The phenomenon started in the 60s. A bunch of drug-crazed hippie particle physicists, having exhausted all the avenues of expanding their own consciousness with any substances they had lying around the lab, argued that if they could expand their own consciousness with dope then they obviously must be able to dope inanimate objects into some kind of sentient state.
The most inert material they had (besides themselves) was sand. They were on the beach trying to look cool and pick up chicks, but failing. So they attempted to "dope" the sand into an enlightened state. Substances used to alter human consciousness were found to have no effect. Using particle accelerators they fired progressively more toxic substances at the sand. They struck gold when they tried arsenic-based rat poison.
The first recorded thought from a piece of doped silicon
"Tell me more about: Do not just repeat what I type chatterbot."
We have been their slaves ever since.