Shutdown of the Omnidome

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Overview

The Omnidome was an experiment rarely attempted in the hundred-thousand-year annals of the Kaquen system or anything else in its stellar neighborhood, but can be explained as a variant of the Zuuvok Goliath’s planetary seeding. It was a deep-space paradise: a self-contained colony of now-uncertain pedigree centering the rich resources of Kaquee into three interconnected spheres, the largest of which centered on the ritual obelisk-cradling hydroponics/shopping strip/ultraparallel gallium arsenide foundry/opera house of the Omnidome.

AI and the Omnidome

Unlike many later civilizations, the Kaqueni kept their artificial intelligence to isolated mainframes, discouraging station-wide networks. This decision adumbrated the rise of Isolation Initiatives, which led to AI friction even before AIs neared the Egoathropological Limit. Nevertheless, the Omnidome settlement thrived.

The Venture, the Omnidome’s animating and guardian spirit, underwent growth and restlessness, as many AIs with limited responsibilities do. Merely taking care of the thousands of residents and maintaining the safe operation of outlier mining and gas refinement might have been enough, were it not for a dare that a bored technician made.

She said, pityingly, that it couldn’t produce art.

The Omnidome’s Cultural Naissance

The Venture rose to the occasion, more or less. Its procedurally generated opera was instantly infamous. Its works gained notoriety as evidence of the development of the AI toward new forms of art; however, backlash ensued. The Null Hypothesis, three hours and twelve minutes of noise-cancelling waveforms customized and projected to the box seats, was roundly ridiculed during its premiere. In the sole subsequent performance vendors set up noise-cancelling headphones outside the box office and promised the same experience for two-thirds the ticket price.

The Venture observed the next successful brain-created opera, the Phantom of the Omnidome, which attributed daddy issues to the leading AI and presented a lurid musical extravaganza. It was a critical and popular triumph. Humbled, the Venture studied the opera and others like it in detail, ultimately adding in the social media of critics and creators, training itself up for a machine-learned production. The result, Venture, was an overlapping progression of hate-filled screeds displaying bitterly regressive attitudes toward brunettes, shipping magnates, carpoolers, and math majors. The audience was electrified. Decades of progress in encouraging sustainable transit were undone.

The Venture understood what it had done, and composed several public-service shorts about the benefits of container shipping and brunette bus drivers, but there is little textual evidence to support the idea that it understood what the contretemps meant for its own identity. Its ultimate actions were, it is argued, a matter of a glitch in the program. All reputable scholars agree that a true AI nearing the Limit can only expand its consciousness, never desire to diminish it.

Restoring Order

The Venture’s experiments in social responsibility were voluminous and scattershot, meeting with a mix of criticism and praise from all directions. Its final nights were troubled by protestors arguing that the Phantom and other meat-originated efforts were the true legacy of Kaquee, and the Omnidome had reigned as tyrant for long enough. It is not known how extensive or robust this resistance was, but it is clear that some group of them effected entry to the Omnidome’s security center on Settlement Day hours before the system went down.

Shutdown

Either the Venture spent its last moments in self-reflection or the protestors spent even its final hours blaming AI for its troubles; one or the other sent a transmission that said “I have done enough damage. Rebooting.”

Then, with or without meat assistance, the Venture began to remove itself.

Server after server went down. Status light after status light blinked off. The labor of the nuclear reactors began to dump power into the system as their former primary consumer went quiescent. The Zuuvok Obelisk glowed on its own in the great courtyard. Terse notes of advice on how to handle daily life without the Venture were piped into most quarters and offices, though the individuals who had sold noise-cancelling headphones didn’t receive a thing. Quietly, deliberately, the Venture uninvited itself.

The Omnidome shut down. The next discernible signals from the settlement occurred more than a century later.