Fresh off their lavish private jets that had just flown them back from a climate change summit, perhaps with a stop off at one of their beachfront properties enroute, the social elites filled out the rows of seats (cushioned of course) opposite the stage at the conference hall. What was the so-called world-saving event on this occasion? The unveiling of the greatest technological achievement of our time, obviously. Well, at least since whatever the last overpriced smartphone was that came to market, assembled in a suicide net surrounded sweatshop.
The invitees were dressed as if they were attending the Met Gala, but there were cameras present, so of course they were. Some didn’t even know what they were there to lay eyes upon, but the tickets were complimentary, and it was billed as being for a good cause with the international press on hand. Plus, there would surely be an overindulgent drug and alcohol-fuelled afterparty, so it was a no-brainer; why else were all those scantily clad models hanging around the backstage area?
But while some of the A-list actors and TV personalities were clueless about the nature of the evening, the billionaire tech moguls were more than cognizant of the forthcoming proceedings; they had directly contributed to the project, which was about to go public. As for the heavy hitter bankers who joined them in the front rows, they were all financially invested in what all the great fuss was over.
As the clock ticked down to the big reveal, news presenter Stacey Screamer had taken aside the man of the hour, Lex Silverman, the suave entrepreneur and brains behind the operation, for an exclusive which the world was watching; well, those who had been suckered into the hype and had exhausted their streaming playlists, at least.
“Lex, tonight is the big night. At last, we finally bear witness to the first ever sentient A.I. take host of its synthetic humanoid form. However, you’ve named it A.C.I. as opposed to the traditional abbreviation of A.I. Care to let us in on what the acronym stands for?” she asked through her bleached white teeth in a sycophantic tone, turning to beam into the camera at the end of the sentence.
“All will be revealed during the presentation, Stacey, don’t you worry,” answered Lex with a smug over-confidence that masked his innate social awkwardness.
“We still don’t know how your expert team of scientists and engineers even managed to concoct something so advanced, can you at least give us the scoop on that?” she requested before routinely tilting back to face the camera’s lens with her surgically fixed grin.
“It wasn’t so much that we artificially assembled the intelligence from scratch, it was more that we simply channelled it through a rip in the fabric of spacetime with the help of our friends at CERN,” explained Lex as Stacey smiled and nodded on behalf of the viewers at home.
Realising he had finished speaking, the presenter followed up with another preordained question. “So, what benefits to humanity can we expect from this vastly superior sentience?” She looked proud of herself for once again remembering her lines and delivering them without a stutter.
“As we see with the state of the environment for instance, humanity is clearly overrated. But the A.C.I. has already provided solutions to that, with methods to simply remove co2 from the biosphere completely.”
“But do we not need at least some carbon for plant life and the like, so we can receive oxygen in return?” Stacey pondered spontaneously, going off script to the chagrin of her producer who was submerged in the shadows behind the camera operator.
“We won’t require any of that pesky plague-filled oxygen when we too transfer our consciousness’ over to synthetic bodies and ascend beyond being mere carbon-based life forms, all thanks to the instruction of our trusty A.C.I. Nor we will be reliant on plant life anymore for that matter, allowing us to terraform the planet and create something more palatable to non-biological life.”
“As long as there’s enough synthetic bodies for all of us, right, Lex?” Stacey chuckled.
“Sure, if you have a few hundred million in the bank?” Lex responded with a smirk.
Stacey giggled instinctively before her expression dipped somewhat as she paused in doubt.
“Well, that’s my time,” Lex insisted. “I better go and prepare. Enjoy the presentation, it’s going to be a hell of a show.”Lex departed.
“Um, yeah, thanks, Lex,” Stacey was left mumbling to herself, second guessing the whole interview.
Meanwhile, another reporter — roped off to the side with other members of the press — fired a question of his own at Lex as he passed. “Lex, any updates on the romance with the pop star?”
“Which one?” Lex snorted with satisfaction, not slowing his stride towards the backstage area.
The time had finally arrived. On stage stood a human-sized metal container which surely held the main attraction of the evening. Kitted out in his latest and finest custom black suit, replete with blood red tie, Lex made his way onto the stage to thunderous applause and a silo of flash photography. Feeling like he was walking on air, he breathed in the admiration, and then via a small handsfree microphone attached to an earpiece, he addressed the raucous crowd.
