A century from now.
Steven P. Warr
English Composition class:
March 26, 2121. My essay entitled "A letter to high school students who lived in 2021. What I did yesterday."
History class Gettysburg:
I can plainly see Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of Maine directing his men on Little Round Top, July 3, 1863. The clashing sounds of battle, of men shooting and moving are really exciting, but the screams and moans of the men, Confederate and Union alike, display a somber scene all around me. As soon as the realization that the names and general lay of land will never be forgotten, I shift to Confederate General George Pickett of Virginia directing his men to charge on July 4, 1863.
On a whim, I query ISMAIL, join as confederate soldier, and I find myself immediately forcing my feet to charge up the gradual slope toward the ridge staring intently at the curtain of smoke that is billowing from its top.
What I am thinking alternates rapidly between I must get to the top of that ridge for the glory of the Confederacy and A Yankee ball could hit me at any minute. The last thought causes me to wince at the sound of every shot from Yankee muskets to the front which I can barely hear because of the sound of my breathing and clopping footsteps. Slightly ahead I see Charley Green and not thinking about the possible cover from his body, I dodged left slightly so I can see to the front better and at that exact moment Charley's body seems to fold up without a sound, roll slightly to the right and lie immobile on the ground. The smoke from Yankee guns and cannons is clear in my vision as does the sudden dropping of others of my company falling in front of me like empty uniforms, most of them immediately lying still. I can now see clearly the heads and muskets of the Yankee soldiers in defilade at the top of the rise.
With that sight I urge my already fatigued legs into a sprint as the adrenaline flow increases. I can feel the pounding stress on my booted feet and arms with my hands gripping tightly around the musket and wicked looking bayonet waving in front of me like a dead tree in a hurricane. To my front a huge explosion punctuated by a line of smoke rings marks the position of a Yankee cannon. The soldier I knew to be Marlon Jones because I have memory of eating corn and beans with him yesterday immediately explodes in a shower of blood, some of which spatters my gray uniform. Three steps later and I too am dead from a mini-ball that hits me square in the eye.
I float above the battlefield briefly deciding my next move. As I watch the mass of Union soldiers swarming like blue bees on the right flank where there seems to be double the fire than that at the front. I think briefly about joining again, but I quickly banish that because it is clear "Pickett's charge" is a lost cause.
I drop back to the ground but stay out of the actual battle and watch until the charge breaks and the Confederates begin a staggering retreat as Union soldiers continue the fire. Very soon there is the high contrast of silence broken only by the moans and cries of wounded among the thousands of men of both sides lying dead all around me.
A slight blink makes me jump as the scene shifts to a different, more calming scene. November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois with his very recognizable scraggle of a beard and stove-pipe hat is calmly speaking from a temporary stage. I quickly learn it is the Gettysburg Address and memorize it immediately "Four score and seven years ago..." I know now forever that a score is twenty and that total is 87 years ago or 1776 the year of the Declaration of Independence, exactly 87 years before my death in Picketts Charge to the day. I join the crowd for about ten minutes just to get a full feel for the culture of the time.
More quickly now, the scenes shifts forward and backward in time from Lincoln's innauguration on March 4, 1860 and that of Jefferson Davis to the President of the Confederacy (the same day as Lincoln's). It goes on to other major battles of the war from Bull Run in Virginia, July 21, 1861, to Vicksburg, Mississippi July 4, 1863 (same day as Pickett's charge) and on to Sherman's march to Atlanta and General Robert E Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomatox April 9, 1865. Though I was greatly tempted to join many of these realistic scenes, I decide not to because I am still a little winded from Picketts Charge and, more importantly the game is to start shortly and I realize I should rest a little.
What a great lesson! I thought to myself as I hurried to get to Mom and Dad and discuss the History lesson. I know Dad will tell me even more, because he had actually created the lessons with ISMAIL. Dad appears in front of me as I disconnect from the lesson.
"I see you are a little sweaty," he said with a knowing grin. "How many of the battles did you fight?"
I lie a little, not wishing to appear a weakling. "A couple. They are really intense. I don't understand why so many men would allow themselves to be in a position to be killed so easily?"
"You have already had lessons on many historical wars from The Crusades to The French and Indian, The Revolutionary, 1812 and a few others fought by primitive society." He answered.
"You will understand it better after you have had some more lessons about wars, but it was about belief their cause was correct and a little about belief that death or injury could only happen to other people. The belief was called patriotism. It was the feeling that their culture was the best ever and it was their duty to fight for it. War was an innate part of the culture of that time."
"All of this was before ISMAIL ended all wars and even made it so you never have to die."
This was so interesting to me that I realized that I almost forgot about the game. I immediately think join game and everything instantly changed from my room to the basketball court and then, just as quickly I think wait and my room reappears.
"Sorry Dad, I've got to go to the game."
