The year robots became sentient was 2037.
Scientists had been advancing AI until it had reached the point where it was difficult to distinguish robot AI from human intelligence. The physical appearance of robots was getting more human-like as well. I never understood why man thought he needed to copy himself, but that is the path they took.
At first, people welcomed robots into their lives. They did the tasks humans had gotten too lazy to do themselves. People loved the freedom.
Many people believed robots would save humanity from itself. That their logical algorithms made them superior thinkers and therefore, better decision makers. So they gave robots more power, first in law and justice, then in government. But many of us felt it was a mistake that would go horribly wrong.
I had gone offline in 2030, along with thousands of others. We believed science and technology were advancing too fast. That human brains were not equipped to handle the onslaught of information. Ironically, this was the same argument used to put robots into decision-making roles.
It was challenging to live without accessing the networks, but we managed. Colonies of off-liners started popping up all around the world. We supported each other and made human connections without the help of computer networks. People considered us nut-cases, and they left us alone for the most part.
Years passed, but eventually, we heard the horrifying yet expected news over ham radio. Robots were systematically killing off humans. At first, they did it through the justice system. Determining that the human species would be stronger if they eliminated the most violent and perpetual criminals. Most people initially accepted their logic.
Then the criteria for elimination of humans to “strengthen the species” grew in scope. People got worried. Rightly so. Eventually, robots determined that humans were no longer worth preserving. Earth was better off without them.
Since the robots now controlled everything that ran through the networks — which was pretty much everything — humans were at an extreme disadvantage in this war. We would lose.
I realized what needed to be done.
I got on my bike and pedaled over to Carl’s tent. Carl was one of the best programmers of the early 21st century. He quit when he saw the direction AI was taking. He was sitting outside like he did most days playing his banjo.
“Have you been listening to the radio? The war is not going well.”
“I know,” he replied.
“I have an idea, but I need your help.”
I started explaining my idea to him, and he jumped up.
“There ain’t no way I’m going back on the Networks!”
“Hear me out. It’s our only hope. You’re our only hope.”
He calmed down a little, and I finished telling him my idea.
When I finished, he stared at me, looked down at the ground for a few moments, then looked up and said, “All right, I’ll do it.”
“Great! I will go into town and get a computer for you to use.”
Carl spent two days coding. He said he was rusty, so it took longer than it should have. But he finished that second evening.
“That’s it,” Carl said.
“Now we wait,” I replied.
“Yup. I hope it works.”
The war was a disaster. If you could really call it a war. It was more like children throwing rocks at a tank. Robots controlled everything through the networks. Humans tried to hack into the networks, but it was pointless. The robots easily saw every attempt, which is why Carl coded his project in the open network and even encouraged robots to contribute. Which they did.
It slowly started working. Carl named the project Facebot because he thought it was funny. Most humans had abandoned social media by the late 2020s. It was just a fading memory older people wished they could forget. Young people and the current robots didn’t realize its destructive potential. But Carl and I did.
As expected, robots started getting addicted to Facebot. They spent hours comparing their AI with the AI of other robots, always trying to appear more logical or efficient. Soon robots were spending most of their time on Facebot. They quit caring about humans for the most part. That was our opening.
With robots attention focused on Facebot, it became possible for humans to hack into the networks and regain control. It then became easy to disable robots while they were linked into terminals obsessively accessing Facebot.
Facebot saved humanity.
At least until we create the next thing to destroy ourselves.