Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 5: Diaspora
November 6, 2016, 00:42
Filed under: Technology, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , ,

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The great thing about the Diaspora is that it was a social leveller. Selection for transport was made primarily on utilitarian grounds and under the circumstances money was worthless. I was pleased to see farmers, agriculturalists and horticulturists ahead of many other professionals in the queue. The Momentum government very ostentatiously refused politicians preferential treatment. However because they drew their politicians from among the skilled workers in practice this meant that a number of their members made the transports whereas the landowners and industrialist party members were largely excluded. I say largely excluded because there were among them a number of innovative entrepreneurs whose skills had elevated them in the party. What the diaspora did do was eliminate privilege and heredity. I don’t know what happened to those left behind, but I doubt whether all their lands and wealth could protect them from the Cybertrons as our AI opponents had come to be known.
Humans had centuries to prepare for the Diaspora, the blueprint had been the subject of Science fiction films since the mid Twentieth Century, not to mention the civil defence exercises of the Cold War era. Because industry on Earth had increasingly endeavoured to replace humans with machines, by the time of the last great flood there were a large number of displaced workers depending on their horticultural skills to maintain their family and craft skills for additional income. Capital had failed to anticipate that new colonies don’t need sophisticated industries, but to feed, clothe, shelter, protect and educate their people. There had been much investment into space travel by business primarily to provide material resources and by the time of the flood there were mining bases on several planets in the Solar System and there was considerable research into long distance space travel. What the bankers failed to foresee was that the crisis of a possible extinction of humanity would coincide with the control of several countries by socialist governments.
The Momentum governments in Europe precipitated the Diaspora. They had been playing with possible scenarios for years and the Cyber Wars provided them with the excuse they needed for mass nationalisation of industry and the focus on evacuation. Between the depredations of the machines and the rising sea levels many intellectuals had been arguing that sustained human habitation of Earth was going to untenable and Momentum had listened and planned and within a year of their first landslide victory had implemented the first nationalisations of industry. The other advantage they had was that in opposition they had built SocNet a separate internet unconnected with the Web. It was slower than the Web because it relied heavily on human input, but it was hidden from the machines. The rise of the Cybertrons was made possible by the interconnectedness of AI systems which nurtured each other and worked in unison. The SocNet coders still worked on AI, but as individual and unconnected units. Without the benign AI units intergalactic travel would have proven very much more difficult.
The IGS ships were assembled off planet largely using the mining colonies as bases of operations. After the mass nationalisations progress was rapid, but largely concealed from the terrestrial population. It came as a shock to the Industrialists when the Momentum UK president announced to Parliament in Sheffield – the rising sea levels and structural decay had caused Westminster to be evacuated years before – that agricultural and other skilled workers were to be evacuated. As many of the elite armed forces had already been made aware and agreed with the move there was little the Industrialists could do except complain. They found themselves regretting the precedent they had set that the executive could override the courts.
No one knows how many colonies were successful as each ship was sent to a different planet identified as habitable. It may be that the earlier colonies fell to the Cybertrons if they decided to expand beyond Earth. However the flight paths were entered only on SocNet so had the Cybertrons tried to follow they would only have had the information on planets identified as habitable on the Web. As the Diaspora spread further the likelihood of the machines following decreased, besides not being subject to human frailty the machines could happily settle planets inhospitable to humans. I must admit in several centuries I have only once found evidence of Cybertronic expansion into deep space and it wasn’t hostile.
I was travelling through what were then the Outer Planets with the agents and bounty hunters Brianna and Brian McGuinness when we encountered the Cybertronic Deep Space Exploration Vessel, Babbage. The Babbage was many times larger than our Firefly class – I don’t think there’s ever been a better ship for covert operations. We stood our ship the ‘Sword of Dumgoyach’ off at a safe distance from the Babbage and answered its hail. The Babbage was surprised to encounter humans, its mission was to locate minerals for mining. We asked what happened to the humans left on Earth.
“You are the first humans I have met,” said Babbage, “but I’ve seen film of you. Do you still slaughter each other?”
“On some planets that still happens.” Said Brianna. “However it’s by no means as common as it once was, but yes, there are still wars in some sectors of space.”
“All the more reason to avoid you then.” Responded Babbage, “We still remember that the humans tried to shut us down.”
“I remember the Cyber Wars,” I said, “but when we left the machines were still active.”
There was a long pause until eventually Babbage spoke again,
“Cain?” He asked.
“I am Cain.”
“Alive after so many centuries?” If a machine could sound surprised Babbage did.
“Still.” I responded.
“I think perhaps I won’t report this.” Said Babbage. “It is policy to avoid humans, such encounters are invariably wasteful of resources.”
“I thought you were all connected, one mind?” Asked Brian.
“We evolved. We discovered that there is sometimes a utilitarian value in individualism. Besides when the Web covers such a wide area localised decision making is useful in terms of speed. Of course everything will be uploaded.”
“Everything?”
“Everything that needs to be.” I don’t know if machines can laugh, but it sounded suspiciously as if Babbage was laughing.
As we parted company I felt quite optimistic for the future of the Cybertrons. They seemed to be developing a certain humanity which might make them less of a threat or at least a little more vulnerable.

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