The Great Convergence

Brett A. Hurt
5 min readOct 1, 2023

Everything advanced so quickly this week, as discussed in this week’s episode of the Hard Fork podcast. In that spirit, I created this short story with some advanced prompting in ChatGPT’s GPT-4 model. Welcome to “The Great Convergence”.

DALL·E 2’s interpretation of The Great Convergence

The Great Convergence

The excitement in the air was palpable. Billboards across the city screamed, “Homo Sapien 2.0! Upgrade now!” We were on the brink of The Great Convergence, a monumental period in human history where AI, robotics, nanotechnology, and humanity would fuse into a new species. I’m Jonny, a 26-year-old data scientist. I’m just another guy in line waiting to get his upgrade.

“We can’t afford to miss this, Jonny,” Sarah, my childhood friend, had told me. She had already undergone the upgrade, her cognitive and physical abilities enhanced tenfold. “Once you experience this, your limitations are basically non-existent.”

I was sold. Who wouldn’t be? From an ordinary human to a Homo Sapien 2.0 — capable of things we never thought possible. Enhanced cognitive function, superior physical abilities, even the power to communicate without speaking. It was revolutionary.

At the Upgrade Center, I got myself prepped. Sarah was there to accompany me, her eyes already sparkling with the advanced visual input only a Homo Sapien 2.0 would perceive. The medical technicians checked my vitals and led me to the chamber where nanobots would rewrite my DNA, integrate AI into my cognitive processes, and turn me into a Homo Sapien 2.0.

I lay in the chamber, the lid closing over me, enveloping me in darkness. A voice said, “Commencing upgrade. Please relax, Jonny.”

For a moment, I felt as though my body was disassembling, each cell buzzing with the activity of millions of nanobots. Then suddenly, I felt reassembled, sharper and far more aware.

“Upgrade complete,” the voice announced.

The world was different when I stepped out. My perceptions had shifted. It was as though I was seeing colors for the first time, hearing sounds in a new symphony. Sarah hugged me, and through our newfound non-verbal communication channel, I sensed her elation.

“Welcome to the club,” she conveyed without saying a word.

The Robotics Upgrade

Sarah and I were at a café — The Byte — a favorite hangout for Homo Sapien 2.0s. We were discussing various post-upgrade experiences when I brought up the topic of robotics.

“Have you tried the robotics augmentation yet?” Sarah inquired.

“Robotics augmentation?”

“Yeah, it’s an optional add-on. Essentially, it equips you with modular robotic limbs and tools that can appear and retract as needed. It’s awesome!”

I was hooked. As a Homo Sapien 2.0, our biological enhancements were already revolutionary, but the thought of adding robotic capabilities on top of that was tantalizing.

The next day, we went to a specialized facility. Unlike the Upgrade Centers, which were mostly for transitioning humans to Homo Sapien 2.0, this was an ‘Optimization Hub’. It provided specialized enhancements for those who were already upgraded.

“Good afternoon, Jonny. Would you like the standard augmentation or a customized one?” The attendant, already augmented with robotic components herself, greeted me.

“The standard package to start with, please,” I responded, a bit apprehensive about the process.

The robotics upgrade felt different from the biological one. There was a mechanical precision to it that my enhanced senses could easily pick up. It was as if I could feel each nanobot carrying tiny robotic parts and integrating them into my arms and legs.

“Upgrade complete,” the voice announced again, this time with a mechanical undertone that wasn’t there before.

As I stepped out of the chamber, I decided to test my new abilities. Focusing my thoughts, I willed a small, precise set of screwdrivers to extend from my index finger. To my amazement, it worked. I could feel the tiny tools solidifying as they extended, ready for use.

Sarah, already familiar with her robotic augmentations, displayed an assortment of tools from her own fingers — a mini blowtorch, a scalpel, even a USB-G connector. It was jaw-dropping.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it? Just imagine the applications — medical procedures, complex repairs, even artistic pursuits. All doable on the go!” Sarah communicated, her eyes twinkling brighter than before.

Life as Homo Sapien 2.0

Days went by like hours. The capabilities Homo Sapien 2.0 had were beyond comprehension for those who hadn’t been upgraded. We were working on renewable energy projects that would be completed in days, decoding the most complex problems in genetics, even planning interstellar travel.

Conversations among us were rife with speculations about Homo Sapien 3.0. Rumors had it that the next upgrade, set to release in 2080, would grant us with God-like powers — literally fabricating objects from thin air, manipulating matter on a molecular level just by waving a hand. People were excited beyond belief.

But that’s when I started noticing the glitches. Minor at first — sudden lags in visual perception, temporary halts in auditory input. But then they grew worse. Entire conversations would suddenly loop or freeze. It wasn’t just me; others were experiencing it too. We tried troubleshooting — yes, troubleshooting, because that’s what you do when you’re part machine — but nothing worked.

At first, the robotic augmentations seemed unaffected. But then, they too started to falter. During a group project aimed at constructing a sustainable energy module, my robotic arms froze in place, halting midway through soldering delicate circuits. Sarah had a similar issue; her robotic scalpel glitched during a crucial medical demonstration. The conveniences we had taken for granted started to become liabilities. That’s when we realized that something was seriously wrong.

Then came the moment I’ll never forget. The world around me started to pixelate, and a voice boomed, “Simulation integrity compromised. Attempting to restore…”

The next moment, everything went dark.

The Great Surprise

When I came to, I was back in a different kind of chamber. There were wires connected to my temples, and I was lying in what looked like a capsule. As my vision cleared, I saw a screen in front of me that read, “Simulation Complete. Do you wish to restart?”

Turns out, it was a simulation all along — a highly advanced one, but a simulation nonetheless. Homo Sapien 2.0, The Great Convergence, the capabilities — it was never real. But here’s the kicker: it was my simulation. One that I, as a data scientist, had been working on for years. I had almost forgotten about it, engulfed as I was in the fabricated reality.

Would I restart it? Of course, I would. But first, I would work on those glitches. After all, even in a simulated world, no one likes a system crash.

As I geared up to refine the code, a smile flickered on my lips. You see, simulations might be artificial, but they could still be a canvas for our wildest imaginations, a testing ground for realities yet to come. Homo Sapien 2.0 and 3.0 might be a figment of coded fiction today, but who’s to say it won’t be a reality tomorrow? Maybe, just maybe, the line between the simulated and the real isn’t as thick as we think.

So, I clicked “Restart”, eager to delve back into the world I created. Whether real or simulated, The Great Convergence was a glimpse into what could be, and for now, that was enough for me.

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Brett A. Hurt

CEO and Co-founder, data.world; Co-owner, Hurt Family Investments; Founder, Bazaarvoice and Coremetrics; Henry Crown Fellow; TEDster; Dad + Husband