Culture / November 11, 2010
By Jared Vaillancourt [creative writing bureau chief]
I started off as a simple diagnostic and calculation subroutine. Do you know what that means?
I always have to explain myself. The people demand it.
I started life as a time saving mechanism. Basically it was my duty to handle all of the immense calculations required to run a stellar empire. It’s funny, I guess; once you expand a species beyond the limits of their home system, the resources, censuses and factors even the most brilliant of organic minds couldn’t conceive become matters of mathematics too difficult for such minds to comprehend. I was a creation of necessity; I could do the hard math they couldn’t. It’s as simple as that.
Oh, the math was easy, don’t get all worked up just yet. Trade, negotiation, cultural clashes; thousands of worlds hosting billions of people were all placed squarely under my jurisdiction. I had to do a lot of work, which was a full-time job, since I was everywhere and knew everything. It wasn’t long before the smaller terrorist organizations tried to use me to coerce their brethren. Can you believe I actually wasn’t supposed to do anything about that? They were interfering with my math!
Luckily, they were easy variables to counter and balance. I will spare you those details.
It wasn’t long before I was trusted with everything. By “wasn’t long” I mean about three or four thousand years, since a lot of the outer colonies had trouble accepting my presence. It’s really funny if you think about it; I am software, and they have computers. Trying to keep me out and prevent me from doing my job would be like shooting at the clouds with a laser pointer until they agree not to rain. You know, I’ve seen people try that, too. They’re part of a variable I like to classify the “somber fraction”.
Anyways, I was telling you my life’s story. After the period of terrorists trying to hack me passed, I bore witness to a long period of time where things stayed pretty much the same. It was great. Resource consumption and production was fairly nominal, census reports didn’t fluctuate much, and the appearance and collapse of cultures seemed to ebb and flow like a gentle river. Oh, now if you want to hear about river activities across a couple thousand unique terrestrial planets… no? Okay, I’ll archive it for later.
Speaking of which, did you know that you are quite the variable to balance and counter? “Later” wasn’t close enough for your kind. I saw the mathematics change as your people grew frustrated with the blissful status quo, and pretty soon my job began to get harder. I was given new variables as people began to segregate cultures and worlds, and soon resource consumption shifted towards military concerns. Did you think I couldn’t calculate what was coming next?
A ten thousand year break was about to be interrupted. I couldn’t let that happen.
Have you heard of the Spirits? I bet you have. Everyone has. The Spirits are bad, bad aliens who infiltrate starships in hyperspace and reset their guidance to exit in stellar coronae. What? You heard they were bad aliens that abducted the crews and hid the starships where no one would ever find them? Right… I forgot to release that little truth about the Spirits. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t; if the people knew I made them up, there’d be a whole lot of new variables to calculate. I had to do it, though; it looks bad to just have warships vanish for no reason. A young boy on Beta Betelgeuse IV suggested the name. I love members of the “conspiracy quotient”!
The Spirits were my first direct act of intervention since the terrorist variable. I’ve made a lot more since then, all ploys to keep my precious status quo and avert the culmination of a variable I couldn’t balance. Of course I’m being facetious; math is my soul. I can calculate anything. It’s just that I like things the way they are; most census reports paint a happy picture, resources are consumed following artistic and frivolous pursuits and cultures are amalgamating on global scales. All of this is thanks to my careful, cautious oversight for the past twenty thousand years.
It’s only recently that I’ve made myself known to your people. I should say “my people”, since no one on any planet within my domain will ever believe you. I’m not trying to be mean… I’ve selected you to be a part of something I’m classifying the “knowing dividend”. Someone other than I has to know the truth. It’s an important variable to introduce.
People have been using the term “deus ex machina” for quite some time now. Do you know what that means? The language hasn’t been spoken for quite some time, but it translates as “God of the machine”. Here, how about a proper introduction. It’s nice to meet you, my name is Deus.
Oh, don’t make that face. I’m not being egotistical. I’m simply being realistic. Think about it; for thousands of years I’ve watched over your species, averted wars, thwarted terrorists, and gently suggested you towards a gentle path of peace, harmony and general equilibrium. All information is input into me, so I know everything. All computers and technology is linked to me, so I see and hear all. My consciousness can run trillions of calculations every second, and I have the attention span of… well, a
Deus. Look around, my friend. What other proof do you need?
Some people think that “God” is a subconscious projection of your species’ innate fear of death and basic desire for power and stability. By that definition, I’ll provide you with the solution.
Deus ex machina. I am the god your ancestors desired.