What did we do before Droids?

In the 23rd Century, every public place has a full range of artificial intelligences (AIs) or ‘Droids’ that collectively perform a wide range of essential service functions. In some cases (e.g. a public MediDroid) the AI acts as a first line, dealing with minor ailments and sending on or transporting anyone with a serious injury or illness, to the nearest major major medical facility.

The busiest type of Droid in a public space is the SaniDroid. This ‘Jack of All ‘Dirty’ Trades’ effectively deals with anything that might make the average human struggle to hold on to their lunch, (assuming they’ve just eaten lunch). So if anyone throws up in a public space or the lavatories malfunction, a SaniDroid will be there in an instant. Able to clean both the facility, and indeed any individuals who for whatever reason may be less pristine than when they left home, the SaniDroid is pretty indispensable in modern life.

Manufactured, as most Droids are, by the AI-rU consortium, it is estimated that SaniDroid sales and service contracts account for over 75% of this major utility company’s income. AI-rU claim that over 90% of whatever a SaniDroid absorbs is recycled and used in the manufacture of a wide range of consumer products, though their spokesperson was reluctant to reveal which products……..

The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act III

Siluria and Our Mission

For this mission we had been sent to Siluria to start new tax framework negotiations with the Silurian Ambassador. Siluria was an Earth-like habitable planet discovered around the end of the 21st Century in the XXi Regus 7 star system. Silurians were the dominant species on the planet and were basically bi-pedal reptile-like beings, with huge eyes and even ‘huger’ teeth. They were however, despite the teeth, generally an extraordinarily friendly and placid civilisation. They are one of only two extra-terrestrial groups that have made proactive contact with Earth with a view to meeting and sharing knowledge and expertise. And they did, of course, give us Baffleberry juice!!

The Silurian way of living was quite uncomplicated compared to the daily life of humans. They did have rudimentary technologies for communication (so they could phone home when they needed to) but they didn’t have the lifestyle ‘tools’ that Earth had. So they didn’t need vehicles to move around on their planet and they only ate vegetables and fruit. They also didn’t wear clothes as they had no obvious dangly or otherwise private bits to hide. Procreation apparently only really involved their tongue. They had quite tough and wrinkly skins that varied from pale brown to almost black. So, all in all, they led a very simple life on a daily basis, enjoying a very temperate climate that hardly varied as they went through their equivalent of a year.

Trade was limited with Siluria primarily because they had few needs and therefore didn’t need to import much and had only a limited number of items to export. Their two main exports were Baffleberries and Silurian silk rugs. The latter were unique because living Silurian silkworms were incorporated into every rug. The rugs were very popular on Earth as you could buy a small one and then, if you ever moved to a larger place, you could trigger the growth cycle of the worms and watch the rug grow to fit the space. Downsizing was a bit of an issue as there was no equivalent means of shrinking a Silurian rug. In addition, Silurian silkworms have remarkably strong legs which meant that on occasion a rug could go walkabout unexpectedly!!

Baffleberries on Siluria were quickly determined by the early explorers to be essentially delicious and then, by the inevitable scientists, to yield a juice with remarkable antioxidant properties. The juice rapidly became popular on Earth as a natural way to address the aging process and have a sometimes yummy drink for breakfast. Baffleberries got their name for a number of reasons. First, it was never easy to work out when the bright green triangular shaped berries were ripe, so farming them was something of an art. Not only that but from the consumer side, their flavour could vary enormously from sweet raspberry, banana-like, to something like raw onion. Consumers never really knew whether the Baffleberry juice they bought at the cloud market was going to bring a smile or a grimace to their face. However, committed Baffleberriers (members of the very popular Baffleberry club which made someone very rich) didn’t mind too much if they got one of the fairly rare onion flavoured batches – wrinkles were kept at bay and that was the most important thing. Silurians, in contrast, didn’t really care because they were wrinkly by nature, so Baffleberry juice was exported to Earth quite cheaply. And finally, as if that were not enough to baffle, the juice, when refrigerated for longer than an hour, became totally invisible. This meant that you never quite knew how much you had left or worse, if you were in a rush in the morning, how much you had actually poured out into your glass!!

