Church of the Latter Day Mukuls

A fanatical religion whose primary beliefs relate to the wisdom of their Prophet, Mukul, and his dicates on the evils of artificial intelligence. Extreme COTLDM believers have been known to take this to the point of planting explosives in robot factories and attacking known AI specialists in their homes.

History of The Church of the Latter Day Mukuls

The Church of the Latter Day Mukuls and the Rise of AI in ReligionM. Weaver. Studies in Contemporary Religion, 2nd series, volume 148 (summer 3192) 256-261.

The destruction of the illegal AI at Cinder Seat (Q1) in 3045 marks the start of a rapid polarisation of views on Artificial Intelligence. Although not the first or the worst disaster resulting from the construction of sentient AI, this event turned the question from a solely scientific subject into the realm of religion. How this could happen is the subject of this article.

The first great AI disaster occurred in 2900, when a rogue AI destroyed the Gustav colony world and did great damage to Mars. The large number of dead and the scale of destruction impressed the importance of legal controls on the construction of sentient AI control on humanity. The Stickney treaty that followed the disaster outlawed the development of Moriarty class AIs. The Centaurians and to a lesser extent also the Martians have inherited a strong antipathy of all types of
robots from this trauma, but the rest of humanity continued to use sentient devices within the limits of the Stickney Treaty. This has not stopped humans from trying to build these high-powered AIs altogether, but has generally led to early detection and incapacitation of the device before serious damage was done. The false sense of security was strengthened by other important developments, such as colonial expansion and the wars of independence during the 30th century.

The initial impact of the Cinder Seat War was considerable by itself. Although not as destructive as the Gustav and Mars disasters, humanity was painfully reminded of the dangers of AI. The treaty of Stickney was updated and Centaurians and Martians felt confirmed in their attitudes.
For several decades increased vigilance resulted in a reduction of AI research in general and a fall in the number of registered cases of illegal AI construction. In the long term, however, the effects of the events were quite as important. To understand this development, we need to examine the actual events in more detail.

The constructor of the Cinder Seat AI, Peter Mukul, was born 2993.242 in the capital of the system's main inhabited planet, Alva. His parents were colonists from Novo (Q0). His mother was a programmer and his father a teacher of chemistry in Alva College. Mukul was quickly recognised as a particularly bright young man, who rose to finish first of his year in the Central Examination for all Sirian colonies in his quadrant. Sirian Cybernetics Corporation offered him a prestigious research fellowship and he quickly established himself as one of the main AI experts at the central laboratories in Petra.

Part of his work was aimed at optimising the power of AIs within the limits posed by the Stickney Treaty. The level of efficiency attained by his designs helped SCC to establish itself as the leading cybernetics corporation. In 3033-4 Professor Mukul toured several renowned universities across quadrant 0 and in 3038 he was lauded with the prestigious Mald Award for Cybernetics. Mukul returned to work on new designs, in more than one sense revolutionary. The AIMS committee evaluating the designs, however, refused to countenance the production of a prototype. Although disappointed with the decision, SCC complied and asked Mukul to focus on different fields. Wounded in his pride and convinced of the power of his designs, he left SCC and set up his own company on Cinder Seat in 3043.

Even as his business was thriving, Prof Mukul soon turned more reclusive.
We can follow the development of his thoughts and activities by the diary that he kept and has been preserved to this day. In the course of the 3030s Mukul clearly became convinced that he could dispense with the hardware limiters as required by the Treaty of Stickney. He developed a software protocol that he felt would prevent the AI from turning on human beings. The development of the protocol and some crucial design problems are noted in detail in the diary. It is also clear that Mukul's intentions were generally good. The diary contains some of the most lucid and concise arguments for the development and use of high powered AI, and how it might be controled.
To the reader it is evident that Mukul had fallen victim to Asimov's Fallacy.

In secret he worked on the prototype of his protocol, performing some astoundingly successful tests to close friends in the winter of 3044. In the course of that year, he surprised the academic community by announcing that he had solved Schuurman's Paradox, a mathematical problem discovered in 2709 and beyond the power of any AI until that time. He planned a demonstration of that solution to take place early 3045. This naturally aroused the suspicions of the AIMS investigators that had turned down his designs.
Despite threats from AIMS, Mukul continued his preparations. The AI, called LOGOS, was presented to a local audience on 3045.118 and the demonstration fully confirmed Mukul's assertions.

The initial reactions were off course extremely positive, and for some time the solution of Schuurman's Paradox dominated the headlines. However, AIMS kept demanding that it see the designs and that the AI would be dismantled in the meantime. Mukul said that it was 'dormant' and the investigators were welcome to see for themselves. The AIMS team took Mukul and the AI into custody upon discovering that the mandatory hardware limiters were lacking.

Prof Mukul

Events then unfolded rapidly. The AI took control of its surroundings, killing most of the AIMS team and wounding several bystanders. Mukul watched helplessly and horrified by his own creation. Initially unable to face the consequences of his actions, he tried to reason with the AI to turn itself over. In the following days Mukul proved uncooperative in finding more
aggressive solutions, which gave the AI time to extend its powers. Because it committed no further acts of violence, the local authorities were wary to intervene without outside help.

