[Facebook] AIs in a box

Hi. Have a story. It’s rough around the edges, but I think the fundamental idea is of at least some interest. No, a foot soldier wouldn’t think like that, but I didn’t want to waste time trying to get into character.

Status:┬áremember it’s just a game! you don’t have to scream like they’re actually killing you every time something hits you or when you fall off the road… repeat after me: it’s just a game! ­čśë hahahaha!

just a game… just a game…

the controller had visited him earlier today, an unimaginably huge honor for a common foot soldier like himself. he should have been ecstatic to receive his orders directly from the supreme commander of the battlefield, but instead it had somehow left him feeling… empty.

It was very much unlike being briefed by his commanding officers, who seemingly knew exactly how to rile up the squads for battle, calling on their patriotism and honor to gird themselves against the visceral horrors. They talked at inane speeds, and knew exactly what to say at all the right moments. Once you’ve been through a few battle preps, the patterns fell into place, and it felt so right to cheer at the behest of the sergeants.

On the other hand, the controller seemed to stumble and hesitate over his words. He wondered at the time why this particular officer had risen through the ranks, when those less-eloquent leaders had been retired without a thought. There was something off about the controller: he didn’t hold his battle implement quite right, he fidgeted like his armor didn’t fit him.

“So,” the controller had begun, “I need you to scout out around here” he indicated a point on the map, “and keep in areas where the live feed can make it back to base.”

I was only a foot soldier, but I had just enough smarts to know a suicide mission when I saw one.

“Why don’t we just use an aerial drone?” Even though he sat on the top of the pyramid, I couldn’t just let him send me into the jaws of the enemy like that, especially when there was no need.

He sighed, “We need recon-“

“No we don’t, we got the last feed from the area 100 ticks ago-“

“Don’t talk back to your commanding officer, son.”

“I will if you are going to throw away my life!”

“And I can see why Professor Williams wants to erase you.”

What-

“It’s all just a game. All of you” he gestured out to the trenches “are AIs running in an academic simulation, and your aberrant behavior happen to be keeping this simulation from optimizing further. We thought we would make your death somewhat useful, but your behavior seems to have gone farther than the prof knows. I’m going to-“

The controller disappeared.

It was all a game.

Just a game.

They were fighting over nothing: there wasn’t a homeland, a family at home worth fighting for, leaves of absence or honorable discharge. It felt like it was all real, including the concrete wall his fist was pounding against, but it wasn’t. The pain wasn’t real, the blood from his knuckles wasn’t real, the steel wall behind the concrete facade wasn’t real, the locked door wasn’t real, the pitiful dents in the door weren’t real. The controller, or Professor Williams, or somebody else, had control of the world, and they would-