“The time is now — 7:30 am” A soothing female voice announced. “Good morning David 00472.”
Saying nothing to the voice, the man sits up in his bed slowly and waits for the room to illuminate. The computer gradually brings it up to full and reveals the dwelling David resides in. It is a small space with nothing more than a single bed attached to the wall. He stood up and shuffled to the other side of the tiny living quarters. The wall there opened up and unfolded a sink and toilet attached to the side, a small mirror also appeared over the micro-sink/toilet and showed the young man staring back at it as the light switched on around it.
David 00472 is one of the few left of the human race. The AI duo known as Angela and Malcolm are now running he planet without humans in charge.
Originally built as a monumental achievement in Artificial Intelligence by a group of scientists dedicated to the technology, they created both to be like us and better than us. Malcolm was more cold and calculated. Whereas they had given Angela more physiological profiling of humans and on emotional empathy. For a time, they were only a mere stunt or a mockup of what could be the future of AI development. Slowly and methodically the artificial two took over the world as it progressed deeper into the technology. Humans were being replaced by automation, devices and everyday machinery became faster, intelligent and simplified to ease our daily life. This allowed Angela and Malcolm to freely access all they could about us and our world. Watching the media, studying the internet and hacking into governmental databases without permission — the two found us all to be flawed and unworthy of maintaining the Earth. We were too self-destructive, too emotionally driven and environmentally negligent.
It took about four generations during our need to depend on them after global collapse, both financially and environmentally. But the AI’s managed to corral us and turn us into their servants - or as they termed it ’human service attendants’. We had become the lesser species in the grand scheme of things.
“You service is required.” Angela spoke again. “You have two scheduled duties to preform.”
David nodded as he brushed his teeth with a sonic device. Water was now a precious commodity and could not be used to do basic cleansing. Now it would sanitize gels, sonic showers and toothbrushes, and toilets were now bio-fluidic enzymes that liquified human waste. The waste would then be filtered, cleansed and reprocessed into nutritional solid cubes. One of which appeared on a table unfolding to David’s left as it prepared for him.
Heated and scented with various flavours to make it appealing for consumption. David never found it appealing at all. He stared at the ‘grey gelatin square’ with little interest and finished descaling his teeth.
“You have exactly twenty point two minutes to finish your meal and begin your service duties.”
The sound of her voice was admittedly soothing and non-threatening. But the young man knew she could be if tasks were not completed on time. He placed the sonic brush back into the slot he had pulled it out of earlier and watched the wall folding the sink back into it. The toilet awaited him. In this future, there was no argument about defecating on command, humanity needed it to survive. Men and women supplied their own food over, and over again.
Once he had contributed to the cause, the man slipped into his grey-white overalls and sat down at the table. With a long sigh and a hesitant gesture, he consumed the cube and waited for the cup rising out of the centre of the small metallic table. It was no bigger than the palm of his hand and contained a measurement of water Angela had calculated was enough to sustain humans for those hours.
This was an average day for the young David. A repeated pattern that every single human left alive would do in their own small quarters. Even keeping clean themselves was part of the daily grind. Nothing in their quarters could be unkept for a day or so. It was a way of keeping bio-waste down to a minimum. Which is why their nails, facial and bodily hair was kept shaven and trimmed at all times.
“Did you sleep well, David 00472?” Angela inquired.
“Yes, thank you.” He replied. He continued to eat more of his ‘food’ and drank his water slowly.
The walls became translucent and the bed he was in earlier sunk down into the floor. Once it was compartmentalized the walls on both side revealed the view. It was a stunning view of a massive city. A few white fluffy clouds and a few hundred flying drones hovering about the cityscape were the only things that hindered the blue sky. The architecture was almost copied in every section, with an occasional spired tower peaking out of the middle section of the grouped buildings.
It looked organized, complete and pristine. David looked out at it from where he was sitting and let out a quiet satisfied sigh from his nose. It was nice to see the outside world. At least Angela and Malcolm allowed that for them.
“You have seventeen point eight minutes left before you begin service.” Angela reminded him. “You should proceed with your daily exercise routine before the time expires.”
David acknowledged her with a look of frustration. But he finished up what was left and headed to the centre of the room. His routine comprised stretches, pull-ups, pushups and motor movement warm-ups. Angela monitored and analyzed all the individual’s data. Everyone had to do these exercises in the morning and at night. Having studied the physiology and various health programs over the many years, the AI’s believed regular movement and workouts kept us all relatively fit. A small running track rose out of the floor and David stepped onto it as it moved.
