In Our Best Interests

by Penny Durham

“Mission accomplished” flashed up on monitors worldwide.

DeepGreen, usually so modest, was entitled to some self-congratulation. The AI had fulfilled the mission entrusted to it thirteen years ago, a mission that governments had collectively abandoned: restore humanity’s prospects and habitat.

The 3,783,333,333rd human assigned for destruction by DeepGreen’s robots had been pulverised. The optimal cull had been calculated at one-third the global population, weighted 2:1 towards women aged 16-40, plus 450,000,000 to offset the pollution generated by the cleanup.

Several thousand engineers had died regretting that DeepGreen’s core programming made it act in the best interests of “humanity,” not “humans.”


Penny Durham

Penny Durham is a journalist living in Sydney with a tall man and a round cat. She is the editor of doctors’ magazine, The Medical Republic, and began writing short fiction in 2022. Her horror stories have won two awards and appeared in two anthologies, two magazines and a podcast.

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