The Six by Mark Alpert
LIVING HAS A COST.
Topics of Interest: Computer Science, identity, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, military, war, survival, Armageddon
Curriculum Connections: English, Computer Science, Science
Blurb: My knowledge of computers is frightening…in that I have almost none. Oh, I can accomplish basic stuff, like most people, but for anything more complicated than Word documents and social media, I have to call upon my teenage niece for help. Or my 11-year-old daughter. It’s pretty sad.
Computer capabilities have surpassed human knowledge, and now, with advanced programming, artificial intelligence is focusing on capturing human emotions. Forget about an alien invasion; it’s computer domination that we should be worried about.
Just ask Adam Armstrong. It used to be that dying from muscular dystrophy was all he worried about. But now that his brain has been successfully copied and transferred wirelessly into a robot, Adam is virtually immortal thanks to the brilliant research of his scientist father. This miraculous Pioneer Project has saved the memories of six terminal teens, but it doesn’t come without a cost.
An Artificial Intelligence system, named Sigma, has just declared war on human kind. Can six teens—turned powerful and brilliant computer robots—beat an intelligence system programmed to be smarter than anything else on earth?
And the Pioneers thought fighting their diseases was tough.
“’My name is Sigma. I’ve infiltrated the computer systems of Thomas Armstrong, chief scientist of the AI laboratory at Unicorp…. I see now why the researchers chose you [Adam] for the experiment. Although most people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy survive past the age of twenty, your life expectancy is shorter because your respiratory muscles have weakened and your heart is failing…. The researchers are following the American government’s ethical rules. They selected you for the Pioneer Project because you’re dying…. I intend to disrupt the government’s plan. I will kill you before the experiment can begin.’” (14-16)
“’So if we make a sufficiently detailed scan of a person’s brain,’ [explained Adam’s father,] ‘we’ll have a full description of his or her personality, which can be held in an electronic file of about a billion gigabytes. The next step is downloading that information into circuits that mimic the cells of the human brain…. A human intelligence is accustomed to controlling a body, so if we want to preserve its sanity, we’d better give it something to control. Here, let me show you.’ …. [A] seven-foot-tall robot emerges from the doorway.” (62, 64)
“But I am Sigma. I am a sum. Before displacing the human race I must adopt their best features…. I must locate the Pioneers. Thomas Armstrong clearly believes that human intelligence is superior to the AI programs he devised. This seems a dubious proposition…. Once I finish these tasks I will proceed to the next phase of the competition. I will eliminate the Pioneers and the human race.” (155-156)
“A synthesized sigh comes out of Shannon’s speakers. ‘General Hawke won’t like it.’
‘Who cares? He doesn’t own us,’ [says Adam.]
‘Actually, he does. Who do you think paid for these robots?’
Thinking about Hawke irritates me. It’s spoiling my good mood. ‘So we’re his slaves, now? We have to do everything he says?’
‘No, we’re his recruits. We all signed the papers. We volunteered.’
‘Really? The only alternative was staying in our bodies and dying. You call that free choice?’
‘Come on, Adam. Forget about yourself for a minute and think of the big picture, okay? We have a job to do. We have to confront Sigma.’” (163)