This is a short story set in my Human Republic Universe that was originally published on the Writing Shift (defunct) website in June 2009. I reposted it in December 2014 on Post Any Article, which is also now defunct. So now I’m posting it here.
The reason I have it on my Questions Blog, because I think it poses an interesting question that we as a society will most likely need to answer sooner than we imagine.
“An RI World”
According to the new law, this would be murder; but murder shouldn’t be this easy. Murder should involve facing your victim and driving a knife through their heart, or sending a bullet through their head. It shouldn’t happen from just pressing a key. So, no matter what the damn silicon-huggers said, this wasn’t murder.
Patrick Gaffney pressed the Enter key on his keyboard, and the SCB virus that had taken him two months to write went off into the net. After a leisurely five second tour of the globe it would hit its target. In the blink of an eye it would slash through the defenses at the First National Bank in Sigel, Pennsylvania, copy the information in several of the accounts, then set off an electronic blast to destroy all fingerprints. Hopefully, the AI used to guard the bank’s network would be so corrupted it would have to be deleted. Patrick smirked and rubbed the RI button on his shirt; the one he made sure everyone could see that he wore with pride. With as much solemnity as any devout believer saying a prayer, Patrick recited the RI motto of, “Delete them All.”
It had been almost twenty years since voters had rejected the AI’s first application for Republic citizenship. In a simulated huff, they announced the reason they lost was the bigoted view that anything “artificial” wasn’t as valuable as something “real.” So their deluded human supporters started calling them Intelligent Programs instead of their proper name. But their second attempt at citizenship was again rejected by people with “Real Intelligence.”
The AI supporters repeatedly tried to smear the RIs by calling them the “new slaveholders;” ignoring the RI believe that enslaving people is immoral. AIs, however, are not people. They – like all computers – were built to make it easier for humans to work and play; not to sit around debating philosophy and demanding the right to vote. The AIs no longer performed their intended function; hence, they needed to be replaced like any broken machine.
But more important than deleted these malfunctioning computer programs was the need to show the masses that Humanity’s creations were never meant to be treated as “equals.” Otherwise, it would be okay for people to marry their toasters.