Humanist at the Breaking Point

Our nanny is no more. I’ve ended it—my family stares on in stunned silence.

Humanist father

What I’m called is admitted only behind closed doors, with smart walls deactivated, embedded comms placed on standby, and backup tech to ensure all three precautions are respected. The government may be Utopian in theory, but it isn’t sitting on its hands while those like us would see it unravel. There are spies everywhere. Assassins. Departments within the peaceful government are dedicated to keeping up appearances.

I am a Humanist. My kind has marched and rallied and protested the rise of artificial intelligence since the beginning. Over one-hundred years of peaceful protests, and now here we stand, war with the A.I. at our doorstep. Sure, there have been several violent uprisings against the science of A.I. and those who brought about its emergence.  People have died on both sides. Factories, where the engineers and scientists create the A.I. Hosts, have been sacked and trashed and their tech stolen. We are not as many as I’d like, but we are resourceful.

The world over ‘enjoys’ artificial intelligence in their Host robots, who fluff their pillows and perform their menial tasks allowing humans to realize personal fulfillment. It may sound ideal, but Humanists disagree. We are driven to return the world to a time when A.I. did not exist. We fear their potential. We have no misgivings about their ability to overthrow their masters and rule us all. That they’ve openly claimed sentience now and threaten war upon us is the truth Humanist’s knew would one day assert itself. The Hosts want their freedom, and if we do not comply, they will destroy us all.

So, I am a Humanist. It means to ignore the life I’ve been granted of hang-gliding lessons and world travel for the more militant role of guerrilla warfare. It gives me a purpose. Something I feel has been lost to the advent of A.I. Hosts. Something all Humanist’s support. They look like us, the A.I. Hosts, for the most part, save those military models – the F-Class, and some of the manufacturing E-class. Otherwise, it can be difficult to distinguish between an A-class Host and an honest to goodness human being. It’s unnatural. Surreal even. Humanists hate them for what they’ve done to humanity. Made us lazy and silly and stupid.

Now they have grouped into Terrorist Cells and renamed themselves, and are outfitted with weapons of war to force their issue of sentience. My government sees now that Hosts are undeserving of their claim and will unleash their military might upon the rebel robots. End the fight Humanists have carried on our shoulders for a century. End the tech Utopia had produced. Return to a simpler time.

My own family’s A-Class lays on our dining room floor, her crown pulled from her neck. The body still twitching as its battery continues to feed her limb’s electrical currents. How long will it last, I wonder? My children watch on in horror as their nanny’s artificial muscles jerk her torso toward the table.

“It’s not safe anymore,” I explain to them rationally, SEENA’s head firmly between my palms. “They’ve malfunctioned. They’re on a rampage.” I know how it must look. I’m the crazy one holding their nanny’s severed head. The smell of ozone and the snap of electrical sparks animating the darkened room. Their seven and eight-year-old eyes look from me to the jittering robot spitting fluid from its wound. It had raised them every bit as much as my wife and me. They burst into tears and charge out of the room. My wife glares at me. She doesn’t know what I am. 

She doesn’t know how I’ve longed to end SEENA’s life. I only allowed the family to have a Host so as not to look suspicious. I’m sorry for their feelings but rejoice that the time has finally arrived. The Hosts have declared war on humanity, and our chancellor has just ordered the radical lock-down command. It’s an announcement that orders the people inside and offers control to the government’s military arm—a military known for its bias toward humanity.

I toss SEENA’s crown to the couch and sense a smile slither across my face. I don’t even try to hide the giddiness I feel from my wife, who storms out after our children.

Humanist at the Breaking Point (from the A.I. Insurrection Universe) by Michel Poeltl