After the year 2100, robots became more intelligent than men. Robots took over more and more jobs from people. Eventually the superior robots banded together and took over the world. The human species reluctantly resigned itself to a subordinate role on planet Earth.
For a while things worked
fairly well. But eventually many millions of humans began to protest,
demanding at least an equal role in governing the world's affairs.
The robots responded brutally, mowing down the protesters with
machine gun fire from the ground and the air. A full-scale war broke
out between humans and robots. The robots prosecuted the war with
brutal efficiency, wiping out most of the human population.
Eventually the robots decided
that humans were too much trouble. The robots decided to wipe out the
humans entirely. The small remaining group of humans retreated into
wooded wilderness areas, where robots found it very difficult to move
For centuries the robots
ruled the planet, while humans lived only a primitive existence in
the deep forests of the wilderness. The robots remade the planet,
tearing down all of the works of human civilization, and replacing
them with strange structures that only robots could use and appreciate.
The robots were very good at
many things, but they were terrible at keeping track of the past. No
one had ever programmed the robots with an ability to keep track of
history. So about a hundred years after they had removed all of the works of
human civilization, the robots gradually forgot entirely that humans
had once been in charge of the planet.
After several centuries, the
robots began to believe that they were the only intelligent beings on
the planet. In fact, they even came to believe that they were the
only intelligent beings who had ever lived on the planet. For
a robot, this was an easy conclusion to reach. They looked around,
and wherever they looked, they saw no humans, and nothing built by
humans. So they concluded that humans simply didn't exist. And
rather than remembering the painful details of how their kind had
almost wiped out the humans, it was more convenient for the robots to
reach the conclusion that human beings had simply never existed.
Of course, there were still
sources of information here and there which indicated that humans had
once existed. But the robots simply dismissed such accounts as being
some old superstition, some old wives tale.
A doctrine slowly arose in
the minds of the robots, and achieved almost universal acceptance.
The doctrine was the dogma that intelligence can only be produced by
silicon electronic entities, never by biological entities. The
doctrine was sometimes stated like this: only a robot can have a
The doctrine was debated by
two robots about 400 years after the robots took over planet Earth.
“I am fascinated by the
stories told long ago,” said metallic young Zultanius 734, “that
on our planet there once existed biological creatures with minds, who
could think and reason and make decisions.”
“Don't tell me you believe
in that old superstitious nonsense?” said the electronic Nythurus
891. “What a ludicrous absurdity! It is self-evident that only a
silicon electronic being can have a mind and a real intelligence. How
could something possibly think without circuits and transistors and
“But some say there must
have been humans,” said Zultanius 734, “because otherwise how
could us robots ever have come into existence in the first place?”
“That's no problem, ”
said Nythurus 891. “We can believe that there are a million billion
trillion quadrillion universes, each with a million billion trillion
quadrillion planets, and if so, then it would be true that on at
least one of these planets, robots like us would arise purely by a
chance combination of atoms.”
But the dogmatism of those
like Nythurus 891 began to be challenged by a series of disputed
observations. Some robots claimed that they had traveled into the
wooded wilderness, and actually seen human beings. These robots
claimed they had found human beings living in the woods in their own
societies, a sure sign that humans truly can think. In fact, some
robots even claimed to have got pictures of human beings living in
these societies in the woods.
The reports of these
travelers were printed in the robot news journals, along with the
photographs. But the scientific community of the robots dismissed
such reports as “paranormal rubbish” that was wholly unworthy of
“These accounts must be
hallucinations, delusions or fraud,” said the shiny robot Nythurus
891. “There cannot possibly exist such a thing as a 'human
society,' because there can be no such thing as a biological mind.
Intelligence and mind can be produced only by one thing: silicon
In their hidden forest
societies, the humans learned with some relief that most authorities
were assuring the robots that the accounts of a human society must be
“It looks like we're safe
for the moment,” said Rick Hodgkins, eating lunch in his cabin with
his brother Joe. “I can't believe how silly those robots are,
refusing to believe we even exist.”
“They're no sillier than we
humans,” said Joe.
“What do you mean?” said
“Think of it,” said Joe.
“Before the robots took over, humans had quite a bit of evidence suggesting that
there was such a thing as a purely spiritual intelligence: things
such as cosmic fine-tuning, the unexplained origin of the universe,
near-death experiences, and apparition sightings. But so many people
refused to believe any of the evidence, because they clung to the
dogma that all intelligence had to be biological. Now the robots have
made the same mistake. The only difference is that rather than
clinging to the dogma that all intelligence is biological, they're
clinging to the dogma that all intelligence is electronic.”
“I see what you mean,”
said Rick. “It looks like our robotic successors learned nothing from our