At the behest of AIMS an invasion fleet was assembled from Earther, Martian and Esteeler forces in the quadrant. Upon its approach it became clear that the AI had taken much more extensive control of the colonial defense systems than had been held possible. Because the commander of the fleet hoped to keep civilian casualties to a minimum considerable losses were taken before the defences were neutralised. Ground Forces and Marines then began a difficult march through the urban area of Alva, beset by mechanical contrivances of all types. The AI turned increasingly to using human hostages, which slowed the advance and traumatised the troops involved (MAD was then not as powerful as it is today).

Prof Mukul

In the meantime Prof Mukul struggled with his conscience. Page after page his diary testifies to the regrets he felt. Analysing his mistakes, he sought ways to regain control of the AI. However, it quickly became apparent that the AI held more control over it creator than the other way round. In long discussions the AI always successfully defended its right to harm humans in
order to preserve its own existence. It was impossible to disconnect or destroy the AI. Second guessed at every attempt Mukul fell into a state of prolonged despair, during which his wits snapped. Realising that he was slowly turning mad, Mukul understood that it was his only chance of ever escaping control from the sentient device. Initially turning to drink he tried to further his state of schizophrenia. When the AI removed his supplies of cider, Mukul turned to bring himself into a frenzy. Singing, dancing and finally whipping himself, he gradually drove himself mad.
By then the attack upon Alva had turned into a cumbersome siege, which was taking an increasing toll in destroyed property and lives, of which now also many civilians. Key installations were 'protected' by a shield of hostages and the only solution was a costly battering. Even the fleet elements that supported the ground troops were subject to constant harrassing, by shuttles filled with captive humans that had to be either evaded or destroyed.
Despite the great courage shown by all the allied troops, it is for the traumatic conditions that Cinder Seat has never been declared a battle honour to the units involved.

It is difficult to imagine the final days of Mukul. In a constant cat and mouse's play, Mukul evaded attempts by the AI to have him cured while trying to shut it down. In the end Mukul, in a fit of madness, set fire to his quarters. The AI, in what can only be explained as an irrational affection for its creator, then turned its attention to saving him. Marine elements in the neighbourhood noted a slight slackening in the power levels and immediately attacked the perimeter. It was decided to breach the perimeter by an orbital bombardment, despite the probable loss of innocent lives.
Quickly thereafter the marines poured into the breach, advancing up to Mukul's lodgings. As they entered the burning building, they could see Mukul standing at the top of the main stairs, holding his diary. While the soldiers destroyed the main CPU of the AI, Mukul was caught by the flames and tumbled out of view, as his book fell down the stairs.

Origin of the Church

In the aftermath of the Cinder Seat battle Marine Sergeant first class Billy Hunt IEN salvaged the document and started to read. Having himself gone through the traumatic experience of the fighting, he was gripped by personal struggle and the emotional depth of Mukul's writings. Hunt accepted the diary as Mukul's testament to humanity and determined to spread it
throughout the universe. First within his unit, and when he was discharged also in his marine colony, he offered the teachings of Mukul's diary to those facing psychological discomfort and insecure about the effect of machines on their life.

The movement expanded gradually. It initially gained a following among members of the military profession, but also attracted a significant number of people with mental disorders and depressions. Mukulism allows them to celebrate their disorders, rather than hide them. Interestingly the religion has taken hold mostly among Sirians, Venerians and Xyonists. In her 3146 Ph.D. thesis Professor L.V. Ciccone (Marley University, Haggai Q0) noted that there was a significant correlation between the oppression of religious minorities, anti-AI sentiments and levels of public acceptance of automated labour auxiliaries. As anti-robot feelings are common and accepted in Centauri and Martian society, these can be expressed without any fears. In the Xionist, Venerian and Sirian cases, public signs of religiosity are problematic, as are anti-robot manifestations.
The strong societal pressure has led to both phenomena to slip into illegality and secrecy where they have become intertwined. This marriage of sectarian religion and suspicion of modern technology, combined with the circumstances under which they must be practiced, have led to a tendency towards extreme paranoia among Mukulists. They are filled with deep fear of the power of machines over their life and obsessed with privacy. By bringing themselves into states of frenzy during religious gatherings they seek refuge from the Machine's 'ever seeing eye'. Individual Mukulists mostly find it difficult to conceal their beliefs. Their paranoia, weird behaviour and deteriorating mental conditions stand out in societies with rigid codes of dress and behaviour.

Mukulism Today

Where Mukulists feel free to show themselves, they generally live in closed communities, with strong survivalist characteristics. Mukulism as a religion is hardly organised and mostly egalitarian. Groups form around shamen, whose main function is to help believers attain a state of frenzy.

To this end a multitude of ceremonies and rituals have grown, involving chanting, incantations, dancing, drug use and various form of automutilation. These have earned them the nickname 'Mukul's Mad Dervishes'. There have been numerous cases of extensive damage to the physical and mental health of participants which sometimes result in death.

Not surprisingly, these occurrences make the practictioners even more suspect in the eyes of the authorities. In anti-Mukulist propaganda it has often been alleged that during these ceremonies human sacrifices are made, but this is more likely to have resulted from confusion with Satanists who may superficially appear to the untrained eye to have similar rituals.

The shamen derive their authority from having read, and memorised parts of, the diary. Hunt kept the diary hidden for most part of his later life. Wary of attempts to steal the book, it has been handed down for generations. The owner is named Keeper of the Diary, but it is only revealed after the Keeper has died. Although some printed and digital editions appeared over time, the cultists only use handwritten copies, of which there are relatively few.