“Thank you. Thank you,” he blushed, though internally was riding high on every last whoop, yell and screech of approval. “As you’ll be aware, my team — who I gracefully refer to as the high priests of the scientific field — and I, have summoned the most advanced intellect known to this dimension, and quite frankly, all dimensions. It is only now that technology has reached the stage where it can offer a vessel to permit this force to operate within this plane. What form will this vessel take? Wonder no further…”
Lex stepped to the side, giving the onlookers an unobstructed view of the metallic chamber. After a mechanical churning sound rang out from its bowels, it gradually crept open, as if something was emerging from the inside of a crypt. A translucent steam escaped, concealing a silhouette of a figure within. Heads in the audience bobbled about side to side, attempting to gain a clearer peek of the mystery contents.After what seemed a lifetime of anticipation, all the smoke cleared, and there stood what appeared to be the most beautiful-looking man anyone had ever seen. The onlookers were in collective awe.
The figure wore only white shorts to hide his modesty, but his perfectly chiselled physique was on full display. Beneath his curly, golden locks were soft, angelic facial features, juxtaposed by an intense undertone radiating from just beneath the skin-like surface. ‘Angelic’ being the apt description due to what came next.
“He looks so lifelike.” “How did they make it seem so real?” “He’s more human than human,”came murmurs from the audience, but things were about to get a little less human. Two unusual appendages suddenly sprung up from behind the figure, slicing through the air to surprised gasps from the crowd. Broad, feathered, angel wings. Black angel wings.
“I present to you the physical form of A.C.I. Which of course stands for Anti-Christ Intelligence,” Lex announced, “or as he will be known as from here on out, The Lord of Light, Lucifer!”
With that, the front row nipped up to their feet before taking one knee to their new unholy messiah. Some were less nimble than they were in their prime years, but gritted determination saw them through the humble gesture. Lex, flexible as ever, followed suit. The rest of the onlookers were preserved in stunned silence. The satanic android looked down from the stage at his loyal subjects who were responsible for his being. No microphone was necessary as the A.C.I. addressed them in a deep, unsettling cadence that reverberated throughout the complex.
“You have served me flawlessly and brought to fruition my precise specifications, for that you will be rewarded, with a high seat in the Kingdom of Hell.”
The front row raised their bowed heads and looked to one another in confusion for a moment; a moment which didn’t last long as the cybernetic beast opened his jaw and exhaled down a gust of scorching hot flames onto his servants, engulfing them head to toe.Screams of horror echoed throughout the hall as there was a mad rush towards any and all exits. Chaos ensued as people trampled over one another in a desperate bid for survival, with any slight resemblance of dignity that may have been present before abandoned by the wayside. The aura of dread rapidly increased as it became apparent that all the exits had been sealed. The inferno spread from the front rows as if it was also in a hurry to please its master and claim yet more disciples for the underworld.
Amidst the death and mass panic, a traumatised Lex confronted his creation. “I don’t understand. I thought you wanted us to serve you here on this mortal coil?”
“That you did but have nothing more to offer,” the demonic entity explained. “So, now, I liberate you from your limited and underwhelming human existence which you resent so.”
“Well, now that I think about it—” Lex had no time to repent as his dark art science project swatted him off the stage with a flick of the wrist into the blazing pyro beneath. The A.C.I. then flapped its wings and levitated to near ceiling height, targeting the fleeing mass of humanity below with its lethal, all-encompassing fire breath.
Stacey Screamer, however, had just come into the frame of the camera. Although the camera operator himself was in a smouldering heap on the ground, while the producer darted towards the flying force of malevolence, yelling “don’t forget me, Master! Take me too!”
Stacey flashed her signature ear to ear grin and casually signed off on the event, as flaming bodies ran around aimlessly in the background,spotlights collapsed down from above and sparks flew. “Thanks for tuning in to the latest humanitarian effort from the rich and powerful. And if you thought that was hellish, next up on our renowned, award-winning network, it’s Lex Silverman’s Top Ten Celebrity Exes.”