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The World Ends In Hugs

Craig has worked many jobs, most recently as a teacher of English as a foreign language in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he lived for almost a decade and taught numerous beloved students, before returning to complete his MFA and pursue his writing dreams. An avid Dungeons and Dragons player, Craig feels his publication in Daily Science Fiction is the equivalent of gaining a level. To read his random musings and hear about his current projects, find him on twitter at @Craig_Soffer.
The world is supposed to end tomorrow. I'm not worried. Just another in a long string of prophecies made by ancient peoples who got the math wrong. The world will no doubt eventually end, just not tomorrow.
I'm an anthropology professor, and tomorrow I'm giving a guest lecture to a friend's computer science class. I've got both feeds open, the feed for anthropology and the feed for AI and robotics, looking for some talking points for my lecture.
So I see it right away when some scientists start talking about AI support for the end of the world prediction. The clickbait draws me in. Apparently, a few super intelligent AIs were fed some data sets discovered on a Mayan tablet, the AIs tasked a few telescopes, checked some things, and boom, they were convinced.
Tomorrow's the end of the world.
It's 9:57 PM. My wife and my two kids are upstairs. There's nothing on when exactly tomorrow the world is supposed to end. Just that the AIs say tomorrow really is the day. They're not sad about it, because they're AIs. Just matter of fact.
10:17 PM. A lot of really smart people were probably going to come out against the AI prediction, but then the President came out against it, so maybe now they're conflicted.
10:24 PM. The president tweets: "We're not all going to die because some ancient people who couldn't do math in English said so. Not on my watch!"
You'd think despite the president getting it right this time, some scientists would also be saying the AIs were wrong, just to keep everyone calm.
I don't know if people are calm or not. There are a lot of hysterical posts online. The president is calling for a stop to rioting. I can't really find any signs the rioting is happening, but I guess it could be.
J-Law posts a picture of an unknown toddler hurling toilet paper around a bathroom, tagged #rioting #endtimes!
11:04 PM. One of my colleagues posts that major AI project teams in 19 countries agree there is a better than 100% probability it's all over, if the AIs know what they're talking about.
11:22 PM. The president tweets (with typos): "A computer, by definition, is not a smart think. It can't thing. Glorified calculators!"
11:41 PM. Glorified calculators!
11:48 PM. I feel like Jor-El without a spaceship.
11:50 PM. Just to be on the safe side, I decide to go to bed.
An apologetic eye roll is the only reply my wife gets when she asks me why I'm moving the kids into our bed. She wants to know what's up. She's been reading. Paper books don't interrupt themselves to tell you the world is ending. I don't mention it. I just tell her we need extra hugging.
She asks why.
I say extra hugging needs no excuse.
And it doesn't. You just get in there and start squeezing. While there's still time.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, February 26th, 2018

I wrote this story on September 23, 2017, the most recent date on which Nibiru, or Planet X, was supposed to bring about the apocalypse (previous near misses were in 2003 and 2012). A little research revealed that the end of everything has been rescheduled many times, and that many more deadlines for our species still lie ahead. While I'm optimistic, every prophecy of doom is a reminder to cherish family, friends, and all our fellow passengers on this pale blue dot that the astronomer Carl Sagan famously called "a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam."

- Craig W Soffer

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