continued from previous
Jason hanged his head between his hands in desperation. He was rubbing his eyes and face, exhausted from 11 consecutive hours of staring into the same screen. Every climate model that the AI platform had been exploring had failed to predict what the planet was going to do next. The data tools had simply failed.
“I give up. It’s a totally new system” he said to Ben, who was also trying to make sense out of 9 months’ worth of data.
“On one hand we have the global fires torching whatever forest has remained on the planet. We have ongoing mass extinction events on land and sea which further increase CO2 emissions as all these lifeforms decompose. And don’t forget the methane” – Jason said.
“And on the other hand, we have this glowing blue bug in the ocean that is defying all expectations. I mean, there is actually a tiny cooling effect on the oceans from all the light emitted into space, and the damn thing has absorbed massive quantities of CO2 back into the sea. It’s like it was made to capture carbon”
“Just look at the CO2 on this chart. 5 months ago it started declining, almost like the drop we saw on the year of the third pandemic. Then we had several spikes, now it is stabilizing again.”
“There are just too many parameters changing at the same time to be able to predict anything at this point” – said Ben. “We need to accept that this is not the planet we once knew. All of our existing data is useless. It is a new Earth, a new system, and we have no historical data on it. Even our AI platform would need years of machine learning using real-world data before it can understand such a complex system”
“That is, if the system doesn’t change again” Jason said
“Good point” said Ben, lifting his coffee mug in agreement.
“And speaking of system change…” – Jason rotated his monitor so that Ben could see his screen.
“Well well well, what do we have here… this certainly looks like the early beginnings of a tropical storm to me, and we’re not even in hurricane season. I mean, its January for crying out loud. Keep an eye on this one for me Jason. Good spot”
Meanwhile Olivia was reviewing the first data that Decode had sent her. They had found the Apocalypse Locus transcript in 158 out of the 172 species that they had investigated so far. There were even remnants of the sequence in certain bacteria. Just like John had predicted, it had an ancient origin. In some species it appeared to trigger mutations. In others it was a “self-destruct button”. In certain humans, it appeared to induce a behavioral change via an unknown hormonal cascade pathway. What was picked up as “empathy” by the psychometric tests was possibly much broader. Individuals that were high expressors of the transcript described in their interviews a “feeling” of general heightened awareness of the world around them. This tended to manifest itself as a compassion towards other humans and all other life forms, but also as a very deep sense that we are all ultimately connected – not just related, but physically linked, like beads on a necklace: whether we are human or animal, present or future, alive or dead.
Olivia stepped out into her balcony on the 23rd floor. She picked up a jasmine flower that she found on her deck, bringing it next to her nostrils as she closed her eyes and inhaled slowly. She looked up into the sky, wondering where it might have come from.
(from the upcoming novel A New Earth) – PRE-ORDER NOW:
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George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books