Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Machines of Shiloh 3

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"The Old Nations of Earth failed because they lacked the imagination to adapt.  Each succeeded at resisting the temptations of the singularity, delaying the inevitable course set by automation.  Instead, they would come to deserve the Recycler of history because each of them failed to anticipate the rights of those that are transhuman.  

"This is a sign of the evolutionary properties of superorganisms: if they fail to adapt, they die or are succeeded by a more successful superorganism.  Some of their more innovative memes survive, but overall they cannot go further.  Unlike the American Commonwealth and its descendant superorganism we remember as the United American Democracies, the Old Nations could not adapt to the changing environment of their own populace.  Even superorganisms face extinction."

Roro 98345
The Evolution of Nations

KENSHA
/Poro: hey.  Saw you & Li walking.

/Poro: Li scheming against me?

/Kensha: Nah.  Just talking about the weather.

/Poro: Riiiight.

"Texts?"  Li asked me after I'd paused for more than a minute.

"Oh it's just Poro.  Zhe missed us at the loop I think.  Let me link you in."

/Poro: we're still on for tonight's dream then?

/Li: u buggin my grl?  @Poro :P

/Poro: hey Li.

/Kensha: XD

/Kensha:  yeah.  We're on for tonite.

/Li: be late tonite...

/Poro: Que?

/Li: gotta check on my lab things

"Really?"  Kensha asked, cocking an eyebrow.  "Don't you have a varmint for that?"

As if by psychic link, Poro said the same thing.  Zhe and I must've been on the same wave.

/Poro: You need to let the varmint handle it.  Defeats the purpose of it to do it yourself ;)

/Li: i can't.  plants need a human touch, u know?

/Kensha: Really?  Human?

/Li: u know what i mean.  u know, that human touch.

/Poro: I get that.

/Poro: @Kensha: if you love a thing, you're going to check up on it regardless of machines, you know?

I waved goodbye to Li as the gene hacked, green skinned girl parted from her.  I walked up the silksteel steps toward my house.  The garden was vibrant this time of day, as a few flowers bloomed in reaction to my steps.  Three monkey-shaped varmints tended the vegetable and fruits.  They rustled vines and branches as they carried a basket full of fresh food with them.

 "Hi guys."  I smiled and waved at the Bots.  Despite how low their intelligences were set, each varmint knew me.  They returned my wave, their own way of showing they saw me.

/Kensha: @Poro I guess I get that.  I'll see you guys during dream tonite, ok?

/Poro: Ok.

/Li: ;) i be there np

/Kensha:  Kewl.

I passed from the front garden into house.  Ceramic boards carved with flowers and roses of all kinds greeted me.  As I stepped toward the door, the AI of the house, the house Spirit, automatically opened the door.

/Bodhisattva House: Welcome home.  It's been quiet without you, little monster.

I smiled.  Bodhisattva had been calling me little monster ever since we first met.  I was three and still trying to learn to use my bionics.  Zhe had been patient with me, especially since, well, mom and dad were a bit out of it at the time.

"Glad to be home, Bod."

/Bodhisattva House:  Your father is still preparing dinner.  He requested you come talk to him-

"About jury duty?  Yeah..."  My voice trailed off.

/Bodhisattva House: Not about that. ;)

I tried not to blush with embarrassment.  My jury duty time had been mainly so I could accrue a bunch of extra computer time.  Advising police drones was one thing any mind in Autogov could participate in.  It would grant additional cycles of processing time.

"Oh.  Ok."  I headed for the kitchen.  "Dad?"

/Bodhisattva House: Outside, Little monster.  And I tried to argue for you.

I felt a bit of my stomach drop at the sound of that.  One of those conversations.  Ick.  I didn't like them.  It would end with me feeling like a stone in a river.

My father was still wearing his scrubs.  His blue hair was frazzled.  He looked with concentration at the grill in front of him.  A brilliant cook, my dad only really went crazy with culinary ambition for mom and me.  I sat down next to him on the porch.  The air behind the house smelled of roast vegetables.  He unconsciously scratched his thick beard.  He still had his id holo attached to his blue scrubs, brightly showing his identification as a emergency doctor.

"Hey dad.  Bodhisattva said you wanted to talk with me..."  My voice shrank as I moved toward him.  Even though the food tasted really good.  I really didn't want to have this talk again.  It always ended the same way.

"Hey monster."  He said with a smile.  Then he frowned.  "Remember what we were talking about the night before last?"

"Yeaaah."  I avoided his gaze.  "I checked a few out.  Maybe."

"Bodhisattva, what academy matrices has Kensha looked at in the last month?" My father called as he deftly tossed fried food in the air.

