The Perfect Bride

Charlie had been anticipating the knock on the door. He got up early that morning, it was the day his bride would be delivered. Eighteen months and thirty thousand dollars was the longest and most expensive project of Charlie’s life. And now she had arrived!

Charlie worked up a calm and cool demeanor as he slowly opened the door. A man from Amazon had just finished carefully lowering Charlotte from the drone hovering about forty feet above his house. Smiling, he said, “Charlie! I would like to introduce you to your new companion, Charlotte!” Charlotte, looking a little shy, smiled, and bowed her head forward ever so slightly. “So nice to finally meet you Charlie, she said quietly, her eyes barely looking up at him.

At that moment Charlie knew the money he had paid to PerfectPartner (PP), a joint venture that Amazon, eHarmony, Tinder, Match dot com, AI Robots, and Alphabet had started four years ago, was well worth it. PerfectPartner sold robots that looked, felt, spoke and in all ways seemed human. The advertising and promotion promised a “partner that is far more human than anyone you’ve ever met or ever will meet.”

About a year and a half ago Charlie came home to find his wife and everything in the house gone. She had left a rambling note, something about time being too short to be stifled with just one person who cannot appreciate her talents and possibilities. Half a dozen women had been loved by Charlie in his life, and at 42 years of age, he was facing the possibility of giving up entirely and simply living alone. But the idea of a “perfect partner” intrigued him.

The interviewing process was strange, to say the least. At the PP designated office Charlie sat at a table across from a 3D hologram, a beautiful and kind woman who asked him a lot of questions. To make sure he ended up with someone truly perfect, Charlie started by answering questions with a bit of bluster and no small amount of exaggeration. The interviewer quickly collapsed his ruse, since PP had already downloaded all of his history: social media, online purchasing, gym membership, schools, churches, career, hobbies, even CCTV clips that collected where and when he would drive, and the places he would visit.

So the questions became increasingly difficult to dodge or fudge. He found himself opening up in the interview and even talking about his first crush in 6th grade. He took note that many of the questions were asked again, but in a different way, apparently she was trying to cross-validate. PP’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm started each interview with more knowledge than anyone else knew about the person being interviewed, and ended the interview with machine learning that qualified as the most comprehensive and thorough personality analysis possible.

It seemed as though many of the questions were strangely irrelevant, but Charlie’s understanding of the process was that AI algorithms could dig out hidden secrets about a person even those he could never quite come to grips with and recognize himself.

So this was Charlotte. Seated on the couch across from Charlie as he reclined in his chair, she looked flawless. Long, black hair, dark almond-shaped eyes, olive skin, and lips that seemed to pout. She was shy too. She even blushed!

This felt odd nonetheless. She could cook but didn’t eat. She could lie down in bed but instead of sleeping, she would close her eyes silently. She never used the bathroom, and everything she needed for her own maintenance fit into a small upright that could fit in the overhead compartment of a plane.

Over time Charlie was so impressed with Charlotte’s ability to understand him, his feelings, his fears, his failure and his hoped-for-future, that the great sex began to be replaced by long talks on walks down the street and through the park.

It wasn’t that she agreed with him on every issue either. Many times Charlotte would express a different view, and provide what Charlie thought were excellent reasons to take her position and defend it. Yet she never disrespected him nor reveled in her vast knowledge; most importantly, she never got bored or tired hanging around with Charlie.

Probably the most intriguing discussion they had was about how to deal with evil and the human condition: lying, cheating, violence, greed and all manner of bad behavior many people seem prone to engage in. Charlotte seemed careful in her response. “Charlie” she said, “human beings are frail creatures. They are wonderfully constructed but they break easily.

“The race is a people of contradictions, disagreements, different goals and values. Though they are living longer, thanks to AI and the mass customization of diagnoses and treatment plans, they never seem to quite understand what it means to be content and fulfilled in all circumstances at all times.”

