Update: Alas. As we suspected (see our note at the end of the original story), it appears that this wonderful tale was too good to be true. We've been tipped that the original post was actually a joke, and that it was subsequently taken too seriously by the Internet - and, well, us. Apologies for those who found hope in the tale, but we still feel there may be a lesson in it for humanity, somewhere. Put down the guns, Quake 3 aliens, robots and killing machines. All you need is love - and a taste for viral internet humour.
In 1999, the state-of-the-art in video game warfare was Quake 3 Arena - a fast and brutal game set in tight, cramped levels, where the aim was simply to kill, get killed, and repeat.
And among its various innovations - of which, arguably, there weren't that many - was some rather clever artificial intelligence.
The 'bots' in the game - essentially the computer controlled players - were equipped with a kind of 'learning' AI.
In the game, the bots would watch your gameplay style, and adapt themselves as the fighting continued. The bots would effectively "think" their way to new tactics, discarding ideas that didn't work and honing in on those that did.
Naturally this got some people thinking. If you left the bots playing, on their own, surely they would get better and better… and then what? Would they turn into the ultimate AI killing machine - or create a nightmare world of pain and suffering?
Well now we know.
They evolved world peace.
According to a mysterious message board thread from 2011, in about 2007 one gamer set up a server of 16 bots playing each other in and endless, pointless war.
In 2011, four years later, he remembered the server, and returned to it.
According to the thread on 4Chan, the gamer found that the bots had evolved to do absolutely nothing. Instead of running, shooting and killing, they had learned that the only way to ensure their survival was to abandon violence, and simply stand facing each other, forever - as one gamer in the threat put it, "waiting for a purpose or salvation".
Nobody could win - but nobody could die. A peaceful stalemate had emerged naturally, after four bloody years.
Each of the AI files was a massive 512mb per bot - a total of 8GB of learned tactics and information.
Even when the poster changed the map, the bots continued to stand still. And when he joined in the game the bots continued to "just stand there".
"They would rotate to look at me," he said. "I walked around a little bit and they all just kept looking at me."
Then - sadly - he fired a gun, and the peace collapsed. The poster said that as soon as the first shot was fired "they all ran for the nearest weapons, took me down and the server crashed".
And now? Well for all we know the war continues, for at least another two years, until peace can finally return, again.
Needless to say, we recommend you read the whole thread. We can't vouch for its contents - it's possible this is either a hoax or not quite what it appears. But it does make for a good tale.Suggest a correction