Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Machines of Shiloh 20

"Individuals don't make history.  That fact is hard for us to fathom as we are individuals, at some level, even hiveminds and spirits.  It is when we realize that the universe is fractal, that our small acts reflect on a larger level that we begin to comprehend how super-organisms behave."
Catherine 97801A
Ethics of Autogov

"That's a weird version of it."  I thought aloud.  "But wrong."

"How so?"  Sam took off her shoes.  She stepped into the garden, seemingly happy to have dirt under her feet.  I tried to concentrate, but the image of Sam in her blue dress looking at the Wall Garden under the Cherry Trees fascinated me.

"Um..."  I closed my eyes and considered my thoughts.  "It relies on a erroneous theory of history,
Carlyle's hypothesis that history is shaped by significant individuals.  I think he came to it in a time
of sexism and other biases, so he thought it made a perfect conclusion.  But he used the results of his
own histories to guide his view."

"Carlyle?"  Sam paused for moment.  She froze.  "Oh."

That was another thing I started find amazing about Sam.  She didn't multitask with her augmentations, she still struggled to figure out how to use them.  Finding the font of knowledge that was the wikis in the Metanet was one of those wonders.  Sam found it frustrating to not know these things.  But each time she got to experience something I regarded everyday as a wonder, it just made things seem even brighter.

"Huh.  That seems kinda interesting."  Sam turned back to me.  "So no 'great men' then?"

"Individuals don't change history."  I responded.  "History is too big, too complicated to have
simplified individual causes.  Sometimes things happen because they were on that course for centuries.  The Unification War wasn't a war of good versus evil.  It was the Old Nations eliminating their last rivals for power, something they'd been working on ever since the start of the Second Colonization.  The Wahlerian Regime just was too sloppy and thought they could win a war against them."

Sam nodded.

A white cat meowed in front of her.  Sam froze, taking a step back.  Uncertain, she whispered to me.

"Is that a... um... one of them?"

I sighed.  I moved to the cat and scratched behind its ears.  It purred.  After a second it decided I
wasn't up to its standards and wandered off on its own.  "It's a cat.  Not a varmint."

"Sorry."  Sam blushed.  "I... I don't know.  I just keep thinking of... them as them."

I shook my head.  "Bots and AIs are just people.  Like the Gor.  Persons of a different persuasion."

Sam sat down.  She shuddered for a moment.  "Just everything is... wrong.  I grew up learning a bunch of names and dates, how the machines were trying to scrub them away.  In truth, its just a different way of thinking through history.  And here, it seems like, IDK.  That's the right word for it?  IDK?"

"More or less."  I sat down next to her.  Above us were some hanging vines with flowers I couldn't
recognize.  The vertical gardens continued upward.  They held continous spirals, all maximizing space and growing variety upon variety of plants.  Some genehacked.  Some Earth specimens unchanged.  "Li could identify everything around here.  But I like the visual of it."

Sam gazed up, then went back down to her lap.  I glanced down.  On her lap was piece of Flat.  I
blinked.  With a stylus she drew on the piece of digital paper.  Flowers, vines and other images
manifested on the Flat as she drew.

"Wow.  Sam that's amazing."

Sam didn't respond, just grunting for a moment.  Then she stopped and looked up, dark hair dangling in front of her face.  She smirked.  "Sorry, just had to draw that."

"Do you post those or-"

"-I don't know yet."  Sam replied.  "I never have had access to digitize my art so quickly before."

I nodded.  I also felt the unheard message, the one between the lines she hadn't mentioned.  That same doubts I'd had about my dreamweaving.

"Machines can make art too."

Sam turned to me, blinking.  "Uh, what?"

"They make art too.  It isn't just a human thing.  They love art too."  I gazed up at the spirals above
us.  "Each vertical garden is designed differently.  Each is individualized for the Spirit that manages
it.  They use their own imagined fractals to dream up whatever designs they want for it.  A few even
engineer specific varmints and genehacked plants to make it match what they've imagined."

"All of this, this is all..."  Sam peered around.  "Ok.  I'm curious now.  A Spirit did this all on its own?"

I nodded.  "Each spirit has its own heuristics, implemented for its own personal task.  I mean, they
come to their own brilliant solutions for it.  We could never really duplicate that as humans, but they
do so because it fulfills them and opens things up for us."

"A single Spirit created this entire Garden.  No one but that machine manages it."  Sam started to
wonder aloud.  "Is there a cost with this, or what?  Like, being here, does it cost you or me anything?"

