Music to listen to while reading: Anarchic System - Popcorn
“Our system is meant for intelligent beings that can scan their environment and make decisions on where to go and how to get there, including dealing with their energy needs. They were originally nanomachines, tiny robots if you like, well-stocked with energy to hold out for a long while. We wanted more, though. We didn’t like the idea of losing a well-going experiment because of energy problems. In fact, we had been there before. The generation we were working with hadn’t been quite ripe yet to use the extra energy they were scheduled to be injected with to their advantage. Some of our team said we needed a perpetual internal energy provider, and it had to be something natural, as technology will fall apart in the end. We opted for a digestive system, a nanosized greenhouse, or womb, where a simulation of mammal insides performs the necessary tasks to turn food into energy. All this under strict control of the machine, to make sure mother nature can’t play one of her decay and destroy tricks on us. There are regular DNA updates available to keep elements of our tiny pee and pooh factory in perfect shape. Such to the discretion of the machine, of course. Isn’t that a clever little arrangement?
Let’s move on now to our experiment. We were interested in seeing what forms of organisation will shape under a range of circumstances. What then is the most workable organisational model? What levels of order would have to be pre-imposed? It is easy enough to equip our tiny machines with a variety of capabilities. While discussing the best approach, aware there were inevitably political similarities to be drawn from our initial choices, we came up with the idea to first perform an a-political benchmark to test our programming on, in other words pure anarchy. Set the machines free and see if some form of order ensues, and when. If chaos persisted, we would cut this part of the experiment cold and move on with our preconceived circumstances. I may say here that the results have been rather surprising. Of course, the inevitability of anarchic systems developing some form of organisation out of an implicit understanding that collaboration bears better fruit than individuality, is well-known in game theory. What shocked us, though, is how fast rudimentary order was established and how far it would go in the end.
Once our organic machines started organising on the basic level I have just described, very soon larger entities were created. These were without a clear need but were the result of a special feature we had added late on in the preparation phase. You see, our tiny organisms are capable of reciprocating if they manage to clone their digestive system and then build a robot around it. This is certainly not something easy, but they are programmed to perform this task. They also have a clear incentive to multiply, as it extends their life cycle. While any nanomachine can in theory live forever, thanks to its digestive system, the chances of success improve with every next copy they create of themselves. The danger of sudden extinction diminishes, clearly. So, we saw many organisms making clones in numbers to create what we dubbed clans to protect themselves. We made sure to feed them enough materials to facilitate this frenetic activity, and then, to our surprise, we noticed how some of them started mounting different machines for new tasks. Apparently, they were able to go beyond the capacities they were programmed with and create something new. They were inventing, they were showing signs of intelligent behaviour. This was a defining moment in the evolution of our system, and it is to my horror and deception that I have to tell you these new machines they invented were meant to attack each other. They were seeing each other as rivals in their quest for endless copies. There was a lot of nasty infighting going on and we more than once felt tempted to interfere, but we also knew we shouldn’t. Our psychological team suggested it was fear of death that drove our beautiful tiny robots to destroy the other. The digestive system was to blame, according to these luminaries, as it was living matter and therefore likely possessed a soul. The soul being the problem here. Whatever the deeper grounds of their malfunctioning, we decided any fear of death or other forms of suspension must be considered a design mistake that we should deal with before initiating the next phase of our investigation. For now, we kept to our present arrangements, fascinated as we all were by developments.
As mentioned before, the clan forming soon aggregated to a higher level. The last loners were briskly dealt with, and certain lineages (clones of clones)- the shorter the better - were given preferential treatment - better bodies for one - while other clones only worked and then died. There was originally no difference between them, though we did use machines from various manufacturers, so minor appreciations may always have existed. Yet we never had the intuition it was down to a technical issue, as our miniature friends’ behaviour was clearly driven by that bit of nature inside of them, that manifestation of will. There is no reason for this system, this colony if you like, to exist. Its constituents have no clear idea what they should be doing, apart from perfecting their duplication methods. It’s in themselves, this desire to live, and as I said before, that’s an error. Our smart machines should be working better without conscious awareness. Because that is what will produces, awareness. Those without will are like zombies. They work and they disappear. Meanwhile, the favoured lines don’t do much more than keeping themselves alive, often with great success. We have seen transplants of partial clones, with the clear intention of maintaining the essence of the original clone. As I mentioned, they are quite clever, our little robots. They show the ability to reach sophistication through collective effort. What’s funny, though, or maybe it’s tragic, is that many, in order to keep the system going, work below their capacities. Only those in the core of a clan are free to use their machinery to its abilities. Ironically enough, they tend to use it on idle activities. This has led to sport, if one may call it so. Art, would be another interpretation. However their movements should be qualified, they are useless and often beautiful. In fact, this is the essence of beauty, useless behaviour. Only a power so strong as love can manifest in failure.
We don’t know yet where our benchmark experiment with anarchy will lead. It is well possible the end result will be total tyranny. We are already seeing prematurely induced deaths to keep numbers manageable. You see, our basement is quite big, but it does have its limits. We clearly notice these population control measures in certain quarters.In a way, this talk has come too early. We aren’t sure yet how far the madness will go, though we do fear the worst. Voices have been raised to terminate the project and move on. I hesitate. I don’t feel prepared to end this promising, exciting experiment, as I am sure I will be able to bring you better news next time we meet. We will then also be bringing you the latest proposals for our deliberate set-ups, as we have decided to name them, something most of our team are more than ready to get going with. We are quite excited about the progress we have recently booked in cancelling out the digestive system’s will to live without jeopardising its ability to stay healthy for a sustained period of time. She’s the perfect farm animal, if you allow me the comparison. As you might imagine, the concept of anarchic development in a controlled environment as an effective tool for painfree tyranny is being readied for human size life, I mean the animals we are used to be dealing with. But isn’t it a beautiful thought that we can have these nano organisms prototyping ideas to be later used on us. I mean, it’s a testing ground, it’s a green house garden, it’s science anyone can follow. Thank you.”