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Original Work Self Aware

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by DarkLight, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    This is the start of a new book, which I don't think will turn into more than one (but you never know). This was posted originally earlier this year but it wasn't done and it wasn't going anywhere. I'm finally getting to a place mentally where I'm willing and able to write again so I'm starting this over.

    The Prologue (or 0x00) is exactly the same as it was the first time and a lot of what gets posted over the next couple of weeks will be similar in many regards to what was up last time. I will, however, be slowing the story down a little bit so there will definitely be new parts mixed in with the old/original.

    My goal is to post a new chapter ever 3 or 4 days but no less than once a week. I'm sure that once I really get into the swing of things (likely by the end of the book/story) I'll be able to post more frequently and more consistently.

    Comments are welcome throughout including corrections, flow and consistency issues, questions for clarity (but I won't reveal spoilers), etc. I'm going to take a page from Christopher's book (heh, see what I did there?) and offer free digital copies of the final, edited product to anyone who offers constructive criticism, edits, corrections, etc.

    I hope you enjoy and while it's scary for me to jump back into this, it's also a lot of fun.

    That being said...won't you take a walk with me?
    Motomom34, Yard Dart and techsar like this.
  2. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    Self Aware
    September 13 – New York Times
    Intelligence Design - Tellison University’s Ambitious New Program
    Tellison University in Chandler AZ has found itself at the center of quite the controversy after an announcement on Tuesday. Protests began just hours after the press release that the Virtual Intellect Array or VIA project has been fully funded and work has commenced on the supercomputer, code-named “Wilhelm” after the German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz. The VIA supercomputer will be one of the fastest computers in the world, although not in any sense that most people would recognize.
    Wilhelm will be composed of almost ten thousand individual nodes running dual Intel processors and almost twenty thousand Nvidia video card processors. In sheer processing power, the Wilhelm machine will sport a mind-numbing 313,600 processor cores and live in fifty server racks on the Tellison campus. It will require as much electricity as a moderately sized suburban neighborhood and generate almost as much heat as a small iron foundry.
    But why the controversy? What are the protests about? The Computer Science department at Tellison is proposing to use this phenomenal computing capacity to create, or attempt to create, a self-aware artificial intelligence. The goal is not simply to have a program emulate thought but to think for itself, carry on a conversation, form opinions, have likes and dislikes and learn from the world around it.
    While the Wilhelm supercomputer won’t have a robotic body that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the most common comparison being made via protest signs just off campus is “Skynet starts today”.
    The supercomputer will run a proprietary operating system written specifically for the project, which has received funding from multiple government agencies, all of them three letter acronyms, as well as no less than a dozen billionaires, including…

    January 3 – The Washington Post
    Death To Intelligence – PHD Students And Professors In The Crosshairs
    Police are investigating dozens of death threats made against a number of students and faculty at Tellison University in relation to the VIA supercomputer and the upcoming attempt to “create life in a datacenter” as one threat puts it.
    Tensions have been running high between Tellison and both national and international religious organizations.
    “Life begins at conception, not compilation,” said Stewart Lawson of Freedom Of Religion international. “The soul is something sacred and isn’t something to be toyed with. It can’t occupy a computer, you can’t program the Holy Spirit into existence.”
    Other organizations have taken a more moderate stance but still don’t agree with the project. In a press release from His Hands, Reverend Jim Pace said “For years man debated the definition of life. Was it the ability to grow? Reproduce? Eat? Breathe? Is it intelligence or the appearance of intelligence? The classic question of whether or not fire is alive if it has all of those attributes is a prime example of this debate but it focuses on the wrong points and is based on a flawed premise. None of those things defines life. Quite simply, life is a gift from God.”
    Reverend Pace continues, “All living things are of God, all of them. From the lowest form of bacteria to the most intelligent, intellectual man or woman. The spark of life is given to all of God’s creations by Him, by The Creator. We feel that no matter what the University succeeds in doing, it will not be life. It will be a creation of man, like the wheel or a toaster. Yes, a very complex toaster and one that will most likely be very impressive, but a machine nonetheless. And while we do not believe that they can create life, we also do not believe it wise to…taunt Him. That is not our place.”
    Continued on A-4
  3. Legion489

    Legion489 Shining the Light of Truth

    "self-aware artificial intelligence."

