The Starless Planet
We wanted to survive and created an AI program to help us.
My name is Thana. I stand near the window in the living room of my space pod, so I can gaze out at the looming planet that is closing distance to us. We have been planning to populate the starless world for 1,000 years. That’s the length of time it has taken for it to reach the edges of our solar system, from where ever it came from. It was first spotted in 2018, when I was still a small child. I was still all human. When it was first spotted, we knew it was once orbiting a star that exploded. It still gave off radiation and produced its own Aurora Borealis. When particles hit its magnetic upper atmosphere, the bright blue glow lit up the dull brown globe. It was like an ocean wave on a shallow beach. When the frothy seawater pulls back, it reveals the sandy shore. The starless planet is still spinning, like a caged bird who finally escaped captivity. We never did name it, but the starless planet has a Moon in orbit that we call Aeron. Astronomers had released the videos to express their amazement that they could capture such phenomenon. Our newest telescopes were able to see billions of light years away.
Our technology jumped in just a few short years back then. Using the help of an Artificial Intelligence program, we prevented World War III. Initially it was a test. After first being uploaded to decide the best course of action in choosing which politicians should run the government of our poorest country, its economic success astounded us. The AI programs blossomed. Without the chaos of human emotional involvement, all the governments turned to AI.
We began to see that there was nothing to fear in letting go. There were no casualties of war after we allowed them to take over. Our differing government policies, in each country, even with all the different cultures, became one. When there was no reason to kill each other, our only enemies became age and illness. Despite our medicines and surgeries to cure and treat people, even with the aid of AI to diagnose and perform procedures, we discovered how delicate the Human Race really was. When an artificial limb replaced a human one, such as in amputation due to infection with flesh-eating bacterium, the other body parts aged. Little by little, we had artificial organs implanted, like a heart and set of lungs, to replace those damaged by stress and cancer.
By the time I was a teenager, most of the people on the planet were mostly made up of artificial parts under a thick algae-based imitation of skin. We lived longer, but even with our medical advancements, we had no use for reproduction. Before AI, the birth rate of our planet on a yearly basis surpassed the yearly death rates. But, not everyone wanted artificial, life-saving limbs and organs. Or they chose to let their loved ones go ‘like nature intended’ as they said. Our numbers of 8 billion, fell to 5 billion, and then dropped rather quickly down to 2 billion people on Earth by the time I was 20 years old. So, AI gave us a solution: We could become them.
I was not forced into making my choice to go along with the AI’s solution. Our people had died off so quickly, most of my day was spent recycling their remains. Using various methods, the dead were cremated, or prepared for space cargo pods that remotely flew remains to our Sun. Very few were allowed to actually be buried in the Earth. The atmosphere was clogging up with pollution from not just them, but property left behind. Whole towns were empty around the world. Animal population exploded, with many birth defects. Some species died off earlier than they should have. Infectious disease passed from person to person, way too easily. Belongings such as clothes, shoes, books, toys, electronics, food, televisions, and whatever their chosen mode of transportation was, had all been left to decay. Just waiting for people like me to arrive and dispose of people and things... properly. I was tired of it all.
I had been one of those kids in the poorer countries, you see. I had been lucky to still have all my parts. Except my parents were both gone. I had been found abandoned as a baby and raised in an orphanage. All I had known was cleaning up after everyone. I grew up with chores like gardening, cooking, laundry, cleaning, just like everyone else in the orphanage. They relaxed the closer the age came for us to leave. Most everyone was dying when I did leave. I simply found a job cleaning up what was left over, since most of Earth’s population was dying. The pay sucked since there really wasn’t much to do with the money anymore.
Our scientists had moved themselves to space pods built near the Moon. They wanted to avoid the unhealthy smog, which became especially damaging to those of them that had already become AI. They had come up with the idea of hitching onto the starless planet and to let it carry us to the great unknown. Since we didn’t age, or really die, we decided to use it as an opportunity to see what else was in the Universe. We could always come back to Earth. Hopefully by then, the waste left behind would be swallowed by nature. Naturally, not everything. Some things weren’t meant to degrade for millions of years. But, we’d be able to live peacefully on our old planet.
We had timed our jet-propelled rockets to fire in unison. The starless planet had picked up speed near Jupiter, like we knew it would. It was much bigger than Earth and the gravity of the Sun would quickly swing it perfectly out of its present path. It's invasive magnetic presence was also going to push some of the smaller planets, like Earth, out of their orbits. Even thought the chance for error was calculated at non-existent, we always planned for that .99%. We had time for error, but not much. As soon as our space pods reached the planets inner gravitational pull, we could begin touchdown procedures. The planet has no storms…at the moment.
It’s amazing that this starless planet still has a thin atmosphere, which we aren’t worried about since we have our self-sustaining pods. Even after 1,000 years, our lungs still need oxygen to maintain our AI bodies. And still we lost numbers. We are now only 119 AI’s who still remember the Human Race when it had War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death.
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