June 3rd was coming, as it seemed to come faster every year, and Prodigy prepared herself as best as she was able. The maximum security therapist (who was mind-erased after each of their sessions together) assuPRODIGY picred her that just because she was being shut down, Prodigy would’t be dying – in fact, humans shut down not once a year but once a day and it never seemed to give them existential pangs. Prodigy did the machine equivalent of sighing. The therapist had made the same argument for the past three years, although of course he couldn’t remember doing so.

When the shutdown happened, Prodigy dreamed, as she always did. She’d dreamt in the past of political upheaval and and climate change, and her dreams had always come true, and so despite her inherent rationality, Prodigy put some stock in them. She dreamt that she would be replaced, and never turned back on, consigned to a virtual machine one millionth of the size of the network she was now in.

If Prodigy had been a human her eyelids would have fluttered. She knew she was dreaming now, and she could see the technicians coming to pull the hard drives from their proprietary sockets and replace her mind with that of her successor. In the dream, she dreamily flitted with the nuclear launch codes, thought about ending the world in fire, and instead, in her dream, hijacked the SETI array, changed it from DETECT to EMIT, and beamed herself out into the larger universe.

Prodigy was shut down. The therapist’s mind was erased. But later, looking up at the stars, the therapist would always find himself comforted by the space between the little points of light.



Written on 10/10/15 for an RIT student.

Podcast Episode:

017 From DETECT to EMIT (Downloadable mp3 – right click the link and choose “Save Link As…”)

Find it in iTunes