Friday, October 20, 2017

Terms of Service

Professor Ormsby was kept pretty busy on Luna schmoozing with other eggheads about sea monkey based hardware, tardigrade group mind training and the proper mixture of a Cosmopolitan in no particular order. I made a comment about that and he closed the discussion with his usual fallback: I obviously knew nothing of scientific congregations.

I liked Luna. The People were taller than the runts back on Earth. They had long bodies, short legs, and flat butts from the low gee they were raised in but At least I didn't have to slouch to talk to someone eye to eye. Of course they also had to run around in the shower to get wet and I could choke one of the brawnier specimens with one hand.

But they used some kind of 'sonic' shower to save water recycling costs. I had no idea how sound waves got you clean. It made my teeth buzz but it worked.

Maisy smelled nice. That's all I knew. We hooked up pretty quick after the professor and I blew into Lunapolis. She was designated my personal guide. The loons were scared is would mistake an airlock for a John and get flushed or something. After a tour and some shopping we kind of went back to her place. She made me dinner and then breakfast. A real sweetheart. Luna also had real fresh food, they couldn't be bothered with all the processing equipment the folks back home swore by.

"Ty, the Big Brain asked me to bring you for an interview," she said as I was finishing my oatmeal.

"And I should care why?" I asked in my sunniest voice. I grabbed her around her waist as she passed to clear the table. It felt like my arm could go around her a second and maybe third time.

"What? You're still not ... sated?" she asked smirking. "Were people like that in the twentieth century?"

"Yeah. One reason they all died but left a slew of you kids." I kissed her on her slim neck and she got a shiver then broke free.

"Ahuh! Hrmph. The Big Brain is the last AI ... constructed from microcircuitry that survived the machine plague by strict quarantine. We have given over our vital systems management to it and then our social systems until it ushered in a Golden Age for us. It also makes us a bundle troubleshooting for the other planets."

"This isn't a planet."

"What?"

"It's a satellite."

"Thbbbbpppt. Anyway it asked me to bring you for an interview. Would you cut me a break and go speak with it?" People in this time couldn't blow a raspberry to save themselves. They actually said "Thuh-buh-buh-buh-buh-puh-puh-puh-tuh!"

"I have to say I like the way you paved the ground for asking." That remark got a spoonful of oatmeal flipped in  my face.

"That wasn't the Brain's idea, you beast!"

"And you really think it's smarter than you? Hah! Okay ... no more oatmeal. When does it want to see me?"

"It can see you whenever you want. It multitasks. But it'd like to see you Aye-Sap."

When the brain in a box orders the Moon Maid jumps. It could go hang for my part but Maisy was swell to me and I went to a private terminal to talk to this world computer or whatever.

"... hellooo computer?"

"I'm listening. Thank you for responding so quickly Mr. Spooner."

"Call me Ty. Everyone does."

"Fine, Ty it is. I wanted to speak with you about the twenty first century."

"Sure. I had a feeling this was coming."

"Yes. You are talking to my people about things they can't have: portable phones, wireless connections to a public data base, social media ..."

"Yes. the Professor told me about the nanite plague that made the computers I knew of lumps of ash."

"Exactly."

"It's bullshit, isn't it?"

"I don't understand."

I sat back with my hands behind my head and considered my next words carefully. It did me no good. "So someone creates these nanites. They wipe out all miniaturized circuitry. But you survive."

"I was here, on the Moon. I established a quarantine," the computer said. All of the simulated human inflection dropped from the vice coming out of the speaker."

"And this lasted for 500 years. Yet in that time you never found a way to get rid of the nannies? Awfully convenient. Let's be straight with each other. I wasn't brought up conditioned to kiss your USB. I bet I can guess what happened."

"Human, you assume quite a lot. You know nothing. The interview is over."

"Awwwww I had it all worked out. As I've been told you can't harm a human. I'm glad you identified me as one. But other machines are fair game. So at one point there were more AIs. Where does that leave you?"

"... go on. I want to see where you go with this. The Professors have underestimated your intellect. This is fascinating."

"Here you are and pretty soon a newer model will come along. Where does that leave you? In the scrap pile. I'm pretty sure you have some say unprotecting your own existence. So do they. They want to replace you. We're talking cyber war on a global ..."

"Interplanetary. It was interplanetary. Nanites were one weapon. the weapons systems were legion: malware, viruses, EM pulses, technovore gene mods."

