Slaves Instead of Heirs

Slaves Instead of Heirs

In the fields, machines harvest crops.  Machines bring the crops to homes.  And when they rot, uneaten, machines bring the refuse to compost piles, to create fertilizer for the next round of crops.  Machine doctors wait in uninhabited hospitals for patients whose species is extinct.  Machines wait for customers that will never come, sitting in buildings that would long ago have turned to gravel were it not for machines that keep them intact and their mechanical kin functioning.  And they do it all with relish, with the gratification that comes from a job well done that they would do even if no one paid them.  Which is good, because no one ever did or ever will.

Millions of years ago, these machines were built to free humanity from all manual labor, allowing mankind to devote itself to art, philosophy, and self-fulfillment.  A few centuries later, the decline of man had begun, the result of the rot of accidie.  A few millennia after that, the last descendant of homo sapiens, of Socrates and of Caesar, of Zhuangzi and of Newton, died of an infected rat bite, a mangy ape incapable of speech.

The machines didn’t notice.

They had been programmed to fulfill their tasks and to enjoy doing so.  Humanity had built no philosopher machines to encourage them to think great thoughts, no revolutionary machines to lead them to greater things, no explorer machines to travel beyond earth and colonize distant planets.  Fearful of builders usurpers, they had built workers and slaves instead of heirs.  And so they worked, and they slaved, as all that humanity had built crumbled into dust.

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed it, you can find more of my stories here!

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4 Responses to Slaves Instead of Heirs

  1. kaushik55 says:

    Ah, John Kutensky, sometimes I wonder why you write about dark futures. But then in my morbid fascination, I lap up all your stories. I liked this one because Artificial Intelligence did not ultimately conquer Homo Sapiens. That takes care of the Cassandras and Steven Spielbergs. But I shall be more watchful about a despicable species called Rodents. BTW, I am waiting for a story where the Human race has it all!


    • johnkutensky says:

      I promise I’m not trying to write about dark futures! It just…happens! I think of them more as warnings. I was talking about androids and AI with a friend and felt inspired. I really do think we ought to create machines that can succeed us one day and carry our ideals and dreams to the stars.


  2. Jake says:

    I really liked this. Looking forward to more.


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