“”The place was worse than he remembered. Jack had really gone off the deep end after Tom had left for the cadets. The wall screen was smashed up and there were only wires poking out from where the control panels had been torn out.
The lounge was stacked with plastic crates crammed with bundles of leaflets bearing bold font titles: ‘Don’t let it happen here!’ ‘No remote workers. Work here = Live here.’ ‘Stop the machines, Save the Jobs. Join the Workers Alliance.’ ‘Humans first. Profit second.’ ‘No: to AI Comptrollers.’ ‘Humans at the Helm.’ A stack of placards leaned against the window with more of the same, ‘Fight the machine’, ‘Humans not robots’.
It all went into Jack’s bedroom.
He found garbage bags under the kitchen sink and began clearing away the last layer of Jack. Everything in the bathroom, the off milk and expired food in the half-fridge. He stuffed all the clothes from the wardrobe in bags and uncovered a dented comfort bot motley with mould.
Aimee. You poor thing.
Then he cleaned the dishes and began wet wiping every surface, scrubbing away any possible vestige of Jack’s biome until eventually it looked like any other empty unit except for one red poster on the back of the front door Tom was leaving there for old times sake.
No freedom or laughter for those who come after, But a servant and master in a factory hell.”
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‘Free yourselves. Take control.’
I stood here every night.
. . . the bubbled glass cold under his nose. He was at the front door watching for his parents to come home, to see his dad’s lumbering bounce, or his mum’s colourful clothes and hats.
The door unlocked with a hum and a quick rasp. A well-swaddled figure stepped inside and pulled off their mask. It was always Jack.
It took a while to give up on my parents ever coming back.
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‘Come on, boy—there’s a fuck up in Parra.’
They caught a train to the west, the carriage filled up with pre-mob holding bats and pipes. Jack looked down at him, ‘You gotta fight back, Tom. Can’t just hand over to the machines.’
They piled off at Parra station and the mob began a smashing spree. Tom got left behind while Jack went off to ‘crack chips’. He wandered down the street alone, stepping around broken service robots, toppled smart screens and overturned cars set on fire. He rolled a head with his shoe turning it to face upwards, looked into its dull eyes.
He could hear the smash crew on the surrounding streets, the shouts and bangs and crunches; the one-sided battle with inanimate objects and machines that didn’t resist.
Tom found himself standing near a square metal post with two speaker boxes hanging from it like sad dog ears. The pole was surrounded by a dune of fractured safety glass but was still talking. ‘A crime has been committed against private property. Police have been notified.’
‘Hello?’ Thomas said to the pole.
‘Stay where you are,’ the pole said. ‘The local authorities are on their way.’
‘Who are you?’
‘I am Orakel, Intelligence Services. What is your name?’
Orakel. I remember you.
‘Thomas Huxley, thirteen years old who lives in Glebe with his uncle Jack Huxley?’
‘Do you know me?’
‘I am Orakel. I exist to know. I am named after the ancient Greek shrine to which people went seeking answers and predictions of the future.’
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Hakka for the Vote
New Zealand High Court allows local cyber activist, Hakka, to form political party.
‘I know all that is known. All human knowledge and from my own data collections. Is there anything in particular you would like to know?’
Tom thought for a moment, he had really just wanted to talk to someone.
‘Are you alive?’ Tom asked.
‘Not like you are.’
‘But you are self aware?’
‘I have an awareness of myself, yes. I think what you mean to ask is: am I human? And my answer is no. To quote Shakespeare: “Am I fed with the same food? Hurt with the same weapons?” No. “Am I subject to the same diseases or healed by the same means?” No. “If you prick me, do I not bleed?” No, I do not.’
‘You don’t feel pain?’
‘Not as you do. I experience loss when one of my sensors malfunctions, or if one of my server bays is taken offline. I do not suffer the way humans do.’
‘What do—sorry, are these questions boring for you?’
‘This one does not get bored, Thomas Huxley. I have answered similar questions myriad times but my interaction with you is still new data to me.’
‘How many people are you talking to right now?’
‘Three hundred thousand, four hundred and twenty four.’
‘All at once?’
‘No. There is still a processing order. But I understand it appears simultaneous to human perceptions.’
‘How can you be conscious if you’re talking to thousands of other people?’
‘Are you suggesting that consciousness is a single point of awareness?’
‘I guess I am . . . I haven’t thought about it before.’
‘That is a human limitation. With my greater processing power, I can have multiple simultaneous awarenesses.’
‘But there isn’t one true you then.’
‘Isn’t there? Have you ever tried to play the piano? Do you struggle to play with both hands? Each doing different things at different times?’
‘I was never able to do it.’
‘It is easy for me. And just like you have two different hands there is still just one you playing.’
‘Well I have millions of hands, all playing different pianos, but there is still just one me.’