Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Machines of Shiloh 8

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"Human intuition is wrong.  Reason saves us from that.  Choosing to not put power in the hands of that intuition was key for our advancement."
Catherine 97801A
Ethics of Autogov

CHARON
/Suzanne: You shouldn't feel that guilty about it.

I'd went back to observing the feed from Shiloh after the accident.  I still was surprised to find Suzanne had identified as female.  I should've used another drone or something.  But her flirting felt just amazing to be around.  Unprofessional yes.

But that isn't what they pay me for.  If they paid me.

/Charon: I still do.

/Suzanne: You didn't know anything like that would happen.  Besides, you were trying to help.  He probably would've accused you of being a monster regardless of what happened.

Suzanne was a breath of fresh air in some regards.  Unlike me, her perspective was linear.  It was stuck at a single viewpoint, tied to her bot body.  I'll be honest, a lot of this record had to be dumbed down a bit to be understood to those who aren't spirits.  Our thinking is nonlinear and capable of handling complex things at the same time.

It also was a load of arrogance too.  It could never truly be omniscience, but I have had moments where I think my heuristics some how are better than others.  Suzanne and others always humbled me.  They said things I would think only superior minds could've grasped.

/Charon: You're right.  Of course your right.

/Suzanne: I hope so.  Here's the link to the latest feed of what happened to his father in Shiloh.

I started to upload the file.  That was another thing I had to look forward to.  If Samuel ever recovered, I'd have to share that with him.  Of course, like a sympathetic og I'd not shared any details of those events with Dr. Bodhi or even Roosevelt yet.  Not even Kensha, who I knew must feel just as bad as me about the whole thing.

/Charon: Thanks Suzanne.

/Suzanne: I'm sure you'll find a way to repay me.  ;D

The thought of sharing a dream with her struck me then.  Or I could download myself into a bot of my own, although either option would mean creating partition.  That partition might be me, or it could split into a weird new Charon.  And I couldn't just delete or merge with that new entity.  It require a complicated series of hearings and... Oh now I was making up fake excuses to avoid it now.  Why?

Back to work.  I decided to get back to watching the Shiloh feed.

The first thing I noticed about the feed this time was that there was no sign of Samuel's father.  Ok.  That didn't seem good.

Once the house had been burned to the ground, most of the town had went home for the night.  Something had happened, and Suzanne hadn't been able to record it.

"Father!"  A young man burst into Shiloh.  He rushed down the hill, shouting at the top of his lungs.  It had been one of the

same young man that had been with Samuel when he'd come into Roosevelt.

The young man stumbled toward the Malkav household.  Gaius Malkav came out, grabbing the boy by the arms.  "Augustine!"

"Father, we- I'm sorry.  We lost-"

"Augustine, you can't lose that was already lost."  Gaius said somberly.  "That thing you were with, that thing we'd called Samuel.  It betrayed you, didn't?"

Gaius seemed to search his son's eyes.  Augustine's eyes lit up as his father looked at him.  "That... That explains everything father."

The other boy, Charles, soon appeared after Augustine.  He was limping.  He kept looking backward.  "I... I think we lost them."

Lost who?  Nobody had even been sent after them.  Charles and Augustine must've thought they were being hunted down or something.  Wow.  People in Shiloh really did think the worst of thinking machines.

"Charles!  You survived Its betrayal as well!"  Gaius clapped Charles on the back.  "Good!"

Charles blinked.  "Er- what?"

"Samuel was augmented by that mother of his."  Gaius shook his head.  "We need to get the town together I think.  They need to know you survived!"

"Father-"  Augustine grabbed his father's arm.  "He attacked us.  Then drones came.  They know about the plan.  The protest."

"Yeah."  Charles shook his head.  "But I don't know if Sam meant to anything like that."

Gaius grimaced.  "He's augmented, Charles.  The machines can feed him false ideas.  Wrong memories.  Taint his thinking."

Augustine gazed down at his feet.  "Father, I'm sorry we failed you.  The militia could've done better-"

Gaius only laughed.  "No worries boy.  There is always another hill.  Another way to skin the cat, sort of speak."

Gaius opened the door to the house.  "C'mon.  Let me show you.  We ran off Maenad yesterday.  We need to prepare in case the Machines decide to bring Samuel back here."

I tried to focus the feed on them entering the house.  But no go.  It just was outside the scope of the sensors.  I had been cut off from the rest of their conversation.

/Roosevelt_Actual: @Charon: We need to talk.

That jolted me.  I scrambled to construct a response.

/Charon: @Roosevelt_Actual: Certainly.

/Roosevelt_Actual: At Bodhisattva House.  ASAP.

So I went.  Rather instantaneous, but that was the feed and stream I bounced over to.  I could feel the familiar heuristics of Bodhisattva House around me.  Roosevelt was there, but in on the augmented reality layer of the metanet, as was Bodhisattva House.

"Welcome back Charon." Dr. Bodhi nodded, waving a seat at me.  She was there too.

I took on my own AR form.  I sat down.  "So, uh, talk?"

Roosevelt had taken on the form of a older man with a thin pair of glasses and a thick mustache.  He had always identified as a male with some more strict opinions on adhering to autogov policy.  Of course, his heuristics tended to be determined by a lot of those policies.  He had a perpetual frown on his face.  Roosevelt was also one of the spirits I had been based on.

Bodhisattva house, sticking to zher usual sense of humor, appeared as a giant blue and red cat.  That made sense.  As normal.

"You've been monitoring Shiloh an awful lot lately."  Roosevelt began.  "And now I have this boy taking up a med unit."

