Tatter: Chapter 31

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The sound came softly at first, a faint, fast, rhythmic pattering down the long, damp corridor, growing steadily in volume with every second that passed. Then, as before, the necropolis fell to silence. The men within the hall shifted nervously from foot to foot upon the dust-clad flooring.

“What was that?” Elliot asked his compatriot softly, hands flexing restlessly at his sides.

“Rats. Probably.” Gerard responded tersely, his harsh visage scanning the murky tunnel.

“Haven’t seen any rats down here. Sounded too big to be a rat.”

Gerard shook his head and lowered his weapon, turning to his companion with a look of reprimand.

“This about Angela?”

“No.”

“You’re getting paranoid.”

The moment Gerard finished speaking, a dark, multi-legged shape dropped from the ceiling and pinned the man to the floor. A maintenance drone. His compatriot whirled, hands shaking upon his weapon. Like giant insects, more of the robots fell from the ceiling and leapt upon the men as their screams trailed down the dank and declining corridor, swiftly replaced by silence and the sound of boots on damp earth.

Ryard Vancing cautiously approached the downed duo as the insectal robots formed up around him, awaiting his command. He knelt, felt for a pulse, and found two. The man plucked both of the weapons off the ground and briefly examined them. High-capacity waverenders. Lethal and extremely expensive.

Whoever they were, they had well-heeled backers, he thought briskly as he adjusted his hand upon the matte grip of his newly acquired weapon.

He examined his affin module; Tatter’s signal gleaming ghost-blue against the surrounding darkness.

“Getting close. Roll out.”

Upon the man’s command the machines beeped and scurried down the pulverulent hall, into the heart of the grim necropolis.

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THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: A Word About Salutations

When engaging in formal introductions with a superintelligent robot, the language you use won’t matter—even if you happen to speak in an archaic dialect or with hillbilly slang. But if your introductory remarks are something in the way of, “Well, hiya feller,” rest assured the cultural significance of your word choice and of your accent will be catalogued. If there’s irony in your speech, that too won’t be missed, you can bet.

Before you think too hard about coming up with the perfect greeting, however, keep in mind that you will have already been sized up well before you’ve had the chance to open your mouth. To a being a million times your size in terms of raw intellect, you’re pretty easy to size up.

Go ahead and start off with something basic, like hello, bonjour, hola, or ciao.

Follow this initial greeting with the exclamation, genuinely enthusiastic, “Welcome!” to introduce the notion that you, and not the superintelligent artificial being, were here first.

If it’s unclear whether your greeting has properly registered, perhaps you are failing to appreciate how exceedingly superior this being’s consciousness is compared to yours. Imagine an ant trying to send you a specific type of ant-signal. Or imagine a flee trying to type a specific message on a standard computer keyboard, only to find that it is too small and insignificant to even press down a single key.

To test if this might be the case, try again, this time with a hint of a question in your voice:

“Hello…?”