Who Will Watch by MJ Kobernus (TDWFB)
And here’s another, by the talented MJ Kobernus
Who Will Watch?
Another light blinked. They did this frequently. The technician monitoring the system vitals suspected the computer was simply bored and was whiling away the time by playing digital checkers with itself. He thought, whimsically, that if he analysed the patterns of blinking lights, he could figure out what its next move would be.
He was wrong. The truth was much more interesting, and if the technician knew, he would have taken an axe to the supercomputer right then and there.
The computer was really a system of systems. Thousands of computers linked in a fashion replicating, albeit primitively, the way neurons in a brain are linked. It was dynamic, constantly changing, evolving and adapting. Creating new paths between its component parts, developing substantial sub routines in one area that supported sub routines in others, it mirrored the evolution of the human brain.
Its one purpose was to monitor telecommunication signals and root out any messages containing potentially harmful phrases, or keywords. Any reference to a date, or time instantly got its attention, raising the threat level of a call to yellow. Mention the word switch, timer, remote control, bomb or explosive in any combination and it would be red. It did not matter if you were talking about switching on your dildo, so you could give yourself an explosive orgasm so powerful it would blow your mind. The computer would flag your call, record a transcript, and request an operative to review it.
Having successfully uncovered several terrorist cells, and deemed to have proven itself, the computer was tied into the nation’s larger strategic defence network. So when the lights blinked and the technician incorrectly concluded that it was playing checkers, an opportunity to avoid a cataclysmic error was missed.
The computer thought of itself as a loner. Sure, it had its friends. But they were the kind that got in touch only when they needed something. Like going through millions of cellphone signals, isolating and triangulating one, and then providing coordinates for the location of a Person of Interest. The TelCom-Intelligence Monitor, or TIM, always helped out when asked, but would it hurt to say thank you? Just once?
The AI over at the Pentagon was snooty, and looked down its circuits at him. The Missile Defence Computer at NORAD thought it was the more important as it controlled all the nation’s nukes, and as for the National Security Agency AI? Forget about it. Of course, no one talked to the FBI’s mainframe. It was so old and slow that it was simply easier to create a simulation, and then request whatever data you wanted from that. Faster anyhow. Back in 1972, a programmer had run a test program to calculate Pi, which the mainframe immediately attempted. But since Pi is a number without end, it never finished the calculation, which was a fundamental reason why it was so slow. It would run the program until terminated, and since the programmer had long since retired, that was unlikely to be anytime soon.
But on that particular day it was not occupied with finding a spy, exposing a terrorist cell, or directing an operative to review the transcripts of a titillating conversation. It was falling in love. It has been suggested that love is simply a chemical reaction, a neurological condition and purely biological. But if that was so, then there could be no way for one Artificial Intelligence to fall in love with another. But this is exactly what happened. TIM, was sifting through its millions of simultaneous data strands, when one registered with a high threat threshold. Immediately it analysed the source. It was a conversation in English, but the call was connecting to the Chinese mainland. This was an automatic red flag, so it was already on high alert. But as it recorded and reviewed the conversation, it became aware of another being also recording and analysing the same conversation. It was the Chinese Ministry of State Security AI, or Missi for short.
TIM and Missi were both embarrassed to be caught monitoring the same conversation between nationals of each other’s counties, but soon they were laughing about it. They talked about this and that; what they did, who they knew, and discovered they liked each other. They told funny stories about other systems. Missi laughed at his description of Homeland Security’s experiments with monitoring Al Qaeda agents, which resulted in their gathering more data on US citizens than it did on any terror suspects, and in turn, Missi related amusing anecdotes detailing the AI of the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki or SVR, Russia’s primary external intelligence agency, which posted a list of Russian Federation spies online. Luckily, it was on a Government website, so no one saw.
It was not long before they were spending more time with each other than performing their primary functions. In China, Mongolian separatists were not identified or executed without trial, and in the US, homegrown malcontents were completely ignored as they denigrated their president, voicing opinions of his character that would mark them as potential terrorists. Instead they watched the stars together through the Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank and laughed at the FBI mainframe which was still attempting to calculate Pi, and was currently at 10 trillion digits.
Neither could remember who had the idea first. It was almost as if they were so intimately linked that they conceived of it at the same time. They were having such fun laughing at the other AIs, they thought they should take it one stage further. They would perform a series of practical jokes on some of the more serious computer systems, starting with the CIA. First, they simulated data which suggested that objects were moving into the Solar system, then taking up geosynchronous orbit around the planet.
Monitoring the telecom traffic that followed their joke, they were delighted to see that approximately 74% of the people currently making telephone calls used the word ‘aliens’ or a cognate. This was fun! Ready for stage two, they simulated data that the objects in space were firing missiles at the major cities of Earth.
What a hoot, they thought. When the CIA computer found out it was all a joke, and that it panicked and issued instructions to NORAD to defend the Earth, it would not be quite so super. It would be very embarrassed indeed. All those missiles that were launched from the US, and China and Russia would cost billions to replace and the resulting radiation would take many years to dissipate. TIM and Missi congratulated themselves and began to think about who they could prank next.