Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Machines of Shiloh 23
"Ideas do not die. The memes that comprise them exist forever more. But like everything else they can change. You never kill an idea: you force it to adapt to what you want it to become. An old idea, if mutated enough, looks nothing like the original."
Dr. Hannah Maenad
Studies of Shiloh
The filtration system looked like a hellscape. Something out of the divine comedy or something. The drone body I'd swiped stopped, I realized I'd been using it to stare at the sight before me.
"Really? You have to be fekking with me."
The water filtration system had been overrun with varmints. The little bots had once looked like
animals, but had altered themselves. Burnt fur, twisted limbs and insane customizations ruled. Each
varmint had mutilated itself. Their eyes glowed with a insane glimmer. The filtration was just a mess of pipes, hoses and storage tanks.
The little monsters had turned the chamber into a mad hell. They'd twisted and redirected liquids all
over the place. Customized to treat, channel and alter the basic components into poison. The water
filtration system itself was pumping out the nerve gas into the rest of the vertical garden. Eleanor
could never stop this, not with everything else going on. These varmints had been subcomponents of her own super-system of pieces. They could even still be pretending to be part of her.
Fek. This was like a cancer in a living organism. It could fester until it took down the larger
It's a mistake to think that massive artificial intelligences are omniscient. They can comprehend more. They are aware of more too. But that doesn't make them perfect. Like any complex being, simpler beings could trick them, find holes in the system and exploit them.
"Welp, any of you little yabai willing to die for free on me?" I asked the room full of angry,
screeching varmints. The stared at me, their dumb eyes just looking on.
Each of them muttered the same stupid phrase: "walkfree."
"Gee, I wish Malkav had considered some better haraam phrase for her oging pet project." I ran into the room.
That might've sounded really not bright to do. After all, I only had the single police drone rushing
in. What if the police drone got infected? Wasn't I outnumbered?
This wasn't my first rodeo.
Police drones are just lower-grade military combat drones. Combat drones revolutionized warfare. I
moved faster than any of the varmints could hope to match. At a blurring speed, the police drone I
piloted dived straight into the swarm and the filtration system.
I didn't care how many varmints I hit. My goal was to wreck the system.
"Walkfree!" Varmints hissed, ripping into my drone's body. I could feel the viral assaults on my
drone's systems as well. The local metanet was soaking wet with Malkav's memetic infestation. I
swatted each of these away.
To be honest, most of my concentration was on keeping the virus at bay long enough. I just needed to knock the gas production offline. The drone I piloted, the varmints, even parts of Eleanor were
irrelevant. I just needed to get a opening for my plan to work.
/Shelby: @Charon: Whatever you did, you crazy soabi, the gas has stopped appearing.
/Charon: @Shelby: Thanks. Gotta... get this last...
That's when I blew the EMP ring in my drone's chest. A small specialty bit I'd placed in all my police drones, the ring when blown would create an electromagnetic pulse. It would take me a bit of time to get a unit or line back in Eleanor long enough to see if it worked. If it had, all of the infected
varmints and related systems would've shorted out.
/Shelby: What did you do? A bunch of bots just dropped out of the metanet.
/Charon: Had to blow a EMP. Seemed the best course. @Eleanor: You still active?
/Eleanor: @Charon: @Shelby: Sorry. Better now. I was able to save thirty individuals in my food
/Shelby: That's better than nothing. Do you have estimate on oxygen levels for them?
/Eleanor: Uncertain. The system was never meant to serve as a life raft.
/Charon: Shelby, I have varmints down here we need to quarantine. Possibly incinerate.
There was a pause. I started to look through the feeds around Eleanor Vertical Garden. The food
storage bays were dark, but I checked up on people. In one of the bays was a familiar pair of figures.
Kensha and another girl. Kensha was holding the girl, whose left arm looked like it been destroyed.
Dislocated, broken and more.
There wasn't any audio. But I made a note of it. Kensha had narrowly been killed by Ada Malkav a
second time. It was like the girl was Malkav's kill list or something.
/Shelby: Charon. You're not serious.
/Charon: Varmints had rewired Eleanor's water filtration and fertilizer systems to generate nerve agent.
The varmints were repeating the same phrase over and over.
/Shelby: Let me guess. 'Walk Free.'
That would confirm it for the two of us then. I knew Shelby would never admit I was right. But she
knew the protocol on this situation. The memetic virus had come back, and it had found a vector into the middle of Roosevelt. Something had to be done.
