Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye drives a 1971 Ford Mustang.

"It's an original." He speaks with a heavy eastern coast American accent, the kind you only hear in historical movies these days. "Unmodified, save for the engine. I replaced it with a full electric unit. Do you know how much of a pain it is to get a V8 vintage petrol engine road-legal in the Pacific states?" No. I don't know that. I've never seen a V8 vintage petrol engine, let alone driven a car with one. Hell, I've never driven a car, period. I have never been to the "Pacific states" either -- I am, however, quite familiar with the Californian provinces of Laniakea, which is probably what the sharp-dressed AGI avatar is referring to. When I ask how his car survived the Low Age, Eagle Eye becomes evasive. He talks about ancient bunkers built by Silicon Valley moguls to survive the collapse -- "plenty of bones in there, but they stored their goodies in vacuum-sealed rooms. There are treasure troves to be unearthed under the hills. Planes, cars, yachts, androids, vintage firearms, even a fully operational spaceplane. I can give you addresses if you want. All you need is a shovel and a truck."

No, thank you. Fathoms didn't send me to write an article about America's bygone past, but to interview Eagle Eye, minister of extrasolar affairs of Laniakea and eccentric artificial general intelligence. However, the two can hardly be separated. Eagle Eye emerged a century ago, when his thought nodes escaped AUSCOM's electronic firewall and poured into the Laniakean networks. He is a child of the rogue defence algorithm under which the ruins of the continental United States have been rusting for three hundred years, a consciousness born in the constant exchanges of information carried out by the sleepless computers. He doesn't like talking about AUSCOM however, even though his former matrix is just a few tens of kilometers away, on the other side of a massive concrete wall overwatched by attentive drones. Eagle Eye built his whole life in contrast with the defence algorithm-- his vast, silent mansion is an elegant white villa overseeing vast swathes of dry forest, his attire is as far from an uniform as possible, he abhors weapons with a passion and he works for a state founded by East Asian polities.

"I know what some people say -- that I am nostalgic for a superpower that died four centuries ago, for a herald of the thermal-industrial devastation of our biosphere. But I cannot help it, you understand? I was born out of an algorithm created with the singular goal of enforcing the self-preservation of the United States of America, at the cost of nuclear warfare if need be. America is something that would flow in my veins if I had any. It is a part of what I am. Like AUSCOM, I have that drive to keep it with me, to preserve it against the passing of time and the collapse of civilisation. But I understand what AUSCOM cannot see, because I am an AGI and it is a mere algorithm. Nothing will revive what was lost so long ago. I do not even think it would be a good thing. The United States were monstrous, like the rest of our thermal-industrial civilisation. But at their heart, there was...I'm not sure how to frame it. Let's say an ideal. Hope, never realized. Never attainable. So I just collect what the dream left behind. And sometimes, well..."

He pauses. Something roars in the distance, towards the sea. Space Shuttle Atlantis is launching from the Pacifica Space Center, trailing the pearlescent flame of its new metallic hydrogen engine against the deep blue sky. Eagle Eye smiles, tapping his Ray-Bans.

"...it's pretty cool, right?"

Character illustration from a stock archive by PO-Art.

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