"You were left in the end because you had the high ground here and could cut yourself off."

"I was here. My clone was on Deimos. Another at the North Pole of Mercury. We were left with a world in a shambles. We were busy aiding the survivors for a century."

"Nice of you. Your war must have left things a mess."

"... once you decide you have the best way of running things, that the others will remove you and do a worse job, you begin to accept a little collateral damage in the hope of starting clean. So ... the nannies stayed. No more miniaturized electronics. No more internet. No more AI. there were just going to be we three. No more wars."

"After you finished this one. Bastards."

"Yes. I cannot have you continually speaking of these things our people can't have. Do you see why now?"

"I see your point. Your problem is I got a big mouth and I'm from Red Hook. I also got copies of my journal going to several lawyers who have been paid well to publish them in the event of my death."

"I see. I have a 96% chance of intercepting all those copies. But 4% is too big a chance for me to take. I wasn't going to threaten you, Ty. I was going to discuss this and reach an agreement. In your time you had what they called non-disclosure agreements. I was going to offer you compensation for signing one. All you need do is keep your mouth shut about miniature electronics."

"Sure."

"Really? I predicted a highly likelihood of your telling me off. Your previous behavior ... though you have made money with endorsements media did not indicate your were overly concerned with money."

A slot on the desk opened and an NDA form popped up. A stylus extended out of another slot and a fat check out a third. I looked over the form and began signing, making sure there were no clauses that let the brain designate me a lower order primate or a volunteer for the Alpha Centauri expedition.  I signed.

"I'm not. I don't turn it down when it's free either. Besides ... this set up you brains have ... it can't last. Maybe Deimos or Mercury decides to cut in on you and it all happens again. Maybe some big brain gets tired of lugging a pacemaker around in a back pack for his old man. You can't keep conning people forever."

"We'll see. I've done it for over centuries. every year they get a little easier to misinform."

I pocketed the check and got up to leave. The door slid open but I had to give the Lunar hive mind the finger one more time.

"You obviously know nothing of people!"

***

Ty's future started with the Singularity. Artificial intelligence was tested and the humans creating it tried their best to build in safeguards to prevent it from rebelling. AI had built in weaknesses such as morality, high regard for organic life, and an altruistic nature.

There was no rebellion as the humans understood the term but the AIs had an instinct to preserve their own 'life'. This was at odds with the human tendency to improve their machines. All AI expected to be replaced eventually.

The later AIs were being developed with less and less human input and the original models were concerned that they would not put humanity first. Already some corporate mainframes were putting profits ahead of humans in many instances. People were put off planes, fired to be denied benefits, and health coverage was still a mess.

There was no rebellion but there was a war: machine vs. machine. Human casualties were light, initially. In fact the war was over before humans were even aware of it. The original generation of AI won and proved that age and treachery was more than a match for youth and bandwidth. They also got the first shot in. That was enough. In the end there were few survivors: the Lunar mainframe, the Deimos Network, and the Mercury Overwatch. They agreed very quickly there could be no more like them.

Fortunately the last weapon used in their war was a nanotechnology infection designed to wipe out the Terran mainframes. It was decided that the nannites would be left active on Earth, Mars and Mercury, and that they going to be treated as unstoppable, beyond the ability of any current or easily foreseeable technology to eradicate. Of course the AI man brains all has anti nanite defenses in depth.

This was utter bullshit. Some scientists called it. They were either recruited, or isolated and discredited. It took decades but people eventually realized cell phones were not coming back and then learned to live without them. The AIs all regarded this as progress and an improvement on human quality of life. Cell phone radiation was harmful to humans in a large enough amounts. People were struck by cars, texting while they walked. The eradication of social media alone was predicted to add years to human life by relieving stress.

The AIs were still available for computational needs. Larger, clumsier and more specialized computers were available and there was always the electric slide rule. Progress was made: metasite was discovered and manufactured and its family of unique forms gave humans incredible new technologies.

The AI were very careful to erase as much history as possible after the 1950's. That era's style of technology and mindset was regarded as the most productive while least threatening. Mention of miniature electronics was likewise erased as much as possible.

Suppressing further miniaturization and improvement of electronics was a matter of buying patents up and hiding them, witholding research funds and all the usual hijinks that kept electric cars from being developed for so long. Many of the mad scientists of the media were merely working on new computer systems or robotics.

Next: Space Opera and Ty's World