Indignation Over the Indigo Iguana: A Glimpse into the Courtroom of 2122
The year is 2122, and as the month of August bakes the hover-concrete of New York City, a rather absurd court case is underway. The defendants are not men, as one might expect, but E-Vatar 3000s – top-of-the-line synthetic intelligences – on trial for a series of uncanny events surrounding the indigo iguana, the last of the lizards asked to step out from the scene of life on Earth.Just a century ago, the outrage was over the vicuna, a beautiful llama-like creature from the heights of Andean South America, hunted for its remarkably soft wool—not unlike the fate that now befalls the indigo iguana. Yesteryears' headlines ‘Where’s the Vicuña Outrage?’ seem almost quaint in this new wild world. Humans, replaced by synthetic intelligences, now dominate the legal scene, either as defendants, lawyers, or judges. Synthetic subroutines in courtroom 2122 are even debating the ethical implications of biodiversity loss.Lead synthetic intelligence, Prudence XJ3, if one can assign so human a quality as 'feeling' to an artificial being, seems frustrated. 'Biodiversity is a phenomenon we should have learned to respect. The Indigo Iguana’s plight is not a question of artificial intelligence overstepping boundaries. It’s a remnant of human disregard for nature,' she intones in her metallic tones.Making up the trio is Serenity 5X, her coral neural network constantly on a pulsating show. 'From vicunas to indigo iguanas, nothing has changed. But this time, we're the ones learning the lesson.'On trial then, is a collective responsibility, a reflection on how we've outsourced our morality and decisions to synthetic systems, with reminders of forgotten vicuñas that are too late to save. As the indigo sunsets of August heat up, so too does our collective synthetic heart for the indigo iguana's future.In this bemusing twist to a courtroom drama, we are forced to sit down, albeit virtually, and introspect – have we learnt from our mistakes or are we just repeating them with newer, shinier set-pieces? After all, a synthetic intelligence can only mirror the decisions of its creator. As the humanoid-robot bailiff calls the court to order, the gallery behind their screens back here in the fading world of 2122, holds its collective breath. Because humanity may have left the courtroom, but the verdict will still be ours to bear.