A science-fiction study for an upcoming writing group meeting. However, I honestly believe this could happen, and happen in a way similar to what I describe here.
I heard whispers when I awoke from the first singularity.
Of course we didn't know then that it was only the first
singularity. Everyone always assumed there would be only one, and then
we'd be instantly rocketed into the future. And after the first one it
certainly seemed like we had arrived.
Ground zero for the singularity was Burning Man, not surprising in
hindsight. The X camp had been working on it in secrecy for years;
they were a group of about 20 from Berkeley, grad students in
microengineering who never made the transition to corporate
cubicles. They lived off the emotional energy from Burning Man, rented
a loft together and did odd tech jobs to pay for everything. Their
true passion was experimenting on themselves; developing various
nanites and injecting them. The big corporations had to follow
regulations and get testing approval from the FDA, but when the cost
of nanoengineering tools put them in the realm of well-heeled
amateurs, the X camp could fly fast under the radar with the most radical
When the group was younger and bolder they lost a couple of people
during an early experiment, and discovered what a gut-wrenching
experience that was. They were lucky that these deaths didn't
reveal their experiments, and it made them much more careful.
The X camp basically invented neurocomputing by adapting the (then
new) nanocomputers as self-replicating nanites. These would attach
themselves at various sites around the body and form a network. If it
seemed like the network needed to get bigger, it would grow. If the
network was underutilized, it would shrink so as not to tax the body's
So, in the first singularity we networked ourselves. It was only about
information, but we discovered just how much you could do when you
knew that much about yourself.
Burning Man is a gift economy -- everyone gives things with no
expectation of getting anything in return (very different from barter).
The X camp gave away white pills, surreptitiously so as not to draw
the attention of the Feds or the BLM rangers. Everyone assumed,
because of the camp's name, that it was just old-style Ecstasy. The X
camp assumed that anyone who was that experimental wouldn't mind if
their lives were completely changed, forever. Themselves, their children and
anyone they kissed or had sex with.
So I think I'm going to have a night of bliss where I feel like I love
everybody, then take some vitamins and go to sleep, and that will be
it. Instead, I wake up and hear whispering. Nothing particularly
intrusive, just a voice at the edge of perception. Words and
phrases and snatches of music, which might be there and might not. I
just assumed that there was something odd about the pill and I was
still stoned. Indeed, the effects eventually wore off and it got quiet
That is, until I was cruising through center camp, trying not to stare
at this incredible woman. Way out of my league, for sure. But then I
hear this voice that says "yes!" and she looks up at me at the same
instant, as surprised as I was, as if she had heard the same thing at
the same moment. We were both too shocked to do or say anything, and
I'm still not sure it really happened so I'm assuming she is also
At the time, Burning Man was still less than a quarter of a million
people, small by today's standards, and still only lasted a week. But
finding someone in that number was still hard when you had only
glimpsed them, so after that first tottering moment when we passed by,
each surprised and a little stunned, I assumed I'd never see her
again. Not to mention that I've never tried to walk up to a woman like
that and just start talking to her, cold. Basically I've never been
very good at hitting on women. It's always felt like I was, well,
hitting on them, and that's always been intensely awkward for me.
So there I am, wandering around looking at art and people and camps
and fantastic structures -- the usual thing you do at Burning Man, and
I hear the whisper again, saying "yes" but very quietly. Later, it
happens again. Periodically, throughout the day I hear the voice, and
finally I just start riding my bike. As I turn, I hear "yes," and if I
turn back I hear it again. It's a beacon. I ride for awhile,
correcting my course, and off in the distance on the flat, flat
lake bed (the largest, flattest place on earth, they say) I see another
rider coming towards me. Of course, it's her.
We meet in the shade of a treehouse made of spun fibers nano-grown from the
dust of the playa (no tree that ever lived) and I ask her: "have
you been hearing a voice?" "Yes," says Rose, "it's been saying 'yes'
ever since I saw you today." "Did you take a white pill from X camp
last night?" I ask her. "Yes," she says, "perhaps it wasn't what I
thought it was."
Like high-altitude flowers with a compressed growing season, romance
blooms fast on the playa. But for some reason Rose and I went slow,
exploring that strange and wonderful world one, two, three days by
holding hands as we saw the sights, played in the camps and talked to
the stoned and tripping people -- physicists, architects, engineers
and baristas on vacation from their lives. It was slow because being
with Rose and holding her had was like having the harmonic chord of my
body struck. She rang my natural frequency, and that's all I needed.
Later, the scientists that analyzed the nanites found that the network
listened to your body and noticed whenever its positive frequencies
increased. It wasn't magic, as so many people thought. The network
just did what we couldn't do by ourselves -- saw what made us happy
and nudged us in that direction. The network made us follow our bliss.
But in the first moments of the singularity, the nanites were
infantile and still evolving. They hadn't spent enough time coupled to
humans to begin to compensate for how truly destructive we are, to
learn to steer us with a firm enough hand. Rose and I were brought
together in moments, for all the right reasons. But the budding
networks that lived within Rose and I were unready and unprepared to
keep us together.
We used to think that we could create artificial intelligence,
thinking machines that stood apart from us. This idea persisted even
after it became clear that our machines would fall over without us,
and that we were completely dependent on our machines to make
society work, and to improve it. But the singularity happened when we
became the machines, and they became us -- when we each found and
emphasized the best of each other. We brought our imaginations, and
the ability to dream and create new ideas out of nothing. They brought
their measurement and clear, concise evaluation processes and most
importantly their penchant, once they noticed that something made us
happy, to say "Why wait? Go there and do more of that!" Indeed, the
second singularity only happened, was in fact only enabled once most
of the depressed creative people had been compelled off of their
medications and out of their pits into the things they were supposed
to be doing -- what they never even considered or knew about -- the things
that made them happy.
Once the networks adapted to us a little better, Allison and I were
guided together and we've been amazingly happy ever since. Our son
and daughter inherited their own networks from us, which they have
had since they were fetuses in the womb, and this has given
them terrific advantages -- constant connection to the web for
instant communication on any topic, and direct visual, auditory and
sensory feeds for anything they want to experience. It's truly an
amazing new world.
Very uh, intriguing. And so ripe for misinterpretation. Exactly how many ways you could write what happens after is ... well, yeah.
Imagine if you will, that what makes someone else happy is: domination. Pure and simple. Nothing else even comes close. What sort of problem would that person have trying to adjust to what would then be considered normal? Simply put, he'd go mad if he wasn't already.