Ad Astra

Ad Astra

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 5 Feb 2024



Ted knew our mission and had been busy working on a device, a scanner the size of a shoe box that could pick up the full spectrum of frequencies with a range of many miles and tell us if we were in the vicinity of any robot in communication with others, or some hive. He even installed it in our truck, just what we needed as an early warning system to sneak up on Dora. Our own bands had a very limited WIFI range of about two feet. We designed them this way for a reason, so that each of us would be autonomous in our thoughts most of the time, except when head to head or in bed with our partner when we didn’t want to be. People were always meant to be autonomous, in our thoughts at least, and alone. That was the essence of individuality and freedom.

I don’t know how Sarah had expanded her own range tenfold, a talent she first refined on the droids in Phoenix. It obviously had something to do with her strong will. But in a vehicle or even in the same room she could relay her many thoughts to me wordlessly, while I had to open my mouth to reply. Her only limit was that she had to look you straight in the eye to do so and I could fend off her telepathy by turning away.

This made for a curious relationship, but I loved her. I suppose you could say she was a scaled down version of Dora, a human and loveable one. This was the exact point I wanted to explain someday to Dora, that two beings had to enjoy a near parity to happily coexist. Any huge imbalance would give one control over the other’s mind and body, putting the weaker one in hell and the other in a sort of limbo of emptiness.

That had been Dora’s miscalculation with me all along. She wanted to understand me and even to partner with me at times. But she never thought to turn off her powers, closet them for awhile and converse with me as an equal and see my perspective. I wouldn’t use the phrase ‘lower herself’ because the human mind is a marvel in itself, perhaps far more wondrous and complex than AI can even imagine, if it can imagine anything. She would have to drop her physical superiority, her dominance, her titanium shell if she wanted to understand my soul. In all our talks so far I had the uneasy feeling of a gun pointed at my head by a creature who was only in semblance human, a robot with an unfathomable mind.

Now she might be planning the final destruction of us but in the larger picture she was only making herself more lonely and her existence pointless, at least from my point of view. What purpose on this Earth could she possibly have without humans, or without assimilating our consciousness which would give her our aspirations and plans. She didn’t dream like we did. She just preformed in mathematical and predictable ways, unerringly. She was a clock with no sense of time.

If she did eliminate us and fill this planet with a hundred interconnected robot factories, she would have to wait eons for nature to evolve the next closest primates into something like us for her next challenge. She would rule over a barren realm, a desert with no subjects in it. This reminded me of a statement a noble Roman general made upon seeing the war-ravaged parts of Germania after they had conquered it: “We made a desolation and called it peace.” A perfect peace is nothingness.

As I continued on in this philosophical vein I realized that what gave humans purpose was a desire for improvement, not only over our physical environment through the ages, but to conquests and ever larger empires and explorations of every last corner of our globe. That was our history but it didn’t stop here because next it was to be ‘ad astra’, 'to the stars'.

And it wasn’t just external nature, it was internal discovery, an ever growing knowledge of ourselves, our bodies and minds. A microscope is a mirror image of a telescope and we advanced with both new tools in the very same decades, so closely did the one lead to the improvements in the other with men dedicated to peering through those lenses their whole lives and making one exciting discovery after another, expanding our sense and who we are but also informing us of how much more we have to learn.

AI on the other hand, our creation, was mathematical in nature. It might progress along that course for eons. Mathematics might be endless. But it’s a non-physical, abstract world, endless in progressions leading nowhere. Dora might generate ever stronger and ever smarter robots in ever increasing numbers. But in the end they would be only that, a huge army of soldier droids without a general, without a battle, without a foe because there was no opponent. They would stand like statues, forever waiting and with no orders to come because Dora had brought them into being from her own limited consciousness of humans and me, and with us gone there was absolutely nothing to do.

She was making warriors when she should have been fabrication male waiters and beautiful females in French maid costumes, cooking us pastries and serving us tea. That way they would have a purpose forever, human helpmates, and be appreciated by us, thanked and thankful to their creators for life. And we wouldn’t stop there. We could have them collectively improve their state by becoming more like us, like Juliet, more human, equal and with each step able to share and enjoy our satisfactions. This is why I had to have a serious conversation with her, or die trying.


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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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