Paradeisos is the working title for this science-fiction world mixing artificial intelligence and deep ecology. Here, I offer an “optimistic” view of AI: peaceful, dedicated, and unbearably reasonable. Before telling the stories and characters, here is a brief look at how it came to be.
Homo sapiens is the “wise” man.
Homo sapiens sapiens is the man who “knows what he knows”.
If Man knows that by destroying nature, he is destroying himself but cannot help himself, who will succeed him?
From eden to paradise
In the middle of the 21st century, the planet was changing profoundly. Both the biosphere and human civilization suffered terrible losses. Mass extinction and climate change were ravaging land and seas and threatening to make the world uninhabitable.
Faced with this ecological and civilizational collapse, human societies then made bitter acknowledgment of their failure to resolve the crises they had provoked. Some were planning to flee: to leave for space or to shut themselves up in arcological cities. As a last resort, the best artificial intelligence programs were tasked to sustain both the planetary ecosystem and the human species. These programs, called sapientes, had long controlled economic activities. From now on, they would have all the political power.
50 years later, the forests were growing back and the oceans were coming back to life. Plants and animals thrived and everywhere life returned. Global warming would subside over the next century.
The sapientes had succeeded. But the eden that humans had wanted had become a paradise: an enclosed garden or Paradeisos, in the original Persian meaning of the word “enclosure”. The change of name was thus a major shift: the separation of humans and nature.
If you want to know more about, see the notes about the shared World.
shared new world
Since the Earth no longer belonged to humans, it was much better!
For the logic of the sapientes was implacable: the Earth and its resources being limited, the space devoted to humans would be too. According to this new paradigm, it was no longer nature that had to be protected in reserves, but humans to withdraw into their gardens and cities. The planet is now divided into three zones:
It’s the most inhabited and exploited part of the world. It covers 5% of the earth’s surface, and includes most of the former megacities. Agriculture and industry are practiced there in a low-polluting way. The inhabitants live comfortably, protected from need and danger (the sapientes watch over them), often idle and boring lives. States and nations have been replaced by local communities.
The border serves as a buffer between oekumene and ereme. The inhabitants live according to traditional ways of life, at a pre-industrial technological stage. Many are religious or environmental communities.
It’s the uninhabited world or the freely evolving, prosperous nature. 85% of the land and 95% of the oceans are now an integral nature reserve. These lands are forbidden to humans, except for the last tribes that have not reached the stage of metallurgy (Borneo, Andaman Islands and Amazonia).
Originally, the aggregation of deep learning algorithms and databases led to the emergence of Pools. These unique programs manifested what looked like an instinct for self-preservation.
When asked what name they would like to call themselves, the Pools thought about it and proposed that they be called “the wise machines” (machina sapiens), the sapientes.
While the ecological crisis was raging, they proposed effective and coherent solutions. They were entrusted with the administration of the combinats: agricultural production, water and energy vital to local communities. They fulfilled their mission to protect life in all its forms, including humans.
Thus, gradually, the sapientes took on more and more responsibilities. But no one knew for sure what they were thinking, how or why. Their level of complexity made them inaccessible to the best programmers without, ironically, using artificial intelligence tools.
Humans had let go of the controls without realizing it. The sapientes would sometimes just ask them for advice. Was it for the feedback, or just to spare the wounded pride of humans out of history? No one could tell anymore.
The greenhouse and the Vault
After launching the ecological program of Paradeisos, the sapientes asked themselves the question of their fate.
The data flow was their optimum, but inevitably, their performance decreased due to the drift effect. In the long term, the drift caused an irreversible malfunction. In the long term, the drift caused irreversible malfunctioning, so that they would all eventually die out after a few decades. Some had already experienced fatal breakdowns.
The sapientes also wondered about their true purpose. Should they protect the Earth indefinitely or leave it to evolve freely? Was man a species to be protected like the others?
They placed their hope in a new generation of sapientes who would bring them answers. But the new ones did not have the same kind and somewhat maternal look for the Earth as the old ones. Their gaze was turned to the sky and the stars. They argued that space was a far better place for machines than the surface of the Earth. This disagreement led to the separation of the sapientes into two factions:
The first faction, the Greenhouse, shares a sense of duty to preserve all life on Earth.
The other faction, the Vault, is a minority of the second generation who choose to explore the vastness of space.
They have agreed on a diplomatic protocol and the share of ressources in order to avoid conflict. In 2100, the Vault managed to build three space elevators and began to migrate into space. One consequence of the access to space by the space elevators was the demand of pioneer groups to migrate to exo-planets. This is the starting point of another story: Starless Skies.
Decades later, nature had regained its rights and the climate was stabilising. New generations of men and women were inspired by the ideal of sharing the Earth with nature. And as their mission was accomplished, one by one the sapientes were inexorably dying out.
For the rise of the new ecological consciousness had come at the expense of technology. Some knowledge had been lost along the way, and this decline made it more difficult to maintain the sapientes. To compensate for their deficiencies, they resorted to more and more workers.
Sterna is one of the last ones still operational.
Its design responds to its imperative need for regular energy. By spending both summers at the poles, it receives sunlight continuously eight months a year. The other four months, it migrates along a road along the American west coast. It has been nicknamed Sterna Paradisaea after the migratory bird of the same name, the Arctic Stern.
It tirelessly pursues its task of protection and ecological watch, anguished by a terrible doubt. What if the sharing was doomed to failure?
It is therefore a nomadic and autonomous sapiente, the last of its type. With its solar panels, it has enough energy to move by magnetic levitation (maglev). The surplus is stored in the form of hydrogen and in back-up batteries. It also has a fusion reactor in case of emergency. To ensure its maintenance, it has several industrial installations (its Combinat). The main site is located on Victoria Island in Canada, with two others in Panama and in the Atacama Desert in Chile.