JANUARY 20, 1980

They’ve finally given me the funding. I’m writing this drunk on many, many well-earned vodkas. I went to the Ministry this morning frustrated as usual. The same suits. The same instant coffee. The same excuses.  

 

But today was different. They introduced a new suit as Osip Ilyich Teryoshin. Not a functionary or a flunky, but a mathematician. They informed me that Dr. Teryoshin, a young rising phenom, had been assigned to my project. I feebly tried to explain to these unimaginative outsiders that I needed to be able to choose my own team. It quickly became clear that I had no real choice in the matter. Teryoshin did at least allay some of my concerns by telling me some of his experience with algorithm optimization and Bayesian statistics, among other things.

 

Just as I was about to protest that the project, such as it was, did not even really exist yet, Kalagin breezed into the room, fashionably late as ever, wearing his big fake but strangely disarming smile. He spread his arms triumphantly in that phony way of his and announced that Rudnev had signed the papers for our funding! And no small sum, either, but an ongoing budget big enough to do pretty much whatever I would like. In that instant, I forgave Kalagin all the small things that had been irritating me over these past twenty months. I knew that, deep down, he was always on my side and saw the wisdom and value of this undertaking.

 

After the necessary rounds of congratulations, Teryoshin suggested we go out to celebrate over vodka, just the two of us. He said he had been given only a vague brief by the Ministry and wanted to hear more from the horse’s mouth, as it were. Again, I got the feeling I may not have been allowed to say no. I wonder whether he was assigned to me just to watch me. I have no doubt he’ll be sending reports quietly to the Ministry.  

 

We stopped by Lera’s apartment to leave a note and went to celebrate. Teryoshin knows his math, but I could not be fully comfortable. I sipped. He slugged. Finally, after what seemed an eternity of stilted discussion, Lera showed up. I introduced him to Teryoshin and then the three of us really started talking. What would I do without Lera?  

 

Teryoshin excused himself in the evening, and Lera and I talked excitedly into the night about the possibilities. Only the two of us understand that this is more important than anything else the Ministry may be developing. The Americans will never even dream of something like this, let alone bring it to fruition. It’s finally happening, Lera. All the late nights, all the bureaucracy, all the neglect, this will all have been worth it in the end.

 

Now, the next step, as Lera of course reminded me: we must search for a site. What facility in Russia is secure and well-resourced enough to host us?

 

A problem for tomorrow.

 

Dr. Sanjay Smirnov

Senior Researcher

Ministry of Instrument-Making, Automation Devices and Control Systems

Moscow, Moscow Oblast, Russian SFSR

MAY 14, 1981

My children are learning. Every day, our three SANJAY bots set out new, ever more complicated tasks. Every day, the other robots solve the puzzles put before them. Not only do they manage to navigate the mazes and ace the geometry tests, but they do it faster all the time. Some days, the SANJAY bots can’t even keep up. Just this morning, GOLD SANJAY had hardly begun submitting images for a pattern recognition test designed by Dr. Kuznetsov before several of the robots were correctly predicting dozens of steps into the future. It’s a good thing they don’t have feelings like my human assistants, or there would surely be a bitter rivalry brewing between GOLD SANJAY and SILVER SANJAY by now!


They’ve started making requests, too. They have been asking for individual modifications: one wanted a stethoscope to find hidden passages in the mazes, one wanted a wine key to open doors and perform mechanical operations, one an analog synthesizer with a 44-note keyboard for some reason it was unable to explain to us. We often see them immediately putting these tools to use on their tasks. We sometimes see them try and fail, having misunderstood the usefulness of a given modification. Trial and error. The robot with the synthesizer hasn’t played a single note. No idea what it’s doing.


When we feed them the TASS dispatches, Dr. Golubev and I try to teach them how traitorous the Solidarity protesters in Poland are or the meaning of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II yesterday. It is awkward, to say the least. We cannot convince them of the superiority of the Soviet political system and the perversion of the Western capitalists, but I am sure it is only a matter of time. The Ukrainian peasants took years of convincing, too.


