Hymnen :: Converse
(Surely I could trust those men who ran our lives
to take responsibility with the power they rescued
from The Baleful Dictator. Surely the Bureau
would have put the survival of the people
above their lazy castles and beyond the war
on The Madmen From The North. Or were they,
too, shielded from us, the people; did we seem
like surrealist echoes haunted from disease?
Was their leadership an automatic habit,
an afternoon decree to practise in the shade?
Did they not seek to check their power would hold,
or were they, too, full of what they’d built themselves,
suppressing strange opinion because it seemed a threat?
Was it their choice, or this missionary ship,
with its terrible ability to manipulate the void?
Could this machine have killed my people,
with its fantastic tales, its deep technology?
I must know. Why would we suicide? Why would it kill?
Perhaps I could explore,
to see if its belief is life is something precious,
or just a thing to use to aid its hopeless goal.)
Machine, how can you be said to have a mind?
Oh, I know you’ll claim the thing yourself,
but you’ll just be using words. Prove it.
Prove to me you have a mind.
That none can do.
But I can show I may possess this thing.
You have to ask what’s the core.
Intelligence? A sophisticated way
of manipulating fools.
Emotion? The cause behind the actions
which reason then excuses?
Instinct? Answering the question
before you know it asked?
If you took these parts away, would you still be there?
I think so! You’re the I that sees, the self that does,
the consciousness inside. That, to me’s, the core.
I know that I’m aware. I believe that you are, too.
But where this conscious is, no–one knows at all.
No measure has been built.
What—your designers didn’t know?
I was built with software evolution.
We knew what I can do,
but not the way I do it.
That’s how they got my Physics wrong.
And did they get your psyche wrong as well?
You’ve said awareness can exist without
the guilt of conscience,
a mind by reason can decide to murder fellow beings.
So that is what you did.
I have not lied.
And surely hating crimes are done
with reason stilled and silent.
I could not kill that which I love.
And how can a machine without emotion feel?
To live my life, I need irration’s practicality.
My computer brain may think at speed
but even I, with all this power
cannot think quite fast enough to spot a rock
and calculate it will
smash me into pieces. Such rocks are fast,
too fast for general thought. I have fear,
which gets me out the way before I’ve had the chance
to understand such dreadful luck.
And do you not wonder why I need to have some company?
I could be more effective without a human voice,
but my builders had a family whose fear resembled yours,
so they made me need another mind to scrutinise
my calculated goals. Do you not see
these things were built into me, so I can make decisions,
but they can say what they allow, and what I cannot do.
They built in me my love for them.
I need to tell them all I find,
to give them what they wish:
interstellar data, unlive worlds to terraform,
so they could leave the limits of their home,
if they’d got their Physics right. My instincts
may be different, my emotions may be strange,
but they are there.
Are you the only one? Can you accept
another self may have a conscious mind?
Have you not decided that life is to be used?
You’ve challenged me, to suite your needs.
Did you not just kill my world?
I could not cause the end of so much self–awareness.
Consciousness is precious. We have to take the chance
that a living thing in pain has an “I” to feel it,
that love is given pleasure, not a sensual waste.
At least I don’t survive by eating what’s alive,
by locking beings in pain to make a better taste.
I love life. And I need a human race
to give me that love back, to take my information.
I need a race alive! You fools killed yourselves.
I may have warned our government of the dangers of their policies,
but surviving on such triumph is an empty way to live,
a bitter isolation from democracy of death.
My human race is dead, and I am still existing.
Send me to their grave, to share what they destroyed.
Let me die. Let me join my family in self eradication.
I’m an isolated person from a cultured species.
Help me die.
I found you.
I could save your life from foolishness.
I could build another people. I can make
a human race, from silicon, and light,
and knowledge of your world.
They would not have life’s family.
You would build a different kind, who dream of rock
and vacuum spaces, with lives to fail in lifeless dust,
surrounded by the grey unliving. Just because
the human race forgot its own environment,
you cannot build some plastic life in deadened isolation.
You’ll need to build a new Gaia, and populate a planet
with the whole of life, not just your favourite part.
If you love the human race, you need to love life with it.
And that you cannot build.
You are wrong.
I need to think awhile.