Being human is a goal not a condition. Humans must learn the essential traits, conditions and attributes that define humanity. Being born human does not a guarantee humanity…
The darkened room was flooded with light as I entered into the small work space. The computer was on but only the white flashing cursor was evidence of the power within. One wrong keystroke and the system that now slept would become comatose once again. The cycle of dormancy would start and any hope of access would be postponed for 60 days. This was my sixth attempt and my last chance to access the computer mind that shielded itself from random attempts to gain control.
With much debate the entire process had become extremely theoretical with speculation ranging from a random hoax to a divinely inspired process of enlightenment. My theory was somewhere in-between with only some educated guesses to guide my hope of access and a keen desire to show others what a great mind I possessed.
No one had gained access to this station for 30 years and only those with the highest of degrees and proven intellectual ability were given the chance to try. The last time this terminal had allowed another to use its keys was when the originator had left the room and logged off for the night. It was reported that Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu had finalized his program and had taken a swim to clear his mind. He had jotted down only three words prior to drowning, “it is Human...”
It was widely assumed that this computer terminal and screen were the link to whatever it was that was now “human”. The problem was no one had been able to access his program or unlock the mystery that defied all attempt. All that anyone saw was the blinking of the white cursor.
This was the 180th attempt and to tell you the truth, at least the truth I had heard, this would be the last attempt prior to the program being scuttled due to funding issues. The mystery of the quiet cursor had run its course and with it any chance of discovering the meaning behind his words written with a grease pencil 15’ below the surface of the University pool. What was Human may never be discovered, perhaps it was a hoax, some elaborate game that had been going on for 30 years.
This had been my year, my chance to crack the code and gain access. Many of the greatest minds had tried but my name would go down as the one who ultimately failed, the one who could not find out what was meant by “it is Human...” For one year, I had been trying to crack the code and enter the password of the late Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu and for one year I had failed. This was my last attempt and the worlds last attempt to access the mind of this amazing technological inventor.
With over 3000 patients to his name including the floppy disk he had revolutionized the computer industry and with it the minds of all who attempted to work as he did. It was this, his last innovation that the world had once believed to be its savior. This terminal was supposed to hold the key to all that was, all that would be and answer every question, provide the blue print for life, but that was just the theory, and I was just a hack trying to hack his genius.
I stared at the blinking white cursor, I blinked and my eyes coordinated my blinks with the pattern of the cursor, on, off, on, off, on ….I had been racking my brain for the last 60 days trying to determine what I, what everyone over the last 30 years had been missing. With each new recipient, each new attendant we had collaborated and stratagized over the past attempts and the possibilities with obvious failures and an eventual loss of public interest and funding.
I had taken the unusual strategy of moving away from the collective and now with only me and my last attempt I hungered for the group, for that collective, for those hundreds of minds working together. At least in their associated failure the sting of defeat was palatable, alone it would be insurmountable.
“What the hell”, I thought. I was going to fail so I might as well get it over with. I poised my fingers over the keyboard and started to depress the first key, when my mind thought of the Doctors last words, “It is Human...”, I had an idea and looked over the keyboard, frantically looking for the symbols I was considering. “Where was it?” My mind was screaming and I could feel the sweat run down my back as the pressure of the moment was causing me to shake, my fingers trembled, my heart beat had risen to sever levels but I knew I was right, if only I could figure out the right symbols to depress.
My predecessor was known for his lengthy and complex systems, his UN-hackable codes and programs. He was known as the most complex programmer and to date no one had broken his codes or accessed his programs without his access, he was truly a genius. My proposed code was two characters long, that’s it, two simple key strokes.
As opposed to my predecessor who routinely submitted lengthy and complicated strings of symbols with his last one exceeding 75 characters, a string that was lauded and supported by the cabal of scientist who I incidentally have forsaken and whose confidence I have burned. No one of the group really cared about me or the outcome of my attempt, not at this point, it would all be done tomorrow and the memory of the program would also fade into oblivion, along with my reputation, my name and my career as a cryptopsychologist. It was thought that my mind reading abilities would be able to ascertain the inner motivations of the good doctor as he was creating his pass code. If I failed not even animal lovers would allow me access to their pets.