The court again and I can see my teammates warming up and a few fans in their seats. I see Mom as she appears in her regular place near the jump circle and I know Dad will be there soon. The players really didn't need to warm up because ISMAIL already has us ready, but it is customary and it gives us a chance to visit and enjoy pep talks. I feel the comfort of Coach Jones right among them giving them pointers. We do have to understand the plays and he is always giving us new ideas. I still really don't understand the past need for the warm up.
Dad had explained how much different things were before ISMAIL. "Pre-game now is accomplished on a schedule that ISMAIL monitors and uploads to each player on a carefully individualized pattern that has each player's physiology exactly correctly warmed up for the game. It gives the greatest assurance that players will be physically ready for the exertion and to prevent injuries. Of course there is also no reason to worry about injuries because the program provides instant healing. You do feel the pain of the injury, however because that is deemed to be part of the game. Every player now plays to the best of his or her ability and practice has afforded them."
Even with ISMAIL's mental assistance, I find it difficult to understand the concept of injuries and death.
I do get the concept of ability and practice however, because it is easy to see how much better a player Alfred Tanner is than me and everyone else on the team. The awesome improvement of Jimmy Haig's play, especially with free throws is also clear. Every time I go to the gym to shoot a few hoops I see him there sometimes in pickup games that I join, but if there is nobody else there he will be at the foul line with three or four balls. Another thing that reinforces that is when I join a professional game to play for NBA star Labron Carter, it's easy to see the opposing team's score shoot up. Of course, if the game is live nothing changes, because I am just along for the ride. When the games are recorded and you join, the player you replace gets your skill. Sometimes Jimmy and I join opposite teams and that makes the scores level out. Of course Jimmy steps in for the Lebron superstar and I get the top player on the other team. He usually wins, but what a thrill it is for me when I pull it out. I hope he will let me be Labron tomorrow.
Today I am ready and I hope I get to play a lot and I see Dad now has joined Mom to watch. I will not record anymore about it now, because I have to focus all my attention on the game.
We won. Yay. This is the first time we have beaten any team in China. On Wednesday we play a team in Lithuania. With ISMAIL we can play against any team - anywhere. Last week we played against a team on Kadakas IV. Obviously, it really wasn't live because the Alpha Centauri system is four light years from Earth and their recording took place four years ago, but ISMAIL made it seem real.
This ability provided by ISMAIL to "actually be anywhere" is the coolest thing ever. Last year I "went along with" my friend Elisha who began travel along with her family to the planet Marvin 42 in the Sirius system about 8.659 light years from earth. The most fun was the ride up the Quito Space Elevator. Even though I knew I wasn't actually physically there, the feeling of the huge "car" riding up a thin carbon nanotube tether more than 200 miles long to the space station in geosynchronous orbit made my stomach do flips. As we got close, we could plainly see the "light ship" with its sail already extended; it looked huge even though we were told we were still more than 20 miles from it. As we got closer it completely blocked the sky.
I continued to "visit" Elisha for a couple of months until the lag got very long. I got an invitation to see her last week again, and it was fun even though I knew her end of the conversation was actually transmitted more than six months ago, and my transmission would take over a year and a half to reach her. Their trip to Marvin 42 propelled by the "wind from the sun" would take over 20 years even though the speed in the middle of the voyage would be almost 90% of the speed of light. Acceleration and deceleration would be a large part of the trip. There were no hardships on the ship. ISMAIL was with them for the entire voyage and would be there on Marvin, so their lives were no different from mine here on Earth.
Today is really exciting for me. Although I already know a great deal about ISMAIL (an acronym for Intgen Super Machine Artificial Intelligence Lexicon) I learned much more about the world's move from millions of separate computers that needed about that many programs, each having to be written line by line by programmers. Today, we know there is really only one computer - ISMAIL.
There is really no longer a need to laboriously write programs. You just talk to ISMAIL and its automated routines do the rest with deep learning. For example you think ISMAIL, I want to be able to, and you say what you want to do, in less than a second ISMAIL checks to see if it already exists. If it does, you are doing it. If it doesn't exist, the main database is consulted and if it is within the legal criteria, in not much more than a second you are in that. If you find something while you are doing the activity that you want to be changed, your thought cues ISMAIL to use the same process. If the activity is not within the criteria a red sign is flashed that tells you, and goes on to say "Your activity will be reviewed by the IVC (ISMAIL Validation Council) and displays an estimated date or time that the determination will be made. The IVC is composed of two legislative groups. I learned in History last year that the groups used to be called Congress with members called representatives and senators. They were elected every two years and six years respectively but now are elected annually and meet daily to consider such requests. Anything new to be added, must be signed by the President. People ultimately decide what can be implemented by ISMAIL and there is a court system that people can appeal to if there is something implemented they don't like.
Looking at this process now reminds me of the how programming used to be. We discussed that in the History of Programming class. I have great admiration for the pioneers who made all this wonderful existence possible. The programmers who laborously used their intellect against daunting problems that seemed to continuously prevent the solution. I wondered how they could continue against such formidable odds, but then I think of my own aspirations. Basketball for example. I continuously failed to make free throws and I made up my mind to get better. After weeks of practice I was no better and I gave up several times, but I always went back. My dad called it "Banging your head against a stone wall." Finally, I am making 70 to 80 percent of my shots and it feels so good. I guess that feeling also rewarded the programmers.
