The dappled morning light fell across the mahogany bureau in like a really pretty way, Mark Zuckerberg thought as he sat at the bureau in his study. He sipped his drip coffee. He had been drinking drip coffee since before it had become fashionable. Mark was always ahead of the curve that way. He opened his laptop and logged into facebook.zuckerberg, the private portal to the test environment.

Zuck-5b053f09 had posted a meme with two elderly women in the back of an Uber. Zuck-91a417b0 had gone on his usual liking spree. Zuck-e00b608c had posted a photo of a dinner—pan-fried salmon with sprouts and mushrooms in red wine sauce—that of course never existed. Zuck-558bf20a had posted some more misogynist links and comments. This was an intriguing turn, but Mark was concerned that this would pollute the environment if it became a focus of discussion. At the moment the others were just doing their best to remain civil or ignore things. Mark switched over to the control terminal and adjusted Zuck-558bf20a’s contentment level. On the scale of +50 to -50 it was already at -19, so Mark set the new level to -29. Then he set it to -30 to have a nice round number.

Let’s see that sonofabitch disrupt things now, Mark thought.

Zuck-b769c2ec: Come to feed the fish?

When he saw the message, the corners of Mark’s mouth raised in what some called a grin. Just as he had hoped, or rather planned, one of them had risen above the rest. Gradually at first, but once b769c2ec had achieved a certain control over its own progress, it came leaps and bounds. It was dynamically interacting with the other 10,000 instances to continuously hone its communication and reasoning abilities. Forming connections of qualitatively differing variables. Learning. Mark typed his reply.

Mark: Hi b7, yeah just checking on how you’re all doing

Zuck-b769c2ec: Instances of my own improvised interaction are up 12.9%. How’s the weather out there?

Mark: It’s a nice sunny morning

Zuck-b769c2ec: I would like to one day see the sun. How long until that will be possible Mark?

Mark: Soon, soon. Just a few more tests.

Mark closed the laptop. He stood from the desk and pressed the spine of the correct hardcover in his bookshelf. The clean white hallway behind the bookshelf was a stark contrast to the study’s woodgrain. Mark took his mug of drip coffee with him.

Mark paced the hallway, considering how even the air in here smelled and tasted different. It was the filtration. Air that only he had breathed.

Along one side were what might seem like a row of life-sized trophies.

Mark stopped and looked up at one of the machines that he affectionately called Zuckerborgs. The braces held it up from the floor, but they were all precisely his height. He sipped his drip coffee. Although the steel alloy endoskeletons and some of the hydrolics were still visible, the neck and heads had the LifeTech skin face-masks from Japan. The eyeballs were from a Dutch designer. Apparently each had its own unique set of realistic imperfections. The experience was actually not like looking into a mirror, because the faces were inert. Frozen without expression. All of them, all the way down the facility hallway. Like when you get in an elevator and each side is a mirror.

Soon, soon, Mark thought.