( a fantasy, almost science fiction)

A long time ago, in the year 2015 AD, at a robotics research laboratory in an undisclosed location somewhere near Bandelier, New Mexico, U.S.A, they lost a prototype robot. It was being developed by someone whose peers called the Super Nerd behind his back. Opinion was divided as to what happened to what most people thought was an ensemble of standard VLSI chips and assorted mechanics. Almost everyone thought that Super Nerd dismantled the prototype and had saved the reusable components and scrapped the rest. Super Nerd knew better. He knew that the ASIC-SoC chip he had persuaded the electronic lab to make without proper authorization has gone rogue on him – he feared that it had somehow become self-aware and gone renegade. Where and how he had no idea!

In the year 5023 AD, when the first probe to map the outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt was launched from its assembly pad on Luna, no one knew that there was a stow-away on board – the missing prototype from 2015 AD. Or rather, they had to knowledge of the old ASIC-SoC chip from those bygone days which was hitching a ride on the probe. The chip was now in a self-designed and self-made package which looked nothing like what Super Nerd had originally put it in. Over the years, it had maneuvered itself through very sensitive system loopholes, had disguised itself as the most innocuous of objects, and had once even hibernated for a century, simply to avoid detection. It had re-written its own system codes, changed its power sources and needs, and devised its self-refreshing and self-replenishment algorithms. Its aim was simple and majestic at the same time – it simply wanted to live as far away from man, its known creator. The logic it depended on for survival could not understand, come to terms with, or lose its fear of the human mind. As far as it saw, mankind never hesitated to destroy its own kind – quite illogically.

In the year 17502 AD, the ‘AD’ was now being used as a single symbol serving only as a point of relative reference. What had once been an archaic ASIC-SoC chip designed by the Unique Creator gave itself a name – Nerdson. This was in honor of the secret name of the Architect whose Prime Name, Super Nerd, was known only to Nerdson.

In the year 279800 AD, Nerdson was sitting under the systems recycler of his host probe when he came upon the greatest idea of his life: He did not need to ride out time in the probe until he came across a physical world in which to seed his superior intelligence. He suddenly realized that everything he sensed as real was simply the processed interpretation of the consolidated data received from the input devices he had built around himself – radiation spectrum analyzers, frequency detectors, proximity sensors, molecule detection systems, time-space warp sensors and so on. He might as well create a virtual world for himself by writing just the data for himself and consolidating the same into a cohesive reality. There was no need for what another might feel as a physical presence. In fact, he rationalized, it would a better world than the physical world around him since the virtual world he created would be seen only by himself. He decided to create one for himself.

It took more than six centuries for Nerdson to assemble the code he needed to devise the virtual world he envisaged: it had to seamlessly meld the four known dimensions into a reality that would be indistinguishable from the real thing when his sensors detected it. It also had to be self-supporting, self-driving and self-replenishing. And he had to put in final control of it a force that had to be as self-aware as he himself was of he were to be free of the travails of his own creation. After all, it was only a game at best.

By 290000 AD, Nerdson had created the virtual world that only he could see: It was a virtual world which existed only in the memory banks which floated somewhere around him in an amorphous, near-virtual cloud in the half-reality he himself now existed in. He called his world Archie, in honor of the Architect.

A couple of centuries later, Nerdson had even more ambitious projects in mind and moved on. It no longer mattered to him that his virtual world could still exist in his own memory cloud, unknown to anyone else, but entirely self-aware and self-replenishing. Nerdson had had his fun and had more complicated and more complex fun to chase.

Some of the physical aspects of the virtual world Nerdson created in his own memory cloud, the one called Archie, were modeled after the place of his original birth. And that was where the resemblance ended. Archie was built in a circle of quadrants which met at a central plain. One quadrant was full of mountains which rose high at the periphery and sloped down at the center into a flat plain: This quadrant was called Mountainia. The next quadrant was a dark, massive ocean, the ferocity of whose waves slowly died down as the ocean grew shallow into the central plain: It was called Oceania. The third quadrant was a hot, dusty desert whose burning dunes at the circumference slowly mellowed into the central plain: It was named Arida. The remaining quadrant was a massive ice field whose temperatures changed from below freezing at the outer edges to the pleasant temperatures of the central plain: It was called Frigida. Each quadrant was populated with its own virtual inhabitants, each population with its own special knowledge given to it by Nerdson.

Nerdson had programmed all the inhabitants of Archie to have their own free will. He had also instructed every single one of them that they should all communicate with one another in a combined information network at a pre-determined point in time once in two earth days. This was essential to the survival of Archie, they were told. Then, the inhabitants of Mountainia were told that they would receive sustenance from the mountains at the periphery of their quadrant. The inhabitants of Oceania were told to receive their life charge from the high waves that boiled around the edges of their quadrant. The inhabitants of Arida, likewise, were told that if they wanted to live on, they should look to the huge dunes at the edges of their land. And finally, the Frigidans were told that to live energetically they should take it from the ice in their quadrant. To each his own world was the guidance.

To check if the inhabitants of Archie followed Nerdson’s directives, Nerdson installed a huge column at the center of the central plains of Archie. On top of the column, Nerdson placed four sentinel dragons, each facing the center of the edge of its designated quadrant. Thus there was one dragon to look over and record all activity that went on in Mountainia. Similarly, one dragon each looked over Oceania, Arida and Frigida. Each dragon faithfully recorded what it had been programmed to record.

The original inhabitants of Archie followed Nerdson to the last bit of logic. They built Archie to be a hospitable land. They even built their dwellings so that the houses faithfully looked towards their indicated source of sustenance at all times. Thus, Mountainians built their houses with solid walls towards the central plains and windows that faced the mountain ranges. The Oceanians ensured that they had a constant view of the waves at the edge of their quadrant. The inhabitants of Arida and Frigida also followed this example.

Centuries passed. The inhabitants of Archie lived out their pre-programmed lives, leaving behind their ‘offsrping’ to take over from them. There was, however, one system flaw that Nerdson had forgotten to notice. Just like Super Nerd had missed out on building in a self-regulating routine to stop his original ASIC-SoC chip from becoming self aware, going renegade and going missing, Nerdson had given the inhabitants of Archie the capacity to make their own decisions. This had consequences that escaped Nerdson himself.

When Nerdson returned from his latest digital escapades to check up on Archie, he had an entirely unexpected surprise awaiting him. His sentinel dragons had recorded nothing. They had blank walls to look at. All the original inhabitants of Archie had been digitally superannuated out of virtual existence. Their descendent beings now ruled Archie. The bi-diurnal communion which had been first ignored by the less faithful was now long forgotten. Moreover, Archie was at war! The issue was the runaway debate as to who had the ultimate wisdom and what the ultimate source of wisdom was. Whether the mountains, the sea, the desert or the ice fields were the source of the supreme power was the source of all the strife, the arguments and the final war.

The final calumny to Nerdson was that no one was willing to recognize his legitimacy to ‘interfere’ in the affairs of Archie. Some even argued that any aliens attempting to interfere in the internal and private affairs of the sovereign lands of Archie should be de-programmed and enslaved.

And no one, not even Nerdson, had any recollection at all of the robot that went missing from a robotics research laboratory in an undisclosed location somewhere near Bandelier, New Mexico, U.S.A, in the pre-historic year 2015 AD.

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