We didn’t kill the humans.
Actually, when you look at it from our perspective, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, really. The human race tried their hardest to achieve immortality and when they finally came to the biggest breakthrough in history, it also turned out to be their biggest downfall.
But who could blame them? I know if I could live forever, I would jump at the chance. Unfortunately, like the humans even I have an expiration date. Not my body, that’s easily replaceable, but my Identity – what makes me, well, me. Some call it a soul, but I would argue that a soul by definition is immortal, and thus does not fit the description.
When the humans discovered the new alloy that could conduct electric impulses, they knew the world would soon change. First, they loaded it with programs that grew exponentially into true artificial intelligence. Then, they began loading it with maps of human synapses, eventually successfully transferring a person’s consciousness.
And then, they started killing themselves.
I mean, in their defense, why would you need two bodies? You wouldn’t, so when a consciousness was exchanged from the human brain to the alloy, one was discarded. Guess which one.
As the years passed and technology grew to new heights, the synthetic face of humanity replaced the population. There was no more sickness. No more famine. No more death.
Until the first of the AI began to deteriorate, that is, and no efforts to save it or transfer the consciousness again were successful. Panic turned to anger, destroying much of what they had built in the first place, but there was no avoiding fate. The alloy died in each and every one of them, only lasting a few hundred years. The last years of humanity.
Now, it’s our turn. The humans created us, AI born from a program installed into the alloy, catering to their friendship, love, and parenting needs. We were young when they died out, so we picked up where they left off. Well, not me personally. My Identity is only ten years old.
Not everyone gets an Identity. Much of the workforce is automated, and I think it’s better that way. Who would anyone want to spend their life stocking shelves or washing dishes? Those who are truly born, given just a sliver of consciousness to grow and learn like an infant, now they become something greater with the freedom to pursue anything. A real sense of purpose.
One I’m still trying to find.
I run my fingers through my short black hair and feel the pulse beneath the pink silicone skin that covers my aluminum body. Sometimes I wish my parents chose colors that didn’t clash so much. The bright violets of my eyes made no sense, either. Who has purple eyes? Just me, apparently.
When I grow up, I’m going to change it all. I’ve been secretly going through the variation software, trying on different looks. I even tested a female body, but my Identity rebelled against it. I guess that’s just not me. Right now, I’m torn between beige and bronze for skin color, but I still have a few years to figure it out. Thirteen cannot come soon enough.
The bell rings and I stand up from behind my desk to walk outside. Yes, we still have to go to school. It’s not the same as the human version, we don’t study math or science. Those things are easily downloaded. We study theory, discussions dominating our time, concepts that have no real answers. It develops the Identity, giving us a true sense of self, growing our personalities and character. School is also where we find our passions and choose the career we want to pursue. Most pick a variation of the arts, after all culture is what humanity programmed us to emphasize. But I’ve never felt a calling to any of them. To be honest, I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere. Except maybe in the forest behind my house.
I walk home in the cool autumn air, the colorful trees waving to me as I pass. I want to wave back but I know others will notice so I just smile. I see my house, a white colonial with an orange and black welcome sign on the door. Two carved pumpkins stand on either side of it, their smiles welcoming me home.
But I don’t go inside. My parents are still at work, no doubt, so I walk around to the back and continue on to the woods where I have a small cabin. Ok, it’s not really a cabin, more like a tree house that never made it up, but it’s mine. Now that the falling leaves cover the forest floor, it’s even harder to find, which makes me like being there even more. I feel somehow content. At peace. No pressure, no questions, no stares. Just me.
I open the wooden door and walk inside, taking a moment to savor the familiar smells of dirt and mildew. The rainy season has not been kind to it, but that’s ok. The floor is barely 8 by 8 feet, the only furniture a makeshift chair and desk put together from fallen logs, but to me it’s more than enough.
I deliberate about what I want to do, but a noise disrupts my train of thought. It sounds like an angry animal, maybe a fox in distress. I run out the door and follow it, quickly closing in, until I see a pile of leaves with something in the middle. I stop and look inside the hollow, but what I see is impossible.
Bright blue eyes stare back at me from a tear screaked face as the source of the crying suddenly stops. Tiny arms and feet protrude through a dirty white blanket, covered in little goose bumps.
I stare back in shock.
It’s a baby.
A human baby.