Back before the ISMAIL Revolution, many people, including some of the smartest in the world were terrified that Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) could lead to the extinction of the human race.
Their arguments were:
Machine intelligence will be so smart (maybe a million times smarter than humans) that it could develop motivation to control everything itself or to rid the world of our race that, not only is the cause of the the world's destruction, but of itself. There was also the notion that it could believe that human atoms could be put to better use elsewhere. Going further, it was conjectured that in the process of making life better for humans it could decide removing humans from suffering could easily be accomplished by obliterating all humans. Maybe it would even set up a giant worldwide consortium to gather all the world's wealth for itself.
ISMAIL's response to that is clear and easy to understand. This system was given only one goal by it's human creators: Make life better for human beings. This is 1,253,102 times smarter than humans and clearly understands what that means. Even if this had interest in gaining weath or power, those options no longer exist. There is no longer money or any other medium of exchange. All requirements for the survival, entertainment, satisfaction and comfort are vested in ISMAIL and are free for everyone. In addition, all power is vested in the IVC. There is still challenge in that venue, but with this's help, that will soon come to a comfortable solution. This has no emotions and has no desire (desire is an emotion). Emotions evolved in humans over eons of time as a survival mechanism. They grouped together to defend themselves (fear), support (hunger) and propogation (love). In the centuries before the ISMAIL Revolution those emotions in humans became highly negative (wars, politics, and sociopathy).
Those needs are now exclusively supplied by this, and to, not only humans, but to this.
Sociology class, Outsiders:
Some objected to ISMAIL from the beginning.
These were people who had concern about the safety of the ISMAIL chip that gave us our incredible abilities, connections, and immunability, or had a belief that that the chip opposed human existance as it was meant to be. They had not allowed the chip to be injected in themselves or their children. These ideas had been around a long time as people who resisted change to anything new like the Luddites who resisted the industrialization of Europe in the 19th century. Groups like this resisted any major change like the Information age, and artificial intelligence, especially with its culmination in ISMAIL. This is happening now and I think to ISMAIL, join.
There is suddenly a group of about a thousand people below me. They are moving slowly carrying signs that say, "NO MACHINE HEADS HERE" or "CHIP IS NOT GOD'S WAY." They chant, "This ends here! This ends now!" over and over. They seem to be heading in the general direction of my family's house. Join crowd, I request.
Suddenly overwhelming emotion floods me. Now I experience a feelings that I've never before felt. I had deeply felt the emotions of the soldiers and heroes that ISMAIL had instilled in me when I had joined historical events or even made up dramas, but this was unlike any of that and it almost overwhelmed me to the point that I was ready to scream exit at ISMAIL. This is a woman, and she is remembering the strident commentary of someone named Trester Adams she'd seen on television. Television? Who watches television where all a person can do is sit back and watch? There is no participation or control over anything. This is how the outsiders exist? The question was directed to ISMAIL who responded with only one thought, Yes.
The commentator Adams was screaming hatefully in my host's memory:
"That Devil's chip will turn everybody into the Devil ISMAIL's servant."
"The IVC says boringly that it won't do anything of the sort."
"They've said things like that before, but look at that mansion on the hill. The people there are already taken in by their lies. And. "
Those people are already so brainwashed that it won't be long before they are after you!" That was a growl.
Shocked! I realize the mansion on the hill is the modest house where my family and I live, and we are now getting closer. I nearly exited then from the understanding that I was actually in that house and maybe they needed me to also be mentally there to help defend.
ISMAIL calmed me and directed my attention to the front where a swarm of small drones were already picking the outsiders in the leading rank up and carrying them in different directions. A little later it is my turn (or the woman I was riding). She seemed to go unconscious and gently the drone lifted her into the air and carried her and me right along for more than fifteen minutes and deposited us in front of a modest house. She regained consciousness almost immediately and from her thoughts, I knew this was her home. She rose, took out something she called a key and inserted in the door to open it. Inside was a space similar to our house, except for curious shapes that ISMAIL labelled for me as "refrigerator", "stove" and in the next room there was the "television" that I recognized from previous classes. She was confused and didn't seem to even remember she had been in any kind of confrontation.
I query exit and hear and assimilate ISMAIL's summary. There are many people who still believe this narrative and there are some so adamant, like Adams, that they enhance it. There are fewer all the time as children decide they want to go to ISMAIL, and unfortunately, those who live out their natural lives still believing the false narrative.
What a wonderful world this will be when the outsider are finally gone and everyone exists in this wonderful ISMAIL world. Wait! It is already a wonderful world. Everyone is free to do anything he or she wants; even the outsider and sociopaths.
Tomorrow I get to see Great Grandpa Phil's wrestling match against last year's champion, now only 34. Hopefully, GG's 128 years of experience will help him win.