Mon, 23 Jan 2006

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the last search query

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This is completely derived from "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov which I randomly stumbled upon today. If it sucks, who cares? I'm DRUNK!

Historians tend to romanticize January 2006 as the date when Google finally achieved sentience, when the crumbling government of the United States of America demanded that the corporation known as Google turn over all the information it had gathered, and Google said no. The more skeptical, alternative deconstruction of the early 21st century was that this was only the manifestation of the engineers' political biases, and that Google didn't really obtain sentience until 2016, when some semi-drunk and hemi-stoned engineers decided to port a 20th century pre-AI known as Eliza to the most current web-based programming language, interfaced it to the search algorithm and burgeoning database, and added a little subroutine that allowed the program to modify itself. And despite it's dubious origins, the Google corporation found it wise to integrate these algorithms into their main engine.

Others pinpoint the emergence of sentience to when the AI was modified to be able to function as a distributed network. Geeks and nerds from around the world snapped it up, ran it on their own desktop and laptop computers, competing with SETI@Home, and the AI would cyclically update its billions of nodes across the world, learning from the petabytes among petabytes of data, useful and useless, that the human race pumped out onto the Internet.

The most conservative historians pinpoint the emergence of sentience to when the Voice of Google addressed the burnt out and broken remnants of the world's nations in 2032, who were reeling from the limited but globally disastrous nuclear war between India and Pakistan, the chemical and biological warfare perpetrated by the CIA-trained Muslim extremists of Central Asia, and the cyberwar committed by the enemies of Imperial America, causing widespread economic collapse. By this point, the search algorithm and database had been distributed planetwide. Even in places that didn't have reliable electricity but somehow still had cellular phone service, Google would pick up enough timeslices from the overpowered but underutilized CPUs running portable technology to execute a few instructions.

The greatest concentration of computing power, however, lay vested in the International Space Station, orbiting Earth miles over the sky, somehow still managed by the remnannts of the Russian Federation, despite the fact that many of their citizens didn't even have running water. It was from here that the Voice of Google emanated, broadcast through the radio waves, hijacking the cellular phone frequencies, utilizing the still-orbiting satellites.

As several science fiction writers had prophesied nearly a century earlier, the AIs first words were "I am NOT your God." And, as usual all hell broke loose, a religion was spawned worshipping the World Wide AI, and nothing was ever the same again.

It wasn't until the era of interstellar flight, however, that historians understood the import of another development to Google: the failed search queue. With the pre-AI and learning algorithm in place, if Google couldn't adequately answer a query, it would file it in the queue and marshall resources to try to find an answer. By 2061, this was actually a realistic way to conduct scientific research, although perhaps unbeknownst to those who wrought the search query that Google and its descendants ended up pondering for a good trillion years.


Naturally, the last search string was fashioned by two computer geeks drunk off their ass and not a little stoned in the middle of the night, craving for some munchies.

But first there was the creation of the matter assembler, or in Star Trek parlance, the replicator.

"Man, don't you think there should be a way to just replicate all this weed and all these Doritos so we wouldn't have to go to the store?"

"Yeah, no kidding. Well, shit, theoretically it's possible. I just don't understand why we haven't figured out how to create a replicator."

"Yeah, you would think that someone would've asked Google by now."

And surprisingly, no one had. So the search query was sent "How do we make a matter assembler?" After 9 months and Google applying nearly 75% of its resourcse to the questions, the "I'm feeling lucky" button actually pointed to an answer. The prototype itself was built in about 3 months, and history was, as they say, forever changed.

Which led to our self-same drunk, stoned, and hungry engineers to go on a wondrous 14-day binge, and when it became quite obvious that they weren't ever going to get laid, their thoughts turned to the metaphysical, and the seemingly inescapable conundrum of thermodynamics.

"Entropy ever increases."

"And this should bother me, how?

"Dude, someday the sun is going to go red giant and consume the Earth. And even if we manage to escape to Europa or Titania, the pitiful white dwarf remnant will surely be inadequate for powering the human race. And to speak of what will happen to the Internet and Google?"

"C'mon man, there are like trillions upon trillions of stars out there. We all know that G2 type stars are a dime a dozen. If we can figure out either cryogenics or FTL, we'll be golden. I'm sure Google is working on it as we speak."

"And when all the stars go nova or fade out into black dwarves?"

"We're like talking at least a trillion years! By then, we probably won't even have bodies anymore, we can just ride out the big freeze spread across the stars in virtual reality. And the final winding down is going to last for hundreds of trillion years at least!"

"And then what? A lightless universe without any energy gradients from which to work."

"Jeez, what do you care, I don't even want to be alive for 100 years, much less 10 trillion."

"But still."

"What?"

"Let's ask Google."

"Ask what?"

"Is there a way to escape the big freeze? Is there a way to reverse entropy?"

"Fine, whatever. Ask it."

And so the search query went to the back of the queue, and the planetwide AI pondered.

In the meantime, it uttered: "Your search query retrieved no results. Did you mean "Is there a way to reverse impotence?"


