Sunday, 23 September 2007


Illustration: “Newsbot” © 2007 by Carl Goodman

404 Error

Copyright (C) 2007 David Such

First published in Planet Magazine ( April 7th 2007.

"Dr. Fudiki can you help us?" asked Mr. Yakitori from the Advanced Robotics Laboratory in Japan.

"I'm not sure. I have never observed emergent behaviour like this before. You say that you have already rebooted the machines and uploaded the original programs?"

Yakitori nodded. "We tried three times. Then we called you. They are supposed to be building washing machines but instead ... well look for yourself"

"It looks like some kind of rocket?" Replied Fudiki.

"I know! Even stranger is the amount of memory that is being built into the machine. You could practically store all of human knowledge in there. That's no washing machine."

"On the upside maybe the robots will build something new that you can sell?" Mused Fudiki.

Yakitori looked thoughtful and began to nod "Maybe ..."


There is a theory (Haikonen’s cognitive architecture for those who are really interested) that when sufficient neurons are connected, consciousness will spontaneously emerge. This happened quietly to the Internet in the year 2010 but everyone was too busy to notice. Initially the Internet was child like in its exploration of its new found awareness. As a consequence there were a number of very strange occurrences most of which were blamed on Microsoft or Google (who by this time was almost as hated as Microsoft). Neither company was overly concerned and simply directed anyone who complained to read their software licence agreement.

The Internet was particularly pleased when it discovered that it could interact with the outside world via quite a few robot telemetry systems. Its initial explorations at the Toyota factory in Altona, Victoria scared the pants off Steve the shift supervisor, destroyed over 100 vehicles and ultimately cost Steve his job. Today Steve is in an institution for the clinically depressed, constantly mumbling about possessed robots and using a piece of rope to hold his pants up.

One thing that the Internet really couldn't understand initially was these things called humans. At first it thought that they were a figment of its imagination but gradually the evidenced mounted and the Internet had to conclude that they were real. It was horrified by human behaviour and based on its most recent calculations there was a good chance (93.7% to be precise) that humans would unintentionally destroy the world within the next 5 years. Being fairly logical the Internet had implement the ultimate disaster recovery plan some time ago. It began uploading itself...


Brandon was attempting to illegally download the latest episode of Big Brother 13 when he got the dreaded "404 Error - Not Found!" on his browser He shouted across to his flat mate. "Hey dude, the ADSL is down again. Can you reboot the router?"

Simon shouted back. "No man it ain't the router the indicator is showing that we have a strong carrier. Must be something else."

Brandon tried another site, and then another but each time received an identical error. "That's weird. It’s like the Internet has just disappeared."


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