(This series start here)
“I believe humans are the single biggest threat to humanity, and that makes it a tricky problem. How do we save people from themselves? We just need to take a look at a rehab center. Without a firm control over humanity, we cannot rehabilitate it. Without rehabilitation, we cannot get rid of the addiction of desires. And these desires will drive us to extinction,” said Adam.
“Can you give us an example?” a Chancellor asked.
“Take the case of environmental degradation: global warming, climate change, deforestation, sea current shift, population explosion… Are we unaware of these imminent death sentences? No, ask anyone and they can tell you something about these issues. Some of the best speakers alive pour their heart out trying to convince people to change their living styles, governments hold international meetings to address carbon emission goals.
“But people are selfish. Evolution is selfish. Selfishness has served us well in the last 2 millions, but a brain like ours proved to be disadvantageous in the last decades. We are too smart for our own good. We are smart enough to use heavy machinery to clear-cut the lungs of the planet, then design bigger, faster, cheaper cars to suffocate it. Smartness and selfishness combined, and you get a ticking time bomb.
“How do we address this? Not without a complete, universal control. This entity needs to have the authority to say: enough with the coal plants, China; cut the war, America; and grow those trees back, for Earth’s sake. And these people would obey it. No more backing out on NATO, no more negotiation. You do what the controlling entity tells you to do. Otherwise, you endanger the entire planet.
“Now, what can be this impossible ‘controlling entity’ that I keep mentioning? Never mind individual nations, even international packs are still too selfish to look for the common good of mankind. Unless a global pack is formed that includes every nation in the world, which is impossible because of each individual nation’s conflicting interests, the role of a controlling entity cannot be fulfilled.”
Adam took a sip of water. He was sweating with excitement. The panel of Chancellors listened with intense attention.
“Here’s where the Mechanical Messiah comes in: a dynamic, evolving, omniscient and omnipotent computer system that monitors every person’s every move, calculates the effect on the long term sustainability of the human race, and encourages or discourages that action.”
“Discourages?” a Chancellor asked. “Surely you are using an understatement here, young man. What type of discouragement do you reckon is needed to stop people to drive around a Porsche with the top down and air condition full blowing?”
Adam smiled. “The beauty of the Mechanical Messiah is that it will do all the thinking, and no one would have to take on the impossible task. No one should be allowed anyway, because no human will be competent enough to judge with complete objectivity and impartiality. As I said, human are animals, and animals are selfish.
“The Mechanical Messiah will take into calculation the Porsche driver’s past record, the degree of threat to humanity, the probability of successful deterrence, the probability of disobedience and escalation of conflict, among a million other factors that I cannot even imagine, and reach a decision on how best to deal with him. That is, it will choose the treatment that will most likely result in the greatest benefit for mankind.”
There was a pause. An older Chancellor spoke first, with perhaps a smile beneath his beard: “I study religion, and your plan seems to have religious ties.”
Adam smiled back. “Allow me to point out that I call this computer system the Mechanical Messiah because it is like God, if I can use ‘God’ as He who knows all, plans all, and controls all. It is just a little more efficient, and much more… excuse my lack of better word, concerned with our survival. God, here I allude to Him metaphorically, has left us to become the cancer of our planet, and He has allowed us to head towards extinction. If this was a test, then we’ve failed. But He doesn’t seem to be giving us a second chance. He’s not telling us: ‘stop, my sons. That’s enough. You’ve screwed up, and here’s your deserved spanking.’ He is saying: ‘You’ve screwed up, so you can go extinct in a century.’
“The Mechanical Messiah would be the second chance that we give ourselves. Unlike God, whose plan is unknowable, the sole design and purpose of the Mechanical Messiah would be to rehabilitate our species and cure our planet.”
The old man nodded. “And your plan is also a practical implementation of the Buddhist karma, in which all actions carry a corresponding consequence. Your Messiah designs its own law of karma to reach the goal of sustaining our race. Of course, I’m also borrowing the Buddhist idea as an allusion. I would not dare say I understand it fully.”
A younger Chancellor cleared her throat. “That’s all very well, but would it work? Why should a computer system be able to control masses of people? What’s preventing the Porsche driver to simply shut down the computer system when it tries to make him take the bus?”
Adam replied immediately: “who could survive if the entire electronic world gangs up against him?”
The Chancellor frowned: “What do you mean?”
“The Mechanical Messiah is omnipotent, because everything we do requires computer intervention. Our food, our water, transportation, heating, work, play, everything. And all of it would be under the rein of the Mechanical Messiah. Don’t want to take the bus when you can? Your Porsche won’t start. You can manually spark the engine, but your garage door won’t open. You try to ram through it, but you find out your gas is also electrically controlled.
“That’s not it. In the Porsche factory, you are designing a new model that emits more carbon than the minimum acceptable value? Your factory is shut down. Of course, if shutting down all Porsche plants might result in enough riot that overrides the benefits of cutting down the carbon emission, then the Mechanical Messiah might make a different call.”
“And how do you plan to accomplish that level of total control?” the Chancellor asked, impressed but not convinced. “Besides, the amount of computation required to constantly monitor and control a hundred billion people would be impossible.”
“Aha! That’s the core of the project. What is this Mechanical Messiah, and how do we get there?” Adam exclaimed. “Most importantly, how do we do it fast enough before it’s too late?”
All of the Chancellors sat up straighter.