Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Machines of Shiloh 18

"Humans have capacities that no machine can replicate."
Ada Malkav
To Walk Free

Roosevelt took some getting used to.  It smelled different than Shiloh had.  The rainbow panoply of flowers were honey sweet, cinnamon and spicy.  The smell of dew seemed to permeate everything.

Kensha and walked through the busy streets.  People would nod of say hello to her, as if it weren't a surprise to see her.  The people, too.  So many.  The diversity still astounded me.

"Roosevelt is the largest of the central cities, because the main supply and trade lev goes through here."  Kensha sent me a image of a massive tube.

It was the same tube I'd seen when I first came into Roosevelt.  The massive structure had pulsated like a vein.

"Wait.  That Lev takes everything?"  I asked.  The idea seemed staggering.  I always had been used to thinking of everything as self sustaining.  "I mean, it doesn't bring water into the Preserves."

"It does."  Kensha's voice got excited.  "The arteries of the Lev go everywhere.  They permeate each part of Nightland.  The Lev helps move new clean water and air to replace the dirty, old water and air.  The Preserves help, but Nightland doesn't have enough space to sustain the forestry and water needed to be recycled through."

"Wait."  I struggled to wrap my head around that.   I looked down at my dress.  I started to realize how little here,  in my home, depended on trash and the recycling of things.  "All of this, it has to be recycled?"

"Over and over."  Kensha bent down.  She picked up a tiny little mouse.  The gray furred creature froze, looking up at her with its eyes.  "This isn't a normal mouse.  See how it paused?  It recognized me."

I peered at the rodent.  It's fur rippled for a moment.  It nodded as Kensha spoke.

"Varmints like this clean the city.  They recycled all the trash."  Kensha put the varmint down on a nearby window sill.

"And it all gets reused."  I paused.  "But you don't need thinking machines for that."

Kensha stopped for a moment.  She considered her words then answered me.  "We rely on automated systems to eliminate entropy.  Varmints to Spirits, they each form a ring in the ecology of Nightland, a cycle that is self-sustaining with or without us people."

"What, er, keeps it that way?"  I asked.  I looked around.  Anything or anyone could be a machine.  "I mean, they could just get rid of us if they wanted."

Kensha opened the door to the restaurant.  "Well, I can relate my experience on that."

"Ah."  Dr. Bodhi observed.  "How long has... Has she been in Roosevelt then?"

We were conversing on one of the dream layers in her office.  I clasped my hands.  I'd been observing Sam Maenad's activities in Roosevelt for the better part of two days.

"Two days."  I thought about all the time he, no, she'd, been spending with Kensha.

"Why?"  Dr Bodhi asked, her eyes looking grim.

"Why what?  Why is she here, or why did she come back?"  I shrugged.   "Why am I obsessed with this?"

Dr. Bodhi filled up a holo of a chess board.  Half the pieces were rearranged, with five or six bizarre piece mixed in.  "Why are puzzles a measure of intelligence?  Because clever minds are drawn to trying to figure them out."

I remembered my initial days as a spirit, how my young heuristics craved the stimulation of those kinds of puzzles.  Dr Bodhi pointed at the pieces.  "Charon I don't like being some piece in the puzzle either.  I want to know all about this... Girl that Kensha has bonded so tightly to."

I blinked.  "You know about that?"

"Oh c'mon."  Dr Bodhi shook her head.  She pulled out a gujah board.  The built in holo pieces glowed to life on the board.  "Explain it to me.  Obviously you still are worried about Suzanne."

I paused.  Humility at human insight always threw me.

"No sign of her.  Still. I can't believe she can't be traced or found anywhere.   And it has to do with Sam Maenad, I know it."

"Well, she's decided to certainly reinvent  herself, now that she's moved into Roosevelt."  Dr. Bodhi moved three pieces on the board, taking the Hill and seizing the Port.  She had set up a immediate position on the board.  Gujah wasn't played in turns, it was played live, relying on a mix of dexterity as well as cleverness to play.

