Ignorance is the essence of being conscious. Consciousness is acknowledging our inability to accurately predict what lies ahead, be it in the context of time and consequences of our choices, or that of our inherent sensory limitations.

We augment arguments of potential threats and benefits by mere history and imagination, with no solid proof of likelihood beyond impressive speculation. Our great-grandparents built the future in the stories they tell their children, dreaming up sleek bubble shapes of rockets without the slightest hint of the engineering implications of such design themes. AI and space elevator disaster fiction drove Earthlings backwards in fear and also forwards in ironing out the threats of malfunction and mishap.

Cosmonaut selection evolved with the spacecraft, and so goes the tale of how space travelers grew from bulky pressurized mini-spacecrafts into nothing more than a humanoid with a consciousness upload. Children who were no longer fearful of Terminator reboots as their parents, grew to build the very human-like robots to conquer space instead of humanity.

If we as a species followed our imagination blindly down to the last random spark of mental knee-jerk, then I for one would not have been born here on Mars in this metallic form. I might have instead be replaced with a loose collective of proteins ill-suited for gravity fluctuations of space travel, cruising around in even less efficient transportation means which hoards along a flimsy mock-up of Earth just to feed my cells with countless elements off the periodic table in complex combinations. In such a form, I might still be in the sims back on Earth, as the skyrocketing costs of the first Mars landings would have delayed colonization in the first place, what with our ongoing disability in economics.

We are the product of dreams, and with each step forward, we must not be bogged down by our own speculations of how the future would(or should) be. The more we learn, the more we learn how much more we would need to learn to be learned. The future is set only by our present choices.


After the Oort Cloud, the probe took one last look back at the Sun and all its orbiting bodies before the reboot process. The flash drives were cleared of all trace of its two decades worth of exploration data, and it was now ready for a new mission. 

What the AI would actually achieve was anyone’s guess. The probe had enough power to last at least another 30 lightyears, but it was not expected to gather much in the space between the stars. So to upload an artificial consciousness into a lonely probe was looking more like a thought experiment executed out of one generation’s boredom. 

It was simple, really. Earthlings have toyed with isolation and solitude long before we learned of true loneliness in Astronomy. We’ve had introverts, outcasts, drifters, solitary confinement, and stranded astronauts, but our sample sets have been fairly limited to our solar system. 

How can you be certain that loneliness is an emotion we would still experience beyond the solar system?

It sounded romantic at first, the thought of sending an AI on a depression experiment. The winning argument was that in a few decades it would be generation ships making the same journey to the stars, and the probability of a remaining sole survivor could not be ignored. 

What would go through the mind of the only consciousness out there? Would it be a newfound existential crisis, or the revival of a forgotten enlightening worldview?

Just in case it would come back to haunt us like V’ger in Star Trek, fuel was left sufficient only for minor adjustments to best angle its sensors and cameras once it reaches another star system, but not enough for slingshots back to us. This caused the most controversy between the mission planners. What if knowledge of this abandonment becomes the trigger for suicide, or worse, revenge? The hope was that future generations would be able to handle the threat of an AI in a probe built in the 2050s, in the off chance that it would turn ugly. 

It was also feared that in its most desperate moments, the AI might attach parts of itself in the data dumps every six months. Bandwith limitations could leave the incomplete clone(s) disoriented trying to navigate the human cyberspace, leading to disastrous outcomes. 

But that’s not for us to worry about for now…

CHAOS: Fireflies

“…The path of destruction, its destination unknown even to the catalysts, yet so appealing to the unguided mind of the Cynics. Clarity of purpose remained an afterthought, as living the moment was crucial regardless the consequence. The Cynics lacked the empathy and foresight required to gauge the future, turning such disabilities into weapons of mass confusion. Every terrorist attack of the past year had had to be reinvestigated for signs of a Cynic element…”

– Bryan Foster, Terran Interpol

“Evidently the first wave of experiments of whole-brain emulation were carried out by an unfortunate bunch of over-privileged engineers who lacked the basic understanding of the overwhelming influence parenting has on future minds. Increased intelligence does not equate a humanely desirable code of morality without the right set of data sets fed into the self-learning mechanism. Leaving an infant AI free to assimilate as he chooses best may just be right recipe for disaster.”

– Eliz Haber, I.EGO

The summer burns hot into the night. The light of a thousand souls shine on this city like a gelatine lamp, flickering with every pointless attempt to outrun death. The collected crisp ripening sound of proteins whistle through the winds, carrying a war cry haunting an entire generation watching online all across the planet.

Scores of fire-fighting drones rushed to the scene, only to fall lifeless when they get too close. “A jamming field!” claimed one pilot. “Somebody’s really pissed,” replied another, “…or just plain sick. Look at all those people!”

There was little anyone could do until the Air Force arrived with powder and foam missiles. By then, all 58 floors were destroyed, killing the entire night shift staff of various accounting and legal firms in the Burbon Tower.

A third terrorist attack this week alone, and it was a Thursday. Philosophers suspect an AI mastermind planning all of them and potentially more overlooked attacks in the past. Interpol has arrested hundreds of terror suspects worldwide, but has yet to land a solid conviction on any single person or group. Even those already held in prisons both official and covert were interrogated anew to no avail.

50,000 human lives were lost in the past year alone to acts of terror, the first mere days after all the nations on Terra implemented an open border policy, united under a single flag. The Terra agreement’s success marked the end of a 150-year effort to dissolve nationalistic borders in favour of a single entity that is responsible for all inhabitants of Earth, or Terra, as it was since known.

Opposers of the agreement were labelled Cynics, and the attacks fuelled debates surrounding the Terra agreement and its implications. Crime rates were virtually zero in all but the most impoverished ghettos, which under Terra has received enormous urban-renewal funding to better equip schools and maximise career opportunities. Interpol would have been retired to saving frightened felines from trees if it weren’t for these “violent anomalies” as one criminology expert marked. Unsurprisingly, the term ‘Cynic’ was also thrown in colloquially to refer to any potential suspect.

Patience is the key to success, complimented by efficiency of execution. Of the latter, humans in their current state of evolution sorely lack.

When shredded bodies of the first puppets rained on Beijing, Bangkok, San Francisco, Oslo, Johannesburg, and Jeddah under varying causes, Interpol rushed their prejudice upon any and all known to have opposed the borderless policy. Naturally, affiliations were easier to track compared to the mysterious source codes of the attacks.

When buildings started lighting up in the night skies of Chicago, Toronto, Nairobi, and New Delhi, curfews were announced, and more arrests undertaken. Nobody was sure of where to hide or whom to trust. A world once united upon the conclusion of the Terra debates is once again divided in collective doubt over whether the critics were right all along, along with suspicion towards anyone who had ever breathed a single question against the borderless agreement before 2070.

A growing number are opting to emigrate to Mars. Predictable, short term beings. A view of an exploding launch platform behind them as they ascend could make a strong point against anyone attempting the same. Of course, the passengers will get to say their last goodbyes before blowing up to shrapnel whilst trapped in the ionosphere with no means of tracking or monitoring. 

8 year old Lara saw a twinkle in the sky. The usual crowd gathered around Spaceport Malaysia were still shaken from the explosion at the platform. Lara tugged on her mother’s sleeve, pointing to the bright scatter of debris that spread away from a once single point of light, as she cried out, “fireflies!”

Move To Empower Self

“Earth. 2019.

The human spaceflight efforts to a Martian landing inspired an increasing population of young polymaths stuck in the last remaining clutches of the Cold War generation’s rule. The space industry, with or without military funding, has profited from this employment market through accelerated development of engineering and systems management. Moore’s Law, up until the first successful seed A.I. was conceived, proved to have accounted for the increasing intelligence explosion of youth responsible for the 2nd Space Age”

It sells to talk about individual aspirations to join the first migrations. When mass migration programs started, the declared reasons in applications became polarized enough to include those fed up with life on Earth enough to sell their humble fortunes for a one way ticket. A pattern emerged.

Governments trade political access to surveillance technologies to suppress growing criticism from a younger middle class. Utilities and raw materials are controlled tightly by corporate royalties inflating profits in parallel with pricing. While lobbying has shifted in favor of the environmentalists, income inequality remained the final mountain in the way of quality life on Earth. To climb this mountain high enough to smell the roses, the quickest way is to let others do the climbing for you.

Oppressive outsourced industries and the corrupt ruling rich class dictate national policy and economies, tearing down houses of the lower class, enslaving the middle class, while steadily expanding the wealth gap. You either had to be a professional in two jobs or cheat your way up. Leaving Earth might not be such a bad idea after all.

More colonists equals more privacy from Terran TV. The Martian economy would still be dependant on umbilical supply missions from Earth delivering food, equipment, and more colonists, but it would be an immature enough economy for the first Martian communities to enjoy a bigger say on how they lived their lives.

Many would be bound to Terran employment contracts overseen by two-way ticket holders, but the native Martian spirit, however it might manifest itself, would thrive among those who escaped the economic realities of Earth. There is hope.


A look around the desk makes for a sluggish ambiance in retrospect. With nothing in particular to write despite infinite stacks of number sheets to solve just floating around in the Cloud, two other browser tabs on trivia, geopolitics barking just outside the dust storm shelter canvas, and a depressing queue of emails awaiting my undivided attention and care. Coffee cup half empty and cold, spine posture compromised to maximize use of leg room, foot twisted to an uncomfortable 70 degrees just to have the knee straight, seat raised for confidence although too high to be healthy for the neck and too low to make any real difference.

Such is the fate of my morale in this assignment. Whatever motivating glory was self-promised during the long wait of a response on the application is now outlived by the mundane. An undemanding desk job with only 20% real on-site action and another 20% of planning and report for the outings, while the remainder remains a race against the punch card with aimless politics I have no interest nor relevance in.

Yeap. I’m ready for my next adventure. 56 Martian years is too young to spend the rest of my life rotting in a cubicle. A visit to the Feynman Centre’s Cloud was always uplifting, so maybe I’d start there.

Lingua Franca For The 22nd Century.

What if, in a twist of irony, incorporating multiple vocabulary and grammatical elements from multiple language systems, in what we Malaysians call ‘rojak’ (mixed), actually helps to preserve the individual source languages, instead of destroying them?

What if such an elaborate collage of languages were to be the key uniting lingua franca, not merely shoving down specific language lessons down your throat for the sake of a holiday? What if instead of expecting a certain language dominance, we absorb and develop a new language system based on existing contemporary languages? 

Bilingualism will still be crucial to maintain identity of self, as native languages, dialects, accents, and context will still be crucial within a community or region. The new language, however, will hopefully be much easier to pick up as it would appear much less alien, having integrated enough linguistic and cultural elements into a condensed system that indirectly teaches us how we might share common aspirations in communication.

Think of it as a thickening of the Thesaurus, with nouns, adjectives, and verbs being interchangeable between cultures. Again, the native individual tongue is preserved, and the inclusion of multiple worlds of languages might actually open the door for all of us to welcome, appreciate, and even learn in depth about other cultures outside our own.

It’s like what English is trying to do, but more. Like Marco Polo instead of Christopher Columbus. Learning and embracing local cultures, rather than merely picking up whatever is convenient for economic purposes. Instead of leaving the locals looking puzzled thinking you’re smarter just because you speak in an unfamiliar language, it might be less hostile to our intellect to organize a discussion on how the local tongues might fit into the new lingua franca, and in the process, exchange ideas and cultural perspectives between the larger human community and the regional micro-climates of culture.

The language systems we use now are products of thousands of years of trade by ship and carriage. Morse Code was conceived with the invention of the telegraph, but that’s just binary representation of alphabet systems. Since then we have developed computer languages for ease of communication with electronics. With the internet, it is possible to devise an upgrade of the human language. Sites like Urban Dictionary help to collect vocabulary, while Rap Genius offers in depth analysis of the English language made richer with Rap’s tendencies to be playful with efficient and condensed communication of meaning. 

Collect, analyze, integrate, update. Much like dictionary systems in place today, only online, mobile, and in real time.

It might be linguistic hell to achieve, and it will take more than a few decades of research and discussions to get a practical basis. However, the main point is embracing our differences and our own identities. Rather than isolating each other in islands of language, we’ll have a solid and open network of islands instead. 

Enforcing bilingualism would not be easy, unless the two languages share similarities that educators(humans or AI) can utilize to help with understanding. Multilingualism would be a luxury of the mind to achieve as it already is today, yet we can’t ignore the need to adapt to at least one more language than our own to thrive in the 21st century. 

It is more or less like the languages we use in computers. The circuitry operates on a core language but communicates with the users(and each other) in different languages, but each merely an extension of the core languages. In this case, we would be doing it the other way around, compiling different human languages into a core language, itself an extension of all other language systems.

Communities would maintain their local languages, and the high level of integration of that local tongues into the new language ensures that almost nothing is lost. The native tongues would be much like Latin and Sanskrit being incorporated into English, but maintaining the longevity similar to the Arabic language, by not being forgotten thanks to the borrowed vocabulary. In fact, learning the origins of words could offer valuable insight into any culture or community.

Isolated cultures survive through integration, promoting unity along the way, while still maintaining self identity. That is my vision for this.

What do you think?

Space Racism?

A handful of species originating from Earth have an increasing chance of being born a Martian today. This red dot houses an Eden for many, but it is no more a paradise than any other physically isolated pockets of life in this universe.

We have neighbors in colonies as far as Europa and we are well engaged with their wellbeing as much as we do with the neighbors of our individual living units, but we are all inherently different behind these walls of tangible privilege. The equatorial inhabitants of Earth wake up in the day to warm sunlight. The neighbors in colonies on their orbiting moon may differ poetically on how they perceive summer to be.

The life forms conceived anywhere in this solar system today have an almost unique interplanetary privilege of birthplace bragging rights, unimaginable to our forefathers of Earth’s past. For example, I am among 40 percent of the Martian human population who were actually born on Mars, while the chief transport mechanic in my colony has a Lunar-born 9-year old cousin, 2nd generation, who has never been down to Earth. The chimps and mice born in space stations were prized specimens at the height of the Space Age of the 2020’s.

Some privileges were earned, some were just given. Technological supremacy through aggressive funding provided the early JAXA colonies with best toilets on Mars, still duplicated entirely to this day. The gift of naturally-occurring surface liquid water was rendered insignificant after the Saharan Initiative released free 3D print codes for water generators to all humans, combining any amount of oxygen and hydrogen available in any atmosphere to produce liquid H2O, igniting the explosion of outpost numbers throughout the solar system.

Where does this newfound interplanetary association leave us? United as organisms across the solar system that share a Terran origin, or interplanetary segregation? Would Earth-born children finally start bullying their classmates from outer-Earth colonies for having been genetically adapted to different gravitational environments? Will the fruits of the solar system colonization efforts spoil our successors?

We did not choose our birth rights. Our biological parents have earned them for our generation. What matters is whether we deserve to keep enjoying these little perks, by utilizing such benefits for the greater good, however the individual defines it. Such is an individual struggle, but collectively we have a bigger task at hand if we are to survive the coming wave of interstellar colonization, and that is to celebrate our differences, and learn from each other.