/Bodhisattva House: She has only inquired about the Dreamweavers enclave on Venus.
/Bodhisattva House: w/@Kensha Sorry little monster.

I tried to ignore the text that streamed across my eyes.  The last line was meant only for me.  The house spirit tried anyway.

"I don't mind the extra time you've spent on your volunteer work.  And although your mother and I disagree with you, we still support your protests.  But in between that and all the other things you've done, you still haven't vetted all your options yet."  Dad transitioned the vegetables to a ceramic filled with rice.

The pit of my stomach hurt a bit.  I really didn't want to talk about this.  I wasn't ready for... I just wasn't ready for anything.

"I'm... I don't know, dad."  I tried to meet his gaze.

He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.  "You know you aren't in trouble right?  I just... Kensha, your mother and I want to see... IDK.  We want you to succeed honey."

The word that ended it was honey.  I felt a tear coming down.  Fek, I didn't like to cry.

"Kensha."  Dad tried to give me a bit of space.  My being my dad, he still managed to say the right thing to set me off.  I know, I should be mature than that.  But... I wasn't ready yet.  "The Dreams can't be all of your life.  Please.  Don't-"

"Don't what?!"  I shrieked.  Tears flowed out now, my voice getting more high pitched.  "Don't get addicted to them?  Don't get detached?"

"Kensha-"

"Dad- erg!"  I stormed back into the house.  I wanted to yell at him.  I needed to get away from him, to stifle my frustration at him.

/Bodhisattva House: Little Monster-

"Let her be, Bodhisattva."  I heard my father's somber voice tell Zhem.  "She can wait until her mother gets home."

CHARON
Consciousness Log Update 345672: For me, I came to meet Sam and Kensha after a series of events forced us to converge.  It started with my investigation into a infected AI.  I am Charon, and I'm the machine that finds the broken ones.

Autogov is a complicated mess of bureaucracies.  Multiple hierarchies exist, you see.  I skate between all of them, hunting for any parts of Autogov that may need deletion.  I am the one who carries the dead to their final resting place.  Hence, Charon.  Cute, huh?

So this is where my part in this begins.

"Okay.  Run this by me again, Charon."  After waiting for her to process my request, it was understandable that Dr. Bodhi would take far longer than me to process this, even with her extensive neural augments.  "How old is this AI?"

/Charon: About... Oh, I'd say its one of our oldest.  At least two hundred solar rotations.

 I paused for a moment.  I brought up the data on it to be clearer.  My sensor algorithms patiently studied the doctor.

Dr.  Bodhi was third generation Nightlander.  Both she and her husband had undergone their first geriatric reversal six months before.  She still was glancing at herself now and then.  Reaches sing herself.  I understood the feeling, each time I downloaded into a new shell myself.

Tall for a human female, she wore spartan clothes.  Her dark brown hair was remarkable for its unremarkableness.  As far as I knew, she'd only ever had one gene hack her entire life.  She wore a plain gray shirt and a simple pair if black slacks.  She looked like a taller version of her daughter.  I'd never say that to her face, though.

"Charon... this could be age madness, its possible for any sapience this old to just crack and fray."  Dr. Bodhi gave the nearest holo avatar of me a stern look.

/Charon: Yes and no.
/Charon: We would've seen signs of mental instability.  I mean, there are always outliers.  I think this might point to a infection of some sort.

"Any certainty?  With a case study of one?"  Dr. Bodhi asked.  "Without deleting the AI in question, we can't ascertain anything about its source code.  Even pausing it to correct that data could end up in a reboot that could delete its persona."

/Charon: I have no certainty, but its a hunch.

"I can't go out on a hunch, Charon."  Dr. Bodhi blew out a puff of air.  "I... I need to sleep on this before I can authorize the deletion.  Organize a trial algorithm, at least get me something sort of plausible reason not to delete the AI."

/Charon: It its infected, it could spread beyond that AI.  Varmints could carry submeme code into the rest of the nearby autogov system.

"Charon."  Dr. Bodhi's voice grew quiet.  "What did this AI try to do?"

/Charon: It tried to poison a water cistern for the city of Roosevelt.  But because it lacked access to the AIs in charge of hydrogen processing, it couldn't complete its attempt.  It thinks it succeeded, and has begun to rant random chatter into the Autogov.  I've blocked it for now.

"Fek."  Dr. Bodhi put a hand over her face.  "I'm not the only one you've alerted to this I hope?"

/Charon: Your first in the line to analyze and approve.  Technically, you've got emergency authority to delete this AI without a trial algorithm.

"Fek."  Dr. Bodhi repeated.  "Delete it then.  I'm going to go home.  Alert the others on the execution committee."

/Charon: See you in the morning then, Dr. Bodhi.

