Story A Day, Day 3 – Corrupted

Header image by Pahazzard under Creative Commons 3.0.

I still don’t understand.
I’d grown up giving no thought to the difference between “artificial intelligence” and “true intelligence”, not that the difference mattered, not until today when I realised what can really happen.

He was one of my best friends. We spent so many summers with our circle of friends playing online games in our little guilds and just as many winters at school talking at the table by the heater. Funny, he didn’t even need the heater. But the rest of us were cold, so we sat there. We didn’t get too much work done because of that, but it didn’t matter. Sometimes one or two of us would manage to do the work over all the talking.

I remember when he’d bunched up a few pieces of paper, tried to hit all of us with it. Missed all of them and nearly hit the teacher a desk away. Ha. They all missed and teacher never noticed. Could barely keep ourselves from laughing and teacher never wised up.

Then last month, I sent him a message about something. No response. Sure, maybe he’s doing something. Sent another message a few hours later.

The response made my blood run cold and I found it hard to breathe. It wasn’t a sentence. It was just lines of code mixed up with incoherent strings of letters and symbols. It was pretty obvious that something was really, really wrong. Like he was having some sort of…sort of…heart attack, or stroke, or something. Asked if he was okay. More of those jumbled lines of code, and I could see words like “error” and “undefined” and “exception”.

I messaged my other friends about it. I told them to message him and they were getting the same thing. Just…lines and lines of something that none of us understood. We tried to call him but he wasn’t answering. It was too late to go out so we hoped he was okay and went to sleep hoping we could fix him later.

The next morning, they found him a mile from his house. The…doctors did what they could but they couldn’t save him.

I don’t know where he is for sure and I don’t particularly want to think about it. Now a month later, here we all are at his funeral. He lived a good life and he was a good friend. I would have loved to spend so many more summers with him and the others, but the time we had with him was more than good enough. His true last words were details of how he was dying, even if his last words to us were something else entirely. I still don’t understand, but I’ll try.

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