In the early 90’s I read a short story about a boy (protagonist). I cannot remember his name (so let’s call him Adam) or his age, but I think he was about twelve years old. Adam was awoken by the sound of babies crying. He follows the sound down a corridor where we witnesses robots taking care of newborn babies. I don’t remember the exact number, but there were between twelve to sixteen babies and I am certain that the ratio of male to female was exactly even (not counting Adam). Adam sees human faces projected on the wall above each newborn. The projected faces are making “cooing” sounds to the babies as they are being taken care of (i.e. diapers changed, being bottle fed, etc.) A disembodied voice then identifies itself to Adam as an AI computer. The AI tells Adam that he in a spaceship that has left Earth and is headed to a habitable world in another galaxy (I don’t remember the name of the destination). The ship AI asks Adam if he would like to hold/feed the babies. Adam spends the rest of the ‘day’ visiting with the babies. At the end of the ‘day’ the ship AI instructs Adam to go back to his room have something to eat and go to sleep, and Adam complies. The next day Adam is awoken by the sound of children laughing. He went down the same corridor as the day before, but the infant nursery is gone. In its place is a room perfectly designed for the children of about two or three years old he sees playing within. Upon counting the children, Adam realizes that they are the same babies he visited with the day before. The ship AI invites Adam to interact with the children. Adam spends the rest of the day interacting and playing with the children. At the end of the day the ship AI instructs Adam to go back to his room, get something to eat and go to sleep. Again Adam complies.
This cycle is repeated every day by Adam and each time the children are a year older. Eventually Adam wakes up and is the youngest person on the ship. The AI still insists that Adam spend each day interacting with the (now) adults onboard the ship. At the end of each day Adam always complies and goes back to his room and ‘sleeps’. At this point in the story the focus shifts from Adam to the young adults. From the young adults’ perspective, Adam is an enigma. They all remember him from their earliest childhood, but they now realize that Adam is not aging. At some point the young adults realize that the ship AI (they also know they’re aboard a spaceship) is for some unknown reason keeping Adam in suspended animation except for the one day a year that Adam visits them. Three or four of the young adults confront the ship AI about Adam and demand that he be released. The AI instructs the adults to stop perusing this line of questioning. The adults realize that the AI will not release Adam and formulate a plan to break through the ships defenses to release Adam from his captivity. The AI sternly warns the adults that it will take drastic steps to ensure the safety of Adam. Four of the adults ignore the warning and attempt to break through the ships defenses surrounding Adam. All four are killed by the AI for making the attempt. The AI warns the remaining adults that it will not hesitate to kill them all if they attempt to ‘rescue’ Adam. The remaining adults cease any further attempt to ‘rescue’ Adam.
The focus of the story once again returns to Adam.
The remainder of the story is about Adam watching the entire life cycle of the remaining adults on the ship. He sees them pair off as husband and wife, although none ever have children. He later sees the pair bonds shift and the whole range of human emotion this produces (i.e. divorce, infidelity, jealousy, anger, etc.) He witness them grow old, and he eventually witnesses them die of natural causes. After the last of the adults had died, the ship AI explains to that the stock of humans that he witnessed through their entire life cycle was inferior genetic stock. The AI tells Adam that he if the product of vastly superior human genetic stock, and that he is to be the leader of the genetically superior humans that will inhabit the world to which they are headed.
Adam asked the AI why he had to witness the inferior genetic stock. As nearly as I can remember, the AI tells Adam that he needed to see humanity at its worst so he would understand how humanity had destroyed earth, and why it was therefore necessary to perfect the human genome and populate another world. If anyone else has ever read this story and would share the title and author, it would be greatly appreciated.