“What created the only example of consciousness we know of?” Daniel asked.
“Exactly. But I don’t want to wait three billion years, so I need to make the selection process a great deal more refined, and the sources of variation more targeted.”
Julie digested this. “You want to try to evolve true AI? Conscious, human-level AI?”
“Yes.” Daniel saw her mouth tightening, saw her struggling to measure her words before speaking.
“With respect, I don’t think you’ve thought that through.”
“On the contrary,” Daniel assured her. “I’ve been planning this for twenty years.”
“Evolution,” she said, “is about failure and death. Do you have any idea how many sentient creatures lived and died along the way to Homo sapiens? How much suffering was involved?”
"...We could run a society of them at hothouse speeds without any risk of them going feral, and see what they produce"
I'm curious to see if there's a collection of similar works that go down this trope, or if it is indeed something that's only recently emerged.
Hopefully it's legal and accessible for you.
I have been looking for this short story for decades.
Probably my favourite living author, which perhaps says more of me than him, but well worth the read (and re-read in many cases).