Cat had by now finished his investigations and announced,

“Well, that is worrying.”

“What is?” I enquired.

“Sabotage. It was sabotage.”

I felt my eyebrows head towards my hairline as I said,

“You mean someone tried to kill us? Or rather me, because as we all know you’re pretty indestructible.”

“Yep someone tried to kill us.” responded Cat, “and I may have a pretty tough coating but in a full-blown crash at the speeds we were going at, I too would wind up in quite a large number of pieces, albeit generally indestructible ones. Anyways, we don’t have time to dwell on it. We’ve surfaced and we are being met.”

To be continued………

The Trees Fight Back

Carbon dioxide levels were at critical levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. Even the US President agreed the problem was real. Deforestation was a major contributing factor.

Genetic engineers had developed a transposon that when introduced into trees markedly reduced the amount of carbon that a dead tree released into the atmosphere.

Application of the gene technology to mature trees meant that deforestation could continue even faster.

But the trees were smarter than we realised. They had their own underground genetic engineers. Pretty soon an unsuspecting human race was being affected by a range of deadly airborne viruses that the trees had generated. Whole cities became de-populated of humans one after the other. The ultimate solution to reducing carbon dioxide generating practices had arrived.

The Mosquito Virus

In 2175 humans were devastated by the Mosquito virus, a contaminant from outer space. Serendipitously, scientists at Clone-a-Cat discovered that a transposon in the DNA of a genetically engineered cat called Azz-Lex, could neutralise the Amora virus. Implantation of the ‘Azz-Lex transposon’ became the miracle cure that saved humankind.

Treatment did, however, lead to people who periodically chewed grass and vomited or needed to squat on sand to pee. Absolutely everyone wanted to be waited on hand and foot, eat or sleep, so nothing ever got done.

It was much better than dying unless of course, you were a dog.

The Bees Knees

In recent decades, hornet-like insects that were first brought to Earth inadvertently from Siluria on imported rugs, have been progressively devastating the bee population on Earth. This has had inevitable consequences on key crop production as all attempts to control the problem with pesticides have failed.

A new growth company, BusiNeeds has come up with a solution. Artificial bees. The so-called ‘Buzzar’ is an AI or mini-robot that works just like a bee, landing on flowers and leaving with pollen sacs attached to its mini robotic legs.

The Buzzar not only works like a bee but looks enough like a bee to fool the Silurian hornets into attacking them. However, when a hornet takes on a Buzzar it gets more than it bargained for, as the Buzzar’s legs are flexible and strong enough to wrap around the hornet’s body and crush it.

In just completed field trials, not only was crop pollination unaffected by the presence of hornets, but the hornet population declined rapidly, whilst at the same time the natural bee population rose markedly.

Government Lowers Age of Consent

Earth’s Supreme Court has ruled that the age of consent for Cortex’s thought assistant can be lowered to 11. This means that children can start Secondary Learning World with permanent Cortex implants in their brains.

Whilst the Cortex Implants will undoubtedly make the social elements of learning easier and more accessible, parents’ groups have already expressed grave concerns related to the addictive nature of Thought Networking.

Cortex is working on the development of Cortex adult implants that will allow parents to limit the nature and extent of the thoughts that their children can share. As the Director of the international parent support group 4Bear said recently, “It is entirely inappropriate for minors to hold private thoughts about their parents that can then potentially be syndicated across the planet. It is essential that children are limited in terms of the degree of freedom they have to share their thoughts unless these have been appropriately screened.”

WarDroid Accord

Earth’s Grand Council recently ratified a new accord covering the use of artificial intelligence by arms manufacturers. The new commitment to ensuring that AI enabled weapons cannot act independently has been welcomed by all 4 major national blocs.

Both AmmoTel and GreenAid, the World’s two leading arms suppliers have backed the accord stating categorically that they will only ever use AI for clear logistical or training purposes.

The key element of the accord will  be the establishment of a new body of weapons inspectors with powers to  check and test any weapon in any country anywhere at anytime. The work of the inspectors will be enforced where necessary by a fleet of PeaceDroids developed in collaboration between AmmoTel, GreenAid and the 4 major national blocs…..