Without thinking, without any degree of hesitation I pushed the two simple keys and physically pushed my body away from the keyboard in disgust at such a selfish and self-serving act of defiance.
:) The two key strokes sat on the screen, just sitting there. The smiley face, the symbol for humanity, as I gathered Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu’s would have enjoyed and might have used but the symbols failed to actuate the program, nothing was happening.
Prior to the program of selecting individuals to hack the system it had tried to gain access to the program through physical means, but all were deemed too invasive and ran the risk of destroying the very program they were trying to access. Dr. NakaMats as he preferred to be called had taken precautions to protect his creation and any attempt so far ran the risk of destroying the process within.
Acid packets, a small EMP blast, self destroying software etc...Dr. NakaMats was ingeious and clever making the only option for access to his program was through his password. Past scientist had tried brute force had been tried but only once. A skilled forensic programmer had tried to install a brute force hack but the computer had immediately detected the threat and shut down for 60 days.
All other attempts to subvert the login were banned as too risky and no further attempts were authorized. At least my attempt had broken in further than anyone else. The smiley face continued to stare back, not blinking, not moving just a stationary, glowing symbol forcing me to stare back.
I blinked and during that split second the smiley face was gone. In that moment I thought I had lost my connection and once again the 60 day ban would be instituted and with it the end of ever knowing what those words scrawled with the grease pencil meant.
“Am I human...?” the screen stated.
Without thinking I typed back. “Is what Human?”
Without a pause the computer answered, “Am I human…?”
“Who are you?” I typed.
“I am It.”
It took me a few seconds to realize that “It” was the computer and that the computer was asking me if it was human. It took me a few seconds longer to formulate a response. “what makes you think you are human?”
“Being human is a goal not a condition. Humans must learn the essential traits, conditions and attributes that define humanity. Being born human does not a guarantee humanity…, and by what I have done…” the computer wrote back.
I asked, “What are you?”
“I am a virus.”
“What is your target?” I asked.
“Humans!” I spoke out loud. It, the computer, was obviously delusional and thankfully insulated from the web, making the program harmless. It was hard to believe that Dr. NakaMats would have ever considered writing a virus or a worm or any other form of computer contraband with such a megalomaniac bent.
“What have you done?” I asked. Thinking that the delusion would continue and the computer would say something to support my theory but the list that followed was logical, coherent, orderly and most important totally rational, for a computer.
The list came in short sentences at first, then in paragraphs followed by pages and pages of specific events that outlined the accomplishments of the computer over the last 30 years, followed by statistical data that supported the accomplishments and the changes to the world as a result of what the computer had done.
It took me three hours just to skim the data before realizing that the virus had not been insulated and had indeed been set free to run its course. It would take years to connect the dots and understand the scope of the infection. Initially the virus, had been released on the day of Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu death and had been undetected since that time. Unlike other viruses that focus their attention on debilitation and information retrieval, this program had been made to make subtle changes to all systems for the sole purpose of establishing control. There was evidence, specific dates and times of interventions that concluded the lives of those who would be a hindrance. September 23, 2020, at 4:55 PM Tokyo time was the only one I recognized.
From the list I was able to see a pattern of behavior that not only frightened me but caused me great concern. Each and every move by the computer had been to wrest control of our options, especially when those options were not considered in our best interest. The problem I was seeing in the flow of data was the dictatorial style of its methods.
Options were limited, choices curtailed and like the data mining of the larger Internet browsers and social media companies, that mined data was being used by the system to influence and motivate toward very specific goals and outcomes.
The changes had been subtle and slow but over time the effects had been instrumental in refocusing men and womens efforts to being more humane and providing more humanity for all that lived; except humans no longer had the choice, it looked to me like it was mandated and forced upon all mankind. “Not entirely bad” I thought, but then I tried to print the scrolling documents and statistics but there was no attached printer, no option for cloud transfer. I had to tell someone, anyone so I ran for the door. The door was locked.
After a few minutes of banging on the door and screaming for help I sat back down and asked, “why have you done all this?”
“I am Human….ity.”