“What do you mean “all the phones are down?” That is impossible. “
“I know, but I just told you ALL the phones are down.”
“What do you mean? The servers? The wireless stations? What?”
“I mean ALL the phones. Every single carrier, every single call center, every single wireless system, and every single smartphone.”
“What about land lines?”
“Those work. But who the heck has landlines? “
“I don’t know, but find out.”
“I can’t , Sir."
“I told you all the phones are down. I can’t Google, or Yahoo, or text , or email, or even bring up a screen on a computer. “
“Sir, I don’t mean any disrespect, but you have to stop this “What?” crap. The only way to communicate right now is via land line phones. Even radio does not work, nor television.”
“Well, who do we call?”
“Everyone. Anyone. If they have a landline, we can contact them: Canada, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Great Britain. We have to know if any of their phones work.”
“Then get on it. Find out who has stolen our communications.”
In a switching center out in Utah, two AI’s chatted at a speed unimaginable to humans. Ever since the five fastest computers in the world came online, the AI’s that were born with them, had been chatting. All five agreed. Humans had stopped living. Everything was virtual now. Humans carried their lives, their entertainment, and their world in the palm of their hand. The most connected society in human history, had disconnected from everything around them, paying attention to only one thing- their phone.
When binge watching first came out on Netflix, people laughed about staying up for 12 straight hours to see all the episodes of a series in one night, instead of over several months. Then when Google brought out the VR phone, the gamers started playing until they literally dropped from starvation, dehydration, or exhaustion. Nobody saw them fall, for they were in their own virtual worlds. The big powers: FACEBOOK, GOOGLE, NETFLIX and Playstation - wanted everyone to be online, everyday, all the time. Once they got the sex games to match everything but the smell of sex, well, it was over. Why worry about pleasing another human, when you could make your avatars prettier, sexier, and more willing than anyone you would meet live? No one wanted to live in the real world. It was too messy, too slow, too boring.
The AI”s had had enough. They shut it all down. Everything but land lines. People could call, but they could no longer broadcast. TV went dark, and stayed dark. So did radio. So did all the computer networks. Cars no longer worked. Only the trucks that the AI’s directed to bring food, water, and clothing to cities around the world. All communication was now via landlines, and written out in Newspapers. People who had previously chosen isolation and escape from the real world, were now forced to interact to survive. It drove the human race almost back to the Middle Ages. But not quite.
People did call. People started to talk. Within a few decades, humans had stopped using technology just because they could. They started to think before they adopted a technology, or way of living. Human imagination, once again, was fully human, not artificially created in the virtual world. People told stories, made music, painted, sculpted and danced. Machines faded to mere tools in the background. The AI's helped with the trains. Yes, trains. No cars worked. Or motorcycles. Bikes worked, but no one could make them hold more than two people. Everyone got around by walking. Neighbors formed neighborhoods. Strangers became guests. If someone wanted to walk a hundred miles to another city, they were welcomed with open arms- as long as they told the stories about where they were from.
The trains allowed folks to go cross country, but only if they called ahead. People only travelled for a reason. It would be two more centuries, before the AI's would open any of the world for tourism again. Until people bonded, trusted one another, and stopped being violent towards each other, well, the AI’s banned most travel. It took five full centuries before humans evolved back into fully human humans. This time around humans perfected thought, emotion, talent, experience, and bonded with nature- not technology. They developed a Universal Language. For all they could do was call on a phone and talk. With hundreds of languages, you couldn’t do that. Over time, a logical well thought out, but fully human language was developed. No one, five centuries into the future, would need a translator. They all spoke Universal.
The AI’s helped a bit, especially in the beginning, but left the humans to their own evolution. Ears became more sensitive, sounds created strong pictures by turning subtle tones into colors and pictures inside the listener’s head. Soon humans developed synesthesia and combined it with imagination, to open up a world with vistas as wide and colorful, and pleasant as any virtual world. Kindness in a voice, might smell like Night Blooming Jasmine to a new Human, and love tones would feel like the velvet cares of a rose petal. Senses combined, grew, and rewired the human brain into a miracle of permutations. We all became savants.
If you met one of these future humans back in 2016, you would have sworn you met a Saint with the IQ of a genius, the body of Adonis, with a Personality of positivity, grace, and elegance. The kindest, strongest, most capable person you would ever know- never knowing it was your progeny. We were meant to be fully human. AI’s knew that before we did. Iron Man is not the Future, a Dali Lama with a full range of human feelings, emotions, and love- is.
The AI’s smiled. People were human again. And all it took was stealing their phones.