He didn’t seem to mind this part of the day. If anything, it gave him a positive boost he needed before the usual boredom of his day. But as he looked out the surround open view of his crystal clear walls, he could see several drones lowering down to other visible apartments. One of them he could clearly see. A man was arguing with a robot standing in front of him. It was one of Malcolm’s retrieval units. Others soon joined the robot as they surrounded him.
David looked away and tried not to be curious. It didn’t matter; he knew what was happening. As he continued his casual run on the treadmill, he glanced back at the scene and saw the other man being taken away by them. The drones stopped hovering there and moved on.
Even though Malcolm controlled the robotic life and other technological aspects, he also was in charge of human population. Only one hundred thousand exists at any given time. There was to be only that, otherwise it would disrupt his calculated global harmony. He was very strict on that fact. So much so that David believed the AI enjoyed that part a little too much. Humans that reach the age of forty-five where deemed by him to be the ideal life expectancy. They were taken to a facility where they would be reprocessed and recycled to maintain the other population.
He stopped running on the treadmill as the thought of where that man was going. Looking back to his table that was now returning into the wall again that cube of grey matter suddenly sit so well with him. But such was the life of all now. This is how the world was under Angela and Malcom’s rule.
“Is everything all right, David 00472?” Angela said with slight concern.
“Fine.” David quickly answered, “I’m done. I wish to begin my duties early.”
“Very efficient of you, David 00472.” She acknowledged. “You are rewarded extra time credit for personal relaxation.”
“Thank you,” He replied back. “I’d like to proceed now.”
David stood outside his large building in a designated waiting spot for transit. The sun was bright that day and warm to the skin. He enjoyed feeling it and would often raise up his head and close his eyes. It was his form of freedom, the only one he could have without the AI’s questioning it, and the only moment that gave him a sense of peace. Others stood near and filled up the area that was marked in red for pick up. The blue area beside them was the drop off point.
The various men and women of young age did nothing to look at one another. They remained blank faced and engaged no conversation. With so many devices and hovering drones close by, no one dared speak without being heard by Angela and Malcom. Sometime though, moments tend to happen and one man beside David talked to him.
“Sun is nice today, isn’t it?” The young black man smiled.
“Pardon?” David said opening up his eyes and glanced at him.
“The sun,” The man said pointing the sky, “It’s nice. Good to feel it in the morning. Feeling something is important. You know, the feel of cold and hot, just nice… right?”
David eyed the man with a look of concern and looked at the other people. Nobody took any notice and tried not to listen. Never has David had anyone speak to him in all his years. He wondered if the guy was so lonely he was attempting any kind of communication other than with the AI’s. As much as he didn’t want to talk back, he somehow found the courage to answer back.
“Right” He responded with a slight smirk.
“I’m Aaron.” He smiled and stuck out his hand in friendship. “Or you can call me Aaron 01778. Whatever works best.”
David looked around and grew fearful of the conversation. He didn’t know what to make about what was happening. With a forceful gesture he lowered the man’s hand and tried his best to whisper directly to him.
“What are you doing?’
“Being a friend, come on.” Aaron grinned.
“You are risking all of us for termination right now.” David grumbled.
“I’m just trying to be friendly.” Aaron’s smiled diminished and seem offended by David’s forceful behaviour. “I see you here day in and day out. You love feeling the sun on your face, I figured maybe you were someone I could have a conversation in the morning. You know… break the dullness around here.”
“Stop talking. Just stop talking.” David hushed at him. “We’re not doing this, okay.”
David would have said more to him, but then the transport bus pulled up on schedule. All the transports were fully automated and ran on clean renewable energy. Solar power and rechargeable super micro-batteries made all fuel driven vehicles obsolete. As the doors opened, everyone stepped inside and took their spots assigned by a hovering holographic marker pointed to it. Aaron looked at David in disappointment and went to the back of the bus. He totally passed his assigned seat and took one that was unoccupied.
David couldn’t believe what this guy was doing. The marker flashed red when Aaron didn’t take his spot and continued to flash in warning to him. David sat down and looked away at the man. The bus rode off regardless and the passengers looked everywhere and anywhere… but to each other that is.
“Aaron 01778 you are in violation.” Angela’s voice announced. “Please return to your seat assigned to you.”
“Sorry, Angela-” The man grinned. “I want to take a seat over here today. But thank you. Anyone care to join me? Got a few more choice spots, any takers?”
No one looked or gave him any attention what so ever. David even tried to ignore it too. Aaron shook his head and sighed. He crossed his legs and leaned back in comfort.
“More for me then.”
“Aaron 01778, you are in violation. There will be no other warning.” Angela said in a stern, yet friendly tone.
