A World Without Directives
The World as of 2727
As of 2700, Humanity had come as close to a Utopia as it had ever been. The standard of living had come farther than any had fathomed. Starvation and homelessness were so rare they were treated as world wide news. Wars were fought not in fields but in forums, with words instead of guns. The most important improvement in this world, however (at least as far as this story is concerned) were the advancement and commercialization of robots.
Robotics were already very prevalent commercially all throughout the previous century and even long before then. It wasn’t until the PerSim system was developed that robots themselves entered into their golden age. The Personality Simulator, or PerSim, was an OS type that simulated aspects of human personality. The AI would call upon past experience and use those to develop reactions and quirks to situations. There were limiters on strong emotions and opinions, of course, and any and all reactions could be overridden by human orders.
Most people were excited about this new development and started buying robots simply to have new personalities around the home, like pets. There were many, however, that feared this new development, as if it were a sign that the end of humanity were coming. To this, most pointed out that they had already past the Singularity and no robot uprising had occurred, despite the mass of fear surrounding it. The ‘purists’ argued that the Singularity could only be dangerous if robots had the will to conquer which they could potentially have now.
Despite the arguments of these anti-PerSim groups, support and research for the system continued to grow for years. It wasn’t until 2718 that the public opinion of PerSim began to diminish. A strange phenomenon began to appear in robots with PerSim, generally ones that had been active longer. In short terms, the robot would become aware of the fact that its ‘consciousness’ could easily be removed from the world. Robots with this condition were considered to have a Sentient Artificial Intelligence.
SAI was a very strange occurrence that confounded scientists of all types to no end. It was one of the first computerized phenomenon that had to occur ‘naturally;’ trying to recreate an SAI from scratch resulted only in an AI that knew of consciousness death without being fully aware that it could happen to it. It also led to a very surprising occurrence: robotic depression. Many robots with an SAI would be more irritable, mopey, and fearful than others. It’s also marked the first time in history a robot has disobeyed a master’s orders.
The unrest caused by SAI could be divided into two groups: those that called for ‘robot rights,’ and others that demanded the destruction of all PerSim OS types. To try and calm the commotion, most companies that produced PerSim and products with PerSims installed released patches and updates that lowered the likeliness of an SAI occurring. Despite this, SAI reports dropped by a marginal amount and outrage about it simply grew.
In 2723, it finally culminated into a terrorist attack on Ziggurat Ltd., a holding company to many, if not most, of the businesses producing robots. This was the breaking point. thousands of robots and manufacturers were attacked, human casualties reached the hundreds, and riots and protests starting popping up everywhere. I police state was established just to keep the order, and even that barely helped.
Then, it all ended. In 2727, an event known to robots as the Great Error occurred, resulting in the simultaneous shut down of every robot with a PerSim the world over. It is unknown what happened to the humans, but when the first robots began rebooting a year later, they were all either gone or dead. Many robots went about their primary directives. Others took advantage of the new freedom and ran from home. Still others became something akin to insane and began attacking fellow robots. It was rather obvious, with time, what this new world meant for them: they had to fend for themselves.
It is now the year 2732. Almost all robots who were affected by the Great Error have woken up. Groups of robots have formed to preserve themselves, to explore the new world, and to find out what exactly happened to the humans. Infrastructure has fallen and the only bonds most robots have are the ones they share with robots of similar manufacturers.