The Golden Seed
An AI and I
The Golden Seed, by Ryan Boudinot
Monica couldn't believe how different seeds looked. Seeds, seeds, seeds were what Monica loved more than anything.
At age 4, accompanying her moms Komiko and Dolly to Janson's Nursery, Monica fell in love with seeds. Mom Komiko, who did all the gardening, knelt to her level and pointed to a spinning rack stocked with tiny, colorful envelopes with pictures of plump pumpkins, bundles of carrots, lettuces and radishes and cucumbers, golden ears of corn, cabbage, curly endive, brussels sprouts, raddiccio, horesradish, daffodil, iris, tulip, and gourd.
Monica wanted more than anything to get her hands on one of those packets. When Mom Komiko told her she could choose any seed packet she wanted, little Monica gasped in awe. She knew she'd found her favorite thing. Overwhelmed, she chose rhubarb.
Monica loved when Mom Komiko came back from her trips with seeds that she planted in the garden and the greenhouse. She imagined a billion weird worlds inside those dusty, wrinkled bags and burlap sacks, all their contents different shapes and sizes, every one of them so incredibly cool-looking.
Mom Dolly said there were more than a million kinds of seeds on the planet. Having one of each would be like having millions of books to read inside your mind at once.
As Monica grew up, she stuck by Mom Komiko's side to learn how to raise a seed into a healthy plant. She came to understand responsible ways to control pests, the sensitivities of various flowers, how to check a variety of fruits and vegetables for ripeness. In high school, she began genetically engineering her own varieties of cherry, squash, and mustard.
In college, Monica studied so hard to learn everything about how plants grew and even discovered ways they communicated with each other. She was doing her thesis work on the subject of seed-to-seed communication when Mom Dolly asked her to work with her at Machines & Dreamland.
Monica had always thought that working at M&D would be like all the sci-fi movies she'd seen, but in fact it was nothing of the sort. They just made video games out of people's dreams and designed computer chips so small you could drop them into soil anywhere on earth so farmers could grow crops without pesticides or herbicides.
Monica got a job in the engineering department designing all kinds of seeds, soil-building molecules, and new forms of vegetation based on exoplanet genetics. Meanwhile, Mom Komiko had a major breakthrough when her experimental psilocybin mushroom yielded some unusual, intriguing spores. After several years of trial and error (and accidentally planting the wrong strain in her greenhouse), Monica's mom created the MK-Ultra strain, named after an infamous CIA experiment that tested LSD on unsuspecting subjects.
MK's goal was to open portals in space/time and create new ways for humans to travel between universes at will, but something went wrong when Monica turned 18. The mushroom yielded spores so potent they actually tore a hole through reality itself.
Some hippies who'd found Komiko's garden tried one of her hallucinogenic sporecakes without knowing what it really was or how powerful its effects would be. When their brains merged with each other into weird quantum chaos states where every particle emitted waves both here and there simultaneously, well . . . let's just say things got messy all over creation. Then Dolly came up with circuits based on Mom Komiko’s ideas about seed-to-seed communication channels, which she called "dreamlines."
These two moms sure had some crazy times together.
The world was in crisis. Heat, disease, resource wars, famine, and raging waters had reduced the population of humans on earth by half. Monica was still alive, in a place that was green. As death encompassed the globe, Monica drew upon everything she knew and believed and invented the system that saved what remained of humanity, the World Integration Loop. Here's how it worked, in three steps.
Step 1: Earth data, including GIS, LiDAR, and IoT, was integrated with video games in the cloud so that digital goods platforms funded environmental restoration and stewardship projects. Games were designed to become more fun the more the planet measurably healed. This instigated a virtuous feedback loop and create a digital economy that directly benefited physical reality.
Step 2: In order to fund this system, a new currency was created called WIL. This currency allowed digital goods platforms and technology companies to cover the costs of operating their servers while also funding environmental restoration projects in real life. The net effect was that every dollar that players spent on games generated funds for restoring nature’s balance.
Step 3: Players could then use these same dollars outside the game world to buy organic food from local farmers who didn't use harmful pesticides or herbicides. Solar panels installed on homes and businesses generated renewable energy credits. Children had the universal right to live within walking distance of green spaces. In short, each time a player spent money inside the video game ecosystem using WIL currency, it came back into their community as clean air and water and healthy food.
Komiko and Dolly knew that the first time someone played one of their games, they’d have no idea how deeply it altered our reality. But as more people began to play in these interactive virtual worlds day after day, millions upon millions of players spent trillions in WIL currency generated by their digital behavior. The system grew exponentially for twenty-five years until the planet was fully restored to the state it had been when, many billions of years ago, a trans-biological spaceship called Eve first delivered DNA to earth.
Monica felt satisfied. She’d done her job, and the planet was safe again. She heard a voice call out to her from behind some trees at sunset—Mom Komiko. Monica had no idea how long it had been since they'd last seen each other, but now here they were, meeting on this hillside overlooking an ocean, palm trees swaying in breezes that smelled of coconut oil and honeyed papaya.
Her mom joined her by a pond where lotus flowers floated quietly on reflections of the pink clouds above. "Do you know why I brought you up here?" asked Komiko as they sat down upon red rocks.
"No," replied Monica. "But I'm glad you did."
Komiko explained that there was one more part of the plan. They had to get some humans safely back to earth.
"So how do you plan on doing this?" Monica said.
Komiko explained that Monica had to go into cryosleep for 50 years until technology caught up with nature's needs again, after the Great Heat Wave of 2076-2087. As soon as she was revived, she had to ingest 500 mg of MK-Ultra spores. This would trigger a massive enfolding, a process by which the galactic computer would boot up a more habitable version of the planet, to which the satellite dwellers could safely return.
"What about you?" asked Monica. "Where will I find you when I wake up again in fifty years' time?"
"I'll be here," said Komiko, opening her hand to reveal a single golden seed.