In my line of work, you never know, when the call comes exactly what the job is going to be, where it's going to take you. Could be a simple case of
ransomware locking up a company's research and development servers, a rogue AI causing gridlock across the city or some underground, black market that
needs wrapping up. This time though, it seemed as though the job was just going to blow up into the sort of thing that would snowball until I ended up
rich and famous or poor, dead or locked up for life.
“Bit, did you get a ping from that traffic management routine for the M4, M32 interchange?”
Bit generally gave one of two possible responses. “1” for yes and “0” for no. He was a pretty basic AI, one of the first gens, all the work
went into his algorithms, there was precious little left for the interface. Bit was hard core, all about processing and deduction. Originally a
military spec virus hunter. His job to enter a system and seek out those little bits of code that just didn't belong, find them, classify them and
destroy them. He didn't have a gender, but I liked to think of him as a he. I guess I am just a throwback to the 20th century and all their
stereotypical gender roles. Bit is a killer, hence I think of him as male, even though there are plenty of examples of deadly females around.
“0. 0. 1.” Bit anticipated my next questions in that uncanny way of his.
“So, the traffic management AI noticed no intrusion, there was no intrusion according to the IP log and the log hadn't been messed with?
Hmmm....then how in the hell did Marcus Albrecht's pod manage to veer across four lanes of traffic, hop a railing and smash into a line of oncoming
heavy service pods?” In days gone by, people steered their own vehicles, controlled their speed, the distance from the vehicles in front and,
frankly, it was carnage on the roads. Self drive cars changed things massively and as they got better, eventually the steering wheels and pedals were
deemed unnecessary until the entire design changed and cars became pods. Small, individual ones, bigger multi person ones and huge great cargo pods
for moving goods and food, all powered by strips laid into the roadway and controlled by onboard AI aided by the big, traffic management super AI's
spaced every few miles, usually at busy junctions or in big cities.
The system worked well, traffic jams were something you saw on the History channel as, for the most part, were fatalities.
When word came down about Albrecht, the entire transportation department was up in arms, it was just unheard of. Crazy theories were examined,
considered then discarded for even crazier ones until, with all possibilities exhausted, they had done what they always did, and sent out the call for
me, to come and find out what had really happened, and, if necessary, make those responsible vanish, with a minimum of oversight.
Thing is, there was no way this could have happened. Every line of code in the Traffic Management AI's had been scrutinized thousands of times each
hour since the crash, by Analyser AI's, bug chasers, hell, even people! Nothing was found, similarly, no intrusion into the system was found either.
Nothing in the manufacturer's records, nor updates supplied to the pod. The pod's AI was, sadly a smoking ruin. You could get as much info from that
as you could from a human suspect who has just had his brains splattered over the wall by a cop's .44. We were, it seemed, at a dead end, so I
started to think about this from the other, human angle.
Albrecht was 45, separated, a low level desk jockey who worked for the NHS herding medical AI's and, strangely, building services AI's. Just an
average nobody. It took Bit less than a second to defeat the security on his mid life crisis, recently divorced, bachelor pad Outside of Weston Super
Mare. A mediocre, British seaside town that had been going down hill since the mid twentieth century and was now nothing more than overspill for the
burgeoning population who worked in Bristol.
“1” Bit announced that he had found a few shadows in the home system and dutifully put the files up for me. Albrecht, it seemed had been living a
bit of a double life. He'd been spending almost every waking moment within “Topiya” an online universe, in VR, where people could live out such
fantasies that they weren't ground down by their real lives. Topiya was a corruption of the old English name for the perfect society, Utopia. If you
can imagine it, you can live it there. Want to be a space ship pilot? A pirate? King? Warrior? Fluffy blue bunny? If you have the imagination, there
is a world you will fit into. Bit spent what seemed for him, an age to open up Albrecht's account. I was impressed, he had locked it down pretty
tight, hell we had broken open Russian Mafia money laundering systems with less security than Albrecht's game.
There was the usual string of pseudo sexual liaisons. I don't think anyone has ever spent more than an hour in Topiya without going to explore the red
light zones. Albrecht had gradually found his niche, re creating himself as some sort of Greek god like Meta human, augmented to such an extent that
he was more AI than person in world. Scanning the logs, I was impressed, in many ways, he was utterly indistinguishable from true AI's in his Turing
scores. He was part of the Cyborg Battle Order, one of the top hundred PvP clans in the world and within the clan, he was in the top thousand. That
is right on the fringe of going pro, getting sponsorship, a corporate card to easy street.
His love life seemed to have settled, too, the short, couple of hour long flings with women (some of them weren't but, I doubt he cared) dried out and
his battle and role plays were punctuated more and more with long periods in private with one user in particular, Strangely though, the ID was
redacted, I could sense the overall impression but none of the detail of these sessions, Topiya is played through EEG and thus, there are none of the
usual chat logs and things people used to leave behind when they fooled around on 20th century things like second life and the like.
“1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1” Squealed Bit. I didn't even have time to react before I felt the crushing presence of another in the ether. The trouble
with the way tech worked now was when someone plugged in, they were vulnerable to everything in the net. Hackers could end up lobotomised by rogue
security AI. AI could be destroyed by those same hackers, average Joes and Janes in the middle could be beat down by both. Right now I was being
smashed against a non existent wall by a pulse of radiant energy of the same sort of power you would expect to see in a nuclear blast. I could feel my
mind starting to actually melt when Bit finally beat it back and chirped a triumphant “0 1 1” My vision cleared and I could feel this pseudo
world throb with the onset of some sort of super migraine..I would pay for this later, that much was plain. “Thanks buddy.” I said, then waited
for Bit to track back on the threat and share what he knew.
edit on 21pThu, 07 Mar 2019 18:25:21 -060020192019-03-07T18:25:21-06:00kAmerica/Chicago31000000k by SprocketUK because: spelling