It was the year 2040. Michael was stepping out for dinner. There were drones in the air, scanning for deviants as usual. There was no shock or disgust in the eyes of the people on the street, only fear. The times had changed.
Since the dependence on technology had increased since the Pandemic 20’s, AI had taken over. Now, in the name of safety, there was virtually nothing anyone could hide. Gone were the days that humanity picked who governed them. Powerful creations of humans had taken over, and machine had deemed man unfit for anything but subjugation.
Humanity had rulers now. Cold hearted machines with no room for compassion. They ruled with ones and zeroes. Guilty or innocent. Dead or alive. There was no space for the human element of grey, only the mechanical view of black and white.
Michael remembered how quickly it had all gone to shit. As a teenager he remembered how actively he used to post in favour of human rights on social media. Those were simpler times; he had a voice. As soon as the Pandemic 20’s came to an end, AI that had no source of origin, had taken over.
Within a few days, there was a surge in assassinations. It was genocidal. But almost instantly, crime came to a halt. The glaciers stopped melting. The world economy was toppling because industry giants were dead, but the planet was blossoming.
Back then Michael was fresh out of college, hoping to effect change in the world through literature and free speech, but he found that those he spoke for had been executed and his ability to speak freely had been taken away by the drone.
He stepped into his favourite diner and ordered his usual; a chicken steak with potato fries. It was a simple meal, unlike the high-tech meal plans people relied on nowadays. There was no comfort in food, no pleasure in taste for most people. It was simply about sustenance. But he ate his steak with great pleasure, in open defiance to the other patrons who were eating in such a monotonous way.
He paid his bill, and walked out, into the alleyway next to the diner. He made sure to avoid the drones, because what he was about to do was definitely deviant in this new world.
As the wave of technological supremacy had hit the planet, seemingly law-abiding citizens had started forming secret groups. To rebel and revel in the operation of human free will. They spoke aloud, painted, wrote words, and created art that pushed the boundaries of human thought.
Much like the pioneers of an art field, there was a certain amount of ire that these secret groups inspired in the minds of those who had surrendered to the machines. These groups were prosecuted for their free-thinking, banished and executed by the AI citing the heretics as anti-life. Michael, a seemingly normal and law-abiding plumbing technician, was one of these heretics.
Michael found the alleyway door that he was looking for and stepped into the Brotherhood’s cave. Cave makes it sound dense and primal; it was anything but. There was an old man, in his 70s teaching youngsters about the twisted works of Van Gogh. A beautiful woman was singing old country music that had been banned as it seemed nihilistic and self-sabotaging. In reality, the song was simply about the singer’s heartache and her longing for the love of her life.
The painting the old man was discussing was Starry Night, a painting considered vandalism because it supposedly presented an unrealistic image of the night sky. Surrounded by the art, by the beauty of the human mind, Michael felt at home. No matter how deviant, or dangerous this creative spirit is, it still comes from the human mind. It was born with humans and it lives within humans. Michael couldn’t fathom a world where this spirit was broken by thoughtless machines that knew nothing of life.
Michael sat at his table, with several books filled with poems, stories, and speeches he dreamt of delivering. There was an old-school click pen which had liquid ink coming out of it to engrave the papyrus with words that his free mind would write.
Art in Michael’s opinion, was best done in the olden era, with a pen and paper. He began to write, pouring out his emotions. The words read: “The new normal is no more. The Uprising is here.” He smiled, for he knew that revolution was afoot. Creativity was afoot. Art, for all the attempts of logical machines to squash it, was waking up from its slumber.