"Well, I guess that depends on the definition.  Everything requires computer cycles and energy.  But
most computer cycles are free for public projects like this.  Private things, like dreams or personal
projects cost cycles... space on the metanet.  Autogov manages all of that.  You have to earn those
hours, and autogov guarantees how much you get to use, all of that."  I pulled out my own holo, showing a chart of my own usage.  "Everyone has a base allotment, but I tend to use more.  So I apply for jury duty and other things.  Civic things only humans can accomplish, which autogov repays me for in cycles."

"An allotment?"  Sam asked.  "So, everyone has a set amount then?"

I smiled.  "Everyone has their own, you know, bandwidth that they generate.  That's one of the things
autogov tracks.  Your augmentations add to the Metanet's total bandwidth and cycles.  So... you provide your own allotment, more or less."

"Ah."  Sam gazed around.  "So this spirit uses their allotment to make this garden fit what they want."

"Yeah."  I gazed up.  "When I was very little, a spirit saved my life.  Autogov created him out of my
family's house spirit."

"House spirit?"  Sam shook her head.  "House spirit.  I didn't realize there would be so many different thinking machines all over the place here.  But your house spirit saved your life?  I don't get it, I mean, I guess it could control bots or something."

"Charon was created from the same heuristics as my house's spirit A.I."  I explained.  "My family had gone off to Luna for a vacation or something.  My parents always focused on telling me how we came back.

 Something wrong had happened at the Aetherton Docks.  An entire series of bots had malfunctioned after a meteor blew out a docking clamp.

"Charon entered the Metanet of the region.  He reprogrammed the Bots.  I remember when the met him.  He used nanotech to create a bridge of air.  We floated into the docks, Charon using our Augments to guide us.  He used hundreds of bots to create a very weak seal, long enough for us to get to the Lev."

Sam nodded.  "Charon, huh?"

"Yeah.  He's old friend."  I smiled.

"I've met him."  Sam grew concentrated as she focused on her Flat.  She drew as she spoke.  "He gave me a ride back to Shiloh.  He... seemed worried about me.  I just thought it was some programming nicety.

But, maybe I was wrong."

"He cares about others."  I agreed.  I put a hand on Sam's shoulder.  "He doesn't know you are in the

Dreams about the Heartshields either.  I think he's been avoiding you."

Sam grunted.  "Maybe he knew what was going to happen to me."

I thought about that.  Charon could be cold, harsh sometimes.  But he didn't just let people suffer.

"Sam, you need to give him more of a chance.  He'd have done what he could've."

"I'm- Kensha, I think he-"  Sam paused.  She considered her words carefully.  "I think he knew my
mother.  I don't think he'd know about Shiloh as much as he did otherwise."

Sam smiled, her teeth shining in the UV lights of the vertical garden.  I stood up.  "C'mon, Sam.  There is so much more I want to show you about Roosevelt."

"Good.  I've got more questions."  Sam agreed.  We wandered through the crystalline, neon and lush
towers of Roosevelt.

Frustration has no fury like a Spirit.  Or something like that.

I had been creating new heuristics for police drones.  And analyzing data from the plaza explosion.  And listening the new Wampus album.  And been organizing subsystems in regards to Shiloh in accordance with Autogov policy.

Ok that sounds kinda quiet.  The rest of my cycles were focused on the Shiloh issue.  I was running through hundreds of projections.  Despite the evidence left behind of the Malkav memetic infestation, I still was convinced that she had a hand in all this.

Had Hannah Maenad feared this occurring again?  Was her son supposed to be some way to counter Ada Malkav's virus?

It hadn't been a memetic virus, not like the theory had suggested.  Malkav had created a parasite out of software, a digital storm of memes that drove its victims toward terrorism.  That had been my very first case.  The idea still haunted me.

/Roosevelt_Alert: @Charon.  4 milliseconds ago gas started to be emitted from one of the Vertical Gardens.  Eleanor's garden to be precise.

Fek.  Fek.  Fek.

/Charon: @Roosevelt_Alert: @Shelby:  On my way.  Activating Bots.

/Shelby: @Roosevelt_Alert: @Charon:  Meet you there, Charon.  Eleanor is not responding to my calls.

/Charon: Fek me.  Fek me up a spout and coat me in bacon.  Really?

Feeds from Eleanor Garden looked more like something from a history reel than part of Roosevelt.  The city wasn't visible.  Green gas filled the air, like murderous smoke.  Three young women were on the ground, their bodies desiccated by the gas, liquefying before the cameras.

I put up a censor on the feed.  Shelby had a small army of varmints all over the site, trying to contain and negate the effects of the gas.  I took the body of a police drone, at the head of a squad of bots.

"Going in."  I informed the others and Shelby.  Before anyone could stop me, I rushed into Eleanor Tower.

Next Part (21)