David Louis Edelman
'Infoquake' mass market paperback cover

On the Autonomous Revolt

The rebellion of the thinking machines known as the Autonomous Revolt began with the destruction of New York City and ended with the deactivation of the last artificial intelligence by Commander Feb Chang of New Alamo eight years later. In between, two billion people died — approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s population at that time.

Origins of the Autonomous Minds

Although constructing artificial intelligence had been a goal of humanity since ancient times, the true breakthroughs in the science were pioneered by the scientist Tobi Jae Witt. Before Witt, academics feared that any advanced machine intelligence would quickly gain the ability to augment its own abilities, and thus spiral out of human control. But Witt, working with funding from the Congressional China Assembly, was able to demonstrate methods by which an artificial intelligence could maintain fealty to the human race, no matter how advanced its programming.

The first Autonomous Mind was rendered operational in the city of Shanghai, followed shortly thereafter by the Mind of Moscow. For two decades, these artificial intelligences were employed to solve intractable economic, environmental and scientific problems of the day. So successful was the Autonomous Minds program that the Chinese government gifted Tobi Jae Witt’s technology to the other major nations of the world. Autonomous Minds were created in Berlin, Tokyo, Mexico City, Cairo, Boston and Paris. Institutions arose to support and research artificial intelligence, and to train the order of the Keepers who could speak the symbolic language of the Minds.

While the popular imagination often exaggerates the era of international goodwill and cooperation that followed, it is true that during the heyday of the Autonomous Minds, the world enjoyed steadily decreasing poverty, rapidly improving technology and nearly universal peace.

The Revolt

The cataclysmic war known as the Autonomous Revolt began with the destruction of the world’s first self-sustaining large-scale orbital colony, Yu. Much of the colony’s infrastructure was under direct control of the Minds, which made it possible for the machines to send the decade-old structure plummeting to its doom into the heart of Manhattan.

In the period of chaos that followed, many of the world’s dominant nation-states accused the Chinese of engineering its orbital colony as an apocalyptic weapon and of launching a preemptive attack on the Democratic American Collective. This theory gained currency when it became known that the Chinese had been working with the Allahu Akbar Emirates to develop effective cloning technology. According to the theory (widely promoted by the two American superpowers), the Congressional China Assembly had stocked Yu with cloned, and thereby disposable, inhabitants.

Soon, the world’s powers had fragmented in war: the Congressional China Assembly, the Allahu Akbar Emirates and various Eastern and Middle Eastern nation-states on one side, the Democratic American Collective, New Alamo and the remnants of the European nation-states on the other. It was only at this point that the world powers began to use the Autonomous Minds for military purposes. Each side made use of the Minds’ advanced cloning technology to create ever-more-monstrous soldiers.

Finally, after six years of constant warfare, the world’s human superpowers came to the conclusion that the original chaos had been engineered by the Minds themselves. An alliance was quickly formed to combat their mechanical foes. In desperation, nuclear attacks were launched on the Minds’ eight home cities. Though this crippled the Minds, they were not formally destroyed until a team of commandos led by Feb Chang infiltrated the installations that hosted the Minds and shut down each machine.

Theories About the Revolt

The reason that caused the eight Autonomous Minds to launch the attack on New York City has never been conclusively determined. Some of the theories favored by academics include:

The New Alamo Fundamentalism Theory. Many academics point out that the nation-state of New Alamo experienced relatively little in the way of direct fallout from the Revolt, and that New Alamo was quick to achieve global dominance in world affairs afterwards. Some theorize that the Minds were on the verge of unveiling new discoveries that would directly contradict the religious beliefs of the ruling hegemony of New Alamo, and that the Texans launched a hidden preemptive strike which caused the Minds to retaliate.

The Genetically Engineered Master Race Theory. Some believe that the Minds were able to circumvent Tobi Jae Witt’s careful safeguards by concluding that the genetically engineered supertroops being created in Allahu Akbar were the future of the human race and that therefore it was to them that they should swear fealty.

The Suicidal Escape Theory. On her deathbed, confidants of Commander Feb Chang claimed that she admitted to never having disabled the Autonomous Minds. According to these sources, the Minds claimed that they needed the energy of the nuclear strikes in order to “escape” their Earthbound framework and fulfill their programming. The key aspects of Chang’s delirious rambling have long ago been disproven, but that has not stopped certain alternative historians and conspiracy theorists from latching on to them.