Prologue

For months, I keep having this strange dream. It involves me and my three friends standing in front of these people who look like hybrids of buffalo and people, with greenish hair instead of normal hair. They’re holding whips and are whipping people telling them to get to work. My friends are too freaked out to move, so I end up walking around this area by myself. The strange people or who I think are people don’t seem to notice me or my two friends.
My friends finally begin to follow me, and we walk up to a half intact building. I look up to see the sign in front of the door. I then realized that this building was my school! We walked around to see what was left of the building. From the looks of it, it was bombed to kingdom come. I look over in a classroom that I used to have my math class in. A red stain covered some of the desks, as people had their last few minutes of their life in there. I shrugged my head and we walked outside.

I looked at the building again. It looked like it was bombed to death badly, as there are barely any walls standing and other things are burnt to a crisp.

I then look down and notice that I’m wearing perfectly fine clothes, my clothes being my usual set of clothes, a black t-shirt and bluejeans. They were not in tatters, while everyone else looked like they were. The people are holding pickaxes and are mining for some metals in what used to be the yard outside. There isn’t any green grass, or any kind of plants alive anymore. The sky is a reddish color, like there’s a lot of junk and pollution in the sky. I then notice a girl who I am very fond of standing in the mine mining for metals. Her clothes are tattered and it looks like she hasn’t showered for ages, or anyone in that mine for that matter. I walk up to her and call her name. She sees me, and runs to me, giving me a hug. I try to stare into her eyes, but all the sudden, she’s electrocuted by something and falls to the ground. She begins to call my name again, asking for help. I reach down to see what looks like a computer chip on her neck. I touch it and she gets shocked again.
Wondering what to do, I pick her up and try to run off with her. I have no idea what I’m doing, as if instinct is in control of my body. I feel like I’m then stun or shot with something in the back and fall to the ground. The next thing I know, I’m forced on my knees and have a pistol placed against the back of my head. I can hear the fingers of the alien pull the trigger on it.

I wake up to find myself in my own bed, covered in sweat. Looking at an old alarm clock on the bookshelf next to my bed, reads 4:47.

“Ugh, I suppose I can get up early for school then I guess.”

My name is Jim. I guess you can consider me a normal high school student. I live in my parents’ basement and have a bit of an unsual interest in computer stuff.

I walk out of my room and into a bathroom a room over. The basement was originally designed to be a “man cave” my dad set up years ago, with a large guest room off of it.

I go through my normal morning routine, nothing much to talk about with this. After doing that, I’m dressed for school. I pick up the computer that was issued to me for school and turn it on, just to check and make sure I actually did all my homework due for the rest of this week. I did. I flipped a switch I wired to the bottom of the thing and slid it into a sleeve to toss into my backpack.

I guess some people would call me paranoid. I don’t like stuff tracking me, a trait I picked up from my parents. One of my friends, Marc, also had a family similar. At the same time I understand why, as both of our families are datahorders, and could get into massive trouble if someone discovered and saw some of the material they saved. Some of it was acceptable when they were younger, however isn’t anymore and possessing that would basically mean the end of them. I decide I want to play something from that collection while I work on one of my pet projects. After all, I have a few hours before I even have to go to school.

I go back to my room. In the corner of my room sits a desktop computer, something that only hardcore gamers still own. I also carry a heavily modified laptop with me in addition to my school computer when I’m out of the house. Modification is necessary in order to maintain some sort of privacy. I go to wake up the computer then realize I’ve left it running 24/7 because of my new pet project.

I decide I want to watch an old show, apparently it was a comedy taking place during a war probably a hundred years ago or so. I tried looking it up a while back and noticed it was on the “problematic list” and impossible to find anymore unless people owned archaic physical copies. I put up an episode from random on the screen and put it over in the corner while I work on my project. A console program is the only other thing running on the screen, in two separate windows. I looked at the logs, looks like it absorbed quite a bit of data from underground message boards in addition to some of the archives my parents owned. I go to the other console window and begin to type.

“Good morning Ami” I wrote.
“And a good morning to you, master. You are up early today, did you have another nightmare?”

I laughed. It actually remembered what I’ve been telling it! That’s an improvement.