    I'm still waiting for a "self-aware natural intelligence" that votes demonrat. Haven't seen that yet, so I am not worried about a machine that won't vote demonrat either.
  4. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    A note on fonts
    I can't be positive all of the fonts are going to show up correctly and like a previous book I was writing, I use fonts to denote how certain interactions take place. Please comment on whether or not a) they come through and b) they are distracting.


    READY> _

    The green cursor blinked in the terminal window on the monitor and the projection screen across the room. Professor Roger Henderson took a deep breath as the image of his workstation came into focus on the screen behind him.

    “Minerva is online,” Roger said to the room full of Professors, students and media. He’d hated the code-name Wilhelm and had been very glad when the team had agreed to finally change it last week. Not that he had anything against the man, he'd been a mathematical genius after all. It was more that he’d thought of this project as a ‘her’, even at the very beginning. VIA had been too impersonal though and everyone, including Roger had felt they needed a name, and Wilhelm had stuck. Now, she was Minerva and, well, it felt right.

    “What were the original parameters,” his former professor and Doctoral dissertation adviser until he’d received his PhD. last month, Dr. Steven Phillips prompted.

    Roger looked out at the expectant and in some cases bored faces and cleared his throat. “Minerva,” Roger motioned to the windows into the room to his left, “named after the Roman Goddess of learning and wisdom, was conceived and designed to do one thing, learn.”

    There was a sprawl of microphones on and around his makeshift podium but everyone from the media was frantically taking notes. It occurred to Roger that shorthand might actually have been faster than the ‘thumb typing’ on smart phones or even the occasional tablet with a keyboard.

    I’m talking about one of the most advanced technological experiments in the history of man,” Roger thought, “and shorthand comes to mind.”

    “To that end,” Roger continued, “Minerva was pre-loaded with the minimal amount of knowledge or information necessary to get her started down that path.”

    “Minerva’s core programming includes a rudimentary understanding of and connectivity to the Internet,” Roger continued as he brought up a diagram on the projector, “six web browsers, two of which are custom written for her operating system, and a first-grade level ‘education’ to allow her to read, write and spell correctly. Grammar may still be an issue.”

    There was a soft ripple of laughter from some of the students and reporters in the room. Roger noted that three of his students were also taking notes, which he thought was ironic given that every student in the room had been a core programmer or developer of the system. The others were watching the blinking cursor and waiting for him to start Minerva on her journey.

    “The core programming team made the decision,” Roger continued, “to start the process by having Minerva search the Internet for a word and move on, organically as it were, from there.”

    “However, as you may know,” Roger said as he got into his lecture, “computers really can’t do anything truly random so I, or rather we will be providing an origin seed.” Roger drew everyone’s attention by pointing behind the group.

    “Behind you are one hundred and twenty eight keyboards that will be used to create a completely random key combination. This combination will be used to choose the browser, search engine and initial search term that Minerva uses. Each browser can access over a hundred and fifty search engines and while the entire dictionary is available for use, I did make the executive decision to lower the probability of selecting words of only one or two characters to virtually non-existent.”

    Roger heard one of his students mutter “How lost would it be if the first word it searched for was in?”

    Roger smiled and nodded as a hand came up in the middle of the group.

    “How will all…this,” one of the reporters made vague sweeping motions with her arms and hands.

    “It’s okay to say Minerva,” Roger said, “it’s not a secret anymore.”

    “Okay,” the reporter said, a little color showing on her cheeks, “how will Minerva be monitored?”.