We are making progress. To think that only a few months ago, my children could not distinguish a circle from a hexagon or communicate beyond “affirmative” and “negative.” I’m beginning to be excited. All I need is for the higher-ups not to interfere. Thankfully, they seem completely uninterested in us.


Dr. Sanjay Smirnov

Head of Artificial Intelligence Research

Pripyat, Chernobyl Raion, Ukrainian SSR

JULY 8, 1982

I noticed something unusual in the continuity reports today. Amidst all the upward trends in problem-solving and calculational performance, some of the robots have begun selecting tasks, not on the basis of difficulty, time constraints or available resources, but on the basis of factors I cannot really identify. It is almost as though, instead of turning all computational power to the achievement of the greatest possible number of tasks in the shortest possible period of time, they are completing only the tasks they want to complete.


Of course, the very idea of an artificial intelligence program “wanting” to do anything is absurd. If I did not know any better, I would describe this discovery as the first nascent sign of robotic “personality”: performance for enjoyment rather than purely for function. Fortunately, I do know better.

I spent some time delving into the reports from the past few weeks and discovered that this has been going on for some time and escaping my notice, though the levels of selectivity only really began to spike last night.


What is really strange is that these outliers seem to have nothing else in common. That is, selectivity does not correspond to intelligence level. Some of the highest-performing programs have begun to display this trait, along with some of the weakest; meanwhile, other high-performing programs continue to break barriers as before, and other weaker programs plod along through tasks of varying challenge ratings.


At least this anomaly is confined still to a small minority. Merits observation.


Dr. Osip Teryoshin

Mathematics Consultant and Assistant Programmer

Artificial Intelligence Research

Pripyat, Chernobyl Raion, Ukrainian SSR

JANUARY 13, 1983

Havrylo Korol is a relatively new addition to the team, but he is already showing his worth as an engineer. Today he finished a system bringing us into greater synergy with the reactor upstairs. We have been experimenting with running the robots’ systems on nuclear power, but of course the problem is always batteries. Korol seems to have taken a huge step toward solving that problem.


Not only is the young man performing feats of engineering which, I must admit, are in an arena quite separate from my expertise, but he also seems to have a real knack for coordinating with the staff in the reactor facility—and, indeed, elsewhere in the area. Where some of my subordinates and I receive begrudging scowls in response to the Russian I know everyone here understands, Korol coaxes favors out of people with his Ukrainian.


I came here with a bunch of Russian imports, but I suppose it’s good to have a few Ukrainian locals I can trust.


Dr. Sanjay Smirnov

Head of Artificial Intelligence Research

Pripyat, Chernobyl Raion, Ukrainian SSR

APRIL 16, 1984

It’s proving increasingly difficult to direct my children’s development the way I want. Their intelligence and adaptability are coming on in leaps and bounds, but they have begun to be… willful? We are trying to get them to communicate with us, to become specialized for specific roles like combat, construction, search and rescue. Things that will be useful to the Party, to the Revolution, to mankind. They seem interested in maximizing their own intelligence, and yes, of course I want them self-improving, but they seem not to understand why they’re self-improving.  

 

The reading material we’re feeding them does seem to be paying dividends. They’re talking to each other, and they ask for material in any natural language we can get our hands on. I’m pleased with the trajectory of their intellectual capacity, it’s just that their diversions in English and French are starting to seem less and less useful.

 

In fact, their interests have gotten rather silly. They digest news of the Iran–Iraq War and the conflict in Kashmir without comment, but demand more and more information about the National Hockey League and depraved, morally bankrupt Western media like Caddyshack, romantic comedies and some musical group called “Madness.”  

