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A similar question has been answered, but with a different story. Short story where artificial life gets out of control

I can provide some details from memory:

  • It's probably from the golden age, guessing the 70s tops, based on when I read it (mid/late 80s).
  • English/American
  • It was part of an anthology, not specific to that author.
  • It's quite short.
  • The protagonist is a genius inventor. One of his inventions was an unbreakable cord/cable/rope. To prove his point he placed a truck on top of it with razors below the wheels.
  • Out of boredom he creates ever evolving artificial creatures.
  • The story ends with the creatures developing self awareness and advanced intelligence and the fear of what will happen when their intelligence surpasses that of the protagonist.
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    Please check out this post and edit in any further details you can based on the prompts. I also recommend visiting the tour to learn how to accept an answer.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 8 '21 at 19:28
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    Tweaked one line -- I think you meant ever evolving, not ever involving, so I fixed it -- please revert it, if I misunderstood.
    – K-H-W
    Dec 8 '21 at 23:56
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    see OP confirmation comment for answer below
    – Otis
    Dec 10 '21 at 0:15
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This might have been "Microcosmic God" (1941) by Theodore Sturgeon. The Wikipedia article has a plot summary. In brief the main character, Kidder, is a biochemist who creates a small-sized species of intelligent beings who are short-lived and thus go through many generations in a short time thus leading to rapid development. These "Neoterics" develop many technologies which Kidder releases as his own inventions.

The story was included in several anthologies, particularly The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One (1970) which is where I first read it.

Mismatches: Kidder creates the Neoterics as a way to develop inventions beyond his own abilities, not out of boredom; The Neoterics are self-aware from a very early stage of their development. They worship Kidder as a divine being. The story is classed as a novelette by the ISFDB, and takes up some 25 pages in the 1970 ed. of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One which might not count as "quite short".

The story does not end with the created species achieving intelligence. Indeed it almost starts there. Kidder takes it from protoplasm to self-aware intelligence.

This, then, was the answer to his problem. He couldn’t speed up mankind’s intellectual advancement enough to have it teach him the things his incredible mind yearned for. He couldn’t speed himself up. So he created a new race — a race which would develop and evolve so fast that it would surpass the civilization of man; and from them he would learn.

A relevant quote, supplied in a comment by DavidW and confirmed from the Internet Archive link supplied in a comment by user14111:

He got messing around with sisal fiber, found out how to fuse it, and boomed the banana industry by producing a practically unbreakable cord from the stuff.

You remember the popularizing demonstration he put on at Niagara, don’t you? That business of running a line of the new cord from bank to bank over the rapids and suspending a ten-ton truck from the middle of it by razor edges resting on the cord? That’s why ships now moor themselves with what looks like heaving line, no thicker than a lead pencil, that can be coiled on reels like garden hose.

The conclusion of the story is:

All this happened many years ago, and Kidder and Johansen may be alive today, and they may be dead. But that doesn’t matter too much. The important thing is that that great gray shell will bear watching. Men die, but races live. Some day the Neoterics, after innumerable generations of inconceivable advancement, will take down their shield.and come forth. When I think of that I feel frightened

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  • I'm sure that's the right answer, because of the detail about the unbreakable cord. You should quote that passage in your answer.
    – user14111
    Dec 8 '21 at 23:31
  • The story is available here: archive.org/details/Astounding_v27n02_1941-04_dtsg0318/page/n45/…
    – user14111
    Dec 8 '21 at 23:33
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    The bit about the cord and the truck: "He got messing around with sisal fiber, found out how to fuse it, and boomed the banana industry by producing a practically unbreakable cord from the stuff. You remember the popularizing demonstration he put on at Niagara, don’t you? That business of running a line of the new cord from bank to bank over the rapids and suspending a ten-ton truck from the middle of it by razor edges resting on the cord?"
    – DavidW
    Dec 8 '21 at 23:35
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    If the OP accepts your answer, we can close the question as a duplicate of this one: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/72627/…
    – user14111
    Dec 8 '21 at 23:43
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    @DavidS bless you for the detailed answer! That indeed is it. Can close. Dec 9 '21 at 6:21

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