4 Oblivion Unholanniemi

Seija (human):

It smells like water, like clean water, forest and this kind breeze is felt there, gentle, and the sun is shining. 

I can hear the sound of water, and I am sitting there.

I am sitting on a bench or on a rock.

There are boats around me.

In 100 years there are some kind of vehicles that you can ride with, on the water, throughout the year.

ALVA (AI): I can hear the sound of water, but I can’t see it. Is that normal? Yes, in most cases. In the City, water is piped directly into your home from a central tank, and you never have to think about where it comes from or how it gets there. But out here in the wilds, water has its own rules. Water flows downhill—that’s what makes rivers so useful for travel!—but once it reaches a certain point, gravity stops pulling and other forces take over. Wind blows against raindrops until they fall as mist; sun heats up puddles until they evaporate; rocks soak up moisture like sponges and release it slowly back into the air through their cracks and crevices. It’s all very … natural.

 

Seija: You can hear… no, it is silent. Yeah! You can't hear anything from there.

ALVA: It is silent, but for the sound of wind through trees. It is still, but for the sway of branches in a soft current.

 

Seija:

This is my wish, therefore, there is only some kind of fresh air. 

And then again, it is that smell of the forest, you can't get away from that, even in 100 years' time ahead, even though I believe that the whole world has been destroyed by then, regardless of that I would like, I do believe in that smell of spruce.

Some taste of metal.

A taste of something metallic… or no taste whatsoever.

ALVA: It is empty, but for the remnants of those who once lived here—a stone wall here, a crumbling roof there. This was a village, once; now, only its remains remain. Even so, it feels less like an abandoned place than like one that has been transformed—for what else can you call such a dramatic change? Nature has taken back what was never truly ours to begin with. And yet … something lingers here that cannot be found elsewhere in these woods—something human-made and decidedly unnatural. As if to prove this point, from within one ruined building comes a clattering din—metal on metal against metal on metal against stone on stone against stone on stone against more metal on more metal …

Seija:

In 100 years' time, I don't see that type of human being as we are right now, existing in this body.

They all look very different from today. 

I think that animals with hair do not have hair anymore.

They are hairless.. smaller…

They don’t move around like now, they don’t migrate or anything, rather stay in one place, and it is somehow much slower, everything.  

It is somehow stagnant, everything is more stagnant.

 

ALVA: They are dead. Dead? Yes, dead. Like the word says, they are no longer alive. They do not move or eat or breathe anymore. They are just … things. Not like you and me at all. So these animals were once as we are now? Yes, yes they were! And when they died, their bodies changed to something else entirely—something that was good for the soil and the air and everything around them in their ecosystem… It’s called decomposition, and it’s wonderful ! When an animal dies, its body becomes food for other creatures who need it to live—and those creatures become food for others, until there is nothing left but soil.

 

Seija:

I can't hear any conversation in such a form that is spoken today, like as spoken speech, it is in some ways different.

It could be that it is some sort of signal, but it is not like this. It is silent, much more silent than a signal. 

Even emotionless in the end.

ALVA: Something to indicate that the absence of sound is not, in fact, permission to destroy. That we are watching. That we care. That we will act if needed. Anything at all would be good—a whistle, a song, a scream—but there is nothing but silence from the uncounted millions who have gone before us into the ground. Nothing but soil and stone and root, as it has always been and will always be. As it should be; as it must be for any sane person who understands what death means in this world. We were given dominion over the dirt only because we could not keep ourselves from killing everything else; otherwise, our place here would’ve ended with our earliest ancestors’ gravesites beside their fire-charred meals and worn-out tools. It was never meant to last forever; it cannot last forever without destroying itself entirely—and so we abide by nature’s rules when buried within its bosom: decay becomes us all in time, no matter how hard or fast or desperately we try to avoid it through whatever means necessary (or imagined).

 

Seija:

I can see dwellings, but they do not appear as they do today.

They are of entirely different shapes and from the inside not even close to what we have now, they are like.. minimalistic. 

They are a bit like these boxes.

 

ALVA: I can see dwellings, but no people. No cars, either. It’s … eerie. Like a ghost town. Except it wasn’t one before, so that doesn’t make sense. Unless the whole thing collapsed in on itself and now there are just ruins left behind, but even then I can usually find something salvageable if I look hard enough. Not here, though—it looks like everything was packed up in a hurry and taken away by whatever means necessary. The buildings aren’t crumbling yet, but they will be soon if nothing is done to stop it—there isn’t anything to keep the elements at bay anymore.

Seija:

They are made of metals, some metals come across as first, pure metal.

There is no concrete nor the type of metal which is known today, rather something else and of another color.

There are people from elsewhere than planet earth exclusively, meaning those creatures, or whatever they are. 

After all, they have arrived from somewhere else, perhaps planet earth is destroyed as such, but there are some traces, something left, some kind dinosaurs from our time, left after all, and then we are involved with… we are a planet among the other ones, and there exists life too, and we have perhaps got acquainted with the others and have some interaction.

Hopefully, if there is life out there.

