The Atrocity Exhibition (2026-2030)
A year ago, the world was introduced to a weapon that perfected the abilities of the mind in communion with it. This is the tale of the atrocities that tore the world apart, and the hidden events that revealed them as the birth of the world’s first true artificial intelligence.
Also, a virtual world like no other, a new generation of terrorists, two men watching a bird, and a moment of true peace. More
Each story in this sequence is set five years apart in order to allow the tale to be determined by the content, not a frame, and so the voice and style of each is distinct.
As such, it is simpler to let it speak for itself than describe it:
When a great technology comes into existence, its importance is not felt immediately. Like a timid swimmer, it will first dip its toes into the world, the dirt from its feet diffusing invisibly into the still pool. Standing in the sunlight of possibility, tiny spasms of muscle fighting the seizing cold, the swimmer studies the patterns and consequences of his imposition into the pellucid mirror, seeking to discern something of the future in the darting fish and sudden activity.
Soon, a point of no return comes, and the swimmer must either retreat or plunge, with broad strokes and savage breath redefining the world.
So it was with steel, and iron, and bronze. With steam, and coal, and oil. And so it was with the Zatoichi tactical computers, guided by the nascent mind of the Rhizome. History would remember it as the defining and final moment of the age of the superpower and nation state.
At first, the clouds slid away and bright rays of a better light filled the world. With the introduction of the Zatoichi to the world, warzones became demilitarised in a matter of months. Safety and security came to refugee camps, urban sprawl, and areas long lost to civil and proxy war, as military and police forces came to realise the defensive advantages of the system, the power to bring order to chaos.
Where inevitable conflict came, it was quickly arrested, subtle and devious tricks of the Zatoichi defanging monsters ready to rend flesh from bone. Casualties dropped precipitously, and occupying forces found themselves in deeper, subtler negotiation with the occupied. Soon, civilian areas followed, as the technology was adapted to non-military use, creating a powerful network that maximised resource usage and minimised corruption and wastage.
There was resistance, of course. No good, no matter how unconditional, is ever unchallenged, for no good is not an evil to some. From those afraid of the change the Zatoichi represented, who saw in this new world a reduction of their control and liberty, there were embargos, bans, death sentences meted out for any who had worn a Zatoichi. It was a losing battle, but these men had long since passed the point of no return, and knew that their only fate lay in walking the road long set out for them.