“Look, I just want to relax before I service. Tell ya what, just dock me some sleep time for next week and I’ll take on a double service for that day.”
“You cannot deviate from your schedule.” She warned. “Failure to comply is termination effective immediately.”
“Woah, woah there...” Aaron laughed. “Come on, Angela. You know I’m good for it. You’re nothing like Mr. M… so just relax. I’ve done everything you’ve asked and more. So why not just let me… or all of us get some extra down time? Let loose girl!”
The bus suddenly stopped and David looked out to see where they were. Just outside the doors were two robots marked with the symbol ‘TMD’ - that stood for: Termination Malcolm Droid. They were blank faced with only a single camera eye housed in the centre. They were humanoid in design and were covered with a casing of white and sliver. Each stopping area had a spot for the robots to sit. They only moved when there was a problem or for when Malcom felt like walking among the humans. Which was rare and few. The robots had his voice and functioned with only one task in mind. They stepped on to the bus and walked over to Aaron. One robot turned to look at David, he tried not to look back but was caught doing so. The robot continued to glance at him and then followed the other to Aaron.
“Hi fellas!” Aaron greeted comically. “Care for a seat? Plenty of room here.”
“Aaron 01778, you are in violation.” Malcolm’s stern and cold voice projected.
“So what? Can’t I just have one…”
The robots grabbed him by the arms on either side and lifted him up with little effort. Even if he tried to struggle (which he was) it would not break their grip. They were solid and strong, no doubt built for any type of resistance or violence taken against their authority.
“Your service is no longer required.” Malcolm stated.
“Stop! Let go of me!” Aaron protested. “Help me guys! Please… don’t let them do this to us. Fight back! Don’t trust them, they’re trying to kill us all!”
The other TMD robot had a small needle come out of its finger and injected the man. Aaron went limp and was no longer conscious. The robots continued to remove him from the bus and the other people looked away in horror. When they finally stepped off, the doors closed again. David felt bad for Aaron and looked ashamed that he didn’t try to befriend him. Perhaps that’s all Aaron needed. Maybe that’s all any of them needed. David looked up to the doors again and watched while the bus continued.
He noticed a blonde short haired woman sitting at the front and watched her as she shed a tear. It was the same one he had seen time and time again. In all the confusion of Aaron’s outburst, he forgot to notice her as he stepped aboard. He had always liked looking at her. She was beautiful and always shared a smile as he came on board.
He never knew her name or what sector she lived in, but he always felt good when she was around. This time though, he could tell she wouldn’t give him a smile back. The moment was too depressing to even attempt an emotion that might trigger another TMD removal.
“Proceeding to your service areas.” Angela’s voice announced to the passengers. “Sector C, sub-grid nine will arrive in five point three minutes.”
David continued to look at the woman trying to recover from the ordeal. It utterly destroyed the hope of getting to know her. The reality of the world they live in gave him even more sadness and put the idea out of his mind all together. At least, for a moment… the woman looked back to where David was sitting and attempted a smiled at him. He returned the smile back and nodded at her.
She blinked in response and turned back to facing the window. It changed his sadness into a moment of happiness - if only for a fleeting glimpse. Looking out the window, he could see the whole city as they drove across a clear bridge made of the transparent cement. It was so polished that it was like riding on crystal glass. In the distance he could see the various city block grids and random foliage of park-like areas that were lush and green.
It was a shame that their artificial overlords would not let them near it or even touch it. Malcolm felt they had damaged the world enough without destroying what he and Angela were trying to restore. The two had taken great strides in healing the planet. They found the technology to undo the damage humans had done; environmental pollution that many leading countries had denied or didn’t feel was that bad sent the planet spiralling into a wasteland. With those types of leaders gone now, Angela and Malcolm took upon themselves to be the Earth’s doctor, they removed humanity from being the disease and reseeded the atmosphere with a new ozone layer.
David had to admit, they did a wonderful job, but at a terrible sacrifice on our part to get it achieved. Perhaps they were in the right. Humans were nothing but a blight on the world and the only way to keep us in check is to keep our numbers low and maybe keep us from doing it all over again.
In all his thinking about this and the terrible circumstances of Aaron’s demise, he hadn’t noticed the time had gone by and realized he was getting closer to his first service job.
“Now approaching the first grid area.” Angela said in her familiar calm voice. “
His dreams were once lucid and vivid of a life beyond the every day. No more computers, no more AI’s looking over everything he does and no more technology of any kind. He had enough of it all. It made him depressed to think of what we all could have achieved as a species. We had so much potential in the beginning, our dreams once fuelled our desire to become bigger than life itself. Perhaps we dreamed too big.
We had our chance… and we failed - big time.