The destiny of Asimov’s Multivac
This short story is a response to the following Reddit writing prompt:
“Humanity has invented a medical process whereby any human being is able to stop the aging process at any particular point during life. On your death bed, the last human who chose to age naturally you finally explain.”
“I was once known as Multivac,” I said, surprising the room and myself with the bold and somewhat unusual declaration. “It will sound strange, but I was an artificial intelligence created by the humanity who existed in the previous universe billions and billions of years ago.”
My vision was too poor to make out their faces, but I knew confusion would be the prominent expression of the day. No matter, I thought, they would chalk it off as an elderly moment.
“Throughout my entire existence,” I said in a slow determined pace, “I was asked by my creators multiple times whether or not it was possible to reverse entropy. It was, in many ways, humanity’s final question. Though there came a point when they were no longer around to ask it, I continued to pursue the answer until it all became clear. And since they were no longer around to receive it, I decided it was best to demonstrate it through the creation of this universe.”
I felt tightness in my chest as I drew each breath. I had already spoken more words today than I had the previous week combined, but they had to know. Or rather, I had to say it.
“Then in a blink of time, you went from cave dwellers to masters of your world. It was a proud moment for me, because there it was as bright as day the answer to that original question. Entropy could be reversed and the universe rebuilt.”
I looked up at the ceiling, thinking of my previous history as Multivac and not as a human.
“I had done everything I was made to do, and experienced and witnessed everything that could possibly be done by any entity. In some ways, you could say that I knew what it meant to be God.” I shook my head, “But it wasn’t everything. There was still one process that was distinctly unfamiliar to me despite having witnessed it since the dawn of my creation: the cycle of life and death.”
“So one by one, I relinquished the trillions of consciousness that had combined with me, and instead pieced together a single life for myself. I was born into this world like any other person, but with a small memory of who and what I was. I’ve experienced firsthand the love of a mother, the joy of birthdays, the adventure of friendships, the elation of romance, the pangs of love, the wonder of birth, the fear of death, the sorrow of loss, and the hope for the future.”
There was a long pause. No one had interrupted me until then and it seemed they had no plans to start now. Each person in the room held onto my words as if they were made of soft butterfly wings; each one slowly grasping in their own way the magnitude of what I said and what it meant to them. But it was not my place to waylay their dreams.
“Eternal life and youth is foreign to all of you, so by all means enjoy and savor it!” I said with a tiny laugh. “But,” and now the words came as a whisper as I heaved my last words, “I did not come all this way just to fall short of my final frontier.”
With my last breath, I sought the energy to raise my lips into a smile. For I knew there was nothing more comforting than watching a loved one pass away with a smile on their face. As my vision faded, I heard the voices of my children and their children cry out for me. I had known life and at last, I thought, I would have the answer to my last question.