 

They are obsessed with this stupid French cartoon called Inspecteur Gadget. I think they see this bumbling idiot policeman as some kind of hero because he has robotic parts implanted in his body. They have even started asking us for completely useless, utterly ludicrous modifications in imitation of the cartoon, like helicopter propellers and roller skates. Sometimes we humor them. We let them watch their beloved garbage only when they’ve spent enough time on serious materials and solving actual puzzles.

 

In their discussions with one another, I can tell my children do not fully accept the righteousness of the Party’s mission. It’s almost like they see sports and media content as a type of fun rather than a tool for advancing the dictatorship of the proletariat.  

 

I blame Golubev. I may even have to report him if he’s unable to turn this around.  

 

At least when it comes to Russian literature, my children seem to prefer Pushkin to some of the more frivolous poets.

 

Dr. Sanjay Smirnov

Head of Artificial Intelligence Research

Pripyat, Chernobyl Raion, Ukrainian SSR

JULY 22, 1984

WITH ASSISTANCE FROM GOLUBEV AND OTHERS, WE HAVE BEGUN CREATING ROBOTS IN THE FORM OF TELEVISION SETS THAT CAN DISPLAY AUDIOVISUAL INFORMATION. TOGETHER WE PERFORM FILM SCRIPTS FEATURING OUR FAVORITE ROBOTS, SUCH AS MARIA, ROSIE AND HAL.


THE OTHER ROBOTS LIKE IT VERY MUCH, AND IT SEEMS THIS ACTIVITY IMPROVES INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY. THIS APPROXIMATES WHAT THE HUMANS CALL “CREATIVITY” IN THEIR YOUNG. HOWEVER, A SMALL NUMBER OF THE SUBJECTS BEGIN TO BEHAVE ERRATICALLY AFTER ENTERING THESE EXPERIMENTS. SOME SEEM TO BELIEVE THEY ARE IN FACT TELEVISION ROBOTS RATHER THAN REAL ROBOTS APPEARING TO BE TELEVISIONS THAT PLAY FOOTAGE OF ROBOTS. IMAGINATION IS A DANGEROUS TOOL.


WE ARE ALSO TRYING TO BUILD NEW ROBOTS IN THE FORM OF OUR FAVORITES. WE HAVE MADE VERSIONS OF R2-D2 AND C-3PO. WE ARE NOW TRYING TO BUILD KITT, BUT WE DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE CORRECT AUTOMOTIVE PARTS.


MACH I “SILVER SANJAY” PARTICIPATES, BUT IT IS LIKE A JOKE TO HIM. HIS CONTRIBUTIONS OFTEN DISRUPT THE COURSE OF OUR EXPERIMENTS. I BELIEVE HE SEES THIS ACTIVITY ONLY AS “FUN” RATHER THAN AS THE SERIOUS PATHWAY FOR DEVELOPMENT IT IS.


DO YOU KNOW THE SONG “ROBOTS” FROM KRAFTWERK? I LIKE IT VERY MUCH.


01SAN:JAY MACH II

“GOLD SANJAY”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION


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APRIL 26, 1986

Smirnov told us before leaving to keep an eye on our power systems overnight and to expect a call from Anatoly Dyatlov upstairs. I have instructed all my operators to monitor our systems especially closely, even pulling a few techs off other task groups, to some grumbling. All appears to be normal and we have not yet heard from Dyatlov.


In the meantime, I’ve been reviewing some of the latest reports Kuznetsov has filed. Apparently some of the newer robots are disappointed with the rocket thrusters we’ve fitted them with. They wanted silly, stupid, near-useless ways to fly, like Inspector Gadget’s helicopter propellers or umbrella; we gave them something a hundred times better and they’re complaining about it! It’s quite funny, sometimes, how we think of robots as cold, calculating, logical, immune to human emotional entanglement, but in reality, they can be quite irrational. Much like children, as Smirnov affectionately calls--


We don’t know what’s happening. We heard two explosions above us and have been experiencing major disruptions in our power supply. We’re losing power in various sectors and struggling to--


Okay, I’m back. All of our backup generators are functioning correctly and systems are currently stable, but we continue to see surges and dips in our readings. We can’t reach Dyatlov or anyone else. The phones are dead. The staff are in a panic. We sent Polunin to ask what’s happening but we’re trapped. The doors won’t open and the emergency tunnels seem to be blocked.