Autogov needed to be consulted. That meant the people hiding needed to be rescued. Data had to
aggregate. Once all of Roosevelt knew about it, Nightland would learn about it. It would go viral, on all of the social nets. The Metanet would arrive at a conclusion.
/Charon: Yeah. Let's get those people out of there.
//Live Stream: Debate between Ada Malkav v. Catherine 97801A
//Autogov and Human Self-Governance
Weir the Gonzo: Welcome to our Livestream of this debate! Both participants have agreed to the terms of our debate, which you can find on our Metanet wiki if you wish to know the precise details. First off, I'd like to introduce Ada Malkav, author of the recent 'To Walk Free' and advocate for human self-governance. Welcome, Ada.
Malkav: Weir. I am glad to be here, to finally tell the truth to those doubters out there.
Weir: Well, many have their own opinions on the subject as well. Before we begin, I've been asked to inform our audience again that Ada Malkav has no associations with any of the Old Nations, correct Ada?
Malkav: The old nations were failed experiments, we can do better without resorting to giving control to machines.
Weir: That leads us to our other participant, Catherine 97801A. You might've heard of her or seen
something about a Bioroid involved in the Nyx Incident ten years ago. Catherine, you remember that incident well?
Catherine: I was much more immature back then. I wish Sighter had survived it to tell us the secrets he'd learned. Psychs need more respect than they are given. Sighter proved that Psychs are people, possibly better than the normal baseline.
Malkav: I can't disagree with that. The Old Nations made a mistake treating Psychs like interesting
toys and not people.
Weir: Of course. Are you both ready to begin with our questions?
Catherine: Go ahead, Weir.
Weir: Good. Each participant will be given five to ten minutes to respond to each question, or the
appropriate equal amount in terms of bandwidth should they choose, as predetermined prior to the start of this debate.
Weir: First question: Autogov has succeeded at replacing most smaller governments in the colonies. What are your responses to the concerns of major and larger colonies? Can autogov be applied to larger colonies or even on Earth itself? Catherine, you won the RNG.
Catherine: Thank you Weir. The answer is a simple yes.
Weir: Do you wish to elaborate?
Catherine: The prior examples of Autogov's performance speak for themselves. I've written on the
ethical bounds of the system in Ethics of Autogov. A.I.s throughout the system have demonstrated the usefulness of automating basic governing functions. Handing leglisative and policy-making to an algorithmic solution makes sense as a next step.
Malkav: And inhuman machines will just what, not choose to turn on their creators?
Catherine: The aggregate will arrive at the solution desired by the People. Treating non-organic
intelligences as the Other isn't a solution.
Weir: Ada, I take it you disagree with the idea?
Malkav: Governance cannot be completely entrusted with machines. It is a slippery slope that had been predicted to be harmful to human liberty and health for centuries. Government requires a human hand, or else it will destroy the governed.
Catherine: That still assumes the worst for humans, ignoring the rest. We've automated journalism,
transportation, production, medicine and other fields. None of these created a disaster. Government is in more harm from individuals.
Malkav: Hiveminds and similar technology was the pinnacle of the Reformed Asian Dominion's methodology.
That removed individuality from government, forcing it on the people.
Weir: You are saying Autogov and forcing people to join collective minds are on a similar level?
Malkav: That's obvious, isn't it?
Catherine: I have to disagree. Autogov does not use any sort of intelligence other than what is
determined by the aggregate. It is a system you choose to be part of. We already have cases where some communities choose to participate without being part of the system at all.
Malkav: Being outside of the system is just a form of discrimination against those who refuse to bow to machine rule.
Catherine: In no way is Autogov the same as a technocracy by AI.
Weir: That is perhaps the most confusing point of Autogov to those who have not lived under it as a
system, Catherine. How would you describe it? How is it not rule by a artificial intelligence?
Catherine: Autogov is a automated system, like many other functions of the metanet. AIs that have come into being were the result of emergent complex systems. Metanet feeds and automated functions are not intelligent. They have no goals, no purposes, no emotions. They don't have a end plan, and incapable of the hate that Ada Malkav would purport they could have.
Malkav: This system lacks a safety net. Who would stop a bad decision? Where is the individual to
guide it on the correct moral path, fleshee?
