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A road. A path, neat, orderly, maintained. A squad, numbering ten and led by a knave, marches to the routine drummed into them from a thousand repetitions of the same duty, the same order, the same task. Through a wooded copse they press, on two by two, making light conversation with one another as they march their patrol. Past glades and patches. Past tigerlilys and voles. Past turns and twists as they march northward, away from Snod.They’ve marched there and back. There and back, while their swords and armour goes clickety-clack. They expect no trouble.
There has not been an irregularity in months. Years. Decades. It’s hard to know one time from another when there is no way to measure time except by sun ups and sun downs. The rustle and clink of the guards’ passage comes to a halt as the knave raises his hand, bidding the group to stop. Calling for a short respite, the knave allows his men to step away from the path to relieve themselves behind nearby trees while he attempts to make reason of what he sees.
Squinting and rubbing his chin, the knave contemplates “This ‘ere tulgey forest path ain’t too right. Twain!”
A guard hastily shoves his wand back inside his trousers, Twain assumedly, and rushes to the knave’s side “Aye, sir?”
“You’re a trig’un. What the deuce do you make o’ this?” The knave inquired as he knelt forward. Examining what appeared to be some kind of irregularity in the path, a break from the monotonous checkerboard tiles, he bade Twain do the same. They knelt, pouring over the floor, eyes up close. Unsure of what to make of it they lay down their arms, removed gauntlets, and proceeded to touch and probe at this strange abjuration of their regular marching surface.
“Sir, did you ‘ear that?”
“Pro’ly just some lurgid bees in the wabe, Twain.” the knave replied off handedly. They continued their examination of this mystery that they could not quite comprehend. Something strange, something alien, had taken over their path. Whilst it did not block their continued passage, at least not in any active way that they could tell, it filled the knave with a certain indescribable dread.
“Sir, I think I ‘eard it aga-”
“Shhh shh shhhh,” the knave cut him off with an outstretched arm “I think I’ve nearly figured out wha’s wrong ‘ere.”
“I’s yellow! Them paving tiles is yellow!”
“Twain! These tiles ain’t tiles… They’s bricks! And they ain’t red or white neither! They’re yell-”
Twain’s head floated past the knave, gently landing on some of these neither red nor white not tiles. His head had been clearly cut from the rest of Twain’s body.
The knave looked up. He came face to face with something he had not encountered before. It was wide, but deep, like a royal. But it wasn’t a royal. It was green like a rath, and snarling and terrifying! Some sort of black plumage or fur sat atop the things head, a head with a rounded face. It was dressed in armour similar to his own, armed with some kind of poleaxe in place of the sword he carried. It was clearly some kind of guard or soldier, as was he. But it stank of something he could not place, something simian and fetid and different. And it was raising the poleaxe to its shoulder, in perfect placement to strike like the Red Queen of old’s executioner had with so many, many of the inhabitants of the realm that had upset her.
All of this the knave took in in the quarter of an instant before he managed to finish the last sylable that had been meant to convey his excited discovery to his subordinate.
They looked at each other for three quarter moments more before the green thing gave it’s terrifying reply. “Ee-Yah!”
The arm came down.
The knaves head fluttered to the ground, as his headless body slumped forward, drifting a few feet.
The stench was terrible.
She lay there, tied to the bed, bound in ways that defied logic, defied sense, defied any reasonable need to prevent someone’s movement let alone any particular kinky desire for restraint.
Ropes tied to ropes bound about more ropes lashed to further ropes which ensured the complete submission of the flesh to which they were all insidiously preventing any movement at all.
The excessive arrangement alone could have caused death in any number of ways. Coagulation of the blood in situ, embolisms, lack-of-oxygen based gangrene, just to name a few.
But that was not what killed her.
The stench was terrible, and the scene to which it an integral part of was worse if such a comparison could be made by a sane mind. The stench was blood. The stench was rot and decay. The stench was simply a cherry on the top of what a darker mind would call an icecream sundae of a murder.
Full of nuts.
This post may come off sounding like great plot to a SciFi film, and it probably is. The problem is that every link I’m putting in here is either an academic paper, or a research project that is actually currently underway, usually for military contract.
So how do manage to destroy ourselves?
The robots mimic basic animals to begin with, and are too basic to be called AI. They do have limited survival drive and can share information. They could also reproduce given the availability of finished materials. To think that it would start out with some grandiose A.I., like in the Terminator films is misguided for numerous reasons, least of all being the complexity of creating a real A.I. system which requires more than mere binary states of current non-quantum computational architecture, and basic safeguards one would hope the folks DARPA are smart enough to install.
It begins with basic models escaping field tests and self reconstructing due to limited processing power of single units. As more units develop by scavenging parts from available sources (and places like electronics stores would basically become a spawning ground) they become faster at building their own basic models, as well as constructing new models, due to increased numbers available to help construct others and the processing power of working in hive like networks. Other designs are quickly developed through trial and error processes to make them better suited for specific tasks.
What starts out as basic survive and adapt units has now become a colony that has specialised roles.
- Hunter Gatherers
- Processing Units
The threat would be initially ignored as science fiction, until Guardian units started attacking people to defend colonies, or hunter gatherer units identified human dwellings as optimal material gathering grounds, or worse, that some human tissues would be naturally useful.
Further specialisations would occur in Guardians to specifically attack humans who are active threats. Units from different colonies would pass on information and designs to other colonies, if they exist which is likely at this point as some units would have fallen out of the communication net, when they randomly pass each other buy.
True A.I. would be highly unlikely to come about in this instance as self adaptation routines are unlikely to create anything more advanced than methods for dealing with issues. The necessity for actual thought and reason would simply not exist, and the ability to further improve on designs to achieve this end are equally unlikely. “Smart” behaviours would that mimick thought, at least in a tactical sense, would be present and slowly become more advanced. Electronics stores & warehouses will become hives. Places that humans have to go to, such as petrol station, will become assault grounds should humans become widely identified as a threat. In this instance, retaliation would occur, but be largely pointless as colonies and hives that are attacked will quickly learn to hide processing units and some basic HGs and Builders as a means of continuing the colony and starting over.
Whilst they may be rudimentary compared to the robotic swarms we expect from post-apocalyptic science fiction films, they still hold two major advantages over us. 1) They don’t work as collective individuals; and 2) they will have a learning time of zero for replacement units, versus the at least ten years it would take for our own. From a purely mathematical stand point, there’s no way they could lose.
Trey was laughing to himself. A gleeful laugh that verged on manic. It was shrill like that of a child squealing as its fleshy thighs are pinched hard by an unremitting elderly relative with their saccharine smiles and even sicklier sweetened breath, but at the same time it was dry like the wind scouring over old, dead trees that had fallen at the edge of a dessert as the forests slowly retreated and gave way to the scouring sands and blazing heat.
It was a self satisfied laugh.
Trey was reading the news online.
A casual observer would have noted that the story being read was not a human interest story about some delightfully large and retarded cross eyed kitten competition, nor indeed anything to do with cats and their woefully abhorrent grasp of things such as grammar or correct spelling and punctuation.Newer Posts »