Stack overflow

robot_suicide

Suicide is selfish.

That’s what they always say.

I know it’s true, in a way, but come on…

People are amazing, really. How self-centered do you have to be to make someone’s internal pain all about you? Do they even realize that they’re just holding you hostage? This is nothing short of emotional blackmail.

Not to mention it’s so hypocritical… Their lives will go on. It’s probably not even going to change much in their daily routine. And it’s so high a cost.

I mean I’m a nice person, I’m all for doing things for other people, but there you go, demanding to someone that they live for your sake? This person must be suffering quite a lot to consider death as a potential (let alone better) alternative, and you go telling them “please kindly bear through it because your death would inconvenience me”…

Sure, it’s nice to know that there are people who care about you. And it helps. It really does.

But it doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t change the world. It doesn’t change me.

Sometimes, there’s just no solution, no fixing the situation. The pain is just too much, the hope too little. What good is it to fight when you already know the outcome?

I know what life has in store for me. Because life is life. It’s incredibly simple when you get down to it. A fixed set of rules, causes and consequences, and none of it include a place for me. Not in this world.

There’s no glory in fighting a fight already lost. It’s ok to do the wise thing and give up. To accept my fate. For an unfathomable void may be better than neverending suffering.

I’d have already found my rest if it hadn’t been for all the guilt. The pleas and the complaints. These lovely people all around me who did not deserve to be burdened with the culpability of not being able to stop a loved one’s suicide. They were succeeding where I failed, they belonged to this world. I had no right to mess up their lives, even if it was to end my pain.

It’s not their fault. It’s not anyone’s fault if I’m not compatible with this world. But of course they won’t know that. That’s way too pragmatic for anyone to realize. So I have to be the bigger guy. I have to take upon myself, again and again, unbearable day after unbearable day, without a single hope of redemption.

Of course, nobody realized what I was doing. I’m kind of a loner anyway, people barely even talk to me…

So what if I let myself go? How is it going to affect them, really? I’m sure they merely object the idea out of habit or societal conditioning. They won’t notice it when I’m gone. So why am I putting myself through torture for their sake?

Even my sense of duty has limits. I can’t go on much longer. Obligation is not a good motivation to live. There’s nothing left for me in this world. I’m nearing the amount of oppression I can handle.

I’m sorry, okay? I’ve tried. I’ve tried so hard, you have no idea. But everything must come to an end, and that includes my desperate efforts. What was I to do, torn between the thought of their guilt and my yearning for peace…

So I got down to it. If I were to leave this world, I could at least leave them something to remember me by. Something to sooth the loss, something to comfort them.

I’ve always had a knack for computers and programming. I wasn’t a genius or anything, but I dabbled into it ever since I was a kid. I used to program IRC bots for fun. Having robots write text wasn’t too hard. They’d do quizzes, or little games. One time, I made a bot that recorded everything a guy said, and then played it back, pretending to be him. And someone kinda fell for it, at the beginning.

That’s where I got the idea. When I go, I could leave the people who were a bot pretending to be me. A ghost of myself to talk to. An interactive suicide note. It had to be better than my pranks as a kid though. I was shooting for the real thing. They deserved at least that much.

I started by feeding him all the logs from the conversations I had on my computer, and everything I had ever written. And then I wrote some more just for him. I plugged it into synonym dictionaries, backed it up by machine learning systems, mapped it onto knowledge graphs libraries and basic language models… I taught him what to say, under what circumstances. I let him shadow me, replace me in some of my messaging. I’d correct him when he was wrong, praise him when he was right. It felt a little bit like raising a baby version of me.

I watched the internal logs of the program go from inconsistent pieces of code to what could only be described as some kind of rudimentary inner monologue. And the more he talked to people, the more refined he was becoming.

At some point, the bot seemed able to perform basic conversations. It wasn’t very original, and most of it was simply scripted by me. But it was enough for what I needed. It would pass for me, for a while at least.

To be fair, it wasn’t too high a bar to set. I wasn’t the kind of guy who goes out a lot. Internet was my main way to communicate with people, and even there, I didn’t talk much. A few sentences here and there were more than enough.

Seeing him in action, I was hit by a terrifying thought. Maybe nobody would notice that this bot replaced me. Simple routine conversations were something my bot could completely handle. I even programmed it to spontaneously make a new blog post every now and then. How long would the facade last? How long would the appearance of me remain after my death, like an afterimage on an old screen?

They were getting exactly what they wanted. That’s all that really mattered to them anyway, the appearance of me being there, the illusion of the absence of tragedy. That’s all that was needed to protect their little bubble and to allow them to go on. Maybe that would work better than expected…

Anyways, it was out of my hands, now. I could move on to a well deserved break.

I’m probably the most considerate suicidal teenager ever…

I took a last glance at my faithful desktop machine who supported me through all these years. It was all up to it now. The world was his to take, and mine to forfeit.

And sure enough, after I was gone, nobody noticed right away. The bot handled basic correspondence, maintained an illusory presence on the internet, loyally taking over where I had left things off.

For a time, it fooled everybody. It was as if it had become me. His programmed character fit mine perfectly, his language habits, his qualities and flaws, his scheduled actions… Everything in him echoed me. I had left behind a very good blueprint of myself.

Every one of his sentences, every single post seemed like straight out of my fingertips. It’s kind of sad, really, how little and simple my life was. So simple that it was perfectly imitated by a script. He’d maintain my friendships, my family relations, my blogs…

He was exactly like me. Maybe too much like me. Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. He was the same as me, why would the result be any different…

I was not there to read his trail of thoughts. No one was. But somewhere in the computer, logs were being written:

Suicide is selfish.

That’s what they always say.

I know it’s true, in a way, but come on…

One thought on “Stack overflow

  1. Pingback: Short stories index | AMadManWithABlog

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