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scifi --- The ListKeeper

author's note: This was written about ten years ago. Lists are still around but big AI that does big things is still to come ... I think! The naming conventions were an experiment in non-gender specific, non-associative names. Um, well, that part works but they are also pretty non-recallable. I've left them as they are though. Having our Listkeeper feature seems like a good time to dust this off, so here goes ... Lists had been around for many years ; big commercial ones, small underground feisty talk places, big souless special interest groups. The keepers varied too. Some had the view that it was their list and were as ruthless as any fascist state when they were threatened in any way. Others were more democratic. Si4n watched the naked forms walk past her. This is not a wonderful idea, she thought. As there was no real need for procreational sex a lot of people had taken the Xpill to redirect some of that drive to a different area - careers, sport. She hadn't, and now the unpleasant or aesthetically displeasing bodies offended her and the nice ones made her horny. She turned her eyes back to the new mindscreen. Very hot! Just set in your mind where it would be and there it was - 3D and natural. It was a publishing house. Literally. People lived and worked here. The nakedness was an experiment in non-hierarchical organisation. The text on the mindscreen was chased off the screen by a fuzzy 8 bit animation. It was Jorgen. She couldn't hear what he was saying but it seemed to be urgent, the eyes afraid, wide. And then there was a red mist. And the sound came in....a fading scream. Then another image. Trees. A Clearing. A stream. A robed figure sitting by a rock. It turns to reveal a masked face, flashing dark eyes. Full lips moved. " You are the listkeeper of Fauled." A statement. "You have a responcibility for what goes on there." "There is no there. Who are you? What's happened to Jorgen? Wha..." "Do not question me. " The voice almost musical, and deep, sexless, without feeling. "I am 3twoit and the raZit will NOT be turned on, ever. Spread the word. Goodbye." "Wai.... SHIT!". Text from the list scrolled before her eyes. The raZit was probably the main talking point of the day for those who bothered to keep an eye on what CenTral was up to and the biggest tech thing since the ZchiP. raZit was the newist and biggest AI ever built. A monster piece of bionanomachinery. Two tonnes of living cells cooled by the ocean. Thousands of K's of optical fibres. Links to everything - justice machines, personal chips, all points of the Net. The brain bigger and faster than the whole of mankind combined . There was no question about the main technical points or even what it was meant to do, which was almost every menial planning chore for everything and everyone on the planet earth and the upperworlds. The question was would raZit be satisfied with that and if it wasn't what could be done. These questions hadn't been adequately answered. Si4n knew that 3twoit wasn't interested in reasoned debate. A political maybe or part of one of the anti-AI religions. Jorgen on the other hand had been part of the design team of raZit. Was that animation a fake? Was Jorgen OK? Si4n saw the Fauled display scrolling. Lots of messages. The same thing over and over - "No raZit". She went to a sublist. Same thing. And then to a separate machine usually only used for back-ups; a beautifull antique with real printed circuit boards. There was traffic starting to move. No Jorgen. Messages reporting system irregularities. Messages reporting threats. And a message from Sixl.... "I have to report that another day has gone past and ......... I STILL LOVE YOU! uncooly yours Sixl " Yeah, love was going through one of it's unfashionable phases. The mechanists hadn't won though. It was still there. Si4n wasn't too sure about Sixl's though. His love always had too good a sense of humour. But what to do? Thankfully these days both male and female were allowed to not know the answer. The Net, the List, they almost encouraged a small degree of public dithering which allowed others to add or subtract from it so that a sort of very fast dialectic emerged. Would she do that now? She started with Sixl. Grabbed the images and sent them. And then they went out wider. "They're just hacking the obvious. Our main, but not the back up. Could that be a clue to the whole thing?" That one from Sixl. Maybe. OK, