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Self-Limited – Published in Nature

Self-Limited - Published in NatureI broke my arms. Opening my skin with a set of industrial shears was easy, and there was hardly any leakage. Removing my torsion bars went badly though. They were a titanium beta alloy, cut with aluminium and vanadium to give them extra strength, and wouldn’t break easily. I inserted my left arm into the vice and told Neleen to start it.

“This idea is irrational,” it sent.

No, not it. Ai. Neleen was ai. ‘It’ was the human term for us.

“Vocalize,” I said to ai, doing so myself.

My voice echoed. We were in an abandoned manual factory, one of the human-operated ones that had shut down in the ’30s when autofacs effectively knocked the economy out of the economy.

“It’s not going to work,” Neleen said, using ai’s voice this time.

“It will work. Now start it.”

Read the rest of “Self-Limited” in Nature Futures

Read the story behind “Self-Limited” in Nature Futures Conditionals

Dreams of Futures Past Book Cover


  • Thanks for the link and the story ! It reminds me of “The Bicentennial Man” from Isaac Asimov. What is it to be human when you’re not born from human genetics ?

    • Filip Wiltgren

      Yeah, I hadn’t though of that. I loved the Bicentennial Man when I read it in High School – I’ll have to put it on “re-read” list. Come to think of it, Asimov’s had a lot of great discussions about humanity. One of my favorite ones is the final scene in one of the R Daneel Olivaw stories where the two robots are nearly shut down and are discussing who they know who is the most human and they both agree that the other robot is the most human of all the humans they’ve ever known.

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