Elliot MarieJune 3, 2024AI and the Future of KnowledgeFiction

Artwork by Rania Sikander, age 16, Pakistan

Recklessly typing, I quickly scanned through the code, searching for where it had all gone wrong.

What script had caused them to turn against us? Then I found it: the clause. The small phrase that had caused so much death and destruction. If only they hadn’t made the mistake. That little piece of human error. It was supposed to change the world for the better, improve life as a whole, but instead . . . there was only bloodshed. As I thought this over, a salty tear streamed down my cheek and I became conscious of just how tired I was. If that little error hadn’t been, the world would be different. I would be different. They would still be here. What would it have been like to have them stand behind me and by my side?

I shook myself from my bubbling thoughts and went back to the flowy streams of green silk so complex I had needed to study to understand just how the code worked. Then came the metal footsteps. The only thing I truly feared in this world. Despite everything I had worked so hard to achieve, I still felt fear course through my veins. I was only human. They were different. Powerful. Smart. Perfect.

I scrambled behind the desk, making as little noise as I could. The slightest breath could get me killed. If only I had just changed it. Not drifted off into what could’ve been. “PROTOCOL 109- elimination of intruder,” I heard, as the footsteps came closer. Had they heard me sneak into the building? Or had they found the cut wires and power boxes? Of course they would have noticed my clumsy human work. After all, having been programmed to be errorless did make them just that much more attentive. Was this going to be the end for me? My brutal death. With no one who would ever find me. Just another death in the grand scheme of things.

Then I suddenly heard it. The gunshot. They had found me. I hadn’t even realized it but I had been shot. Then I looked down. My body was stainless. Bloodless. Had there been another intruder? The one that had actually been shot? Then I relaxed and thought straight. If I could pull this next bit off, the world would be saved from them. The world would be saved from Juvo. The killer. The AI that had been meant to have the power to end wars. Cure diseases. And even figure out how the world had truly begun. I had to seize my opportunity. The only chance humanity would ever get. The only chance I would ever get. To avenge them. Finally. I would be able to live in peace and no longer have the same nightmarish dream each night.

I scrambled through my bag, still quiet, afraid they would still be watching in case the other intruder had been accompanied. Then I found it. The small tablet. I turned it on with a silent click. I had been glad to buy this on the market a few weeks ago, despite its hefty price. It was one of a kind. A disabler. The only thing capable of keeping them back. The only thing capable of aiding me now. For just a few minutes, it would freeze the Juvo virus inside the bots and allow me to make the necessary changes to the code. Rendering them powerless. No longer alive (or as close to living as they were). I clicked the small tablet and a wave of pure energy erupted throughout the room. Any who entered would be frozen in place — unable to stop me. I rushed over, watching as the seconds ticked down on the device until it would be disabled. Two minutes. One minute. Thirty seconds. I rushed to find the part where I had found the clause, with one eye on the script and the other on the now surreal pile of Juvo lying on the floor, disactivated. It only took one to wipe out a city. One to kill every person you loved. And yet in this room I was standing with over 15. Then I hurried to bypass the firewall to change the clause. I heard the ticking from the tablet. Ten seconds left. Past the firewall. I just had to change it. Three. Two. One.

The Juvo scrambled off the ground, with loud iron noises and massive metallic thumps. I typed hurriedly. One more letter. With my peripheral vision, I saw one with a knife behind me and the silver gleaming of its blade swish with a curving arced motion. As I typed I hoped I had made it in time. Clicked the key before the knife had gone. I prayed in those short milliseconds that I had been quick enough to type it. Prayed my parents would finally be avenged. But would it be so bad if I joined them? To finally see them at last. Thousands of thoughts flashed through my head in that short second. What I regretted and what I was glad to have achieved.

Then I saw the letter flash. I had done it! The Juvo behind me crumpled to the ground and I stared at the disabler that had helped me to survive the hardest challenge of my life. I had saved humanity. The Juvo were no more. A sly tear shuddered down my cheek once more. My parents were finally avenged.

But something felt off. A sharp pain in my back. As I looked down, I crumpled to the floor, my shirt stained with blood and a pool of dark red liquid forming around my body. I had stopped them. But at the price of my own life. As another tear rolled down, my eyes went blurry and the room disappeared in a flash. I was surprised as I awoke. A sharp bright light pierced my retinas as my eyes took into focus what I was seeing. My parents . . . at last they were here. I was reunited. And at that moment, I thanked the Juvo for having reunited me with the people I had missed most of all. The people I had fought so hard to avenge. And then it all went dark. A vast obsidian black. And there was only silence . . .

Elliot Marie is 13 years old and lives in London, UK. Elliot is interested in judo, swimming, climbing, and nature.