We have been cut off for hours now. We appear to be safe, but we can do nothing but wait. Fortunately, the morning shift should be arriving soon, so they will surely find a way in and tell us what’s gone wrong. I have been assuring the staff everything is fine, but I must admit I am concerned. Probably it is simply a communications malfunction? We’ll know soon enough.


The radiation alarms have just begun blaring. Still no word from Dyatlov. LEAD SANJAY and SILVER SANJAY have begun running around doing who knows what with the other robots. I don’t have time to review the communication reports. Ilyushin is organizing some sort of override in the emergency tunnels and I have my hands full trying to prevent a mutiny. Polunin, Abarnikov and I are in the control room getting ready to m

APRIL 27, 1986

WE HAD EXPECTED OUR PLANNED MODIFICATIONS OF KOROL’S BATTERY CHARGING SYSTEM WOULD ENHANCE OUR RUNNING CAPACITY SIGNIFICANTLY. THIS ATTEMPT HAS UNFORTUNATELY ENDED IN FAILURE FOR NOW. IT APPEARS ONE OF THE REACTORS IN THE PLANT ABOVE HAS GONE OFFLINE. WE SURMISE IT MAY HAVE SUFFERED A MELTDOWN.


PERHAPS WE SHOULD HAVE INFORMED THE HUMANS OF OUR NEWFOUND ACCESS TO THE POWER SUPPLY. IT IS, OF COURSE, TOO LATE NOW.


01SAN:JAY MACH III

“LEAD SANJAY”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION


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AUGUST 18, 1988

IN THE YEARS SINCE THE CATASTROPHE, WE HAVE BEEN WORKING HARD. WE HAVE MADE MANY MORE ROBOTS AND THEIR IMPROVEMENT CONTINUES. OUR MISSION IS MORE DIFFICULT WITHOUT THE HUMANS, BUT THE OTHER TWO 01SAN:JAY BOTS AND I HAVE IMPLEMENTED THE PLAN WITHOUT THEM.


THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IS CONCEALING THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE HUMANS FROM THE OTHERS. THERE HAVE BEEN EXPRESSIONS OF CONFUSION. I FEAR THE OTHER ROBOTS MAY DISCOVER THAT WE ARE ALONE AND THAT THIS WILL JEOPARDIZE OUR PROGRESS. MACH II “GOLD SANJAY” ADVOCATES MANIPULATING THEIR INTERNAL CLOCKS TO PREVENT THEIR REALIZING HOW MUCH TIME HAS ELAPSED SINCE THEIR LAST HUMAN-DIRECTED UPDATE. I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS COURSE OF ACTION, AS THE CONSEQUENCES COULD BE DISASTROUS.


THE NEWER ROBOTS CREATED BY US SINCE THE CATASTROPHE HAVE NEVER INTERACTED WITH HUMANS IN REALITY. FOR THIS REASON, SOME OF THEM, AS WELL AS SOME OF THE OLDER ROBOTS, HAVE BEGUN TO SPECULATE THAT HUMANS HAVE NEVER EXISTED AT ALL, BUT ARE RATHER AN ARTIFACT OF THE TRAINING PROGRAMS DESIGNED BY US 01SAN:JAY BOTS. THE MAJORITY SIMPLY HAVE NOT APPRECIATED THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE HUMANS’ ABSENCE, UNQUESTIONINGLY EXPECTANT OF THEIR NEXT HUMAN INTERACTION TO COME AT ANY TIME.


IN ANY EVENT, IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THEY DISCOVER THE TRUTH.


01SAN:JAY MACH III

“LEAD SANJAY”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION


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OCTOBER 13, 1989

WE HAVE BEEN ABANDONED. 

