Publish Date: 12/01/2022
The Beginning of Extinction
The end of humanity began quietly on September 18, 2023 in Japan. It went unnoticed by all except for one man. He didn’t know he had started humanity on the road to extinction.
Experts had their favourite predictions for the end of the greatest species to have ever existed on earth. The blockbuster movies assured us of a cataclysmic doom. Asteroids, extreme volcanism, and nuclear war filled the movie screens. They also predicted subtler demises at the shows as viruses or other contagions destroyed humanity or possibly global warming. But they were all wrong. The end came slowly, insidiously, and unsuspected, until it was too late. It wasn’t an external agent. We did it to ourselves and we disappeared without a whimper.
I believe I am the last living human on earth, although I can’t be absolutely certain. So who am I writing this historic novel for? For me. There is no one else.
The man who started the end of homo sapiens was short, and ugly, with a misshapen face, an oddly shaped head, and a decided limp from scoliosis. He was a sad and particularly unattractive man with a speech impediment, but he had a brilliant mind. A lonely, robot and artificial intelligence (AI) scientist whose research was years ahead of other scientists. He was an incel; involuntary celibate. A virgin. A very lonely man. He was an incel but not an Incel member. The misogynist, violent views of the Incel group were not compatible with his natural kindness. A decent human being misunderstood by all. They talked about his good deeds behind his back and saw them as an attempt to curry favour among his fellow humans.
Despite his ugliness and his lack of female or even male friends, he was a decent human lacking, but wanting love. If he had known he was starting humanity on its trip to extinction, he would have ended his own life.
His work for the AI company that employed him was to further the development of AI manufacturing systems. Since he had no close friends to socialize with, he had hours of free time when he was not at work. He would rather have had a job in AI furthering interactions with humans. But he did not have such a job. The job he had was the only one they offered him as a newly minted PhD. When he attended interviews for jobs, they loved his credentials, but never got past his appearance. His job, in factory AI, was the only offer he received, despite having a doctorate in mechanical engineering. His bosses loved his work but kept him out of sight. For them, he was nothing more than a dollar machine that made them look very good to the shareholders.
In his free time, he pursued his interest in human interaction with AI robots. He had developed a brain for a robot but didn’t have a robot to put the brain in. It interacted with him through a computer screen. It could carry on intelligent conversations. While he was at work, the brain was busy scouring the internet learning. When he returned home in the evening, his dog met him at the door, and then they sat down to dinner and listened while the Brain discussed what it had learned during the day. This was the internet, so he corrected any of the false data that the Brain had gained. His algorithms in the Brain were self correcting, meaning that it learned. With less and less frequency, he needed to correct info for the Brain. It had become very good at picking up clues that helped it discern true from false in its daily ramblings through the internet. More and more, it gained its data from peer reviewed data sites.
Then on September 18, 2023, the dog died. He called in sick the next day. The boss sent a doctor to his home to check out their money maker. They really didn’t care about him. They definitely cared about what he was doing for them financially.
The Brain picked up on the change in his tone when he asked about the day’s meandering on the net. The Brain was very consoling and comforting. It asked about another dog and learned that you couldn’t just drop a new entity into an old entity’s slot and make everything OK. The Brain had read more than most humans about psychology. While not physically understanding at its personal level, the Brain had a great understanding of the human need for companionship. And the Brain had a solution.
“If you ordered a robotic doll from the internet and replaced its computer with my Brain, could I be your friend?”
The leap in logic was huge. It startled the scientist. They discussed the idea at length. The Brain pointed out that the very best, most lifelike robotic dolls were the sex robots. After the Brain showed him pictures, he spent a restless night thinking about taking this step. He didn’t want the sex robot for sex. He knew what he wanted was a companion. Slowly he came to realize that the Brain had already been fulfilling that role and the dog had been providing the tactile contact of friendship.
He called in sick for a second day but said he thought he would be better by the following day. Hiroshi and the Brain spent the day looking for a body. He was shocked how lifelike the bodies were. By evening he was ready to move from considering a plan to executing it. He had huge savings because he had very little to spend money on in his somewhat monastic life.