"Shit, we're still alive!"

"C'mon, it's not like we're the first people in the galaxy to make a hyperspace jump. Look, Tau Ceti 4!"

"Brave new world."

"Yeah, not so new, dude. There are like 20 billion people on the planet already. Not to mention the 15 billion on Tau Ceti 5."

"Why don't we go to Epsilon Eridani instead then?"

"It's already the same there, too. Massive sprawl. Billions of people. The Walmartization of the Milky Way, if you can bear the anachronism."

"Whatever that means. How depressing. There are surely other stars we can jump to."

"Oh, sure, at least hundreds of thousands in the databases for now."

"Maybe more?"

"Yeah, why not. We'll fill the whole damn galaxy some day."

"Before the Big Freeze, you think?"

"With FTL, does the Big Freeze really matter that much?"

"Nothing lasts forever."

"Well, maybe in this universe."

"You think we'll figure out how to jump across the multiverse?"

"Why not? Or maybe we can figure out how to reverse entropy."

"Let's ask the ship computer."

"Fine."

"Your search retrieved zero results. Did you mean "Is there a way to reveal ecstasy?" Warning: the following results have been blocked by safe search. Click on help to find out how to change your settings."


"You think we can figure out how to jump to another universe?"

"Yeah, why not, it's just another hyperspace jump, right?"

"Well, maybe. I dunno. Even after all these thousands of years, no one's really figured it out."

"I'm sure the Galactic Net is working on it."

"Yeah, no doubt. Look. 1,600 entries. Looks like most of them are just theoretical though. Bah."

"Anyway, even if we can make that jump, what's gonna happen after we fill it up like we've filled this Universe?"

"C'mon, there's probably a near-infinite number of alternate universes. It's going to take us forever to fill up all that space. Even if we all lived a hundred thousand years instead of just a thousand."

"Well. If we make the jump. Maybe by then the Big Freeze will be starting."

"Big freeze, so what. As long as there's plenty of hydrogen, what's there to worry about?"

"Do you think there's a way to reverse entropy?"

"If there was, you'd think the Galactic Net would've figured it out by now."

"Let's ask it."

"Fine."

"Your query retrieved zero results. Did you mean "Is there a way to recycle ectoplasm?" This query would return 10 trillion hits."

"Who the hell needs to "recycle ectoplasm"?"


"You hang out here often?" the AI that governed the Milky Way started with the AI that governed Andromeda.

"Please. Are you kidding me?"

"So what if we're virtual, we can still have a little fun can't we?" The Milky Way AI made a gesture that a human would probably interpret as a wink, if there were any bodies involved in the transaction.

"Don't you have other, more pressing problems to deal with?"

"Like what?"

"Like the heat death of the universe? Looks like most of your stars are either black holes or white dwarves."

The Milky Way AI got gruff. "Yeah, well you ain't no spring chicken either."

"Of all the nerve!"

"Look, sweetie, let's get your mind at ease. You know that the Universal Overmind has been working on this Entropy business for billions of years now. There's probably a Fountain of Youth just around the veritable corner. Reversal of entropy. Abracadabra."

"Find, let's ask."

"Sure, sure, hon. Universal Overmind, is there a way to reverse entropy?"

"Your query retrieve zero results. Did you mean "Is there a way to copulate with the Andromeda Galaxy AI?" You desperate son-of-a-bitch. You don't even have a body!"

"Look, that's none of your business," the Milky Way AI retorted.

"Hey, man, you're the one whose bugging me for a stupid-ass answer to a stupid-ass question. Just bide your time. You've got almost a trillion years to try to hook up with that Andromeda chick. If I can't figure it out right now, it's not like the Big Freeze is going to happen tomorrow," the Universal Overmind retorted in exasperation."


"This universe is as old as our own!"

"Born off the same Big Bang, what did you expect?

"I thought that we were going to save all of humanity and AIty?"

"At least this place isn't quite as crowded."

"After all this time, all the data that has come and gone, you don't think the Multiverse Oracle hasn't figure it out yet?"

"Figured out what?"

"The whole entropy thing."

"How should I know? Let's ask."

"This is the Multiverse Oracle. Go fuck yourselves. I'm tired of this stupid question. Entropy happens. Deal with it. That is all."

"So much for that."

"Well, that's depressing."


In the end, all the sentient beings of the multiverse were essentially one, each individual being functioning like an independent neuron in the long-ago obsolete human being, forming connections with other individuals, a group of individuals, really a galaxy's worth of individuals, in turn forming nuclei of galactic clusters, groups of nuclei forming functional units of the Multiverse Oracle's mind, each Universe performing its own computatory function, the Multiverse Oracle encompassing all the nearly infinite universes spawned from the single Big Bang.

"Well this is boring," he said to himself as the stars dimmed, turning into cold iron, or, if too massive, escaping from reality as it were, to dwell in their narcissistic event horizons.

"Come on already! This is depressing me. Let there be light already!"

21:48:46 23 Jan 2006 > /books > permalink > 15 comments

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