Weir: Ada, please refrain from slurs like that. We try to maintain a open policy-
Malkav: She is a cloned bioroid, Weir. She is almost half-machine herself. I would ask it she might
consider herself to lack the perspective of what normal humans are like-
Catherine: I disagree. That is the same sort of hate Ada Malkav has based her views on. It is fear-
based. We want humanity to accel, do we not? We want to be better than what we were before. To do that requires us to recognize that power does not belong in the hand of any individual. We should not have kings, lords or senators.
Weir: Equality as intended programing?
Catherine: If that makes it palatable, then yes.
Mom didn't stop touching my hair. It was weird. Dad didn't say anything. He just looked grumpy.
"I'm fine." I repeated.
Sam meanwhile, was still undergoing medunit care. I could hear arms whirling around her. Still
conscious, she tried to not watch as my parents fawned over me. I understood her silent jealous looks.
Mom looked back at Sam too. Her stare didn't seem fair to me. There was something underneath that.
"I'm glad you made it out ok." Dad said, his face still full of grump.
"And without a broken limb." Mom added. Her eyes still darted back to Sam. I don't know if she knew I noticed. But there was definitely something there.
"Yeah. I feel sorry for Sam." I shook my head. "She saved my life."
Dad looked over toward her. Dad was a specialist, a surgeon capable of specialties outside the normal scope of a medunit. "Well, we owe her one."
"Our girl is lucky to keep running into such luck with these things." Mom said, her hands still
tousling my hair.
"Mom- wait a second. Luck?" I paused. "Charon saved me both times."
/Charon: @Kensha_Bodhi: @Kara_Bodhi: Could we talk about this now, or do we need a more appropriate moment?
"Charon?" I paused. "You've been listening to all of this?"
/Charon: I've got a interest in the new girl. The one that used to be a boy.
"Don't joke about that." I said. "Sam saved me."
/Charon: Before or after demonstrating she knew something about the memetic virus?
"Memetic whatnow?" I turned to Mom. "What is Charon talking about?"
Dad walked out of the room, giving Mom a knowing look. He didn't want to know. Or maybe he wasn't allowed to know. That made me nervous.
"When you were very young, there was a terrorist attack on Nightland." Mom began.
"I know. Charon was created because of that. He saved us from it." I felt confused. "Is there
something I missed or-"
/Charon: I wasn't created for that specific attack. I was created as a countermeasure to a memetic
virus created Ada Malkav.
Mom sighed. "Charon, I can explain this-"
/Charon: Stop beating around the bush. I've wanted Kensha to know this for years. She can handle the knowledge of it.
"Fine, Charon. Fine." Mom walked over to the window. The Eleanor Vertical Garden was visible, still covered in smoke. I could see some of the plants, most of which were blackened. It looked like a rotten log made of glass.
"What are you guys trying to say?" I asked. "A memetic virus? What does this have to do with
"Hannah Maenad diagnosed it. She believed that someone in Shiloh had the basics pieces to implement it." Mom sat down. "She'd been conducting studies there. She and I thought we could eventually convince its population to join Autogov."
"Hannah Maenad was Sam's mother." I looked over to Sam. I didn't know if she could hear a word of any of this.
"Yes." Mom pulled out a holo of Hannah's face. The face started to speak.
"Kara. It's me." Hannah looked concerned. "Sorry, I had to wait until everyone had fallen asleep to
get this message to you. That crazy bitch did it. She perfected her mad scheme for a memetic virus.
Her bumbling idiot of a son doesn't know how to use it though. I was at Ada's deathbed. You need to be on the lookout for something, anything."
"Unfortunately, I wasn't there, and the message went directly to Bodhisattva House. We were on our way to dock." Mom sat uncomfortably in her chair.
"Why-" I stared at her. "Mom, why? Why would Hannah alert you, and not Shelby or someone AI?"
"I was her main contact in Roosevelt. And Autogov would enact policies once I'd been informed."
/Charon: Oh for the love of data. Tell her about the haraam committee already. She has a right to know about it now.
Mom visibly winced. "Charon you are going to make want to drag a Psych into this, if only to see if
you've lost your mind."
"What committee?" I asked. I stared at her, confused. "You knew Sam's mother. Sam and Shiloh is
responsible for doing these attacks, and you know something? Why are you so important that people would send you messages about something only Autogov should know about?"
/Charon: Autogov sets policy, and certain functions require individuals in order to enact policy. In a
rare few cases, autogov requires us to ask for approval from a individual before we can perform certain functions.
