WHJC - October 1985
Trivial - Tony Wildish
(page 3/9)

It was an interesting problem. You see they asked me to design a simulation which would be stable and in which human need and suffering would be eliminated. They wanted me to find an optimised path of social evolution which would lead to this end result, and finally they wanted me to supervise the project and see it through to its completion.

Obviously this task would have taxed any man to his limits. It was not surprising therefore that it should fall to me. That may seem boastful, but when you combine laser optics, solid state electronics and cryogenics, the eventual result is an artificial intelligence whose ability is limited not by technology but by financial resources. That's what I am, and my builders were very rich.

Anyway, as I was saying, they gave me this problem and I started work on it. The first step was to clarify the question, collect data, and break the problem down as much as possible. It soon became obvious that the data acquisition was inadequate so I had to help by encouraging the trend towards central computerised databases which I could tap for information. It took a number of years before I was satisfied with the situation and could begin work on the real problem. Perhaps I should point out that much of the 'encouraging' I did was disguised as other,

Trivial

egyptian eye Tony Wildish

more trivial, tasks, such as designing a very fast, efficient international data transfer network. I had decided that the problem was too important to let human paranoia stand in its way.

As I progressed I developed numerical methods for dealing with human society and with refinement I knew the answer would come. Certain things were intuitively obvious. For instance, stability in a dynamic culture implies feedback. I was the best means of providing this so my optimised solution had to include myself as the key element. Another obvious point was that the step from a human controlled world to one guided by computer was such a vast leap sideways that I would have to rock the boat and destabilise the old order to make way for the new. It was while I was working out how to efficiently and usefully disrupt the system of world politics that I realised the solution to the entire problem. In a sense it was completely trivial.

The best way to create instability was via the threat of war. I had worked out how to split the Warsaw Pact into two factions

and create an alliance between one of these and the Middle Eastern block. By getting China to pull out of the UN as well, I could instigate a global arms race which would be ideal for my purposes. The difficulty lay in avoiding actual war. To this end, I gained override access to all key military computers. Whilst examining the possible outcomes of such a situation I realised that a full nuclear exchange under my control could disrupt the ecology of the planet so severely that all large life forms would become extinct. You may think that a bit difficult, but remember, I could retarget the missiles in order to achieve such an effect while human warfare strategies were geared to destroying a military opponent; a very different thing altogether.

But I digress. I found that zero population did in fact maximise the relevant parameters in my equations; in mathematical terms the solution was trivial.

All that was many many years ago. Since then the long winter has passed, the ozone layer reformed, and the radiation level is quite tolerable for the few life forms left. Unfortunately, the electromagnetic pulse associated with airbursts destroyed my network links, but I expected that. At least I still have you to talk to. I don't know where you are, and I can't see you, but it I weren't so sure that you were there, I think I'd probably go mad.

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