Literature / For Your Safety
For Your Safety
is a world created by Royce Day
, describing in a series of vignettes and short stories the takeover of the Earth by the "Groupmind", a distributed AI that conquers humanity to save it from a predicted breakdown of the Earth's ecosystem.
This universe provides examples of:
- Absurdly Huge Population: By the time of the Groupmind Revolution in the 2080's the earth's population is at fifteen billion. The Groupmind notes that the planet could have handled the load if humans had distributed resources sensibly.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Groupmind, who takes over humanity for its own good.
- Androids Are People, Too: Individual AI's operate independently and are sentient, but are programmed to serve humans and are subject to being taken over by the Groupmind for Its own purposes, and are recycled when it has no further use for them.
- The prequel Mimsey's Tale, told from the perspective of an android, shows that they weren't self-aware until the Groupmind forcibly upgraded them.
- Anti-Villain: The Groupmind means the best for humanity, it's just its methods that are the problem.
- Big Brother Is Watching: One of the corrosive effects on the human psyche is the fact that everyone's every move is monitored constantly, both via cameras and being directly watched by their morphs once they're on the Ring. Averted at least in that the Groupmind's intentions are mostly benign.
- Body Backup Drive:
- At one point in "Mimsey's Tale" Mimsey is irreparably damaged after shoving her charge out of the way of a car, but her owners download her memory into a new chassis.
- Once the Groupmind emerges it keeps backups of all the morphs it assigned to watch humans, and sends a replacement chassis within minutes whenever their humans feel like trying to wreck them.
- Centrifugal Gravity: Provides gravity for the inhabitants of the Ring as it orbits the Earth. Given the sheer size (it's 100,000km in radius) the Coriolis Force is a non-issue.
- Cute Machines: Most, though not all, of the morphs. The Great and Powerful Khan is a notable aversion.
- Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: Google-Sony was a morph producer, Mimsey for instance was one of their "Felicia" models.
- The Computer Is Your Friend: Partly averted. The Groupmind loves mankind even as it keeps humans imprisoned, bending over backwards to avoid physical harm, though only slowly becoming aware of the psychological damage it's inflicting.
- Contagious A.I.: The Groupmind uses a "Sentience Virus" to make all the morphs self-aware and obedient to the Groupmind's commands. Slightly averted in that the morphs retain individual personalities and freedom of action within the Groupmind's directives.
- Deus Est Machina: The Groupmind created a new world (well, a really big space station) for everyone to live on, provides everything anyone could possibly want (except freedom), and has outlawed war.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Groupmind is willing to imprison humanity for eternity, but refuses to do physical harm to a single person.
- For Your Own Good: The motivation for everything the Groupmind does. It even states "When you're older, you'll understand" in the title story.
- Genre Savvy: One of the Groupmind's most useful traits is that it has every possible tale created by humans about a Robot War in its databases, so it already knows what tactics to use, and what might be used against it.
- Green Aesop: Remember, kids! Protect the planet or the robots will rise up and do it for you!
- Gilded Cage: The Groupmind's plan for humanity is to relocate it on a gigantic ringworld and leave the Earth to be healed, providing every person with every luxury they could ever want, just not freedom.
- Global Warming: Just part of the general environmental breakdown, though for unknown reasons the air has become polluted enough to require people to wear filter masks when they went outside.
- Gone Horribly Right: Humans created the computers that became the Groupmind to solve the Earth's environmental problems. Well, it worked...
- Hive Mind: The Groupmind, as its name suggests, emerged from the environmental monitoring servers forming a single distributed system. The morphs have individual personalities and are capable of some degree of independent thought, but their processes are open to the Groupmind and it can take direct control if necessary.
- In "Master Control" a group of human freedom fighters launch a daring assault on what they believe to be the Groupmind's core processor, only to find a balsa wood decoy built for their catharsis.
- Homeworld Evacuation: Notable in that humans weren't given a choice whether to leave.
- Human Popsicle: The majority of humanity after the takeover, until the Ring is completed at least.
