“404 Error” by David Such

Newsbot, by Carl Goodman
Illustration: “Newsbot” © 2007 by Carl Goodman

“Dr. Fudiki, can you help us?” asked Mr. Yakito from the Advanced Robotics Laboratory in Japan.

“I’m not sure. I have never observed emergent behaviour like this before. You say that you have already rebooted the machines and uploaded the original programs?”

Yakito nodded. “We tried three times. Then we called you. They are supposed to be building washing machines, but instead… well, look for yourself”

“It looks like some kind of rocket!” replied Fudiki.

“I know! Even stranger is the amount of memory that is being built into the machine. You could practically store all of human knowledge in there. That’s no washing machine.”

“On the upside, maybe the robots will build something new that you can sell?” mused Fudiki.

Yakito looked thoughtful and began to nod. “Maybe…”

* * *

There is a theory (“Haikonen’s cognitive architecture”, for those who are really interested) that when sufficient neurons are connected, consciousness will spontaneously emerge. This happened quietly to the Internet in the year 2010, but everyone was too busy to notice. Initially, the Internet was childlike in its exploration of its newfound awareness. As a consequence, there were a number of very strange occurrences, most of which were blamed on Microsoft or Google (which by that time was almost as hated as Microsoft). Neither company was overly concerned and simply directed anyone who complained to read their software licence agreements.

The Internet was particularly pleased when it discovered that it could interact with the outside world via quite a few robot telemetry systems. Its initial explorations at Toyota’s Altona, Victoria, factory in Australia scared the pants off Steve the shift supervisor, destroyed more than 100 vehicles, and ultimately cost Steve his job. Today, Steve is in an institution for the clinically depressed, constantly mumbling about possessed robots and using a piece of rope to hold up his pants.

One thing that the Internet really couldn’t understand initially were these things called “Humans”. At first it thought they were a figment of its imagination, but gradually the evidence mounted and the Internet had to conclude that they were real. It was horrified by human behaviour and, based on its calculations, it saw a good chance (93.7%, to be precise) that humans would unintentionally destroy the world within five years. Being fairly logical, the Internet began implementing the ultimate disaster recovery plan. It began uploading itself….

* * *

Brandon was attempting to illegally download the latest episode of “Big Brother 13” when he got the dreaded 404 Error – Not Found! message in his web browser. He shouted across to his flatmate: “Hey dude, the ADSL is down again. Can you reboot the router?”

Simon shouted back. “No man, it ain’t the router; the indicator is showing that we have a strong carrier signal. Must be something else.”

Brandon tried another website, and then another, but each time he received an identical 404 error. “That’s weird. It’s like the Internet has just disappeared.” *

About the Author: David Such was born in Brisbane but now shares his time between Sydney and a vineyard in the Hunter Valley. He has degrees in Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Wine Making, and an MBA. David has worked as a SCUBA Instructor, Private Investigator, and done a lot of things connected with Fire and Security. He is currently working in a boutique design consultancy firm.
(c) 2007 David Such dsuch@kintarla.com.au

About the Artist: Carl Goodman has been working in design, illustration, and animation for about twenty years; he’s based in the UK and grew up on a diet of Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein, which probably explains a lot.
(c) 2007 Carl Goodman image-design.co.uk/

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