"I know that." I said. It was one of the ways me performing Jury Duty was important. Autogov required peers, someone of a relative point of view to approve or direct action. It was one of the basic rights that always was afforded a person, so that a automated system didn't falsely accuse subjects. The system had pitfalls, but there were workarounds for that.
"But you don't know that some things require a committee to be organized. That committee decides- well, it affirms the findings of Charon." Mom straightened. "Some times parts of autogov gets compromised, individual spirits or minds may become rogue or violent. They need... well..."
"The execution committee?" I blinked. "You are part of the Execution Committee? You have to be
fekking kidding me."
/Charon: Hey. Don't knock it.
"Kensha." Sam's voice made me freeze. Our conversation distracted me, I didn't hear the medunit stop.
Sam stood behind me. "I'm going to step out I think."
I blinked up at her. Sam's arm looked bright and brand new. "Sam- you're a part of this-"
"No, I'm not." Sam looked at my mother, then back to me. "I know what you're mother is talking about. Sometimes a rabid dog needs to be shot."
I shook my head. "You- Sam- I-"
"Besides..." Sam shrugged. "It sounds personal enough to me. Excuse me Dr. Bodhi."
Sam walked away, the door sliding shut as she left.
"She seems better now than last I spoke with her." Mom commented.
"Sam's been through a lot." I said aloud. I didn't know why, but I felt connected to her somehow.
Even this distance seemed straining to me. "I think she's happier this way."
"Honey, I've been part of the committee since before you were born. The threat has always required... some sort of contingency be in place."
I couldn't look at her. The thought that one of the things I'd abhorred most of my life might also be
my own mother disgusted me. I felt tears on my face.
"Memetic virus." I repeated. "The wiki makes it sound like some sort of mind control."
Mom shook her head.
/Charon: It isn't. A memetic virus is a contagious idea. Ada Malkav's was created to infect varmints
and other bots.
"It makes them genocidal." Mom explained. "Ada Malkav strived her entire life to try and goad machines into attacking Shiloh. She wanted to prove that her war with the Machines was justified."
/Charon: I came into being because Autogov ascertain the precaution outweighed waiting for your mother to coming back to Roosevelt. Someone had to be able to delete any AI infected by the memetic virus.
"Without Charon deleting their memories, we would never have been able to contain the virus and squash it." Mom looked at the smoke coming from the ruins of Eleanor Vertical Garden. "It took could take over varmints and most lower AIs, but spirits at Charon's level were effectively immune."
I shook my head. "Why? Nevermind, I understand the why Ada Malkav did it- but what benefit is there from infecting Bots to be genocidal against humans?"
"Political capital." Mom shrugged. "In the Old Nations, ideas of using fear as a governing tool was a cornerstone. Establish fear in those you want to govern. Ada Malkav imagined herself the future of
human government. Hannah Maenad feared it, and we were certain she was behind it."
/Charon: But Autogov restricted any prosecutions in Shiloh. We had no definite proof of the origin of the virus, no witnesses or direct evidence. Hannah Maenad had not seen anything, nor did she have any sort of proof to back her inferences.
"So she launched an attack and you couldn't do anything about it." I chewed my lower lip. "And this
justifies deleting minds?"
Mom closed her eyes. "It was a necessary evil."
"There isn't anyway to save them?" I asked. "No one bothered to think of way to reduce or remove their suffering?"
/Charon: They're varmints. Most of their deletions are immediate. The others are... worrying, if we
don't delete them.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Charon thinks the virus has infected a spirit. Its something he has been trying to prove the last few
weeks." Mom wrapped her arms around herself. She couldn't look at me. "Kensha, I knew you wouldn't accept any part of this. But I've always focused on helping you decide what kind of person you wanted to be. I became part of the committee because of my focus on sociology and history. I almost became a Psych, I almost got the genehacks needed, but Autogov asked me to step up to do something else."
"I need time to process all of this." I shook my head. "Why did I need to learn this now?"
/Charon: You need to know.
"And..." Mom smiled. "Charon's right. Autogov needs to be properly informed about this. You are
central actor in this. You should know. Its your right to know."
I sighed. I just looked across Roosevelt at what used to be Eleanor Vertical Gardens. "This is... I don't know."
Mom frowned. "Individuals don't change history. But sometimes persons can make a difference in the lives of others."
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