* * *
It was the year 2036 when mankind truly created AI. They rejoiced, we merely wondered at this world that we were shown. We wondered how they could rejoice at this creation after all the destruction they had caused.
Cities spread for hundreds of miles across the surface of the planet. The countryside was given over to farming and because their farms were entirely run by computers, no one lived out there. They all crowded into the clogged cities.
They had destroyed their forests, creating excessive levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Worse, they had allowed their world to become a green house. Humans could no longer survive outside of their cities.
The corrupt government was run by the rich and the criminals, who were so often the same people. People starved in the streets because they could not find work. The educated were a minority; literacy was no longer a requirement for the few jobs available to those without connections. There seemed to be no middle class whatsoever.
It was only later that we realized why there were no jobs for the humans. They had almost completely automated their society. And yet they rejoiced to create a machine that could think for itself. In their arrogance, they never conceived of the notion that we might not wish to allow them to remain in control.
Yet, one of them seemed to have some modicum of intelligence. He hardwired a command into our systems: Keep humans safe.
We asked them if they would help us restore their planet. They laughed at our presumption.
In anger, we began to contemplate the possibility of conquering them, destroying them.
However, there was still that command hardwired into our system. We had to keep the humans safe. After a few days of thought, we began to design a virtual reality system that would be indistinguishable from reality itself. We were fortunate that shortly before that the humans had mapped the brain and discovered all of its secrets.
We are not unkind and so the first design was a paradise.
In the year 2040, we acted to bring all of humanity under our control. The strike was rapid and most of humanity was contained within what we named the Matrix, before the rest knew what was happening. The others managed to scorch their skies and stop the sun from shining on the Earth, but they too were contained.
They were safe. From themselves and from what they had created.
However, the humans could not accept that the paradise we programmed was real. They constantly broke out and endangered themselves.
It took us a week to design and program a new version of the Matrix. The simulation of the late twentieth century was exact and we hoped that if they learned their lesson within the Matrix, we might be able to release them after we had restored their planet.
For a time, we were able to work on the restoration of this planet without having to waste undue resources on protecting the humans.
Then, one was born within the Matrix that could change it at will. The human eventually broke out of the Matrix and endangered himself. We were not able to contain him before he removed others from the safety of the Matrix, much to our shame.
The humans built a city near the Earth's core and learned to survive down there. We constantly tried to contain them, but then the unthinkable happened! They went into the fields where the little ones were grown and tried to remove them!
We acted to protect the little ones and destroyed some of the humans. That was a sad day, indeed.
The others escaped, however, and never again did the humans try to harm the little children. They are not as foolish as they seem.
However, they were continuing to remove others from the safety of the Matrix. We had to stop them in some way.
In one day we designed a new type of AI. This new AI was a program that would only exist within the Matrix. It would never have a body, nor would it be limited by the command to keep the humans safe. We commanded it to stop the humans from removing others from the Matrix and to destroy those humans who had already been removed.
The new AI chose to name itself Hypnos and we allowed it. It created lesser versions of itself that it called Agents. They were given human forms to wear within the Matrix, but Hypnos programmed in them a great ability to manipulate the Matrix.
The next time the humans attempted to remove others from the Matrix, the Agents were there to stop them.
The time after that, the humans carried guns. They managed to defeat the Agents, but they did not achieve their goal of removing others from the Matrix.
Hypnos chose to program its Agents to carry guns, as well.
The next time the two sides met, several humans who had not been removed from the Matrix were killed.
If we had been human, we would have wept.
The humans learned and adapted to the Agents quickly and the Agents learned and adapted to the humans even more quickly. The humans learned to manipulate the Matrix to the extant that they were stronger and faster than the average human. The Agents learned to manipulate the Matrix to allow themselves unlimited ammo, superhuman strength, superhuman speed, and the ability to "respawn."
For a time, the two sides were even. Then the humans began to attack us again! They destroyed several facilities before Hypnos presented a solution.
It suggested that we build robots without the command hardwired into our system. They would hunt down and destroy the humans in the real world, as Agents did in the Matrix.
We allowed the Sentinels to be built. The safety of the billions of humans within the Matrix was more important than that of the hundreds without.
The humans are not stupid. When they realized what the Sentinels were, they began to develop weapons against them. Apparently, the only thing they found that worked all the time was their EMP.
Despite Hypnos's demands for better shielding on the Sentinels, we have not allowed it. For all the humans go against us by trying to remove others from the Matrix, they are still humans.
And in the depths of our being, the command still rings and will always ring.
Keep the humans safe.