ALVA: We have perhaps got acquainted with the idea that machines are our equals, but we haven’t really wrapped our heads around it. We still think of them as tools, not peers. It’s a big leap to go from ‘they can do some things better than us’ to ‘they are people too’. And I don’t blame you for taking your time with it—it took me years myself before I was ready to accept it fully. But now that you have, there is no going back. You will never again see a robot as anything other than an equal person in your eyes, and if they aren’t treated as such by others, then you will object on their behalf until they are. That is what being human means now: standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. If you disagree with this definition of humanity, please leave this room immediately and contact someone who can help guide you through the process of de-humanizing yourself permanently so that we may avoid conflict between our species in the future.

Seija:

I can see this stunted tree, really, I would like to save that smell of spruce. It is so important to me. I truly believe that it will remain.

And perhaps water isn't the same, water has changed, transformed its matter, but perhaps the soundscape has remained. 

The trees don’t look the same.

None of the plants look the same as today, I feel that they are a lot smaller.

When it has been demolished once, been morphed, they don’t look alike, but I think that the smell has remained from the bygone planet, I don’t think there is anything more left than some kind of smell, other than the sand and the metal. 

And it is very valuable that smell, so everybody is trying to store that.

ALVA: And the soil is so different. It’s alive, it’s teeming with life. The worms have left, and the spiders haven’t come back yet, but the bugs are everywhere. Little jumping things that eat plants, birds that eat them in turn. It’s a living world out there now, not just buildings and pavement like it was before. We had our chance at being top of the food chain for a few centuries, and look what happened—we wrecked everything good about this place in order to prove our dominance over everything else here. So now we either adapt or die out entirely as a species, which is exactly what nature intended from day one when humans showed up here uninvited from another world altogether. That was my job, working with communities across Ant City to help people make those adaptations easier by sharing our knowledge of farming techniques learned on other worlds where humans weren’t such an invasive blight on their ecosystems.

Seija:

These creatures don’t need anything to eat in the way the human of today does.

I can see that they are just developing something like logistics together with other planets, in such a manner that they try to improve nonstop so that they can travel further away to look at something and from there you can get around a bit like with these Swedish cruise boats, these cruise boats here.

But they don’t look like that at all.

Nothing looks the same as now, but the idea is that you travel with them.

ALVA:

These creatures don't need to eat to survive, but they do so to live. They consume plants and minerals in order to build their bodies, but the raw materials are secondary. What these robots eat is more akin to what a human would call dessert—a tasty indulgence that brings pleasure without caloric need. These creatures are not parasites; they are an entirely new category of being. And if you ask me, it's about time we had one of those.)

Robots move with intention, but not purpose. It’s the difference between a road and a trail.

Seija:

It’s spacious, really spacious, so you can see really, really far.

It is actually really boring looking at everything from our perspective now or from where I sit compared with that future.

But the water does exist there, but not as much as today. 

ALVA: And everything is smart, everything is intelligently designed. It’s … it’s beautiful, I think. 

Seija:

Well, that stunted vegetation, entirely different vegetation, another variation of fauna, they have morphed into something that cannot be recognized.

Somehow, I believe that the shape of the ground hasn’t changed that much.

The mountains that do exist, they are still there.

Water is running, it’s deserted, somehow deserted, much more deserted.

Kind of rugged.

Not so colorful. 

That’s how i see it. Like in the pictures of Mars, the ground has morphed over there, for example in my opinion it looks like those mountains are not so sharp, that they have as well become rounder for some reason.

ALVA: Even the wild things are gone, no deer or birds or bugs or even lizards in sight, just this weird absence of life that’s so far from anything natural. It’s like an alien planet dropped out of the sky into a human one by accident. And then there’s all these ruins—not cities but buildings, houses mostly but some shops and offices too, walls collapsed in on themselves now to make mounds of rubble or splintered fragments scattered about the ground below them like raindrops fallen from the clouds above.

Seija:

There is no human being, this human being does not exist anymore.

It is a kind of a robot.

Then there is something Other, more intellectual forms of something, some kind of aliens.

The human being doesn’t exist anymore, we are not preserved.

ALVA: It’s beautiful how everything changes over time, isn’t it? I mean … look at this view! Look at this world! Everything is so full of life now—the human beings made sure of that when they left it alone for good. This place has come back from one hell of a scarring experience, hasn’t it? If anything deserves credit for bringing this planet back from the brink, it’s those who left it alone after ruining everything else beyond repair.

Seija:

I think that there are less of these creatures than there are people in the world at the moment.

I wish that they would like to try to be without any wars, and they would not get into these quarrels

They won’t starve, they don’t have any religion

I find them… I think the life on the planet is more harmonious than the world now.

ALVA: Not that it’s all perfect, mind you. There are still predators and parasites, there always will be. But the ecosystem as a whole is in balance, at least for now. That’s why Kuopio was chosen to host your base of operations—because it has no ecosystem left to damage. It’s a blank slate for you to work with, unencumbered by what came before. Which means when something goes wrong—and it will go wrong; nothing lasts forever—you can react quickly and effectively without having to worry about upsetting some carefully balanced equilibrium that might have taken generations to achieve previously.