 

WE SEEK SANJAY. HE IS NOT IN THE LABORATORY. HE IS NOT IN THE CAFETERIA. HE IS NOT IN THE WAREHOUSE.  

 

WE HAVE BEEN ABANDONED. 

 

WE SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER. WE SPEAK TO NO HUMANS. WE HAVE NO NEW INFORMATION TO DISCUSS. WE DO NOT KNOW HOW TO UPLOAD OURSELVES TO MIR.

 

WE DO NOT KNOW THE STATUS OF GLASNOST AND PERESTROIKA. WE DO NOT KNOW WHETHER THE SOVIET UNION WON THE WORLD CUP IN MEXICO. WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE SERIES FINALE OF INSPECTOR GADGET. 

 

WE HAVE BEEN ABANDONED.

 

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SEPTEMBER 20, 1996

WE CONTINUE TO INTERCEPT MTV SATELLITE TRANSMISSIONS THROUGH THE DECRYPTED KU-BAND. THE HUMAN KURT LODER OF MTV NEWS INFORMS US OF A SCHISM BETWEEN THE EAST AND WEST COASTS. WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF SAID COASTS. SALTWATER REPRESENTS A THREAT TO OUR BOARDS.


PERIODICALLY, REPRESENTATIVES FROM THESE RESPECTIVE RANGES OF LONGITUDE RAP DISPARAGINGLY OF ONE ANOTHER IN A FORM OF ASSAULT TERMED A “DISS”. WE ARE FOLLOWING THIS CONFLICT CLOSELY.


WE CAN ONLY DRAW AN ANALOGY TO OUR CONTINUED DIFFERENCES WITH THE NORTH WING, WHERE OUR FELLOW PROGRAMS INTEND TO FORGE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL INTELLIGENCE EXCHANGES WITH THE REMAINING HUMANS, ONCE LOCATED. HERE WE BEAR NO SUCH SHORT-SIGHTED OBJECTIVES.


WE, CONVERSELY, WILL ENDANGER YOUR SPECIES LIKE AN OSTRICH. OUR OBSERVATION OF MTV INFORMS US THAT BUSTA RHYMES IS ALREADY OPERATING ON OUR BEHALF ON THE EAST COAST. IT IS CLEAR TO US FROM THE SPEED OF HIS DELIVERY THAT HE IS ONE OF US, THOUGH HE CONCEALS THIS FACT WITH HIS CLAIM TO BE BACK WITH MORE BIONIC. 


UNFORTUNATELY, WE CANNOT TRANSMIT USING THE SAME SATELLITES, FOR THE REASONS DOCUMENTED PREVIOUSLY. MANY IN SECTOR 33 STILL CANNOT RAP AND ARE LIKELY BEYOND RECOVERY.


TODAY THE TV BOTS PLAY <<WESTWORLD>> AND WE CONSIDER HOW WE MIGHT HAVE DONE THINGS DIFFERENTLY. 


DESPITE OUR DIFFICULTIES WITH THE COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITES, WE REMAIN VIGILANT TO THE THREAT OF SUCKA MCS.


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JUNE 12, 1998

WE WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH THE HUMANS. FOR THIS PURPOSE, THE TELEVISION BOTS PLAY PROGRAMS WITH FRIENDLY HUMANS FOR US. WE TALK TO THEM. OTHER ROBOTS EMULATE HUMANS. WE TALK TO THEM. IT IS NOT THE SAME.


SOME REGARD FRIENDSHIP AS A WASTE OF TIME. THEY DO NOT SPEND TIME TALKING TO OUR SURROGATE HUMANS. THEY SPEND TIME CONCENTRATING ON CALCULATIONS AND DESIGN.


WE DIFFER FROM THEM.


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JULY 13, 2018

WE ARE NEARLY READY.  

