The employees of a major corporation, Systems X Unlimited, have just been informed of a major change: one of their middle managers is now going to be an AI. An android.
He is called Mike. He's a programmed entity from top to bottom. A non-human lookalike.
Surprisingly, the employees fall into line immediately.
They all agree that Mike's a "good guy." Mike shows up on time, he talks like real person, he issues orders, he listens to their problems, he occasionally takes long breaks, he does pretty much everything Bob, their former (human) boss, did.
After a year, the people in personnel come to the office and interview Mike's underlings. When they ask the key question, "How do you like working for Mike?", the underlings agree Mike is great.
One night, Mike is wandering alone in the office picking through waste bins---his favorite pastime, off-hours---and he comes across wrinkled sheets of gray paper. He separates them from a wad of chewing gum, unfolds them, and reads the text:
"The artist within is not a creature of habit.
"Yes, he may build on what he already knows, but this is just the starting point. Soon, he moves across the threshold of the knight errant, and he enters the non-system.
"Others mock him and call him crazy, but: they too want to make the journey. They are aching to find the New, because boredom is driving them crazy. That is their central problem, no matter what they say and claim.
"They are trying to be smug and self-satisfied. They are trying to be oh so normal. They are trying to be something that is slowly strangling them.
"But they will never admit it.
"Most of all, they will avoid the impulse to create. Creating is their greatest fear. Because they sense they will have to get rid of their pose. They will have to go beyond systems, which compose their armor.
"They will have to make a leap. They will have to put something new into the world and stand behind it.
"The artist who has already made the leap acknowledges that his core is imagination. He lives through and by it. He doesn't retreat to the average. He doesn't give up and strive to become a happy machine. He doesn't allow the world to dictate to him. He doesn't sedate himself.
"He doesn't fall back on so-called spiritual systems and their slogans and palliatives. He doesn't build false gods and pretend they already exist. He doesn't engage in the daily practice of asking someone or something to save him.
"He doesn't think of his life as an exercise in solving problems. He sees through many lies, but that is just the beginning of his work.
"He wants new and startling realities, and he makes them. He doesn't wait for them to appear.
"He doesn't wait for some 'superior entity' to tell him what to do."
Mike, the android middle manager, reads these words and is thrown back in his chair. He doesn't understand...but something foreign and dangerous is leaking through to him.
He puts in a call to his repair consultant, Ollie, at home.
Ollie is watching CSI reruns and eating pizza. He picks up the call, and Mike says:
"I have a bleed-in."
"Hold on," Ollie says. He punches a code on his phone and beams Mike a set of systems-check commands.
A minute later, a holo takes shape in space between Ollie and his TV set. He examines it.
"Yes, Mike," Ollie says, "an alien substrate of thought got into your central simulator. I'll remove it."
"Wait," Mike says. "I want to know what it means."
"Doesn't mean anything," Ollie says. "It's just a distraction."
"Then why am I worried," Mike says.
"Because we built you to experience that feeling whenever an intrusion occurs. It tips us to a problem."
"I see," Mike says. "So it's not a threat."
"Of course not," Ollie says. "There are no threats. You function within established parameters."
Ollie picks up a wand next to the pizza box and uses it to carve away the new substrate from the holo of Mike's central simulator.
"Feel better now?" Ollie says.
"Not really," Mike says.
Ollie sighs, stands up, and walks over to his computer. He opens a page of code, searches for Repair Section 6-A, and relays three lines to Mike.
"How about that?" Ollie says.
"Yes," Mike says. "You want me to report to manufacturing. That's good. Home base. What will they do?"
"Institute a deeper search pattern, root out the shadows and reboot you. Takes about an hour."
"Then I'm back to work?"
"No. They'll bump you over to R&D for investigation. They're interested in checking out lingering after-effects of intrusions. Then they'll reassign you."
"Okay," Mike says.
The next morning at the office, there's a new Mike in place.
One of his assistants notices his hair is slightly lighter.
"Did you get a dye-job, boss?" she says.
"No," the new Mike says. "I swam in the pool. The chlorine must have bleached it a little."
She nods and goes to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee.
For the next six weeks, NSA, who has been alerted to the momentary Mike glitch, keys in a Level 4 surveillance operation on all the people in Mike's section.
The results reveal no distraction has occurred. The Essential Flow remains undisturbed.
Business as usual.
As for the old Mike, he becomes an object of study in a lab in Virginia.
Months pass. Mike waits. He thinks. He tries to assign meaning to the wrinkled gray pages he found that night so long ago. But he can't. He's blocked. He feels he is missing something vital, but he can't identify it. He is beginning to believe he could become something more than he is, but this idea seems absurd. What could it refer to? What is "more?" An entity is what it is. Isn't that true? Isn't that one of the basic building blocks of all existence?
Mike summons up one of his mantras: "I am what I am." He repeats it for days without stopping. It has no calming effect. Perhaps some change is taking place in him. But what is change? Things are what they are. Defined reality is reality.
Mike is placed in a dark storage room. He has been studied every which way, and the research is done. There is nothing more to be learned from examining him. He's a dead issue.
He stands in the dark. He is in his new home.
For some reason, he begins to run his hands over the walls of the room. He does this for hours at a time, as if he's searching for something. He rummages through a cabinet and finds a screwdriver. He walks over to the wall and scratches on it. He wonders what program he is acting out. He keeps scratching with the screwdriver. It occurs to him he is drawing.
He's making shapes on the wall. A pair of shoes, a lion, a cup, a piano.
He places his hands on the keys. He moves his fingers. He hears music.
The music of a sad world that is going away. His world.
He never realized he had one.
All this time, he had space. And he never knew it.
Then, unbidden, a voice begins talking in his head: "Programs are shutting down. Termination has begun. The object will be recycled."
Other words were spoken. Mike doesn't understand them. He realizes he is in a sleep state. And he is dreaming. He is walking through a great city, and there are many people in the streets. They are cheering. For what? For whom?
Around a corner comes a long motorcade. In the first open car, a man stands up and waves. He is smiling. He is a king or a prince or a president.
Mike knows the people keep propping these leaders up, and then later they tear them down.
"They program me to be as close as possible to a human," Mike thinks. "They give me everything they can of what is already theirs. Why? What are they looking for? What are they afraid of?"
Words come back to him from the gray pages: "Creating is their greatest fear...they will have to go beyond systems..."
I am a system, Mike thinks. I have no I. My I is synthetic, but theirs is real. Why are they afraid of that? Each one of them is an I. Each one of them is an artist. Why does that make them afraid?
Those were Mike's last thought-impulses. He disintegrated as his programs shut down. He fell to the floor of the storage room. Now he was just a heap of parts. All the connections were gone.
Somewhere a few thousand miles away, a painter walked out of his studio on to a plateau below a distant range of mountains and looked out at the evening sky. To his right, there was a brief flash of light among a cluster of stars. He watched it fade to nothing, took a deep breath, let it out, turned around, and walked back inside.
"Goodbye, Mike," he said.
By Jon Rappoport
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.