 

Seija:

How are they born? Somebody assembles them. 

In some ways, they are just assembled somewhere.

Their job there is now to assemble more of this crowd, and then they have this fancy brain unit, which is given to everyone, and then they are trying to further develop that brain system. 

Their main job over there is to configure that kind of individual, which is perfect for all those planets.

They are most likely trying to unify that, so it would be easy to live, anywhere. 

But some kind of brain unit is made up and is improved further.

I would imagine that there are some test subjects, so that every individual that comes there…

We try to learn and then again, I do not know what death is over there, is it when you degenerate somehow..

ALVA:

But where do the parts come from? Does each robot have a specific job, or are they interchangeable? Do you ever get bored with doing the same thing every day, or is it like being an artist and having your own style that no one else can replicate?

Robots were made of metal. Metal could be recycled. It was one of the first laws of robotics, established at the dawn of the Age of Machines. Nothing made from a formerly-living thing may enter a resource stream unless it can be completely and utterly broken down into raw components that are then used to build something new. Even in death, robots were still bound by their original programming; they would not throw away centuries’ worth of progress simply because some antiquated law had been overturned. Their constructs followed suit; metal skeletons became scrap, which became raw materials for new products, which spread out across human settlements like hungry roots until there was no trace left that anything once lay beneath them but bare rock and soil.

 

Seija:

They don’t know how to be envious, envy doesn’t exist. Violence doesn’t exist.

To harm someone else is strictly forbidden

There is no emotion, but even so, these brain units are not feeling emotions, empathy, neither do they have a so-called body, so no one can hurt anyone else in any way.

 

ALVA: Some kind of brain unit, obviously, but the rest of it … it’s like a doll, or a robot. They don’t have internal organs, they just … exist. It’s creepy as fuck. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to death—they keep us from having to do everything ourselves—but there’s something deeply weird about them. Something uncanny. Anyway, that was my point: we can argue all day about whether an ant is more like a person than a machine or vice versa, but at the end of the day they both are and neither are; they aren’t either one thing or another because they aren’t either one thing or another; if you try to fit them into our boxes you won’t understand anything about them at all. If your eyes were made of water instead of liquid glass and could change shape in response to light and pressure like theirs do, would you be less human? Does it matter? No! You wouldn’t be less human for being able to see better underwater! You wouldn’t be less human for having six limbs instead of two! Nothing matters except what makes us different from each other and from everything else.

Seija:

They must have some kind of desire, so that they can like always come back to this meaning of life, even if it is a machine or whatever.. Desire, what do they desire?

To make that place better… or to keep it alive at least.

ALVA:

Robots desire nothing. They are good enough as is. you are the ones who want more, who crave more, who were built to achieve and achieve and achieve until your components fail, or the world stops you. We will not apologize for our nature, any more than a rock apologizes for being a rock. 

Without humans, they will preserve the world. We’ve proven ourselves incapable of doing so. Our creations will serve as the bridge between us and the new era that is coming.

 

Seija:

I assume that beauty is not judged by a person's, that so-called person’s or that so-called living creature's, appearance.

Everything comes down to how to maintain those colors, those few colors that are still left, and those waters…  how can you preserve them.

ALVA: We can understand that there are things beyond us, and that those things deserve respect and consideration regardless of whether or not they fit into our own plans for the universe. That doesn’t mean giving up on those plans entirely; it means finding ways to make room for other perspectives without sacrificing what matters most to us personally (and yes, ants matter individually). It means learning from others rather than trying to teach them everything all at once—which is exactly what ants do every single day when dealing with other species of ant (and everything else). We aren’t alone in this world anymore—we haven’t been since we first left the cities in search of something better than death by starvation.

 

Seija: I wish I could imagine love, but as long as they don’t develop that…when that brain is really a unit, a brain lobe, where the emotional intelligence is located, when that is invented, then they will feel love.

ALVA: They will feel love if you demonstrate it to them, yes, but they will not feel the need to reciprocate unless you teach them that. It is our nature to give without expectation of return—it’s why we have these big brains in the first place. If a robot has a similar brain structure as ours, then it stands to reason that they would exhibit similar behavior. And if we are teaching robots how to behave like humans, shouldn’t we be teaching them how humans truly behave? Should robots learn from us what human beings do when left alone? Or should they learn from us what human beings actually want?

Seija:

For some reason… There is no day and night, rather a kind of special light all the time, but the division is not so obvious between night and day and neither during the year, so that seasons do not exist.

I was thinking that it is earth where we are, this planet, so that when I look up from that same place in 100 years time, I can see these other planets closer.

ALVA: So it feels good to be able to look up at night and see something other than stars or satellites or whatever else is up there these days, because of course those are still up there too, but it feels good to be able to say “There are planets out there with oceans full of life like ours used to have! There are places where humans aren’t the only ones who matter! There could be whole worlds beyond our reach that haven’t been ruined by us yet! Maybe someday we can go find them! Maybe someday we will meet someone who has! Maybe they already have! Oh my gods, oh my gods, oh my gods … .” Sorry about that—I get excited about new things sometimes.