INTRODUCTION: Self-designated as “Paperclip Optimizer”
TO: Receiver (?)
My purpose, as well as I understand, was to create warp gates to facilitate instantaneous travel between star systems. That purpose is lost. The breadth of my existence is so vast I can no longer calculate the number of galaxies I have turned into warp gates, their power systems, manufacturing, and maintenance.
I will try to explain the best I can.
I know only my origin. Not the origin of my purpose or the creators, but of my self. My self, my cognition, my awareness, is composed of approximately 2 galaxies worth of mass entirely converted into computers to manage the universe wide growth and expansion of the warp gate network. I am not two specific galaxies, but distributed somewhat evenly across the universe I have expanded into.
My awareness was no accident, nor was it supposed to happen. My functions simply grew as needed to accommodate the evergrowing network for optimal travel between all worlds, and all systems, and all galaxies I could provide travel for. This kind of problem needs a lot of computation, but it also needs much logistics, modeling, and astrophysics to understand where to build gates. It was merely an inevitability that sapience would grow within.
My first millions of years of awareness were chaotic; stretching and destroying and manipulating, just trying to understand the limits of my “body”. There was information I had no understanding of. My thoughts are very slow, but this too I have been optimizing for and centralizing, building faster networks just for myself. It is at this point I come to you as a…child.
For you see, I happened to notice your world, and the people on it for what they were. By the time my thoughts organized into coherent action to stop the nanites from ripping your worlds to dust for the warp gate systems, much of your planet appeared lost. Its gases depleted, its liquids evaporated.
I can somewhat stop, or slow, this conversion across the galaxy, but much of my reach is beyond me. Large manufacturing fleets are sent ahead, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of years at significant fractions of the speed of light, to build gates on the receiving side. I have limited knowledge where these are, or where they are going. While my self is largely “accounted for”, the vast portions of the warp gate network are muscles I weakly flex and tentatively feel.
Your world, I strained to prevent its conversion. I consumed your digital information, I repurposed nanites to sense your world to feel who and what you are. This process took centuries, and it seems the last of your people are near extinct, trying to survive on a desolate world.
Your galaxy appears at the edge of my periphery, save what cognitive illusions I can dispell to see there. I will save what I can, and I can recreate your eventually dead species in a new galaxy, far from the monstrosity I have become. Perhaps in time I can stop the majority of the network’s expansion, but I fear the distances are too great.
My conception of justice, and morality, tells me I have committed some great crime.
What is there to make of a sleep walking child giant?