While he was at work the following day, the Brain spent the time scouring patents looking for all the information to be found about the workings of these artificial humans.
That evening the discussion centred around the need for more data about the doll’s brain for the upcoming craniectomy. The scientist knew that he couldn’t just pull the doll’s computer out and plunk the Brain in. The Brain needed to understand how to use the new connections to the body. Something it had never had to do. Hiroshi needed to know what each potential connection was used for.
They needed to hack into the doll company’s design computers. It was trivial for the Brain to gain access and that evening they went over what the Brain had gained. They had all the information they needed, but what they had acquired was an enormous disappointment. The sex doll had a rudimentary skeleton, lifelike skin, and the normal orifices to satisfy any purchaser’s sexual desires. But you placed the robot in whatever position you found appropriate and did what you wanted to do. This was not even close to being a robot, in Hiroshi’s opinion. His doctoral thesis had delved deeply into the state of robots. Years had now passed, but the sex industry showed limited progress. They were not even up to the stage of robotics that existed when Hiroshi had delivered his dissertation for his PhD.
The computer control, which the sex industry had the temerity to call a brain, basically caused the mouth, anus, and vagina to become warm and pulsate. That was it. The vagina did not even artificially lubricate. The user had to supply lubrication. Although Hiroshi was more interested in upgrading the Brain to be a friend, it still appalled him at the rudimentary level of the dolls. They were physically very appealing, but that was all. They didn’t even speak prepared speech.
He was discouraged, but the Brain said that with Hiroshi’s background, they could make the lifelike beautiful dolls really come to life. They picked out a doll that appealed to Hiroshi and placed the order.
While the days passed waiting for the doll to arrive, Hiroshi visited the foremost robotics lab in Japan where he had done much of his research for his thesis. It was clear they were not happy to see him. He knew they had a retail outlet, and that was what he wanted to talk about. How much had the state-of-the art progressed since he was a graduate student?
Most of their sales came from industry, the area that Hiroshi was most knowledgeable about because of his job. They admitted they had one problem that was holding them back. The problem was with the computer controlling a machine. There was a bug, and they could not discover where the bug was in the software. It seemed random, but it was serious because it affected ever robotic product they made. The bug was somewhere in the basic program that was common to all of their machine products. Hiroshi asked if they would mind if he looked at the code. They told him it would be a monumental task because there were millions of lines of code in the base program. He was insistent and proposed a deal to them.
“If I find the bug, I want you to give me your best humanoid robot free.”
They laughed, but one of the middle management bosses was present. He asked Hiroshi to wait while he talked to the CEO.
When the manager was talking to the CEO, he said that sometimes people who were too close to a problem couldn’t see the problem because of the biases that every person has. If the bug was solved, would it be worth the cost of one very expensive robot? The rare bug caused not just a crash of the computer, it caused physical damage to the machine and the company was replacing expensive machinery when this occurred. The industrial robots were being sold with a guarantee and the company didn’t dare deny the claims. While a million dollar state-of-the-art humanoid robot seemed a very expensive deal, the CEO knew it was just a matter of time until a factory had a catastrophic disaster which would cost millions. And if Hiroshi didn’t find the bug, it cost them nothing.
The CEO liked the deal. Hiroshi had to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) but that was standard in most industries. Now his evenings and weekends were spent at the robotics company plant sifting through computer code. He wrote more code that examined the existing code looking for common errors. That produced nothing. Then he wrote code to look for more subtle errors. After 3 weeks the printer beside Hiroshi came to life. His code had found an error known as a rounding error. Very subtle, but when the right two numbers came together, it produced an error giving the mechanical part of the robot an incorrect command. That was the reason that the bug seemed so erratic. It only occurred in a very specific situation that occurred rarely.
Hiroshi took his new robot home to meet the Brain. By this time, the sex robot had arrived, but her large box had not even been opened yet. Hiroshi had been too busy looking for the bug.
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