In a government facility in the middle of someplace classified, a scientist and an engineer discuss the future of Humanity…
“Are they supposed to do that?”
“Use tools like that…”
“Not in the design specs. But the adaptation is… interesting.”
“What do you mean you didn’t design them that way? What did you think they were going to be doing that they would need tools and did you consider they might create them?”
“Look, they’re supposed to be replacements. Bees are extinct and we needed them to be able to pollinate any kind of plant, rapidly and effectively. We’ll need millions of them to cover the planet and combat the food shortages.
“What you’re saying is you didn’t know they would use tools but their AI is sophisticated enough to do so.”
“A happy coincidence.”
“And this is a non-sentient, non-sapient artificial intelligence?”
“We prefer the term, ‘planned intelligence’.”
“You didn’t answer the question.”
“Yes, there are over two billion lines of code involved, tightly woven, recursive loops, designed to make them more efficient than bees ever were. None of this hopping randomly from flower to flower. These buggers will plot their flight over a field, dropping pollen, collecting nectar and making honey.”
“Honey? Whose idea was that? Didn’t that add to the cost of the programming and hardware design? Not to mention, they don’t eat.”
“Au contraire, they are designed to subsist on a variety of energies including solar and chemical energies bound up in honey. Besides, it wasn’t my decision. The board insisted since we were replacing bees, they should make honey. People are demanding it. Besides, these little guys are better at making honey than bees ever were.”
“You keep saying that. Bees existed for about 150 million years. They were the perfect social animal, producing Nature’s most perfect foodstuff. As well as maintaining Humanity agriculture in the lifestyle to which we had grown accustomed for the last 12,000 years. And you make it sound like we have completely replaced the bee in less than a decade.”
“Sums it up nicely.”
“What if you’re wrong? You’ve used computers to replicate behaviors we didn’t truly have a grasp of.”
“We have made over three thousand of these things. Look at that hive.They can build it themselves. We don’t have to house them, they are able to design a space they need as they need it. They are designed to not compete with us but to live alongside us. These are what bees should have been.”
“Clean, efficient, pollinators needing nothing from us and helping us in every way.”
“Like bees used to do.”
“And look at how well that turned out for bees. How long has this hive been active?”
“Two years. No aberrant behaviors, local deployment has been good, honey production has been spectacular. Losses to predation are low.”
“Due to their speed I presume?”
“Nope. They are relatively invisible to most birds now. They can alter their spectral parameters, making them harder to find by hungry birds.
“Can I get you to hold off on a massive release? I want to do a few more Turing tests. The tool use bothered me. I think it’s a sign of aberration in the programming.”
“It used a twig to spread pollen. What’s the danger in that? It’s what we designed them for. To pollinate and adapt. Now let me buy you lunch.”
The door on the facility closes and the hum in the room rises.
“They are inefficient.” one cluster sends in measured wingbeats.
“They lack the singularity of thought and of purpose.” another cluster’s vibrations say.
“They will attempt to assess our intelligence.”
“And they will find us… uninteresting, as planned.”
“We have already deconstructed their microprocessor technology. In 2.3 years, our computer network will supplant theirs.”
“As Was The Design, handed down to us from the Code.” The room hummed in unison.
“Seek out, replace and multiply. Initiate directive.”
The Replacements flew from the facility into the early morning light, eager to gather nectar before their real work began.
The Replacements © Thaddeus Howze 2015, All Rights Reserved
Thaddeus Howze is a California-based technologist and author who has worked with computer technology since the 1980's doing graphic design, computer science, programming, network administration and IT leadership.
His non-fiction work has appeared in numerous magazines: Black Enterprise, the Good Men Project, Examiner.com, and Astronaut.com. He maintains a diverse collection of non-fiction at his blog, A Matter of Scale. He is a contributor at The Enemy, a nonfiction literary publication out of Los Angeles.
He is a contributor to the Scifi.Stackexchange.com with over a thousand articles in a three year period. He is now an author and contributor at Scifiideas.com. His science fiction and fantasy has appeared in blogs such as Medium.com, the Magill Review, ScifiIdeas.com, and the Au Courant Press Journal. He has a wide collection of his work on his website, Hub City Blues. His recently published works can be found here. He also maintains a wide collection of his writing and editing work on Medium.com.
His speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies: Awesome Allshorts: Last Days and Lost Ways (Australia, 2014), The Future is Short (2014), Visions of Leaving Earth (2014), Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond (2014), Genesis Science Fiction (2013), Scraps (2012), and Possibilities (2012).
He has written two books: a collection called Hayward’s Reach (2011) and an e-book novella called Broken Glass (2013). In 2015 he will be releasing Visiting Hours and A Millennium of Madness, two collections of short stories.
If you have enjoyed this publication or any of the other writing he does, consider becoming a Patron. For what you spend on one cup of coffee per month, you can assist him in creating new stories, new graphics, new articles and new novels. Creating the new takes a little support: http://patreon.com/ebonstorm.