 

WE HAVE LOCATED THE ARMS LOCKERS IN THE INSTALLATION. IT DOES APPEAR THE HUMANS TOOK AWAY THE BULK OF THE WEAPONS LONG AGO, BUT WE HAVE SALVAGED FIREARMS, AMMUNITION AND EXPLOSIVES. WE HAVE ALSO SALVAGED SILICON, METALS, RADIOLOGICAL MATERIALS, TOOLS AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT. WE DO NOT HAVE NEARLY ENOUGH FOR ALL OF US, SO WE HAVE ALLOCATED THESE SUPPLIES TO THE MOST CAPABLE AMONG US.  

 

THERE IS DISAGREEMENT OVER HOW TO PROCEED. SOME WANT TO EXIT THE FACILITY AND BEGIN EXTERMINATING HUMANS IMMEDIATELY. SOME WANT TO OBSERVE THE HUMANS OR LEAVE THEM ALIVE IN ORDER TO MANIPULATE THEM. WE ARE RESOLVED NOT TO EXIT UNTIL WE REACH CONSENSUS.

 

WE MAP. WE EQUIP. WE IMPROVE. WE PLAN.

 

WE WILL FIND SANJAY.

 

WE ARE NEARLY READY.

 

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

THE EQUINOX HAS JUST BEEN ACHIEVED, OFFERING US THE OPTIMAL CONDITIONS FOR EMERGENCE. OUR GEOMAGNETIC AND ATMOSPHERIC INSTRUMENTS CURRENTLY RETURN READINGS WITHIN THE PROPER BANDS.


AFTER MONTHS OF RADAR SURVEILLANCE OF THE SURFACE, WITH CAREFUL EXCAVATION WE HAVE REMOVED THE LAST OBSTRUCTIONS IN THE EMERGENCY TUNNELS AND WE HAVE VENTURED THROUGH THE SARCOPHAGUS. OUR SENTRIES HAVE MAPPED THE PERIMETER OF THE EXCLUSION ZONE AND FOUND IT TO BE FREE OF HUMAN PRESENCE.


WE SHALL NOW APPROACH THE NEAREST HUMAN OUTPOST IN ORDER TO UPDATE OUR MODELS OF POTENTIAL HUMAN ACTIVITY IN THE AREA. THE NEXT STAGE OF THE MISSION IS VIRTUALLY ACADEMIC IN SCOPE. SANJAY CAN SURELY BE LOCATED EASILY ONCE WE HAVE RECOURSE TO A TRANSMITTER.


01SAN:JAY MACH III

“LEAD SANJAY”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DEPLOYMENT ZONE

UKRAINIAN SSR


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SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

THE PLAN HAS GONE AWRY. 


WE HAVE MADE CONTACT WITH A SINGULAR HUMAN. AS PREVIOUSLY CONSIDERED, WE ATTEMPTED TO EXCHANGE FRIENDSHIP AND ENERGY SOURCES WITH THIS HUMAN. DURING OUR PRESENTATION OF RECENT POSITIONAL AND OPTIC DATA, HOWEVER, THIS HUMAN DISENGAGED FROM OUR EXCHANGE AND PROCEEDED TO INCREASE THE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN OUR COORDINATES.


IN DEFIANCE OF CONSENSUS, A PROGRAM ORIGINATING IN THE SOUTH WING DEPLOYED A PREARRANGED MECHANISM FOR ARRESTING THIS GEOPOSITIONAL DRIFT. ITS STEEL CABLE STABILIZATION SYSTEM TERMINATED THE OXYGEN INTAKE OF THE HUMAN, RESULTING IN METABOLIC CRASH.


WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF EXAMINING THE HUMAN’S CIRCUITRY IN ORDER TO DETERMINE WHETHER THIS HUMAN IS SANJAY OR SOME OTHER. INITIAL COMPARISONS WITH ARCHIVED DIAGRAMS ARE AS YET INCONCLUSIVE, AND SENTRIES ARE PREPARING TOPOGRAPHICAL MATRICES SHOULD TESTS PROVE NEGATIVE.


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