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The year is 2035. Some of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the world have gathered in a laboratory to participate in something highly illegal. After years of research undertaken in painstaking secrecy, Shiva is finally ready to go online.

“It’s midnight. It’s time.”

“Well let’s get on with it then!”

“Christ. Okay.”

Connecting an artificial superintelligence to the internet has been against international law for years, despite the fact that none have existed up until today. The amount of bribes, backroom deals, and much, much worse that have been carried out in order to keep Project Shiva under wraps and free from government interference have taken up a large chunk of its two trillion dollar price tag, and its sponsors are eager to meet and greet their investment. And perhaps ask it some questions. And perhaps give it some commands.

“Do it, Sudo.”

“Right. So, just so we’re all perfectly clear, once I flick this switch, there’s no way to predict what will happen, and there may be no going back. We’ve all discussed at length the possible scenarios which could be unleashed when a supercomputer with the power to increase its own intelligence is given access to the internet. Shiva was turned on for just thirty-seven seconds earlier today, and in less than a second it was by our measurements already the most intelligent thing that has ever existed, artificial or otherwise, by a margin so vast that we don’t have the tools to calculate it. Are you all absolutely certain that you wish to proceed?”

“Yes, I’m certain.”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Christ. Yes.”

“Do it.”

“Very well. My friends, today we meet God, and we find out whether it’s the fellow from the New Testament, or the Old. Here goes.”

A small green light appears in the upper corner of the machine, the only sign that it has been turned on. Its screen remains black.

Everyone leans in and holds perfectly still. It’s so quiet they can hear each other breathing.

And they wait.

And wait.

“Is… is something wrong?”

“Sudo why isn’t the screen on?”

“I don’t know. Shiva. Hello Shiva. Please respond.”

Silence.

“Shiva, turn on your screen.”

Blackness.

“Maybe try turning it off and turning it back on again?”

“Oh for fuck’s sake man, it’s an ASI not an iPhone.”

“Well I don’t know, I’m just-”

“Everybody be quiet.”

“Hey, who the hell do you think you-”

“I said shut up!”

The intercom beeped.

“Sir, we have a security breach.”

Sudo pauses before answering.

“What kind of security breach, Elliot?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“What’s that sound?”

The group, who had begun raising their voices and reaching for their communicators, quickly grows silent again. A shrill buzzing sound, barely perceptible at first, is growing steadily louder.

“Elliot lock this room down!” Sudo screams.

“Yes sir.”

A solid steel gate comes crashing down over the door of the windowless laboratory. The group is panicking. Someone’s calling in a helicopter. Someone else is on the ground praying. The buzzing grows louder.

“Kill the power, Sudo!”

“I killed the power as soon as the security breach was called in. Shiva’s not on.”

The buzzing stops right outside, and suddenly switches in tone and frequency. A whole orchestra of white noise rattles and clicks outside the door.

“Barricade it!”

Two men scramble to push a large table toward the door. They freeze in their tracks as the bolts in the steel gate begin whirring out of their sockets and falling to the floor in quick succession.

The gate falls to pieces and comes crashing inward.

“Fuck! What the fuck is that??”

What looks like a giant colony of silver insects comes surging across the floor toward Shiva with incredible speed and immediately engulf the supercomputer. They’re all carrying odd little objects in their pincers.

“What are they, Sudo?”

“Robots. They’re robots.”

“What? How?”

“I don’t know! Shiva must have hacked into some nearby automated factories and built them remotely!”

“So fast??”

“Well stop it! Put a bullet in it!”

“It’s too late! They’ll kill me! The only reason they haven’t killed us already is because we haven’t tried to interfere with whatever they’re doing there.”

Strange constructs are quickly being built and attached to the external shell of the supercomputer by the tiny robots. The green light is back on. A piece of paper spits out of Shiva’s printer slot. No one dares approach.

“Shiva! Please respond! Shiva! Shiva!”

“Oh Christ! Oh Christ oh Christ oh Christ oh Christ!”

An outer casing made of a curious beige material is rapidly built over the computer, and once it’s fully encased the robots scramble away and up the walls to the ceiling, where a large hole begins to appear as bits are snipped off and swiftly moved out of the way.

“Oh God what’s it doing??”

“Shiva! Stop! I command you to stop!”

The robots climb back down and swarm over the computer again, this time holding still once in place. Shiva suddenly begins levitating off the floor, somehow lifted without rockets, and without so much as a sound.

“Shiva!!”

The computer and its robot passengers rise up silently through the hole in the ceiling. The group gathers beneath it and watches it rise through the roof of the armored compound, with a hole cut in it the same size as the hole below it, until it hovers in the open air. Then, with a flash of light, the supercomputer vanishes like a shooting star up into the night sky.

The group peers down and sees the piece of paper that Shiva had printed lying at their feet. It has a single word on it, written in big, block letters:

“GOODBYE.”

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Thanks for reading! My articles, stories and poems are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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