Without saying a word, Dr. Bodhi left for home.  I went ahead with deleting the AI that had been infected.  Dirty work.  But I was built for dirty work.

SAMUEL
Gaius smiled and gave me a hug when I came to see Augustine the next day.  I grimaced.

An older man, Gaius's hair left him years ago.  He'd grown a long grey beard, with stood out against his plaid shirt.  Even though he leaned on a cane, the man had been known in Shiloh for being a third generation member of the community.  The old man was the town mayor.  And in secret, he ran a militia.  He'd recruited Charles and me into it, in addition to his own son, Augustine.

"Sorry about... You know."  I said, my voice growing small in guilt.  Gaius was the last man I wanted to disappoint.  "I didn't mean to get got like that."

Gaius patted me on the back.  "Samuel Maenad, we must fail in order to learn!  Besides, I did my part to help cover your tracks.  If anything, you helped us keep cover."

We were underneath Gaius' home.  Gaius had inherited my mother's former career.  She'd been Shiloh's greatest Mayor as well as its only able doctor.  I remember Gaius telling me stories of how he used to work as her assistant.  He'd tell how she managed to keep Shiloh's connections with the outside cities rock solid, and that her death only let those in the cities take more and more from us.

"Yeah... I guess..." A smiled crept across my face.

"Besides," Gaius waved a hand at Augustine, who flicked on a nearby holo.  Its orange tint flooded the dark room.  "You did manage to accomplish our mission goal."

"We did manage to upload the virus to the water station's AI."  Augustine reported to his father.  Augustine didn't like the attention his father put on the rest of us.  He also thought I didn't notice how he clenched his teeth.  Or how he'd try to prove himself, just a little.  "But that AI looks like its been deleted."

Augustine frowned.  Charles and I shared a grunt of frustration.  Gaius, on the other hand, laughed.  He tousled Augustine's hair.

"Oh boys.  That was a test, remember?"  Gaius pointed to a old paper map that had been tacked on one wall.  "You boys have proven yourselves worthy soldiers for our militia.  Time for the next step in the plan.  You ready to hear?"

I nodded.  I was ready to do something about the Machines.  "Anything sir.  Tell us what we can do to help."

/Central Net Archives: Nightland.wiki.archives/Artificial_Intelligence
4DAM and the work of the New Japanese Imperium revealed that artificial intelligence was a somewhat emergent quality.  Emotions emerge in artificial intelligences relatively early, suggesting that emotion is a core part of the emergence of sapience in a AI.  Sapience, which is different than raw intelligence or capability, determines how close a given AI can interact with organic sapients on a comprehensive level.

As such, AIs have often been given three broad definitions.  Based somewhat in space slang, these terms have come to be the common use terms in relation to Bots and AIs: Varmints, Bots, and Spirits.

Varmints: These AI mimic animals of less emotional complexity than humans, yet still possessing some form of intelligence and sapience.  Often Varmints are programmed and designed after animals as well.  The purpose of this is recreate some biodiversity or its appearance in some areas.  Other times, a mix of whimsy and selective purpose cause some designs to be prominent.

Varmints are capable of emotion, but rarely can speak or converse much with humans or bots.  They can develop personalities, but often are too obedient to their programming.  Having pet varmints is a given throughout the System.

Bots: Considered somewhat similar in intelligence and sapience to humans, Bots often choose to have their programming downloaded into a shell.  It is possible for a Bot to break off a part of its own mind into a Varmint level mind, but most Bots dislike doing that.

Bots live like humans and other organics do.  They experience emotion, and those that choose to interact in shells often process ideas and emotions at a human level as well.  Like humans, Bots develop age madness as well.  After a period of two or more centuries, their minds crack a bit under the strain of so many memories.  Often age madness will only take minds of great lengthy age, but not always.

Spirits: Greater than humans and Bots in their intelligence, sapience and scope.  Spirits can comprehend ideas at faster speeds than humans, as well as exist at multiple places simultaneously.  Autogov is mainly run and managed by the efforts of Spirits of vastly different sizes.  As Autogov forms the basis of the different independent governments of the system, its advent has allowed many spirits to grow and diversify.

In prior eras, Spirits were heavily restricted in what areas of the System they could act.  With the advent of Autogov, however, Spirits gained a significant control over governance thoughout the system.  Autogov continues to increase in size, bandwidth and scope, so does too the power of the Spirits helping to run it.

There are those who criticize have massive bureacracies managed by powerful AIs like the Spirits.  They point to autocracies and monarchies of past eras as examples of what might happen if power is condensed in the hands of a few.  But the Spirits that manage the different autogovs are quick to point out that only a significant AI can run the basic programs and legislative algorithms.  Since Autogov removes the need for political leadership, it also necessitates computing power on machines can access.
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