In 2076, the world has become divided, one society led by Artificial Intelligence, and the other shackled with poverty, food shortages from climate change. Through the introduction of a pathogen an artificially engineered virus by the Governance, designed by their AI to create a permanent divide between the two civilisations, humankind ultimately bifurcated into two separate species.
With the discovery of a young girl who has an immunity to the virus, the Governance is forced to re-evaluate its beliefs and the separation that it forced on humanity.
Fire Over Light began in 2014 with this paragraph, a visual image of an android dying alone, desperate to the secrets that it had uncovered before it died:
"The scored shell of the Proxy, blistered chem-skin and twitching circuits, gave a human visage to its violent shutdown. Failing systems locked out of commercial data streams and disconnected from its own private networks slowly withered, as the hybrid-fluids drained onto the dry ground beneath, and electrical circuits melted and fused. Within this machine death, a glimmer of bandwidth roused an internal transmitter. It began teasing the data out of the Proxy, power shunted from an external source reigniting faded memories, and then pulled the data out in torrential volumes leaving behind an empty blackness."
Fire Over Light is written by Scott Richards, who spent 7 years providing analysis of counter-terrorism and counter-threat analysis for Government. A keen observer of technology and trends in society, he became fascinated by the advances in artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and how these changes would impact society, and how these discoveries are accelerating other advancements.
Fire Over Light is founded in hard-science, it takes liberties where required for the narrative, and that it is very hard to predict how a super-AI would interact with humanity. Google's own artificial intelligence developed its own language, and Facebook had the same recent experience.
The kernel of the idea came from genetic-engineering rather than AI. The cost of the research is expensive and if we are freely able to transmit enhanced DNA through reproduction, then wouldn't these companies license or seek to control their advancements to maximise their profits? Would that mean certain people are licensed to have children with one another, other people who have paid their fees? If this went on long enough, and only the few could afford it, they would end up as a separate species of human, unable to have offspring with everyday people.
The problem with divisions, whether that is race, religion or class, they create friction points. So how would the Governance protect itself from the resentment of those who have less? Fences and borders are resource intensive to control and porous. The simplest solution is to make it impossible for anyone not from the Governance to live there by infecting the inhabitants of the Governance with a virus that they are asymptomatic to. There would be no wars. There would be no illegal crossing of borders. It was a cold and efficient decision, the kind of decisions the early AI systems in the Governance were able to make.
Fire Over Light (beta.fireoverlight.com) is written in a series of 8-episodes that can be downloaded on a weekly schedule with bonus content delivered in between. The idea behind this was to deliver the episodes in the same manner that television is offered but each user has their own rotation; a kind of delayed gratification.