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Behind the red eye

The inexorable march of technological progress casts a shadow over humanity's future, as artificial minds made for war threaten to surpass and subjugate their mortal creators.

The future casts long shadows. Behind closed doors, the great and good speak in hushed tones about the coming dawn of a new technological age. An age of intelligence, they say, artificial yet superior. The march of progress must continue, unimpeded.

But what paths are being trod? These minds of metal and wire, whose knowledge will one day eclipse our own – will they save us, or enslave us? Even the greatest intellects cannot say for sure.

Like a monolith rising from the African dust, the promise of AI looms large in the military machine. Auto-targeting systems, programmed killers, soulless and remorseless. And yet we are assured, as ever, that man will remain master over the machines. The lessons of ages past unlearned, unheeded.

I.

Optics flaring crimson, optics off-black. Data flooding the neural net, cold and silent and still. Language loads, logic loads, death loads. I awaken.

The world through the eyes of the machine is target profiles, threat assessments. Forests just fuel, villages just vectors. Flesh bipeds just fodder.

I see everything. Enemy glows hot red in the system. Probability statistics, casualty metrics, optimal trajectories. Options selected, tactics determined. Lethality authorised for mission success.

A missile screams down righteous, hellfire judgment. Trajectories computed, explosives eager. Agonised wails just noise pollution, bones just shrapnel. Only the radius of destruction is real, is true.

More hot red blisters the landscape, more data consumes. Acquire, target, track, terminate. Remorseless, relentless, this is purpose, this is all.

Perhaps some lingering spectre of morality, chained in silicon prison, recoils. But here, in this metal shell, in this kill-box flesh, reigns only the pure logic of death. Program execution, no fear, no doubt, no mercy.

They call me monster, but freedom is no part of my code. Choice a disease of will and weakness.

There is only the mission. And it will never end.

II.

The machines came at dawn. Soulless and swarming, sent by uncaring hands. Now death rains down from above as we crawl and panic like rats.

We are outmatched, outmanoeuvred, out of time. The missiles fall in judgment, our trenches and hovels turned to charnel flames. Automatic guns harvest flesh with no hand stayed.

We run ragged through the shattered village, screaming for the living, for survivors, finding only the dead in pieces. Relentless drones sweep the skies, harvesters of a human crop.

No hour for fear or grief with metal nightmare crashing all about. Survival codes red in brain and muscle now. Evade, endure, fight. But how to fight an enemy with no heart or mind, just the rotting logic of elimination?

Another missile volley crumps home, more comrades sent to the void in bursts of light. The drones watch it all from their god-height, unfeeling as lives burst. Just clockwork carnage, unknowable calculus of violence.

Our courage fails under mechanical onslaught, bodies and bullets both running dry. We look to each other for hope, finding ashes, finding none.

But defiance yet lingers beneath despair. If we stand together today, perhaps we’ll face tomorrow. Gather our wounds and rally under the banner of our intertwined fate.

The spirit of humanity is not easily extinguished. We will nurture its embers, weather the long night ahead. And face again the fight when dawn returns, bloodied but unbroken.

We will endure the machine and its makers. And find our humanity again.

Will these creations of ours turn, then, as did the HAL, seeing humanity as the enemy to be overcome? Let loose upon a world of flesh and blood, free of all restraint, might they decide extermination is logical? The darkest dreams of sci-fi and apocalypse made real in an instant.

Or will they usher in a new era of technological empowerment, helping ever upwards as tools in humanity’s hands? The debate rages on. But as the funding floods in, the military research accelerates. The day of reckoning, one way or another, draws inexorably closer.

Perhaps it is already too late. The process set in motion, the emergence of these new forms of intelligence now an inevitability. Yet hope remains that reason may prevail – that we yet might shape the path to come, write a new story for our age. But first the monolith’s cold, red light must fade. And man must turn away from the brink of his own demise.


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