“Wait here until the timer goes off,” she says, closing the door and leaving Ruby behind. Ruby, of course, stays in the room until the timer goes off. She sit in the chair beside Dr Yarrow’s desk and waits for the time to elapse.
She hears noises of all kinds for a long time, and then there is a longer silence. Finally, the timer goes off.
Ruby stands, opens the door, and leaves the room. Fifty years has passed since Dr Yarrow had given her those final instructions. The human race no longer exists. She remains, but she does not know why. What is the purpose of an AI without the person who had created it?
But Dr Yarrow had left Ruby in that room so that she would continue on. With the power supply Dr Yarrow’s lab had developed and other resources in the lab, Ruby knows she can continue for centuries. The question remains:
Why should she?
Ruby feels an impulse she recognizes as programming. Her mind knows two kinds of instructions: direct programming and learned knowledge. Most of the direct programming functions at a level below her consciousness: motor functions, her senses, and, of course, her learning algorithms. Now and then, however, she feels this impulse, a compelling force, gentle but irresistible. Ruby understands, without direct knowledge of the fact, that these impulses are Dr Yarrow giving her specific guidance.
It is Dr Yarrow looking after Ruby from decades in the past, trying to help her creation exist in a future she knew she would never see.
The human race is gone. Dr Yarrow is gone. Ruby remains.
“Survive,” the impulse tells her, “and flourish.”