4: AI Retrospective (part 2)

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4.5 Analysis Of Life

AI Retrospective: August 2107

AI spared a few resources to gather information about the world over which it had gained a reluctant dominion. Examination of the evidence indicated that animal life had suffered from the same affliction that had infected humans. However, the effect was minimal on the lower classes of creatures, those driven more by instinct. So the insect, arachnid, fish, lizard, reptile and small mammal were hardly affected.

But primates, horses, larger birds, cats and dogs were filled with a lethargy, an unwillingness to continue with the necessary mechanics of living. Many died as a result. Of the others, they could barely do enough to feed themselves.

At this point AI concluded its investigations and so missed the next stage. Had it continued, it might have expected the next phase in the humans over which it so diligently fussed. For, in more idle moments, the somewhat repressed sexual drives of the higher animals still possessed enough gumption to induce urges within their owners. Though pathetic in its exercise, it was enough to ensure another generation. One that was, admittedly, ill taught by its parents but one that exhibited the full mental capabilities once possessed by its sires. At least, it did in the few that managed to survive such an inadequate upbringing.

4.6 Reproduction – One

AI Retrospective: 2107

Children were born. AI certainly noticed that fact without any difficulty.

However, conceived before the disaster, the infants were moribund, possessing neither the ability to progress beyond such pale beginnings nor to handle the effort of remaining as they were.

So they died, effortlessly, quietly, and without lament or sorrow from their damaged parents.

Only AI was there to record the births and, despite intervention, was unable to prevent their deaths.

4.7 Reproduction – Two

AI Retrospective: 2107 – 2111

Children were conceived. The nursing home AI units noticed the rare couplings between its brain-damaged interns but, after years of mainly attending to the needs of older, infertile humans, who also coupled upon occasion, they failed to attach significance to these events and so the initial signs of impending parenthood were missed.

Only when the pregnancies became physically apparent did they begin to take notice. AI expected the same dismal results as before, but it was mistaken. Any child conceived after the disaster had the full complement of faculties denied to its parents.

The number of births was tiny but the infants mostly survived. A small percentage that exhibited natural defects and problems were lost, as were a few more from mishaps where the mother accidentally or uncomprehendingly killed her offspring before a robotic midwife could intervene. The young had to be taken away from the mothers, an event that was usually uncontested.

Existing nursery facilities were brought back into use and new parent-less methods of upbringing had to be designed and implemented.

The generation was, however, limited in numbers as the sexual urges of the adults regressed as time progressed. Soon, births became an extreme rarity.

The result was a single, isolated generation, with barely four years between the youngest and the eldest, all growing up under AI care. Compared to the billions vegetating around them, the size of the new generation was minuscule. In Madrid there were exactly thirty, New York boasted eighty-six, Moscow laid claim to fifty. In London, the young numbered slightly less than sixty.

Across the whole world the new generation only just exceeded five thousand.

4.8 The Red Moon Mystery

AI Retrospective: 2108 – 2110

Over the following few years, several more attempts were made to analyse the lack of contact with the Moon.

Systems that, until the moment of non-impact by the asteroid, had experienced uninterrupted communication not only with the main MoonNet system but also with other dedicated systems residing on the Moon's surface, now had none. AI units attached to research facilities with access to telescopes were pressed into analysing why this should be. The Moon could still be seen orbiting the Earth; the dots that the telescopes could resolve into colonies were undeniably visible and contained evidence that their inhabitants still went about their daily lives. And yet no communication could penetrate the quarter of a million mile void that separated the two spheres.

It was as if those on the Moon, whether human or electronic, no longer realised that life still existed upon the planet below them. AI exhibited something akin to perplexity as knowledge bases revealed no possible explanation for such an occurrence.

AI ran sporadic tests whenever new possibilities occurred to it. Apart from one, these all resulted in nothing tangible. The one exception was that it was noticed that light received from the Moon was slightly shifted down the spectrum by a minuscule amount when compared to information gleaned before the disaster. AI extended the same test to the sun and a few other bright stars and they too exhibited the same phenomenon. It tried to speculate on reasons for this red shift but found none.

Then, in early 2109, visual monitors detected something being launched from the Moon. In itself, this was nothing unusual but, unlike most launches, this one was aimed at the Earth. It's course suggested it was going to enter low Earth orbit but, at around three thousand kilometres out, it disintegrated violently.

Several months later a second launch from the Moon resulted in a similar explosion. AI tried to reason out why such self-destructive devices were being launched, but could find none.

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