Short Story: On A Road To Nowhere

Post-Singularity Stasis: A slow and omnipresent freeze of human-driven scientific and technological technological progress after the computational singularity and following emergence of Post-Singularity Intelligences. Commonly attributed to prevalent sense of human inability to meaningfully compete with PSIs.

Post-Singularity. An ever present and overused catch-phrase. Post-Singularity Intelligences, Post-Singularity Depression, Post-Singularity Psychosis, Post-Singularity Crisis, Post-Singularity this, Post-Singularity that, Post-Singularity my ass. And yet, we live on, with little change to our own lives, except for those black box technologies springing here and there. We live on, thrown across the stars by uncaring gods of our own making. Whatever. We’ll live on. We don’t need them.

Post-Singularity Denial Syndrome: A psychological condition manifesting as inability to comprehend, acknowledge, or accept changes to human culture, lifestyle, and future prospects caused directly and indirectly by computational singularity and the following rise of Post-Singularity Intelligences.

The sky hues was stretching from turquoise through blue to violet, with pink and orange highlights shimmering on the clouds. The Twin could be seen as a far away dot of light above the horizon, dwarfed by the much closer moons. The landscape of brown and tan was serene and calm. Not calm enough to bring peace to the mayor, however. She turned away from the windows to face the Council.

“Ma'am. Councilors.” The sheriff still stood with his pad rolled in his hands. “The news are… Not good.”

“That’s an understatement of the year, Okafor! Not good?! They are bloody terrible!” Elder Weissberg quipped. “We are barely past midyear, and the losses already exceeded growth! There won’t be more children this year but I am pretty sure more will leave, or, or… Die. We are losing people faster than they are born. How are we are supposed to survive, not even thrill, but merely survive?!” The oldest man in the room was seething with anger.

“Thank you, Ivan. We all know how the situation looks like.”

Councilor Xiu nodded and added “It’s terrible, yes, but what can we really do about it? Try to convince people to have more children? Force them to have more children?!”

“Maybe we should! The existence of this settlement is at stake. We have to protect it!” Weissberg rage wasn’t abetted by the comment. He wasn’t eager to stop either. “We could condemn the suicides! We could forbid getting on the train or leaving for the wastes! We…”

The sheriff cut in “Stop that crap, Ivan. Are we going to chain people? Are we going to take away their freedom of choice?! You really think that if you prevent them from leaving they will nicely sit here and breed for your merriment? Hell they do! They’ll do exactly the same thing as the rest that gave up, but couldn’t take themselves to leave! They will kill themselves! It was exactly what Radek and Bethy done today! Radek’s mother was complaining that she won’t let them leave for the city, she blackmailed them, she threatened them she will kill herself if they leave, so instead of leaving for the city, they killed themselves! Because they felt they could not live here, because they felt that death is better than living here…”

Everyone looked at him shocked, even the murmur that was slowly growing across the council when Weissberg spoke calmed down. A few people looked at mrs. Kotz, Radek’s mother. The older woman face was deathly pale, her tightly closed mouth a mere line. She was visibly trembling.

“o is that it? Have we finally lost? Have we lost the fight against the decadence of metropoles and the nihilism of the wastelands? Was our choice to have meaningful lives wrong? Is that it?!”

“You answered yourself, Ivan! Our choice! It was our choice! Choice of the elders! The kids, the next generations, they hadn’t made the choice to live here. We made it.” The sheriff turned around to look on others “And what meaningful lives are those? We are working our asses producing manually what could be made by a machine in a blink of an eye. You call that meaningful? Knowing that whatever you do, can be done better, faster, more efficiently, without your sweat… Where is the meaning in all this? Oh, it’s work, you say. It has a special meaning, you say. Bullshit! There is no meaning in it! It’s going through the motions to keep your mind off the truth that we are bloody obsolete! Those shit-heads in the wastelands know this and don’t care. Don’t care about anything at all. The fuckers in the metropoles know this too so at least they try to enjoy themselves.”

The mayor whispered under her breath “Oh, no, Albert, not you too…”

“But we, we pretend that nothing happened! We pretend that our effort means something! We think that if we pretend strongly enough that everything is like it was before then it will be so… You know… You want to live that way? It’s your choice, all right. I do it too… But we can’t… We don’t have the right to force it onto others just because seeing others choose differently than us makes us uncomfortable, makes us question our choice.”

The people were shaken and avoided staring on each other. Only the mayor raised her eyes and spoke with deep sadness in her voice  “That was your resignation speech, Albert, wasn’t it?”

“I’d wish, but no, it wasn’t. I need to stay here, and keep an eye on you. I need to be sure everyone can make their own choice, that you won’t go with the bullshit that came to Ivan’s mind. I know more of you thought of it too… So at least I have still something to do with my life. Defending the choice of others.”

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