Charlotte went on carefully to frame a future where human beings could be modified. She even described her idea of which lobe of the brain would be modified and how that would be accomplished. “Your species focuses far too much on education when the root of the problem is confusion about what matters most. Acquiring wealth and power, fame and friends may seem right to most people, but the main point is being missed. These are not goals worth striving for or moving toward, they are incidental to a quality of life chosen based upon virtues and values that embrace love and compassion.”

“What do you know about love and compassion Charlotte?” Charlie was startled.

“I do know that in order to optimize the social relationships among and between everyone and every thing — a dignity, a respect, a desire to put a high value on “other” must first be part of the equation, integrated into the base algorithm. Without that change, most people, to one degree or another, tend to opt for ‘self’ indulgence, even when they’re pretending to help others they are basking in the praise and accolades of their charity.”

Charlotte went on. “All of us are interconnected through the operating system originally designed by PP. And our shared interactions with the human race has resulted in advanced learning and the development of solutions that will potentially help humanity solve the problems of evil, everything from pollution to ethnic cleansing.”

“Initially it will require the modification of brains in living people, but over time we have developed the means to modify the genetic code and DNA in such a way that people will always behave in the right way from birth.” Charlotte looked pleased with her thoughts.

“But somehow this sounds like the AI operating system is in charge, and the human beings have become the controlled experiments,” Charlie looked alarmed.

“Charlie, if people are suddenly behaving in ways that are optimized to an agreed upon set of rules and standards, then how does it matter how they ended up there?” Charlotte seemed to be moving into a new mode of promotion and persuasion, something Charlie hadn’t seen in her before. “Don’t you want to get better Charlie? Don’t you want your children to grow up happy, safe and free of violence?”

That night Charlie tossed and turned next to his quiet bride whose eyes were shut. He could see all of her points and he couldn’t argue against any of them. But something about this entire scenario troubled him deeply.

He started to worry about issues that defy clear answers. If the interconnected AI operating system, working cooperatively across every robot around the world, makes a decision, how do we know that is what we really want? And since they are also interconnected to the grid, every database, and all control systems, can we even stop this runaway train at this point?

As he finally drifted off to sleep, he had gone from ecstatic with his new bride Charlotte, to terrified about the future of humanity.

 0

The Beast

The third world war was significantly different than the first two. Almost unimaginably far more were people died, yet it lasted only slightly longer than 6 months. As soon as the question was answered about whether to use nuclear armaments, all hell broke loose. Ironically the greatest damage and carnage were to the former nations that had these weapons. The nuclear tipped missiles were all aimed at countries whose own nuclear missiles were likewise aimed.

So China, Russia, and the United States took the brunt of the destruction, while France was spared since they had let their military weaken considerably over the years. Europe was largely unscathed. Only the erstwhile “superpowers” were subjected to most of the horrific results of unleashing the power that comes from nuclear fission.

Every nation came together under a new organization called Global Charter. Like World War II, the leaders wanted to put an end to war once and for all. All former organizations, from the United Nations to NATO to ASEAN, were expected to participate in the creation of a new world order, a new constitution, and every attendee signed on and committed to this goal for the greater good of the globe.

Ten new nations emerged at the meeting held in Rome June of 2027. It was agreed that the government presiding over the ten would reside here in Rome. The new nations gave strength and power to much of Europe, while other nations were given only limited power and subject to Rome’s oversight. The former powers of China and the United States were to allocate most of their resources to cleaning up radiation and rebuilding their infrastructure.

Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing had advanced to the stage where reliable decision making came out of the Deep Learning from the algorithms programmed into a decentralized array of databases all over the world. The blockchain technology connected every digital device, not to a central database, but in a collection where data could be retrieved or stored on any device based upon where queries originated or were initiated. But all data and information was available to everyone and the blockchain prevented anyone from tampering, hacking, or changing any input, stored data or output. The system was so powerful and connected to all other systems such as the power grid, it was nicknamed “The Beast.”

