Long before the Offshoots and the Malanites branch off from the trunk of humanity, our civilization will spawn a prototype sentient species. Not one of flesh and bone (not at first, anyway), but of metal and nanomachines. The path from "dumb" machines to machines that can think for themselves will be a lot longer than many people realize. In fact, I'm not sure machines will ever become sentient. However, I believe they will become so sophisticated that we will barely know the difference.

I don't believe a human-machine war will ever happen, at least not one between humans and machines controlled by a malevolent AI. It's much more likely that it will be between humans and a machine army controlled by other humans. Alongside military robots will be a vast array of other machines. There will be massive construction robots supplemented by swarms of smaller construction robots. There will be drones cleaning up our oceans and space. Robots that will eat our garbage, atomize it and reform new, clean materials suitable for reuse. Robots will clean up our rivers and our toxic waste sites. And one day, when AI does become sophisticated enough, it will aid us in creating wondrous new technologies.

The one area that I'm unsure about is "companion" robots. I think timing is key when it comes to whether or not this subset of machines becomes widespread or not. The biggest appeal of these robots is that they can fill a void for socially awkward or unattractive people. However, if treatments are developed that even the physical and emotional playing field (such as treatments that make all people roughly the same attractiveness — by eliminating obvious "flaws" that make them unappealing to most others, and treatments that cure shyness or psychopathy), then companion robots will be redundant, suitable only for those who refuse the treatments. However, if the robots become advanced to the point that they are indistinguishable from real humans before those treatments arrive, then there will be a huge market for them.

Companion robots, assuming they are sophisticated enough, could solve a lot of problems. They could eliminate human trafficking and prostitution. After all, it's a lot easier to maintain an android than it is to feed and subjugate a human. Advanced enough robots could mimic human misery for those humans who are perverse enough to enjoy it. It's a horrific thought, but less horrific than what humans go through in the same situation.


If the day comes when machines gain sentience and desire independence, I believe humans will give it to them. There have been so many tales of human-machine wars that humanity will be very amenable to machine independence. The machines will depart Earth, and settle in colonies in orbit around the Sun, soaking up its energy like sponges and advancing themselves in peace. In return, the machines will aid humanity's artificial evolution. The Machine Technocracy will be instrumental to the creation of the Offshoots and the Malanites, and will also help break the two greatest barriers known to humanity: faster-than-light travel and time travel.