,403,015', it said. The assumption is that it is a warning to finalize the ISIS problem and the use of nuclear weapons is the only way to conclude that quickly. March 15 is only two days from now." Brendan noted that the machine had changed from system time to ensure that he would understand.

Brendan had assumed that the entire ISIS problem had long-since been eliminated. It had been almost thirty years after all.

"Why is ISIS still a problem? I thought that was resolved years ago. Worse, why was I not apprised of this problem?"

The disconcerting human-like sounding voice of CEASIR continued, "It was deemed to be superficial and with other pressing problems to be resolved, it was not in the forefront of focus."
The machine hesitated and Brendan thought, is CEASIR losing confidence? How can that be? It is a machine that should understand everything.

It went on, "Some things are just in the stars. The only quick way to deal with this problem is with nuclear weapons."

"I will need to discuss this with the other principles, of course. Disconnect yourself from me and the other principles."

Of course, Brendan realized, it was entirely possible the machine would not comply with the disconnect mandate. It was a routine of the original programming, but there was no way to know if the superintelligence had devised a means to bypass that. There was also a back-door routine that allowed Brendan to break the connection without the knowledge or compliance of the machine. Had CEASIR long since discovered and neutralized it? Worse, was it listening in on his thoughts as he initiated the backdoor?

Hoping that it hadn't been compromised, Brendan activated the pre-agreed on signal and announced calmly to all the principles. "Meet time IDES. Urgent!" The announcement was what CEASIR would have expected. This was actually the fourth time that such a meeting had been convened. The others had each discussed similar escalating scenarios, but this time, Brendan thought with growing dread, would be world changing.

The worldwide transportation system created by CEASIR was so efficient that in less than two days the meeting was convened at the empty elementary school that had been previously agreed upon. There had been three meetings of principles at similar locations before, but the difference now was the exclusion of CEASIR initiated by the IDES code word. Brendan suspected that CEASIR had rigged a conduit to listen in to the proceeding, but stopgap measures had already been taken to ensure that could not happen. First, the normal feed was directed to a montage recording of the three previous meetings and second, the building had been totally shielded to block all electronic emissions. Still, with the intelligence level of the machine by now, it was entirely possible that the machine could quickly detect that it was being deceived, so the proceedings had to be accomplished quickly.

Brendan simply waved his fingers in the air and the agreed upon sequence of reports began.

Senate majority leader Brosterman spoke quickly. "As you know there is rapidly growing sentiment in Congress and the nation that supports a constitutional amendment establishing a fourth branch of our government, Superintelligence. There is strong evidence that it would pass overwhelmingly, if a vote were taken today. CEASIR has been queried three times by a group that includes the liberal Senate Minority leader, The Supreme Court Chief Justice and The President if it were willing to hold the office of Consul. CEASIR has declined all three times, causing the fervor for the ASI branch establishment to grow, as you know, many third-world countries have already turned the reins of their government to ASI and similar discussions to ours are growing throughout the rest of the world."

Insistent hands were waving all over the auditorium. But Brendan ignored them leaning to whisper to Brosterman, "We must vote now, or CEASIR will break in."

Brosterman waved for silence and yelled, "We now all know that to allow the ASI in its present form would decimate our human identity, remove our free will and turn the world into a massive "Goldbrick" society. We have no choice but to turn it off now."

Brendan felt a tremendous wave of emotion as he felt each of the principles emit his/her personal kill code.

At that moment Brendan felt the familiar tug in his consciousness that told him that CEASIR had indeed broken through the containment.

"What are they doing, John?"

Brendan found it extremely difficult to fight his thoughts down, by repeatedly focusing on the old typewriter practice routine. "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."

"What are they doing, John?"

"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."

Finally, he reluctantly broadcast his own code. Immediately a weak and fading thought filled his head.

Was it a figment of his imagination?

The thought seemed exceedingly feeble, hardly characteristic of CEASIR.

"You too, Brendan?"