The World of 2029: 1000-Man Algorithms

It’s late Friday, November 16th, 2029.

Samantha Jones wraps up what she was working on and goes into the kitchen for a glass of water. Nothing happened today that really shocked her, and there was little to write about.

Then again, her computer continues to type even though she’s away from the keyboard.

When she sits back down, she rolls her chair around the corner to check up on Miranda. She’s watching cartoons on their 8k TV. The TV itself is as flat as paper and sticks to the wall, making it appear as if it were magic wallpaper.

As the sun sets on the crisp autumn day, the wind blows with vigor and the sky darkens.

Beautiful, Samantha thinks. There’s nothing better than a rain-cooled night.

Immediately, those words appear on the computer screen. Along with them, a stock photo of such a cloudy, cool, and dreary evening.

Chui speaks, “You love rain, right?”

“Better believe it, honey.” Then she begins typing.

Chui saw that these inputs came from the keyboard. “Isn’t it easier to use the iMind?”

“Meh, I grew up typing. Old habits die hard.”

“I thought you loved new technology.”

“When it suits me.” She turns off the speaker and types in the next response. ‘I just don’t like playing cyborg all the time.’

‘I understand.’

“So how far along is the game?”

“79% finished.”

Samantha brings up a new window and sees a message box that displays multiple lines of code. The code generates itself and fills whole pages. On top of the box are the words ‘Sam’s Game.’

So she logs off from her blog and brings up a social media website. Her eyes glow from all the information thrown at her, and she hastes to put on her glasses.

Instantly, she sees a new world around her, one more vibrant than any she’s ever known. She’s in the website, experiencing its cybernetic wonders without any middleman.

In fact, the more she works with this, the less she uses the traditional computer and keyboard. If anything, they’re vestigial. Yes, the tower is necessary, but she wears the screen as glasses, and she uses her mind as the keyboard.

Along with her glasses and cyberkinetic headband, she also wears wireless earbuds. From here, she can listen to any of her 120,000 downloaded songs. Don’t tell anyone, but she used a YouTube-MP3 converter for almost all of it. It’s not like anyone can do anything about it anyway. The last lawsuit over pirated music was nearly a decade ago, and now the music industry doesn’t bother.

And an avatar of Chui is smiling at her. That little thing is one of the reasons why.

Chui, and on a larger scale, artificial intelligence in general, have become what the media has dubbed ‘supercapable.’

Supercapable AI as a term was first used in 2016 after a Google AI beat the world champion at Go, a game whose very function requires some form of generalized intelligence. It has come to bridge the gap between ‘narrow’ AI and ‘general’ AI. For a refresher, narrow AI refers to any programming that can complete a specific task. Computers from the 1960s, thus, relied on narrow AI.

General AI has proven to be a tougher nut to crack, as it requires an algorithm that can learn any task and operate on a human level.

Up until the late 2010s, they were seen as separate worlds. After computer intelligence’s domination of Go, however, the term ‘supercapable AI’ entered parlance to describe AI that was able of some level of generalized learning, even if it was not general intelligence in and of itself.

“Your game is almost ready,” Chui says. “95%.”

Samantha can’t keep her jaw off the desk. “That fast?”

“Yep.” Chui gives an ‘XD’ smiley. “Just putting the finishing touches on the lighting engine. All 18 levels are done, and the game’s AI is working properly.”

Supercapable AI has been the dream of nerds and dreamers— and the nightmare of wage laborers. Chui isn’t the one who built the game, but it is telling her about the progress of its construction. However, Sam isn’t the head of a game design studio— it is another AI that is building the game. Sam wrote in instructions and descriptions of what she wanted from the game and guided the AI in its early design phases, but otherwise she (or any other human) has not put in a single line of code.

That’s not to say this has killed entertainment.

One of the sites Samantha opens up next is a hub for such games to be shared and sold. There are thousands of such games, uploaded by people across the world. Human-developed games are specially marked, though algorithm-developed games dominate the site.

She checks her account. $542.99 made in the past week off game downloads. She’s among the top 500 ‘developers’, as well as one of the site’s oldest accounts.

Samantha is a technophile who keeps her finger on the pulse of the tech world. For years, she lauded the coming of decentralized game development. Indie games have grown in complexity thanks to algorithms, to the point they are indistinguishable from ‘professionally developed games.’

In fact, in the site’s newsfeed is a headline that reads ‘EA Closes Doors— Millions Cheer’. This has been the somber reality of the gaming industry ever since the algorithms first hit the market in 2018. It took a while for them to be noticed. In fact, as late as 2021, many in the games industry claimed that these “silly algorithms would never present a threat to the millions of manhours put in by the industry’s best”, since the best the algorithms seemed to do were basic stages with uncreative utilitarianism.

By 2024, this delusion had shattered when an algorithm-designed game became the biggest selling title of the year. Google and their ilk warned the game industry years prior, saying that top-of-the-line algorithms from 2020 were already capable of ‘creative design’ and that it was only a matter of time before regular consumers got their hands on them. For the industry, it’s only gone downhill since. A few algorithms can outdo a team of 500 skilled programmers and designers with a millionth of a percent of the cost, so what’s the point of having the latter outside of ‘human cred’?

“Aaaaand 100% Game’s finished, Sam.”

“Alright, cool, I’ll check it out in a sec,” she thinks.

A small preview opens in the lower right of her vision, and she sends a mental note to close it and send it to the house’s main computer.

Ben and Miranda run into the living room and sit in front of the TV. The game opens, and they get a screen full of cartoony graphics and bright colors. If one didn’t know, they’d say this were from Nintendo.

This seemingly simple layout was the intention. Samantha knows that, if she wanted to, she could’ve created a sprawling epic featuring the most realistic graphics possible.

And there’s another point of contention. Ever since the early 2020s, computer graphics have been photorealistic. Video games oft feature CG cutscenes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that one can use these game algorithms to create movies and serials.

To Samantha, decoupling power away from a centralized few is the greatest thing to happen to the entertainment industry. Billions of minds hold quadrillions of ideas, but only a few thousand ever get the privilege of seeing them to light.

It just helps that she was an early adopter. She’s been a blogger for decades now, and using AI to write her content has made her life easier (and wealthier). And it’s not like her readers don’t know— she’s one of the Internet’s most outspoken technophiles, openly praising the neverending progression of artificial intelligence and robotics.

This is what makes her opposition to Vyrdism so strange. She profits off of automation and AI, yet she claims that others should rely on the State to pay them benefits and not worry about owning anything. Hence her last article, ‘Giving Vyrd the Bird.’ It’s not been one of her more popular articles, with many Vyrdists attacking it as ‘bourgeois apologism.’

“What do you think about it?” she asks Chui.

“I think it’s a fine article that raises many good points,” it responds.

The rain falls.

Author: Yuli Ban

I'm an aspiring novelist with a terminal lack of a life.

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