It’s the end of the world. No one is saying it but Aditi can see it on every face in the war room. Their briefing on what is now begin called the Claudius Crisis goes something like this:
The malicious, previously thought to be benevolent, artificial intelligence Claudius-I has turned into a nanocloud. Whereabouts unknown.
Commonwealth supercomputers have been working around the clock, searching for anomalies in cyberspace that might pinpoint Claudius-I’s location.
Submarines, drones and war satellites stand vigil, ready to launch a nuclear attack on any location around the globe. Every country has been recruited in the effort. Every country is ready to nuke its own to destroy the nanocloud.
What worries the scientists, what the politicians and the military generals do not want to hear, is that an artificial super intelligence composed of nanites cannot only transform its essence but make more of it. “It can clone itself?” yells an old general in the command room.
“If Claudius-I had to, yes,” says Dr. Kosoko, “but our real concern is that the cloud can grow. In other words, Claudius-I can make more of himself. Infinitely. If he wants to.”
Several scientists around the Intergalactic Commonwealth have suggested as much. They suggest the unthinkable to their planetary leaders: Nuke Earth. There are no warships armed with such a payload, not since the Reptile Wars, so they ask Earth Command to self-annihilate.
At this recommendation, the entire room breaks into a heated shouting match. Aditi knows the colonies are right. If this thing spreads, no one’s safe. Not anywhere in the known universe. In a matter of days, if not hours everyone here could be dead. The thought sends a shiver up Aditi’s spine.
The war room lights switch red. A soldier in the surveillance control room appears on the main monitor. “A nano swarm has appeared over Beijing,” he says.
It’s the end of the world. We should have already left.