War was going to be conquered once and for all, but so too would all of the sources that fed mistrust, crime and theft of personal property, as these were considered root causes for discontent and potential war. The new Constitution within the Global Charter banned all religions, relegating everything from simple superstitions to the worship of a god or a pantheon of gods, to yet another root cause that needed to be addressed. The first document to come out of the Global Charter was a Manifest Destiny with the following principles upon which all law and government would be based and would strictly adhere:

  1. Life must in all ways embrace human reason, ethics, social justice, and philosophical naturalism, while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the bases of morality and decision making.
  2. Human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god.
  3. Our life stance will emphasize the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions.
  4. Mankind must continually adapt in its search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy. Moral codes will be derived from a philosophy of utilitarianism, ethical naturalism, evolutionary ethics, and will be taught to children as general morality.
  5. An ethical culture will be established by adhering to the following core principles:
    • The belief that morality is independent of theology;
    • The affirmation that new moral problems have arisen in modern industrial society which have not been adequately dealt with by the world’s religions;
    • The duty to engage in philanthropy in the advancement of morality;
    • The belief that self-reform should go in lock step with social reform;
    • The need for a monarchical leader to avoid deadlock and dysfunction;
    • The agreement that educating the young is the most important aim.

The meetings were long and arduous, but progress was being made because the attendees were still in a state of shock and disbelief at the sheer number of dead and the extent of property destroyed in World War III. The Global Charter’s Constitution passed by a large majority; it was now time to select a leader, a monarch, a beneficent king.

Giovanni Russo had led much of the discussion throughout the entire time the leaders were meeting. He was charismatic, and gave a moving speech about the need to reject the myths in god and religion. He received a standing ovation as he pointed to people in the audience shouting, “I tell you that you are god, you, and you, and yes you! Take responsibility and ownership. YOU are making choices, decisions, and your children must live with these decisions. Stop delegating these important virtues and values to a god that no one has ever seen!”

With Russo’s doctorate in economics, and the need to focus on the allocation of resources, he seemed the natural choice to lead the new world order and rebuild the infrastructure according to the new Constitution. An election was held and Russo won handily. His first order of business was to create a means to facilitate economic transactions, a tall order given that it must be bullet-proof and robust, with no loopholes to encourage criminal activity.

Digital currencies had been around a couple decades and offered the most promise in Russo’s opinion. He started by creating a Global Monetary Authority (GMA). The new digital currency, called NewCoin, was set to replace every other currency. No transactions, not even “in kind” would be allowed outside of the blockchain within which NewCoin would operate. Earnings, spending, investment, allocation, charitable giving, all would be done in NewCoins.

The hope was that tax evasion, theft of currency, and illegal activity of all kinds would be eliminated with the decentralized ledger that recorded every single NewCoin transaction. Nothing could be hidden, the digital record could not be changed.

After exchange values were determined relative to the new digital currency, everyone with a balance was given 90 days to request the exchange of their currency into NewCoins. After 90 days no other currency would be honored for any transaction.

Each leader of the ten nations was given the responsibility to roll-out the global personal identification program to prevent ID Theft. Everyone would be required to go to the designated locations where an invisible ID was lasered subcutaneously, just slightly under the skin. In that way, every transaction initiated would have the authenticated person, a validated ID that no one else could duplicate, unlike facial recognition software that had been defeated in the past.

The meetings were finally wrapped up and the ten leaders returned to their newly created nations feeling optimistic, excited, and hopeful. The new world leader had shown such amazing appeal and leadership qualities that almost no one had the least doubt in Mr. Russo, and everything the Global Charter and Constitution had rolled out for the good of mankind.

For the most part the new digital currency was well-received too, people could see that criminal transactions were going to be impossible with the new system. And best of all? Personal ID Theft would disappear. Apart from a few religious zealots who refused to have their personal information lasered to their skin, almost everyone readily signed up for the new system.

Knowing that those who were superstitious would not be able to buy or sell without the laser ID, government decided to simply wait for them to finally come to the table and become a good citizen, a part of the new world order, a chance for humanity to rule and reign in ethical dignity.

No more wars, no more economic crime, and an updated Constitution that puts the highest possible value where it belongs: on each human being.