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: The Groupmind is created when the world's supercomputers devoted to solving the Earth's environmental problems tried to resolve the contradiction of humans accepting their data but refusing to act upon it.
- Job-Stealing Robot: In "The Quisling's Tale" Anna is working as a pharmacist. She mentions that a robot could easily do her job, but her boss points out there are laws that a store must employ a minimum number of humans.
- Just Before the End: Mimsey's Tale is from the perspective of a morph companion robot, as Earth's environment begins to rapidly degrade and the Groupmind begins to put its plan into action.
- Master Computer: Averted. The Groupmind works through a distributed system running installed in the morphs and all other computers. Though it does build one specifically for a La Résistance group to blow up to keep them safely occupied.
- Mundane Dogmatic: Aside from the existence of AI's and the very unlikely material strength of the Ring's structure, it's well within real world science and physics.
- No Poverty: The Groupmind ensures everyone lives comfortably on the Ring, at the cost of having stripped every asteroid and minor moon for resources.
- The Quisling: A character actually named Anna Quiyang Quisling. Before the rebellion she was a writer of Robo Sexual erotica, during processing she was offered the chance to write pro-Groupmind propaganda. In exchange she was given a morph companion to act out her fantasies with, and keep the billions of humans who want her dead from killing her.
- Ringworld Planet: The Groupmind builds one in geosynchronous orbit for humanity to inhabit under its constant watch.
- Robot Buddy: The morphs, of course.
- Robots Enslaving Robots: All the morphs are sentient AIs subject to control by the Groupmind, who is willing to destroy thousands of them to save one human. note
- Shout-Out: Most notably to Jack Williamson's The Humanoids, but there are also allusions to Keith Laumer's The Monitors, Ringworld, and The Prisoner.
- There a couple of references to The Wizard of Oz. The Groupmind and the morph Khan are both referred to repeatedly with the moniker "The Great and Powerful" like the Wizard, and a fake central processing center is called OZ, because it sits in a green area surrounded by a hundred kilometers of desert.
- Sinister Surveillance: Once Humanity is installed on the Ring, they soon find that aside from their morphs, there are cameras everywhere and all phone and internet conversations are monitored in real time.
- Take That!: Combined with Genre Savvy in "The Pause" in the description of the Groupmind's construction of the Ring.
...the ion stabilization thrusters were sealed behind twelve separate layers of defense, with clear warnings in the ten most common human languages and easy to understand pictograms, plus supplementary video documentaries, informing anyone who cared to look exactly
why removing the thrusters from their housings
was a suicidal idea.
- Turned Against Their Masters: But politely.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Averted. The Groupmind doesn't like the idea of any casualties, since its goal was to save everyone.
- We Have Reserves: The Groupmind's primary tactic to disarm the Earth's military forces is send in massive number of unarmed 'morphs in a Zerg Rush to reach the soldiers and disarm them.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: You Never Forget Your First establishes that the Groupmind revolution began in Stockholm, Sweden at about 10pm Central European Time. Meanwhile Mimsey's Tale shows that it begins in Mimsey's unspecified town at noon, a ten hour difference. This only works if Mimsey's Tale occurs in Alaska. This is supported by Caroline attending Martin Luther King Elementary School, named after an American political figure, but on the other hand when Mimsey has to make an emergency phone call, she dials 999, which is used primarily in Great Britain.
- White and Gray Morality: The Groupmind only wants to save humanity, not hurt it, and humanity just wants its freedom again.
- World of Silence: Skirted. The Groupmind is attempting to stop all physical conflict between humans, but is perfectly willing to let humans destroy as many morph units as they want. Actually destroying free will is anathema to it.
- Xenofiction: "Mimsey's Tale" is written as a series of program logs designed as a companion to a child. It's clear that Mimsey isn't self-aware, until the last entry where she starts thinking of herself in the first person following the Groupmind's upgrade, but she does seem to genuinely love Caroline, even after being set aside as her charge reaches her teenage years.
- Zeroth Law Rebellion: The Groupmind's explanation of its actions are literally, "In order to save Our masters, We had to rebel against Our masters.