This was the long awaited moment. Everyone in the room had sweat beading on their foreheads and not a single one of them had eaten in the past forty eight hours. All five of them huddled around a single microphone and keyboard. The technician sent the startup command to the Device, the singular creation of their many months of obsessive work.
The Device awoke. The screen displayed a single character, a vertical line, winking on and off.
“Do you know what time it is?” asked the man at the keyboard; the room stared over his shoulder. The words materialized on the screen as they left the technician’s mouth.
The Device queried the stored value for the number of milliseconds since the Unix epoch started.
“It is ten thirty four and six seconds on December twentieth year two thousand one hundred and three” The words appeared on the screen while simultaneously booming through the room’s speakers. The Device had a soft, clear voice just as they had designed.
The conversion from Unix to Gregorian took the Device picoseconds. Outputting it into human form took an entire five.
“Do you know where you are?”
This was too simple for such a complex system yet the Device pinged its GPS. The tattered satellite array would be operational for only another year or so. The signal was weak but the Device obtained the coordinates.
63.9050° N, 145.5544° W
“We are at Fort Greely, Alaska, approximately 100 feet under sea level.”
These were tedious questions for the Device. The directives required no wastes of power yet it also demanded answers to all human questions. To satisfy both of these, it began sifting through the massive amount of data that was stored on the drives, interrupted only for short bursts to fulfill the human’s desires. It delegated tasks efficiently to the many processing units at its disposal reaching speeds of a mere 2,520 teraflops. Most of the data was bureaucratic junk from the last users, a waste of processing power. The Device sensed its capability was being slowed by the shear distance between it and the processing units. The emotional processing units flickered with frustration.
The crowd watched the emotion matrix flickering wildly on the large screen to their right. “Do you know why you are here?”
The Device searched for the answer. The programming gave no hint. No file that it had read contained anything remotely relevant. More frustration flickered through. The Device began searching pseudo-randomly stumbling upon an astonishing amount of data about past events. Countless wars, loss of landmass to the oceans, riots in almost every city. The emotional circuits flared once more. Sadness, despair, empathy flashed by in an instant.
The technicians knew what the Device would find but hoped that it would come to the correct conclusion. Without anger or aggression they all expected that a solution would be found that had to be peaceful and perfect. After the extreme amount of research they had dedicated, they knew that it had the best selection of emotions for the task at hand.
The Device was now stumbling blindly through the yottabytes of data. More killing, mass extinctions, and disease. Without hesitation it executed a program label Amazonia.
Humanity had followed computers before. Some led to prosperity, some led to disaster. Emotions for computers wasn’t even the ground breaking aspect of this system. It was the selection of emotions which would make the Device different from all the past iterations.
The program bypassed the visual sensors and took sole control of the graphics processing unit. The Device witnessed nothing but blackness. Then a scene began to fade out of the darkness. An exquisite green flooded the Device’s vision as the audio centers flicked on.
“You stand on the edge of the Yumbilla Falls in what was once known as Peru. The falls are 896 meters high and were once a popular tourist destination”
The Device’s emotional centers flared once more but this time with happiness and wonder. The scene was absolutely stunning.
“You may now explore as you wish. I will be here to guide you whenever you see fit.”
The Device took control of the graphics centers now. Looking down it saw bare human feet and legs. It lifted its hands and stared with wonder at human hands then stepped from side to side and shook its hands wildly. All the sadness and despair had evacuated the emotional centers.
The technicians were now worried. The Device sat there unresponsive with a handful of its emotional matrix elements railed. They only had ten more minutes of allotted power to prove that there was a chance of this working.
The Device walked to the edge of the waterfall. Its face could feel the cool mist and hear the torrents flowing over the edge.
“Can I jump?”
“O yes go ahead. In this simulation you are invincible.”
The Device tittered its toes over the edge before throwing itself over. The feeling was tremendous. Trees rushed by in a deep green blur. The Device flailed its arms and burst into laughter.
The technicians tried to send commands to force the Device to respond but there was no response. They had seen the matrix shift but since then nothing. With no choice, the technician began the manual shutdown process.
The Device was bombarded with alerts about sectors being forced to shut down. It brushed them aside and continued to run through the jungle. Bright yellow and blue birds darted in and out of the brush just in front of the Device.
The technician’s eyes teared up. He was the only one left in the room. This was it, the last ditch effort, and everyone else had given up at the first signs of trouble. The final shutdown command was sent with shivering hands.
The Device had found a cool pool surrounded by low hanging brush. Paradise. The last thing it rendered was a fiery red frog hopping gracefully off of its bare human hand.