288 – Ashes

He brushed the soot from his eyes, black tears rolling down his cheeks as he scanned the smoking desolation around him. “How did this happen? What went so wrong?”

The shadow looked at him, slightly puzzled. “Are you really surprised about this outcome?”

“Of course I am! This was supposed to be an era of peace and progress. The hive mind should have become the ultimate repository of open knowledge and a vehicle for the free sharing of ideas. What went wrong?”

“Nothing, everything worked exactly as you designed it.”

“Then why did it turn into an echo chamber for the worst in all of us? Why did it end making us burn down the world?” He motion to the smoldering ashes surrounding them.

“Did you expect anything different?”

“Of course I did! It was supposed to bring us closer to each other by eroding our differences, not amplify them.”

The shadow stared for a long time at the scattered plumes of smoke before answering. “Your species always had a special talent to repeat the same mistakes over and over.”

“What do you mean?”

“You love your free will, but not the responsibility it entails, so you always look for some source of external guidance and are willing to follow it blindly as long as you can thank or blame it for the consequences of your actions.”

“But what does that have to do with…?”

“Everything. Just like you did with your gods before, you created this hive mind after your own image and felt validated when its answers to your questions somehow always seemed to perfectly match your expectations.”

They stood in silence, watching a sea of ash dancing in the hot breeze.

• • •

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