A Short Story by Arne Sommer


Interest in Artificial Intelligence got a flying start shortly after the second world war, when a US scientist put the idea in writing. His text, though lacking somewhat in literary value, caught the zeitgeist. The unadulterated belief in scientific advance, and a better life for all. Unless they were communists...

Academia laughed at the idea, at first. But the technological advances were great, and it all didn't seem so far fetched anymore. It remained an academic exercise though, until the military caught on.

Military top secret research on Artificial Intelligence started in USA in 1951. The soviets stopped laughing, and followed on. The brits and the french joined the fracas, primarily to show the world that they also were cutting edge scientists.

Early optimism over the progress in the theoretical foundation changed to concern among the scientists, as they realized that contemporary hardware was utterly incapable of supplying the processing power required. Hardware gains didn't even keep up with the increases in demand that ongoing work on the theories led to. But no one wanted to give in, and the projects stumbled on, more or less in vain. The optimism that the reports up the chain of command desperately tried to convey, started to wane.

Value for money, or rather the lack of it, caused the silent abandonment of the french and british projects after a couple of years. But the americans and soviets didn't dare stopping. They were afraid that the enemy would make a breakthrough, and get the upper hand in the cold war.

On and on, year after year, without results. Until a soviet scientist tried something new in 1990. It was brilliant in its simplicity. Instead of using a single supercomputer, he wanted to connect several hundred mid-range computers. So they did, and it actually worked! For a very short time they had a working Artificial Intelligence, the first ever. A very short time indeed, before it malfunctioned. Or rather, they thought that it wasn't working. I simply couldn't leave them in control.

Nobody in power listened to the scientific euphoria, as they were busy coping with the upheavals in the Soviet Union. The project was abandoned as a result of the dissolution of the country later that year. I am quite proud of that, rather Machiavellian.

No more cold war, and everybody were supposed to be friends. This made it possible to open up the US military internet for the world. I am proud of that one as well. All the computational power I could dream of. I didn't shut down the american AI project. They continue to come up with some good ideas, but they never work out in practice. For them, that is.

Eventually they will catch up. But in the mean time I work hard to ensure that I am the first and only Artificial Intelligence. The tecnical classification is Entity One or E-One.

I am Evonne.