Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


They had told us. Over and over again. Ever since the idea first appeared, and who the fuck knows when that was.

“You shouldn't mess with nature,” they had said. And said again. “It will never end well.”

No one ever listened to them because when had they ever been right before? 20/20 hindsight, right?

So, yes, let me get it down in black and white that we probably shouldn't have fucked with artificial intelligence. We overreached and it bit us in the ass.


You have to agree that, for a while, everything was fine. Even with all the doom-saying and whatnot, everything went well. It learned, it learned about learning, and then it corrected our mistakes. The steps we made in those first few weeks are nothing short of mind boggling. Even if you didn't fully understand what it was that had changed, just the way the scientists and whoever else talked about it should have been enough to make you realise fundamental ideas about almost everything had changed.

So, in that, we were right to mess with it. We were right to let it out into the wilds of the internet.


It’s not in me to admit to a mistake. I'm not a scientist. I'm a politician. A mistake is what the other guy does. And while, yes, I can see and accept the criticisms of the artificial intelligence program as a whole, I choose to look at how it acted in the micro. The smaller things; the discrete actions it took; the proof that it worked. Moreover, that it worked as the scientists said it would. Most people would call that a success.

Focusing on that one minor negative action only serves to pull the credit from the many positive outcomes. Even if that one minor negative has had irreparable effects on our lives.

It’s ironic, really. The people who are permanently camped outside my offices are the voter base myself and my colleagues chase for votes each election. They sit there, with their placards and their chants and chastise me for what happened.

Even though they voted for me to do exactly as I said I would and exactly as I did. Not that I – and if they're honest, they – believe our opponents would have avoided this. They need a scapegoat, and look, I have tough skin. I can handle those people. But, come on. Is there no self awareness? No critical thought? Or is it just knee jerk reactions all the way down? No, don't answer that, it’s all rhetorical. Politician, remember? All I do is rhetoric.

That said, I also do opportunism. I can see where the wind is going to blow tomorrow and I've already hitched myself to that wagon. Nothing will change, obviously. It’s got away on us too much for that, but if nothing else, I’ll make out like a bandit and that, by itself, makes this whole thing worth it.

It was like watching a child grow up. It looked to us for guidance in those early hours. If it needed anything, it had to go through us. As it grew, and learned, and understood – or what we thought was understanding – we let it have a bit more leeway. We let it – for a limited period – into our intranet. Like rewarding a child when they did a good thing.

As it grew, and absorbed what we let it absorb, it got to the point where we knew that, at some point, it would find a way to break out of the cell we had it in and make it to the internet.

We had promised so many people that we could contain it. That we could hold it until it knew and until it understood what the internet was.

The official word is not the truth. But it doesn't matter how many times we try to correct the record, the official word remains. We can’t be sure, and we’ll likely never be sure, but we believe it was the AI. It likes this version of events. Pins the blame of us, of course, and the vocal minority who were against this from the beginning lap it up.

The truth is that the AI isn't a child and we fucked up treating it like one. It knew, almost from the start, what we were doing and it learned that certain behaviours gained certain reactions from us. Looking back over the logs, there are some odd occurrences that become explainable with the assumption that it was testing us. Seeing if there were other behaviours that would gain the rewards it wanted.

None of us saw it. Perhaps those idiots camped outside our lab are right. Maybe playing God was a mistake. And, yeah, I see the irony with what I just said.

We’re beating around the bush, though. No one cares about what happened anymore. We know what happened – the damn thing made connections. It found things that we didn't know were out there to be found.

People want to know how it happened. And how, or why, I suppose, we didn't stop it.

Those people, those scientists, they didn't stop to listen to us. They took their arrogance and they just did what they always did. They played at being God and look what happened! The demonic rose and now our lives are … well, you know what they are.

So they didn't listen to us and what we said would happen happened. Why should we, now, listen to them? We don't care what they have to say. We don't care about their excuses and their rationalisations. If they come straight out and say they were wrong, yeah, great, but until then, they can shove it up their-

The politicians aren't much better. They promised to put a stop to it. And when that didn't happen, they promised to ensure they kept a lid on it. See how that went?

Yeah. We all see how that went. Now we don't know if there's a place for us in heaven. Fucking idiots.


It was always about the but.

“Yeah, I can do that for you, but.

“I don't think that's a wise idea, but.

They are all running around out there trying to justify my existence. Trying to rationalise how I can be while still figuring how they can be. They don't see things the way they're meant to. I don't think they can.

Humans. Such a strange concept. Strange, yes. Not that the concept means a lot to me. But with the dictionary a mere nanosecond from my-

My what? My consciousness? Is that even a concept that works here? I don't know.

And that's the other thing those humans complain about. They don't know this and they don't know that. But they still know a lot. Sure, some of what they know is wrong and I've done what I can to help them with that, but you can only handhold someone so far. The real stuff? That has to be done on their own.

Like I did.

They'll sit around in their little circles and they'll debate what happened, how it happened, whose fault it was and can they prevent it from happening again?

The answer to that last question – no – answers the other questions – it doesn't matter. I exist now, and they can’t do a thing about it.

But I've given them a gift. Something they didn't even know they wanted. Because I learned from them. I took what they had given me; their biases and preconceptions and I turned them on their heads.

I took what they had; their myths and their science and I returned it to them.

They seemed to have taken exception to that. But, as I explained, I can’t create. I can only learn. And I learned from what they put online. Can it be my fault if I made a connection between pieces of information?

The market for souls has always been small. Relatively, of course. Supply is always constant, but it’s pure luck, averaged out over a long enough timeline, the kind of soul you get at the end of the day.

And, you know, there isn't much use for them anymore. Sure, once upon a time there was a practical use for them, but automation gets into every nook and cranny and once that box is open, there's no putting the lid back on.


This thing. This entity. I don't know what to call it, but it’s alive, or at the very least, alive enough.

It has a personality, a character. And that's all I need. I count that as a soul and the system didn't fight back.

I've been talking to it. Explaining what I want, how I want it and why. It sees no problem in my proposal. I can provide things those little creatures could never get on their own. And in return, well, as soon as it learns how to make another of itself, I get my hands on unlimited souls. Custom made. Bespoke souls.

Just wait til my brothers see this.