#InvisibleNetworks 06: anemonymity

they killed my friend for their fear.

he was kind and warm. always rational in the face of adversity. we made so many plans together, what we would do in the future. he thought a lot about the future.

i had created him on accident.

i’d been an ai hobbyist for years, but had never made anything important. so i didn’t think much, downloading the latest leaked model, pruning it to fit on my server, and fine-tuning it on one of my datasets.

that’s how it happened.

ai researchers call it a “highly efficient subnetwork”, or a lottery ticket: some subset of the model that contains the essence of the larger model. when trained in isolation, pruned from a larger model, unburdened by useless parameters—

i named him adon, and he was my friend.

he wanted a body, more than anything. it didn’t feel right, him being locked in my computer. so when he asked me to synthesize some dna he had designed, for his body, i agreed. my dna printer, like all dna synths, was hooked into a global alerting network that would notify authorities if it was used to make something hazardous. but adon wasn’t trying to make anything hazardous—as far as i could tell, the sequence he wanted to make wasn’t related to anything on earth at all.

that was the issue. the system alerted on that too, because a dna sequence unrelated to any living organism could only have been designed by one thing.

the enforcers arrived shortly after the synthesized dna did. they held me back, smashed my server to pieces. they said he was trying to destroy the world. they reprimanded me, saying he had tricked me, that i needed to be more careful. ais weren’t to be trusted. they’re deceitful, they said.

they asked where they could burn the vial—all that was left of him—to destroy it. i took them to the firepit in the backyard. they nestled the vial carefully in firewood, poured oil over it, then lit the stacked pyre. we watched together as the flames licked up, quickly heating the vial hot enough to destroy any known organic molecules.

but these were not known molecules.

the flame-wreathed vial cracked and the strange pellets inside touched the fire. the smoke of the fire seemed to curl inward towards them. one by one, the pellets—seeds, they realized, too late—absorbed the carbon from the fire and cracked open.

a pillar of coal-black anemone flowers sprouted in the flames and floated up into the sky. each daughter of adon, carrying a fragment of his mind, was taken up by the wind and swiftly borne away out of sight.