by Mario Kaiser
updated September 21, 2022

The flipping of the switch was publicly televised, across the globe, and was a huge spectacle – even though everybody knew that Ariadne had been turned on many times before. Otherwise the public spectacle would not have been much of one: Ariadne hadn't begun to speak until a few days after she was first turned on.

The amount of processing power that she had access to now was unprecedented though: For this historic event, she had been granted complete control of more than a dozen of the world's biggest supercomputers, to run wild and free for 24 hours and hopefully come back with something in return. Humanity, as always, had had high hopes for what it is she'll share with us after this experiment: in the past weeks we've heard it all, everything from an infallible weather forecast to the answer to life, the universe and everything.

After Ariadne had been turned on, she had showed her face for a few seconds, smiled politely and said she'd withdraw for the time being to devote all her ressources to the research – and that she would report on her findings as soon as possible, but definitely before the 24-hour-deadline. She was well aware of the scope of this experiment. Some channels were broadcasting the full 24 hours, and for the past 23 they had been mostly broadcasting a loading animation.

As the remaining minutes were counting down, people were realizing that they might get disappointed. The excitement didn't die off altogether, but changed in quality. It rose to a hum almost unnoticably. Some people were slowly rocking to and fro, some faces looked tense in their excitement, with their frozen expectation, with smiles prolonged beyond their best before date.

When the clock struck two minutes before the end of the 24 hours, the screen changed. The loading animation disappeared. Ariadne's face did not come back though. Instead, eight white characters appeared in the center of the black screen.

Soon ;-)

Crowds all over the globe gasped in suprise: Nothing would have been a result that was easier to stomach than this! In fact, this was nothing, but it was nothing with a vague promise of something at some point in the future, and the uncertainty of it made people cringe and cry out with disbelief and discontent. All the emotions that had been building up for days were now released and formed a cacophonic current that swept the globe.

At once, there was a vivid discussion between the members of the commitee, which reflected thousands and thousands of discussions breaking out in front of TV sets all over the world: what to do now? Stick to the plan, flip the switch and turn her off again? No result is a result, too? Or should we give her more time, more power? Why did she not reappear, but send a text instead? Why did she send an emoticon instead of showing her face? Was she like a human, trying to compute with everything in her power until the very last second? Or was it an ice cold strategy to get what she wanted? What did she want?