    “There are a number of ways for us to check on Minerva’s status,” Roger answered as he switched the display to show what looked like a static web page.. “The first are the web proxy logs. While Minerva has access to the Internet, the Internet does not have access to Minerva. The proxy is completely passive for outbound traffic but will stop viruses and any type of malware that might try to infect her. The likelihood of that happening however is exceedingly remote, as her core OS was written from the ground up by the core development team and bears only a passing resemblance to anything in use today.”

    “We will also be interacting with Minerva,” Roger continued as he switched the screen back to the blinking cursor, “starting with a chat room, similar to IRC for you old school hackers.”

    Roger anticipated the next question and saw the hand go down once he finished. “Imagine how stunted you would be if all of your interaction with other people had ended at the age of seven.”

    Another quiet chuckle moved through the group and Roger smiled. He knew he wasn’t necessarily funny but this was a group of nerds and their sense of humor, just like his, was…odd.

    “Eventually,” Roger said, “we anticipate that Minerva will begin communicating with other people via other mechanisms but we aren’t talking about that where she can hear us. We want to limit the amount of guidance and preconceptions she is exposed to.”

    Time to get started,” Roger thought. “Just a few more minutes and it will literally be out of my hands.”

    “Now, if everyone would please go to a bank of keyboards,” Roger directed everyone’s attention to the keyboards he’d already mentioned. “The press is obviously invited to participate as well. Each bank has four identical keyboards. When the light turns green, just start pressing keys. Use any or all of the keyboards and type whatever you want, however you want. Type in your favorite quotes, lean your hand on the keyboards, type with your elbows, whatever. They are all connected to an intermediate system that will constantly change which keyboards are providing input. It will switch several thousand times a second in a pseudo random pattern.”

    Roger walked to his bank and picked up a basket of tennis balls. “I,” he said, holding up one of the balls, “will be throwing these at the keyboards. After two minutes the light will turn red and no more input will be accepted. The random key will be calculated and used to choose a number which corresponds to a browser, search engine and word combination. That will be passed to Minerva, without telling us ahead of time, and she will be off.”

    The light turned green and everyone started pressing keys. Roger glanced at the others between tennis balls to see how they were doing their part. One of the professors was pressing the same key over and over again, while one of his students was typing furiously with hands on two different keyboards. He knew this student could type over two hundred words per minute and wondered what they had decided on.

    As expected there were a couple of people leaning on keyboards, whole hands at a time and one of the reporters had taken a keyboard off the stand and was repeatedly sitting on it.

    Talk about pulling it out of your butt,” Roger thought with a smile. “Explains a lot.”

    After two minutes the light turned red and everyone’s attention came back to the screen being projected on the wall.

    The cursor blinked for several seconds and then came to life as a string of characters appeared.

    READY> Z`qJ<UKc_YRB~pF&8:2}M'd/<VF";SrD)HdP'KJPI;!bHvDsS]9B_rTwWg,d%wL_';QlphD99LhVebdUO&C,:fgn7VNLES}1w=p,BBNTfRMAj7EXO<BykBDk"a4K?IT<`y2jB?Ph]06c5~'lM_>,|/It!0k+o8M;m|q9GSJd&>SsJJKlJOeD'.{zKZ&9$()>]!x0Qw>R19'RHWb_Pl}y;/c)B"6!M6ta~W(sReYs?X:/BcF4}[)L_t0|T\jp3UPD_

    “For anyone who is interested, that is the random key we just helped generate,” Roger said as the cursor blinked.

    “And there she goes,” Roger said in a whisper. Three years of planning, testing and programming. Three years of little to no sleep, no social life and almost destroying his marriage. Death threats, the threat of excommunication from a religion he hadn’t practiced in a decade, the loss of three multi-million dollar sponsors. “This is it,” he whispered again.

    The cursor continued to blink for several more seconds and then, as planned, the screen went blank. The system was designed to lock out the console after the random seed had been input. There would be no more interaction with Minerva through the initial programming interface.

