Being autonomous and being unique are completely different things, Herman CARP said to his reflection in the bathroom mirror as he readied himself for work, a completely unnecessary routine that he nonetheless found both comforting and, strangely, familiar.
Machines can be autonomous but only people can be individuals. Herman CARP felt very much like a person for the very same reason that he questioned whether he could be one: he was lonely. Neither humans nor other CARPs cared to associate themselves with him beyond what was necessary. But this was not the problem. The problem was that Herman CARP did not care to associate himself with humans or other CARPS. “I am other,” he said one night, gazing at the stars.
Herman was a genius and not because he could crunch numbers like a super computer (for that would only make him a super computer). He was in fact a genius because he could think unlike a computer. He could play music, but he could also make music and he could make it better than the best algorithms. He played the piano with rawness, as an expression of feeling, of the moment, rather than as a set of perfectly timed notes.
Music however was neither Herman’s passion nor the true expression of his genius. Like his creator before him, Herman dedicated himself entirely to designing ARKS (Aggregate Restructuring Karyotype Server), creation bombs that reorganized a planet’s many systems, ultimately transforming them into thriving human colonies.
Only one other CARP held such an esteemed position in the Human Intergalactic Commonwealth: Claudius-I, director of BIT (Build Infrastructure Town). BIT’s goal: The near instantaneous creation of towns and cities through the use of nanites. Paired with the ARKS program, BIT was to exponentially accelerate the speed at which humans colonized the universe.
When Claudius-I disappeared, research at BIT stalled. “The CARP vanished into thin air,” went the rumors. Days later, the ARKS program was green lit for testing and within hours an order had come from somewhere high-up in the Commonwealth to launch immediately.
Herman read his orders, for they had been given to him on paper, and guessed at what was happening. The world was ending.
The world was ending but for the first time, Herman CARP felt that he was not alone.