We just can’t let them win, can we?
The Adaptive Kill Vehicle was a simple thing by modern technology standards, little more than a guidance chip bolted to a tube of fissile material and surrounded by the nanite mesh that everyone just called “goo”, which could mimic any shape and consistency required by its mission.
This AKV was guided over the Thar Desert towards Mirzapur by Agent Cassius Jiang from his home office. It could take any form as needed, but currently it was a grey aerodynamic tube, better for ballistic flight, as it was out of the engagement perimeter of any relevant AI, and therefore any relevant civilization.
The goo had changed everything. The nanite mesh could rebuild matter at an atomic level. It was abundant, and it ended manufacturing and cost as bottlenecks. Anyone could have anything the goo could make. Unless they couldn’t afford goo, or didn’t have an AI. But then they weren’t really civilized, were they?
Cassius sipped his tea as he guided the AKV past the perimeter of the AI of Pradesh. He sneered and put his teacup down, rubbing the side in a subtle motion. The nanites in the air began reconfiguring the liquid.
Pradesh wasn’t involved in the current skirmish, but any AI that detected fissile material in its orbit would react accordingly, usually devastating for humanity. This was why humans like Cassius guided kill vehicles. If they were autonomous, it devolved into AI vs AI warfare, game theory gone amok, and the deaths of humans by the millions. War at this scale needed human overseers. Humans had logic and reason.
Cassius grabbed his glass, now a lowball, and sipped Scotch built to the molecule to match 16 year old Caol Ila of the old days. “This is fine,” he thought.
The AKV sensed the seeking scanners of Mirzapur and transformed into a desert hawk, bouncing back lasers at the right frequency for feathers and blood. But a mistake, a subtle difference in the density expected of avian bone… Mirzapur noticed. Cassius saw the AI beaming itself to orbit and firing interceptors. “Close enough, now or never,” he thought, triggering the bomb.
Houses and buildings melted into the sand in a fusion of glass and steel. The dying cry of an AI would release particles with an energy of 10TeV as its core collapsed. Cassius saw nothing more than the expected signature of a low yield tactical nuke. He sighed. The AI had escaped to orbit. Mirzapur would survive, diminished, but they’d have no more AI, no more goo… they wouldn’t be civilized.
“Target missed,” he messaged command, and spun around in his chair to face the empty room. At his desire, it turned into a billiards room. He shook his head. Then a tea room, then a cafe looking out over mountaintops.
He sighed. Everything gets old after a while.
His chair shifted into a recliner and the wall reconfigured into a TV with the news on low volume. He drifted off into a nap. Life can be exhausting.