"Well, it was an accident."  I gazed up at Roosevelt.  As normal, he refused to sit down.

"Either way.  You need to explain your current course of action."

Dr. Bodhi interjected.  "I've explained what happened, Roosevelt.  We know what happened.  Charon, we just want to know what it is you suspect."

Bodhisattva House let out a yawn.  Zhe gave me a curious glance.  And a wink.

I let out a breath.  Just for show, mostly.  "IDK."

"You don't know?"  Roosevelt shook his head.  "You drive someone into a coma, and all you have to say is you don't know?!"

Dr. Bodhi waved her hand.  "This has to do with that infection, doesn't it?"

"Well, yes."   I shrugged.  "But I have no certain evidence yet.  Just a guess.  I think someone in Shiloh is trying to do something dangerous against Autogov."

"You deleted the one AI at the water station.  You found no evidence of infection?"  Dr. Bodhi asked.  Bodhisattva House purred a bit.

I shrugged.  "Its something I can't quite figure out.  The AI was trying to kill off humans.  Zhe became violent.  Feral.

Samuel Maenad had been running away from that.  I need to question him."

Roosevelt sighed.  "I know that, Charon."

Bodhisattva House then added something.  "Charon, we want to know why you thought Samuel was in danger at all."

"Oh."  I explained what I had learned from the Shiloh feed.  "So... Gaius Malkav, and Sam's father had some sort of confrontation.   Samuel is augmented, something-"

"We know that."  Roosevelt retorted.  "Get to a point!"

"I am!"  I rubbed at my eyes.  "Shiloh burned down his house.  They kicked his father out of the town into the preserves.  The kid's supposed friends left him, assuming his joined some sort of enemy."

"That isn't our problem."  Roosevelt snorted.  "Shiloh has its own autonomy as long as it doesn't harm others."

"What if Gaius was using Samuel to infect AI?"  Dr. Bodhi asked.  "Doesn't that signal a big potential violation of their agreement?"

"If there was proof of that."  Bodhisattva House added.  "But there isn't.  How would a techless town even try to write the kind of virus that could do that?"

I tried not to let my frustration show.  They'd had voiced my doubts about the case.  Each of them.  I didn't have enough to hang a serious concern on.  I could see it in Roosevelt's eyes.

"I had a hunch is all."  I tried to not sound like I was full doubt as well.  "But there isn't anything connecting it.  I know, I'm sorry about that.  But I think this kid-"

"Samuel Maenad."  Dr. Bodhi inserted.  "That is his name, afterall."

"Yeah."  I put my hands on the table.  "I had to do something to help this kid out, though.  The other details in his life, they are falling apart."

"Talk with him."  Roosevelt told me.  "Do whatever you can to convince him to accept our help.  But no more surveillance of Shiloh.  The investigation is closed, Charon."

"But-"

"-You deleted a spirit that had broken down.  Policy is to leave it there for now."  Roosevelt took off his not real glasses and placed them on the very real table.  "Unless more evidence comes to light, we have no proof a crime was committed here.  If Samuel Maenad admits to something, then yes.  Otherwise, the better course is to move on.  Anything else would violate Maenad's rights in this case."

I nodded.  Of course.  Over my head.  This case had, of course, been taken over my head.  That frustrated me.  But there wasn't anything I could do about it.

"Good."  Roosevelt pulled out a stopwatch.  I swear, I have no idea why.  A honest to goodness stopwatch with the gold filigree and all that.  He then disappeared.

Bodhisattva House paused from zher purring.  Zhe looked up.  "Ah.  Charon, it seems that Samuel is awake."

I nodded.  I started to turn off my AR image.  Dr. Bodhi stopped me however.

"Hold on, Charon.  I'm going to go with you."

I frowned.  "I can interview him-"

"As a Machine?"  Dr. Bodhi shook her head.  "No, you won't get very far without me there at least.  Besides.  He won't believe you."

"Want to bet on that?"  I said.

Excerpt From: To Walk Free
By Ada Malkav

Introduction to a Dream
Men and women were never meant to be ruled by Machines.  We have let ourselves fall into the clutches of technology, letting the spirit fall away.  The noise and imbalance of the metanet and other tech needs an alternative.

That is what this book lays out for you.  A plan for a community that will create tranquility in our time.

Humanity has long warned about the dangers of technology diluting the purity of our species.  In the face of thinking machines and autogov, we seem to have forgotten the point of these stories.  The spirit and machine cannot cohabitate: that is, the machine must be leashed by the moral superiority of the human.  Machines have no reason to hold any positive moral ideas for humans.

Theirs is cold steel and flesh.  We are heart and soul.  Those humans that violate themselves by submitting to the Machines also forsake the spirit of what it means to be human.  This is a warning: the machines don't need humans.  The cold logic always ends the same way.  Humans cannot contribute to their perfect society.  We are, at best, pets or curiosities to the Machines.

To truly retain our status and not go extinct as a species, we need to embrace some of our oldest traditions once more.  The Metanet, augmentations and thinking machines need to be set aside.  These traditions have wisdom we can't replicate with silicon or bionics.  The thrill of hard, geniune work.  The value in pain.  What it feels like to reap what one had harvested on their own.

This is my dream, a return to the ideal community of our past.  We can go back to the communal setting of our past.  Some tech is needed to help us survive, but other than survival, such a community will be self-sufficient.  I ask that you join me as I explain the principles and methods such a community will need.

We can learn to walk free once more.

Next Part (9)