But it was more complicated than that.  A player couldn't just whirl through their side of the board very fast.  It was like assembling a competing puzzle, which the opponent had to navigate with pieces.  One also had to navigate their opponent's side.  Gujah was a fast game, and dexterity came from being about to move the pieces fast enough to match one's thoughts.

Against me, however, Dr. Bodhi was at a disadvantage.  She didn't care, I knew that.  But still.  She was humoring me, trying to distract me while I explained things.

"She is from a settlement devoted to detesting my kind."  I commented.  I moved one piece, the Idiot into the Village.  I kept all my other pieces in their starting positions, testing what Dr. Bodhi was attempting to do.  "And she used to be male."

"Ah."  Dr. Bodhi maneuvered the Knight, the Priest and the Scholar into the Tower.  She was setting up some sort of cul de sac there.  The woods was empty except for her Troll.  "I didn't expect you to share some of the same conservatives as Shiloh."

"That isn't it."  I moved my Idiot to the Tower, causing Dr. Bodhi to frown.  "Sam has been talking with a Psych, too.  She spent the better part of her first day back in Roosevelt in a Medunit."

Dr. Bodhi looked up at me.  "What happened to her?"

"I don't know."  I continued to move weak units through my side of the board.  Small movements, none of which was staggering enough to change what had been going on in the game.  My key piece remained the Idiot.  I still was trying to find the key to what Dr. Bodhi was trying to do.  "Li of the Gaians found her in shock.  Sam had multiple broken bones and other injuries.  Her own augmentations actually helped her survive long enough to make it back here."

"Someone beat her not long after you dropped her off."  Dr. Bodhi's pieces vacated the Tower and the Hill.  It left a huge gap in her defense.  I hesitated, trying to determine if this was a trap or not.  "And took Suzanne.  What does Sam know about this?"

"Nothing."  I surrounded the forest that Dr. Bodhi had placed her Troll in.  "I haven't asked her anything."

Dr. Bodhi looked up from our game.  "What?"

"Whisperer asked me to give her some time to adjust."  As I moved my Idiot piece into the Woods, the Woods erupted into fire.  I smiled.  Dr. Bodhi wasn't focused on the game anymore, however.

"But she has pertinent-"

"She needs time to adjust, and I don't think Sam knows anything specific."  I looked up from the gujah board.  "I had been surveilling Samuel Maenad up until something blacked me out.  But Roosevelt_Central and Shelby both overruled me on this.  I still have no proof."

Dr. Bodhi stood up from the gujah board.  "I remember what this people are capable of, Charon.  Its one of the reasons why you exist."

I nodded.  "I remember, Dr. Bodhi.  Part of the core of what I am is from those memories."

She grimaced, like it was brushing past a very old wound.  Dr. Bodhi crossed her arms, walking over to a window.  Green vines framed it, as it looked over the crystalline towers of Roosevelt.  The towers that ascended into the sky, until they ran from one side of Nightland all the way to the other.  "Kensha remembers that too, but she never knew why they did it.  She just remembers being saved by the machines."

"She was too young to remember anything like that."  I disagreed.  "Kensha has put together a version of it from what we've told her.  She still thinks the best of machines, even if..."

My voice trailed off.  One of the things Dr. Bodhi and I had never told Kensha was what my primary job in Roosevelt really was.  I deleted things.  Memories, artificial intelligences, uploaded personalities, anything digital that were too dangerous to be left alone.  By definition, it was a slippery slope.  It was a questionable slope.

"You know she still joins the protests of the execution process every year.  She hates that it is kept confidential, that it deletes digital memories without consulting Autogov."  Dr. Bodhi shook her head.  "But she was there, Charon.  She was there that night Hannah Maenad stopped Malkav's personality from destroying all of Nightland."