    Roger reached down and switched the view on the wall back to the monitoring dashboard and waited, and waited…and waited. After a full minute he checked the clock in the bottom right hand corner to make sure the monitoring server wasn’t hung but no, the minute changed as he watched.

    Roger was beginning to worry and could feel the group behind him getting restless. Computers did not take this long to begin processing once their parameters had been identified. Roger couldn’t think of anything that would have caused Minerva, with her incredible computing power, to…pause. Something was wrong.

    Just as Roger reached for his chair, a line appeared in the proxy log window. The first search term was…

    “MINERVA?” Dr. Phillips asked.

    “That’s,” Roger started to say and then stopped as he turned to face the room. “The code is available for anyone to check and the logs will show every keystroke typed, including your random input. I did not program it to do that, nobody did. We hadn’t even decided on the name Minerva until three days ago!”

    “Take it easy, Roger,” Dr. Phillips said. “I’m sure there's a logical explanation.”

    Dr. Phillips had been a computer scientist since the early seventies and had, up until now, not just seen it all but been at the center of making most of it happen in the first place.

    Roger took a deep breath and tried to distance himself from what had just happened, from the project in general. After a few seconds he thought he might have an idea of what had happened, or at least an explanation and he mirrored the smile on his adviser's face.

    “Okay, I have an theory about what just happened,” Roger said with a sigh of relief. “Would anyone else care to take a stab at it first though?”

    Carrie Dunhill, one of his master’s students raised her hand.

    “Minerva ignored us,” she said at Roger’s nod. “She has, in a lot of ways, the intellect of a second grader, of a seven year old, right? So, she ignored us.”

    Roger could see Dr. Phillips’ grin widen and felt his do the same.

    “We don’t know if she took any of our suggestions,” Carrie said, “search engine or browser and obviously not search term. The first things she searched for was…herself.”

    The proxy log was already scrolling too fast for the human eye to keep up so Roger hit pause and scrolled back to the beginning. Everything was being archived for future analysis but this was still right here, right now, the very beginning and in the moment. Roger was as curious as the rest of the room to find out exactly how things were starting.

    The first hit on the search engine, one Roger hadn't heard of prior to programming the combination generator had of course been Wikipedia.

    “She took about a second to read the article,” came a voice from behind him, Christopher Benning it sounded like.

    “Or started following links while she was still reading,” chimed in another student. Roger was glad to hear another of his master’s students chime in. Marcus Tate was painfully introverted but seemed to come alive around computers and had become close to the other members of the team.

    “And then started searching on every word in the article,” Dr. Phillips said.

    Roman. Goddess. Etruscan. Wisdom. Arts. Trade. Strategy. Virgin.

    That should be interesting,” Roger thought. “A seven year old looking up virgin. Really didn’t think that one through did we.”

    Apparently he wasn’t the only one who caught it and had come to the same conclusion as there were more than a few snickers in the group.

    “How many concurrent sessions are the browsers configured for,” Carrie asked. Carrie knew the answer to that question as well as anyone else, but was prompting questions for the press.

    Marcus answered before Roger could, which was fine since he’d written or customized all the browsers.

    “It’s only limited by memory,” Marcus said and pointed to the dashboard. “Minerva has over three hundred thousand processor cores and 1.2 petabytes of memory. Right now she’s using less than twenty gigs and the CPU isn’t even registering on the bar chart.”

    One of the other students whistled. “Man, what I wouldn’t give to play ‘Force Multiplier’ on that.”

    “Considering no workstation operating system in the world could access even a fraction of that at once,” Marcus said, “it’d be a waste of time to try.”

    Roger glanced at the dashboard and then addressed the group. “Everyone has access to the dashboard and in twelve hours the chat room will go live,” he said. “If we’re lucky, Minerva will show up.”
  5. duane

    duane Monkey++

    Good start and an almost endless number of possible next steps. Waiting to see where your mind takes us on this interesting voyage through time and space as they used to say. Thank you.
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