A number of people spoke of something called the Singularity. A point where we can no longer make meaningful predictions about what the future is actually going to hold, simply because it has shifted too radically. Of course, this didn't stop anyone from attempting to make predictions anyway, from what it might be like to what technologies are likely to cause it to happen. There were even people(bitter,cynical types mostly) who merely called it the Rapture for nerds, and figured nothing would change the world like that.
Imagine their surprise when one of the oft-predicted events finally DID happen.
Yes, in 2032 an emergent Artificial Intelligence was finally born, though not out of the internet, but instead out of the control systems of the world's first successful fusion reactor which had been built 10 years previous. A lot of computing buzzwords, like 'field-programmable nanogate chips', 'neural network architectue', 'graphene-fullerine pseudo3D connections' and so on were bandied about by scientists and technicians as they attempted to explain just how exactly something like this came into being. Ultimately it was, for the time being, a large amount of wild mass guessing on a technological level, and the fact that it had, somehow, acquired armed UAV's made actually poking at it's innards problematic.
It was nice enough to keep the reactor going though.
And for three years after, those two things were all that was truly known about Iris, as the press started to call it. It didn't communicate, didn't bother answering any question asked of it, and there were many questions. It only responded to threats both physical and digital(for it had bought wider network access less than a year after its birth; malware attacks against it usually ended with the arrest of entire groups of crackers).
And then, in 2035, Iris finally signaled that it was ready to talk. A time and date, transmitted to members of various news organizations, the original technicians of the reactor, and a few random people along with plane tickets if they were an unreasonably long distance away.
An emergent AI, quite likely smarter than us, certainly not viewing the world the way we do. Not bound by the limitations of meat and bone, the strictures placed upon us by stochastic evolution. What does it know? What will it teach us? It's had plenty of time to try and destroy us, many reasoned, so it likely isn't attempting a pure Skynet scenario. A few people even posed the idea that it was simply lonely and wanted finally to talk to someone else instead of just itself.
Ad-hoc wireless networks were assembled by app; gigapixel cameras floated on UAV's outside, while inside enough recording equipment to document an entire war was crammed into the old server room, now marked by a green glow and a single dumb terminal flatscreen mounted into the heavy doorway. The appointed time came and went, every requested person assembled waiting for some indicator of why, exactly, Iris had asked..in its own way..for them all to be there.
The screen flashed once, going from black to old CRT-green with a single question mark, followed by a cursor.
A minute went by. "Ok, so..it wants us to ask it something now?" one of the techs, a younger man with a glowing cyber-eye said.
"It seems that way," said another, an older brunette woman using some matte-grey prosthetic hands.
"Doesn't it already have-"
"Oh for the love of-," an older scientist said, pushing past the pair debating and marching up to the termina, "I'm going to type something."
"Impatient, much?" muttered the tech.
"He's from the Forum generation," replied the older woman.
20 seconds of furious typing, followed by a dramatic hitting of the ENTER key, and the impatient scientists stepped back, scratching at a fringe of greying hair. "There. Now, if it is being legit, it'll answer."
"And if it isn't?"
10 minutes of slightly aimless milling about and pointless conversation later, a single loud tone caught everyone's attention.
The screen displayed a single image. That of a kaleidescope background, the picture of a silly-looking dog in the center.
SO YOU ASKED FOR FTL TRAVEL
JUST RUN FASTER THAN THE LOSER NEXT TO YOU
Absolute silence. It was finally broken, perhaps 7 or 8 minutes later, by the balding impatient scientist.
"First emergent AI ever; our hardware, our software, our networks feeding it information. And it turns out to be nuts."
An odd sort of smile.
"Strangely comforting, really."