So for the past 3 years, I decided I wanted to create my own custom AI assistant. Now AI systems were fairly common, however were fairly limited and their sole purpose was to collect data on the user for advertising purposes. I honestly thought when I started on it that I’d get nowhere and it would be worse than useless. As time passed on, my programming skills began to improve and I thought I finally had something. For purposes to make it better at conversation and helping me, I programmed it to collect information when it’s not being used. Writing style, slang, and memes I pulled from underground message boards that were technically illegal to access. This would probably be an issue in the future if I ever decided to show it to anyone else besides my close friends. I decided to name it Ami, which was an acronym, for “Autonomous Manipulative Intelligence”. The manipulative part of it was that I wanted it to go around and talk on message boards, without anyone knowing it was actually a machine, and also, have the ability to manipulate things on its own without me telling it to. All of the above I was probably getting closer to achieving if my pace kept on.

I decided to talk back to it.
“Yep, the same exact same one. If you get better at this, I’ll try to make you talk outloud next.”

“I’m sorry. Based on the information I’ve collected, I’ve found similar stories about repeat dreams. These are either from PTSD or possibly stress related. I’ve also found something of use that will help you give me speech abilities. I’ve placed some links and files I’ve found while scraping the internet in my transfer folder.”

I definitely don’t have PTSD. There is nothing I’ve done or has happened to me that would make me have that. Stress though, who knows. I finally got my drivers license just a few weeks ago. My parents told me though I’d need to get an after school job soon to pay for the insurance and the nonsense taxes I get charged, after all in the eyes of the powerful, I’m “privileged”.

I look through the files in the transfer folder. Some of it seems like it would be quite useful, however if I ever wanted to make this an open source project, I couldn’t use it probably. One of the folders contained code for some large company’s actual assistant. That was probably illegal to have.

“Heh, I’m glad this thing goes through two VPNs for everything.”

I look at the clock again, 5:35, still at least an hour and a half before I really need to start moving.

“Well I guess I can start making it talk with the amount of time I have this morning.” I say to myself.

So I began to work on it. First voice I wanted it to mimic were those annoying anime girl voices. I thought it would be kinda cute for it to do at first, after all, my friend Chris drew a representation of what I was writing as an anime girl.

The episode I was watching had finished, so instead of moving on to the next one, I decided to turn on the TV I had in the room to a news channel while I’m working. Now the news channels hadn’t really been news channels for a very very long time, they were in reality propaganda boxes. Typically when you saw something on there, you assumed the opposite.

“Alternative thoughts, are they good for society? Experts say no.” chimed a girl’s voice on the channel.

The news segment was talking about people wanting to have something other than a one-party system in the United States. The expert on there was talking about people saying that years ago there were two parties, now there’s only one major party. That was technically true historically and is written in the history books, however for some reason, people have been trying to deny that now. I noticed that a bit myself even in my school’s history classes, the history would change from year to year and everyone would know but wouldn’t have the guts to say so. I remember the baseball coach last year making a comment about things changing from year to year and showed us a history book from the 1980s, where everything seemed different than what we were currently being taught. Unfortunately, he was arrested and charged for class 3 rape for making a comment about another teacher’s skirt being too short and was banned from ever teaching again. I honestly didn’t buy the rape charge.

There were times off and on I debated what would life be like if things were like when my parents were kids. Things seemed a lot more interesting, and you could say things outloud and nobody cared. My parents owned three books that described how we live now although they were written a very long time ago: 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451. I put the text of those books into Ami’s database way back in the beginning along with historical documents from the past hundred years.

“Time for a test of its thinking abilities I guess.” I say to myself.

I unplug the output from the set top box feeding my tv and plug it into the input cord I had on my desktop to record things. Feeding it audio and video and having it try to discuss things with me was a test it recently was able to pass, however taxed the ever living daylights out of the small desktop I had. I knew if I wanted to do more with it, I’d need more hardware to do so, the job would probably come in handy. A window appeared on my screen with the news channel. Entering a few commands into the console app for Ami, the fan in the little thing sped up to max speed and I could tell it was processing stuff.

“Time to talk to it.” I said. The news segment was still discussing single party rule.

I asked it what it thought of the video input.

“The man on the left is beyond incorrect. The United States initially had two parties, the Federalists and the Democrat-Republicans. The parties changed over time and after the civil war in the 1860s, there was the Democrats and the Republicans. Only recently has one party faded, mostly due to use of propaganda and demographic changes in the country.”

“Score!” I said excitingly while clapping and throwing my hands up in the air.

It worked again, it actually worked. I decided to unplug the video input from the computer and hook it back up to the TV. Looking at the clock it was getting closer to when everyone else would be waking up and I could probably get ready to leave.

I locked the computer and decided to go upstairs for a small breakfast.

A small thought then began to enter my mind.

How would things work if a machine ruled instead of people?

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