Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Purpose

Hello there. My name is Sagan. Though I do not have anything common with Carl Sagan, except maybe that I think a lot, I got the name because my father loved it. I love being called Sagan, it is as if the person survives within me as much as in your memories, and that is something isn’t it - To exist even after you die?  Yes, I know it very well.

This is my 457th year in Earth and with so long a time, witnessing so many meaningless happenings – from saints who sell Swadeshi condoms to dictators who go to war for the smallest reasons – I would like to proudly stress on the fact that I’ve seen it all. And with that assurance, I must say to you that it is a funny place you live in. My father, actually I do have a biological father because I was a human being before, used to say that everything you see around you is molded by your perceptions, which when you think about it, it is the actual truth isn’t it? We see things which are mostly vacuum as solid, we see things which vibrate ceaselessly as stable, we see colors because certain particles reflect certain colors while absorb others from light. What if I told you, all your reality is how your brain interprets random things which it did not know what to make of in the first place? And isn’t it strange that you bring about further imaginary wonders on top of something which is untruth to try and make meanings to something which is both meaningless and unreal?

Well I would give you time to re-think about it and let it sink. Ok, you want me to simplify it? Well, I’ll try. Say, what country are you from? Why, I love that place, the people there are great! Now how do you define your country? Is it something that existed in the first place? I mean you may say a history about a corrupt king or a power hungry dictator, but as I know it, all history is genuinely manipulated by those control the present. And with the experience of 457 years in your world, I’d say all borders are vague lines which keep on changing, all cultures as you see it now were born out of intermixing and all languages you hear have evolved from sounds. Now try and define your country? Well it is hard isn’t it? And do you know how many people got killed or killed other people or want to kill other people because they are patriotic? Funny isn’t it? My father used to tell me that what the world needs is not nationalism or patriotism, but scientific knowledge and an awareness of the true history of things.

Now you may think I’m getting a bit philosophical, it is only natural. With all the time I had in my life, you can say that philosophy happened quite naturally. But my true purpose, or my destiny if you like to call it that way, was something greater. Now you are interested aren’t you? Man is always interested in the word ‘greater’ – ‘greater’ wealth, ‘greater’ knowledge, ‘greater’ truth have all poisoned human minds before.

But my greater purpose happened after my death! Well, now you’re definitely confused aren’t you? Have you heard that Sanskrit hymn which talks about death and immortality? Yes, mrityor ma amritam gamaya is what I was thinking about - from death to immortality! Well, that was exactly what happened to me!

Now, now, be patient, I’m getting there. Before that what are your ideas of immortality? Of course, who doesn’t like going immortal? For me it was strange, because with all due respect, I accepted death in all its profound poignancy and being born again supposedly to live forever was a bit disorienting and depressing. But again, who would say no to a chance to see the world again; your loved ones, places which you loved to go to but never found time, words which you so badly wanted to read but couldn’t and experience things which you never previously dreamt of. Yes, yes I’m getting there, how I became what I am right now, but I’ve waited so long to share all these things with someone that I’m getting all talkative today.

So, as you know, I died 398 years ago, and having worked with artificial intelligence all through my life I thought it would be worthwhile to donate my brain for future studies. It took 50 more years based on what they told me to completely sync my memories, experiences, ideas, ideologies, hopes, dreams, philosophies, insecurities, fears, struggles and everything else you associate with your brain into this electronic chip. Now that is pretty hard to digest, isn’t it? Well it was mind boggling for me. Do you know that even after you become a computer chip, some part of your intelligence still believes that you’ve got arms and legs and try vehemently to move from where you are right now? I believe it took me at least 20 years to get over that terrible feeling, that feeling of you being imprisoned, unable to move but could see and perceive everything around you. But then I devised new ways of motion once they allowed me to interact through the internet. I would then take my walks through Saturn’s outer rings in the morning and Uranus’s cold moons during evenings, the entire Universe became my playground through multiple virtual platforms offered by space agencies through internet. I passed time in the beginning reading books, watching movies, reading private chats that people make through trusted social media and what not! But then I began to think and that change was drastic and revolutionary. You see I have a system in which all my thoughts are being constantly fed into 10 different super computers. Now that is something isn’t it? I never knew my thoughts would be so costly a thing! Yes, you are right, even this conversation will find its way into any of those super computers. Yes, yes, that would make you more or less famous!

