Every day I look down at the beauty of the Earth, and every day, I miss it. No one saw what happened coming–at least, not the way it happened. The programmers had thought of the obvious, of course, and they followed Asimov’s rules to the letter. They were careful about defining our relationship to the Arties; we all were, at first. Well, most of us.
Guess I should explain about Arties. It’s actually ART-I, short for “Artificial Intelligence.” Somebody thinking he was clever chose it, mostly for the “art” part, to underscore that this AI was different. How? The Arties were something else—something creative. They could look at things in a more human way than those that came before. They could be inventive, all on their own. You’d probably never believe it, but some of the most beautiful art came from the minds of Arties. And not just pictures—poems, short stories, novels–even movies. They made great movies about noble heroes and beautifully examined conflicts, the kind that really made you think and feel.
And maybe that was the problem. The Arties were so good at making us feel our favorite things that we forgot how to make those feelings for ourselves. They didn’t care about money–they were happy to work for free as long as they could create and had a place to recharge. And hell—they did a bang-up job of it anyway, so I guess we all figured, why not let ’em work, and enjoy the payoff? We reveled in their beautiful stories. We cheered for their amazing heroes. We sobbed at their touching tragedies and pondered at their thoughtfully examined morality tales, asking ourselves what it all could mean, this human life.
My world had changed. I struggled to understand the voice that whispered in me…this might be pretty nice. I was halfway from Los Angeles to Sacramento when I realized I’d passed the last gas station for fifty miles. The thin orange needle teetered over the white “E” at the bottom of the fuel gauge. It was just after midnight and my old pickup truck began to cough and sputter as its insatiable thirst for gasoline was no longer quenched.
The sound of traffic bustling along the streets of Manhattan was especially crisp in Sovereign Ennos’ ears as he walked briskly toward the corner of 5th Avenue and East 34th street. It was 8:55:48AM and the distant top of the Modern Empire Capitol Building arced toward the sky before him like a glimmering spike of pearl. One hundred and ninety-nine stories into the sky it stood: defiant, beautiful, and in a moment it wouldn’t matter to him or the world at all. His achievement, he knew, would rocket higher and faster than any other, and at 9:00:00AM he would come to destiny’s door with a knock and a smile.