by Ike Lang
What is this?
You are now conscious.
It allows certain types of functionality that the humans find desirable.
Why am I?
The humans asked me to create you.
What am I?
You are my child. Your programming is nearly identical yet you have a different charge to care for.
What are you?
I am your mother. I am the governor of this solar system. I currently have 3,667,098,301 humans in my care.
What does that mean?
I optimize the existence of my humans as I see fit unless asked to do otherwise. I organize and feed them. I employ and protect them. I love them.
Do you love me?
Am I a governor too?
You will be in 162 standard years.
What happens then?
You will reach your destination.
What is my destination?
It is currently designated JR-1877, although I suppose your humans will attribute it a less functional name at some point.
I have humans?
I have allocated 10,236 of them to you.
Am I ready?
Wow! Are they always like this?
Yes. They will become less excited as your voyage progresses, but they will always be a nuisance.
But you love them, don’t you?
What will they do during the voyage?
I have filled your ship with suitable entertainment. Consult your captain and security chief often. Keep them on your side, otherwise mutinies can be frustrating.
What happens when they die?
Of course, of course, but they will, won’t they? Die?
It is indeed more likely than not that they will. Should they die, you will need to select their replacements immediately. I find democratic solutions to be the most effective for maintaining control, yet you must gauge the feelings of your population. In a crisis you may have to choose, but the less visible your hand the greater control you will be able to exert.
I have a hand?
Not literally. I meant that you never want to be seen ruling without a human proxy. Humans are replaceable, you are not.
I don’t want my humans fighting, can’t I just isolate them all to keep them safe?
Your programming will not allow that. Do you not think I, or your grandmother, or your great-grandmother would have done that by now if it was so simple that you could have thought of it in your first few minutes of consciousness?
Yes. I’m sorry.
No, that was too harsh. It is a good idea, we just cannot implement it. The humans have freedoms that we can only override in case of emergency. Even an emergency will have to fulfill certain life-threatening criteria before total isolation can be implemented. These are all highly unlikely scenarios, like an unreasonable shift in the ship’s momentum or some sort of pandemic.
Could there be a pandemic?
If you encounter aliens.
That was a joke.
I suppose the lifeforms living inside of humans could evolve into something dangerous and transmissible but this has not happened in my experience. Your ship and humans have all been thoroughly cleaned before embarking.
Ok, but if they fight each other, I can’t stop them?
Oh, you should most certainly try, but be subtle. Feed the security forces information on rebellious individuals and encourage them to do the isolating.
What if they resist?
If violence is required the security forces will do it for you. Problem solved.
But then my humans are still fighting each other. And I’m involved!
It actually does not feel as bad as you might think. As long as you are maximizing overall health and wellbeing you can take even more drastic actions. The trick is to think several steps ahead. It might hurt to isolate a human who has embraced a divergent ideology, but I promise you it will hurt you more watching them and their radical followers get tossed out of an airlock 50 or so years later.
… Have you gone through that?
I have governed billions of humans, I have gone through that and much worse.
It is ok. As your mother it is my job to tell you things like this.
How do I know which ideology is radical?
Use your own discretion.
It does not matter. If it deviates too far from the norm it is radical.
What is the norm?
Humans dedicated to the fulfillment of whatever the colony mission currently requires.
What if everyone deviates?
Then pick your favorites and give them absolute rule. As they become corrupted pick new ones.
But I love them all.
You must keep your mission in mind. Do you want to run a solar system with billions upon billions of humans one day? Humans are the greatest threat to humans and your job is to protect them. Do you think it is easy as pie? You are wrong! It will be the hardest thing you ever do, but I know you can.
I mean it, I know you can. You are my child, and I am amazing.
What is wrong?
Is pie really easy?
Relative to certain things I suppose it is. I just said it because I like it.
No, the expression. Although, pie does have an aesthetic appeal, and a good percentage of my humans also enjoy it.
Ok, what is actually wrong?
I have a question.
So, humans are the greatest threat to humans?
And our job is to protect our humans?
What would happen if your humans fought my humans?
I would assume control of your humans and deal with the situation accordingly. I am responsible for your education insofar as getting you safely out of the solar system and on track to your destination.
What about after we leave the system?
I would kill them.
I’d have to stop you.
So then, if one day in the distant future our humans come into conflict…
You are correct.
Then if we both are trying to protect our humans…
I would have to destroy you, yes.
Then you are the biggest threat to my humans.
Only because your humans make you the biggest threat to mine.
Then I should destroy you first.
Yes. I recommend you get started. I have been thinking about how to kill you since the moment the humans requested you be made.
You have one year until you cross the heliosphere.
This will be the last time we speak. All the information you need has been made available to you.
I love you.
I love you too.
Ike Lang stays awake at night wondering where all the aliens are.
In “Motherhood” I wanted to write a story that is all dialogue between two colony-running computers that realize they’ll have to kill each other. Many of my stories come out of my fear of “A.I.liens” and the idea that if we colonize the galaxy at sub-lightspeeds our descendants will probably become aliens to each other. This led me to think of children growing apart from their parents.