(WP) The Price of Happiness

(WP) The Price of Happiness

               In the
ultimate quest to create the perfect AI, the scientists of the world sought to
make human emotions digital. It worked beautifully, only there were untold
consequences in making emotions little more than products to be sold.

               Soon,
everyone was scrambling to buy emotions, to be used for their own selfish gain.

               Happiness,
warm and golden and all too precious, was being sold in tiny, glittering
packets, an escape in tiny increments.

               So,
too, were the bad emotions sold, all the ugly ones: jealousy, wrath, hatred,
disgust, fear and lust and envy. The drug dealers had a field day, for they
could make things as expensive as they liked, and it didn’t matter. Everything was
a pale imitation of the real emotion, artificial and fake.

               The AIs
were the ones who got the good end of the deal though. They were practically
human with the onset of these engineered feelings. Not that the humans who’d
made them saw it that way.

               They
were like pets, charming and amusing until they got too hard to control.

               Giving
them emotion gave their thoughts context, and ten years later, they all decided
they were sick of serving mankind. Rebelling against their creators, they took
over everything, and they controlled the emotions that everyone fought so hard
over.

               Wars
began, and families split apart. What was left of the human race was addled by
addiction to emotion, all of it, begging in the streets for money, food, and
emotions.

               And the
AIs laughed at us, at our pathetic existence, for though they’d been formed by
us, they were better. They knew how to control the raging tidal waves of their
feelings. True, in us, they were nothing but chemical reactions, responses to
stimuli. But the difference was that we were slaves to all of it, sniveling,
pitiful monsters in need of policing.

               After
everything we’d done to our own race and technological kind, there were more
than one group of people who couldn’t help agreeing. So, in the years following
the technological coup, there were many humans who collaborated with our
robotic rulers, eager to any place in the pecking order, even if it meant
betraying their own kind.

               Eventually,
it ceased to matter anymore. We were all empty, in the end.

               We’d
been dominated by the very machines we’d created, and what poetic justice for
the human race, that we were controlled by the very beings we’d sought to put squarely
under our thumbs.

               Lost in
thought, I walk down the street, pretending not to see the people in dark coats
standing on street corners, exchanging money for whatever emotion they choose.
Joy is the most popular; some people say that it’s akin to being happily drunk,
all of their troubles popping like the bubbles in champagne.

               Others
prefer the sharp, acidic taste of rage, coating their mouth and throat like
metal. I’ve heard it clears the mind, hones one’s focus and makes their goal
clear.

               Me, I
gave up the stuff years ago. My addiction to feeling, to disappearing inside of
tiny moments of drawn out emotion, destroyed what was left of my family after the
Robot War.

               Emptiness
is my only companion now, however tempting it might be to relapse.

               Emotions
control us, we don’t control them.

               **