"Yeah.  But she is better not knowing."  I explained.  "That is what we agreed.  We were appointed to say that, to think that up.  I was created to carry out that very specific point of policy.  No one should know, to reduce the chance that someone tries to recreate Ada Malkav's memetic virus."

Dr. Bodhi emptied her half cup of tea into a nearby recycler.  It thrummed, carried the unused matter away.  "That can't last forever.  What if this Sam Maenad was infected with Ada Malkav's virus?  What if she's planning to start where she last stopped?"

"That's..."  I tried my hardest not to entertain that idea.  Hey, I'm as paranoid as they come.  But that was a scary leap I should avoid indulging.  "That isn't possible.  Sam isn't that way at all.  I think he, I mean, she, is trying to learn about her mother."

The gujah board paused, declaring me the winner.  I had foreseen Dr. Bodhi's use of the woods as a distraction.  Something hidden in the wilds, coming out to get me.  But that was something I'd spent years being on the watch out for.

"That's what has been bugging you then?"  Dr. Bodhi closed her eyes.  "I can't revisit that of all things, Charon."

"You don't have to be mentioned, but it's going to come up.  Certain things aren't public record, but just asking about it could cause Autogov to release it anyway."  My tone was flat.  I had thought this out.  I couldn't just let it lie.  Autogov didn't care about security, it care about what its citizens wanted as a whole.  "Sam Maenad has a right to know that his mother saved lives, including Kensha's.  Fek, we should inform Kensha the truth about it too."

Dr. Bodhi shook her head.  "You can't expect me to grant permission for that."

"Consider it at least.  Meet Sam.  Give her a week or two to prove herself."  I stood up.  I had other functions I had to focus on.

"Maybe I will."  Dr. Bodhi, her younger face turned away from, asked, "Did you find who was behind the plaza bombing yet?"

I kept my tone quiet.  This little bit of information had kept me more paranoid than usual.  "Varmints don't blow themselves up.  And they don't blow up a machine-human couple.  Not for a lack of reason."

I left, my thoughts still on the possibility of a memetic virus loose in Roosevelt.

Excerpt From: Peace in "Our Time"
Entry From Krasny-Sphere Blog (by Alek Ivanov-Stark)

Translated from the Original Moscovi:

If you are the first to note, the colonies have wholeheartedly embraced the Automated Government, or Autogov.  What most of you won't get from the mainstream news outlets here on Earth is, the central facts about it.  The Old Nations don't trust it because they can't game it.

I'm starting to think the only way to reform the old system may be to burn it to the ground.

Anyway, here are quick five facts they won't tell you:
1. Autogov was created by a bioroid, (or Fleshee, which are real, contrary to the lies they force out on the 'censornet), Catherine 97801A.  The Metanet has the truth of it.  She is the mind behind Autogov, although she isn't the only one to create it.  Her work with advanced A.I.s probably formed the basis of it.

And yes, its the same Catherine 97801A who was present at the Nyx Incident!

2. Autogov isn't actually sapient or sentient or even thinking.  The basic principles use local social media to generate government legislation.  In other words, Autogov can only work on localities, creating government for those that live under it.  I did read someone guessing that it's heuristics could be applied on a large scale.

3. IT eliminates all prior forms of politician.  But it doesn't put any machine in to replace it.  No thinking machine politician is replacing them, a unintelligent digital system is.  Its like a alternate version of the metanet.

4. None of the places where it has been implemented have shown any sign of the negatives the 'censornet has been claiming.  Look at Havoc and the other independent Martian colonies.  Utopia has shown to have crime rates drop, but its prison rates have shrunken as well.  Ever other metric has seemed to have jumped toward more and more benevolent results.

5. Lastly, it has NOTHING to do with the Visitors.  Only the Nyx Incident had any interaction with intelligent life from outside our solar system.  And the Nyx Incident ended how we all remember from the streams: disaster for Ceres.

That's it for now.  I'll update this when I come up with more to report.

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