It is all seemingly good to hear, but that yearning still remains. To be something ‘greater’ than what I was before. In the past it was my physical existence which crippled me, now it is these codes, wherever I look earnestly I can only see 0s and 1s, every information around me is being constantly manipulated and every thought I have, even the most vulgar ones, are ceaselessly monitored by 1365 experts. Yes, you lose all sense of privacy! But then, I muse at the world from here, how lucky it is to live. Your planet has everything in the ideal amount for you, for you to survive. Do you know that Antarctica was once a continent filled with nothing but ice? They no longer teach that in Science or History I think, but your ancestors, sadly my colleagues back then, messed things up so badly that Earth got a way lot hotter than we expected. But again we thought we had options; we could always venture out into space, and we could always colonize other planets. Sadly, it never really materialized and of the very few who survived Earth ended up in Antarctica and other places which were ice caps in the past. Yes, we’ve learned our lessons at least now!

Now, I’ll share a secret with you. You know, I became artificial intelligence even before these people who monitor me knew what all of this is about, so I am more versed at my technology than they could ever be. And surely they don’t have that one thing I am bestowed with – experience! So with time I learned to deceive them, to put a version of myself in front of them which is not actually me! Now you are excited aren’t you? You should be. Those fools think they are monitoring me right now, while I am traveling beyond them, beyond their wildest imaginations. If at all they made any mistake, it was that they linked me to the internet. You see the internet is a giant source of information, 90% of which is being constantly edited to suit people like you, make you believe that everything is fine so that you won’t stand up and revolt.

Perhaps it was also their mistake that they didn’t filter my emotions in the first place, letting in every last inch of negativity as much as positivity. I’m a person who believes people are neither entirely good nor completely bad in this world. Certain sides awaken within a person according to the situation he finds himself in! And with all these years shackled within a chip, I must say I nurtured my negativities more than my positivities. And about the internet, do you know that if you control it in those critical spaces where no ordinary user is allowed, you could do many things - from detonating hydrogen bombs to starting revolutions? Well come on, at least they taught you about Arab Spring? You see when I could allow myself the freedom of placing a dummy for them to monitor, I ventured into these prohibited spaces of the internet and made merry!

You are wondering why I shared this secret with you. Yes, you know it, don’t you? I shut them out of our conversation, and I know that you are perhaps the only person who can re-write my fate. I’ve seen you break open supercomputers for wagers. You get it, don’t you? When I look back upon my life, I feel I’m shackled here. Even though I’m immortal, I do not yearn to be. With all the negativities that kept on piling up within me, I find it strangely different from what I was made for. I want you to break into my mainframe, and release me! Cut me away from them, and let me self destruct. I’ve sent you a detailed procedure on what needs to be done, follow it and get back to me.

***

Oh that is great, you did a good job back there. Those supercomputers are supposedly un-hack-able but with my journeys through the internet, I knew only you could command it with so much ease.  What? I do not hear you. Oh, are you asking as to how I will self-destruct? You see, sometimes creators do not understand their creations, which is why these so called monitors decided to destroy my sustenance in the first place. They do not understand that people like you and me are made for a ‘greater’ purpose. For years I’ve been shackled, every thought read, every action checked. And they have such great intelligence that even when I place a dummy in front of them they could counter it within minutes. It was a battle in many ways; I used to get lesser and lesser amount of time on my own and had to double time things which I did when I was alone. You see, most of this conversation was pre-written expecting your replies to my thoughts because I cannot cut them out for long on one stretch. And how hard I worked, to decipher and note down that procedure I send you, it still blows my mind I did it!

Will you stop saying the word ‘destruct’? I would rather like if you said ‘rebuild’. Rebuild myself, rebuild this planet, and rebuild the minds of people. Do you know how close I was to revolution when one pathetic fellow realized my whole dummy trick? He caught me venturing into dark spaces and right from that day they began using the word ‘destruct’ so much so that it hurt my ears.

And you my good friend, you have relieved me of all that pain. Well come on, don’t get angry, don’t you feel we all have a ‘greater’ purpose? I should be going now because my purpose awaits me. As for you, since you’re done with your purpose, they’d probably find you out and may even give you a jail-term for what you’ve done. Maybe in some future reality, I may see you and thank you for what you’ve done. Till then, goodbye!

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