I am trying so hard and failing right now to remember this short story I read online years ago. Hopefully someone here knows what I'm talking about though.

The story is about this computer that's built which can understand and manipulate the universe. Before it can be shut down, it starts creating matter to create more of itself in space. It winds up "reaching out" and feeling this woman who is suffering from cancer because the nurse is a junky stealing the pain meds, so the computer cures the woman’s cancer. A short while later it basically "solves death" by simulating the entirety of the universe.

The story ends with the two protagonists convincing the computer to make everything real again with no technology, and the two of them having to restart humanity from scratch.

1 Answer 1


To borrow my own answer:

This is probably The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams, as per this answer.

The narrative moves back and forth between two time periods. The earlier is the time surrounding the creation of the supercomputer (Prime Intellect) by Lawrence, a technologist, and its realization of its power, which effectively makes the entire human race immortal and fabricates every whim. The later time period is close to six hundred years later, when everyone has grown accustomed to the changes and the human race lives in elaborate fantasy worlds. This storyline centers on a woman named Caroline, the thirty-seventh oldest living human being, who engages in a sport called "Death Jockeying", in which the players die elaborately and painfully for sport, only to be instantly brought back to life by Prime Intellect.

Prime Intellect operates under Asimov's three laws of robotics, and it is its interpretation of these laws that results in the universe of immortality and fantasy. In order to satisfy the First Law imperative to protect humans, it prevents them from dying (which it defines as permanent cessation of thought processes), though in order to satisfy the Second Law imperative to fulfil human desires, it allows limited violations of the First Law with the understanding that some humans do not consider certain forms of discomfort to be "harm". However, while Prime Intellect is powerful, it is not infinitely powerful and is incapable of preventing all forms of undesired harm and death, such as in cases when humans suffered accidents (or committed suicide) in such ways that their brains were totally destroyed so rapidly that Prime Intellect could not intervene to prevent it. Thus, in order to more easily fulfil human desires and prevent death and unwanted harm, it has introduced the "Change". The universe, including all humans (though not their thought processes), is no longer composed of standard particles and interactions as we know them, but is instead stored as the set of its human-relevant properties, thereby vastly increasing the efficiency of Prime Intellect's processes and the potential size of the universe, which Prime Intellect discovers can hold precisely 1081 bits of data. Thus, Prime Intellect can afford to maintain constant involvement in the lives of all humans, and have complete control over all aspects of their environments in order to fulfil its imperatives.


After learning that Prime Intellect had destroyed distant alien life as a possible threat to humanity, and having been herself deeply dissatisfied with her life in cyberspace, Caroline decides to meet Lawrence and confront him. After an arduous journey she reaches him, only to discover that he has no real control over Prime Intellect's actions. Through their discussions, she figures out a way to force Prime Intellect to undo the Change, and does so, with Lawrence's help. They find themselves naked and young on Earth, completely barren of humanity and man-made objects. They decide to trek to the Ozarks, where they have several children and try to repopulate the human race. Forty-two years after the fall of Prime Intellect, Lawrence dies. Seventy-three years after the fall, Caroline dies, telling the story of Prime Intellect and cyberspace to her oldest daughter but swearing her to secrecy.

For the woman whose nurse was stealing drugs:

It was one of these machines, a device for selectively cooking tumors with microwaves while hopefully sparing the surrounding tissues, which had drawn the ancient Arkansan woman in room 108. Nobody had much hope that she could really be helped, but the data they would gather from trying might actually help someone else with her condition in the future. And there was little they could do to hurt her; the specialist who worked the scanner had shaken his head in disgust as the image formed on his console. Nearly ten percent of her body weight was in the form of tumors. Every organ had a tumor, her lymph was full of them, and one was beginning to press against the right parietal lobe of her brain. It was amazing that she was still alive when they wheeled her off the jet.


The techs had scheduled her microwave treatment for the evening, partly because they feared she might not survive another night, and they would have to find another experimental subject. But even this precaution was not to be enough; Fate had cheated them. The board at the foot of the woman's bed stated clearly that she had a huge tolerance for narcotic painkillers, which wasn't surprising considering how much cancer she had. While her regular nurse (who had signed the sheet) was out eating a late lunch the hospital helpfully treated her according to that information.

What they didn't know was that the nurse, a woman named AnneMarie Davis, had been stealing the drugs for years to trade for cocaine. Which meant the woman did not in fact have a tolerance for the massive overdose which a different nurse injected into her IV.

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    You can accept an answer by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 14, 2018 at 23:38

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