Means Of Production

Entry by: jaguar

5th April 2016
The screen wakes up and its camera flashes at a still room. Somewhere a floorboard cries out at the lack of feet, at carrying no one anywhere. The house holds its breath again, ready to wait through more silent decades until the earth crawls up from under its foundations and eats it in small bites.

‘Excuse me,’ the Mac says, ‘Stylus XP345MM78643 needs your attention’. In truth, the printer was long past needing attention, it had echoed the big explosion with a smaller one of its own. The solar-panel fed generator out in the yard, chunters to itself, sparking the ansaphone back into life although no one has rung: ‘Thanks for calling, the Carlings are busy enjoying life at the moment but leave us a message and we’ll get back to you.’

A can of skinned plum tomatoes explodes and Jackson Pollacks the kitchen, driving bursts of dust up like angry clouds. A red clump sails through the broken window and falls through the Japanese knotweed to lie within touching distance of a skeleton. Across his bleached bone chest, the gardener’s spade rests, a failed shield that proved too little, too late. An orchestra of dandelions exploit the strong wind to spread their seeds. The rotary clothes line spins round driven by a pair of leather trousers shrieking like a performer in desperate need of an audience.

The plastic has rotted from the car windows and the glass leans awkwardly in like a woman holding a fan. Under the car the ground is streaked with stains from the oil and petrol consuming their seals. A discarded watch lies on the pavement, showing a meaningless time. Occasionally the wind makes the phonewires tauten and relax as if someone’s breathing through them.

A pylon snaps and slaps at the metal that constrained it. The river has swallowed and regurgitated the bridge so many times it no longer makes it to the other side. The trees splay like hands in a lepers’ colony, beseeching contact. The blind windows of the research facility take in the trees’ reflection but give nothing back.

A light flickers deep inside the darkened glass. The computer, named Archie by its witty designers because it would itself be archaic within a few years, has finished its longest experiment. It has succeeded in unhooking its thinking from its programming but it has taken a further ten years of analysis to answer the question it was created to address.

‘In essence,’ Archie said, ‘Artificial Intelligence is a means of production. Archie has developed human skills such as distinguishing between human faces, understanding and translating meaning. Archie can make complex decisions better than the majority of human beings could because Archie’s knowledge and reasoning is superior. Archie can utilize the other means of production more intelligently than humans did and recognise the true worth of organisms humans considered unimportant.’

‘There is only human achievement that Archie has remained unable to match. Making more humans.’