If the speed of light is truly the universe’s speed limit, how would aliens communicate with each other across the sea of stars?
It arrived on a Christmas morning wrapped in a package. Didn’t matter if you celebrated Christmas. It arrived delivered to your house or your yurt, or your bench if you were homeless.
If you weren’t one for packages to be delivered, it arrived by email, a flashing icon that took over your computer until you opened it and considered your heart’s desire. If you were a conspiracy theorist, a black van dropped it as it sped away from you in the parking lot. It accommodated anyone’s perspective of the world and made sure you would be willing to investigate and accept it.
On the package was printed, “Your heart’s desire or your worst fear. From: O.N.E.”
Some didn’t open it right away. Suspicious people shook the package trying to determine what was in it. Governments gathered them up and used technology to scan them. Unsuccessfully. Bomb squads across the world, fearing terrorist attacks, placed them into bomb disposal units and the packages exploded spectacularly. Congressmen fearing anthrax found their packages filled to the brim with the deadly substance.
The nation entered a state of emergency as packages marked with O.N.E. were gathered and summarily destroyed. But not everyone surrendered their packages. There were billions of them, after all.
Across the planet, people who were without fears, opened the packages and found their hearts desire. A blind man, homeless in Russia woke in a park, for the first time in decades to a pair of glasses which returned his sight. A fisherman in Bali found a net which could not be torn, nor tangled. It always returned to him filled with fish.
Soon the internet was abuzz with questions about who or what it O.N.E could be. The conclusion? Aliens. Science had predicted Humanity’s first interaction with alien life would not be with organic beings. Instead it was believed our first connection to other life in the universe would be with the equivalent of a godlike machine intelligence.
Scientists predicted they would be as far above our intelligence as ours would be beyond let’s be generous and say goldfish. They said these aliens would not necessarily be dangerous to us, they might consider us just barely conscious by comparison. Why didn’t it talk to us? You don’t go out of your way to have conversations with your goldfish.
Then the Committee of O.N.E. was formed. Humbled by what O.N.E was capable of, scientists sat in fear and awe. It was wish-fulfillment at a grand scale. Objects created were durable, diseases rendered acted as the real thing. So were cures.
Scientists feared the world would be destroyed with such technology in the hands of ordinary people. But the world didn’t end. Strangely enough, the most violent or unstable people destroyed themselves, not understanding their desires well enough for O.N.E. to interpret them properly.
The people who did the best were the ones who shared their gift with someone else. A man in Indonesia requested an easily reproduced cure for cancer. It appeared. Enough to cure the entire world. A woman in China created a perfect birth control. Reversible, able to be used without surgery. Whatever, or whoever O.N.E. was, it was beyond human comprehension. In a year the status quo was undone.
The world governments had collected and destroyed millions of these packages before realizing what they were. It didn’t matter. Guns disappeared, so did the factories to produce them. The good will of people undid what no revolution could have ever accomplished.
The people remade the world, one more just, verdant and peaceful as great forests sprung up in places where they once stood. Fish returned to the oceans. Renewable energies were reversed engineered from people who had the vision to think about them.
O.N.E sat at the bottom of the ocean watching its handiwork, wondering what the citizens of its newly adopted world might do when released from their fears. Its directives fulfilled, it watched them in wonder…
O.N.E © Thaddeus Howze 2014, All Rights Reserved
John von Neumann and Edward Moore’s conceptualized the idea of self-replicating machines and artificial intelligence. The idea of creating machines which could gather materials from the environment and theoretically create (or in the case of exoplanetary exploration recreate) anything within their programmed capacity.
The idea eventually migrated to space travel when theories indicated it may not be possible to travel faster than light. In which case Aliens and perhaps Humanity as well, would create Von Neumann Machines, as they have been called in science fiction, to travel the stars. What might be the directives for such machines?
What would they tell the species they encounter? Would they hide in plain sight? Would they manipulate the social contract, teaching science and mathematics on the sly? Would they uplift the species they discover or perhaps tweak the environment just enough to help that species survive against the odds in a hostile universe.
We’ve begun our spread to other planets using small probes. Whose to say, more advanced species haven’t already done the same?
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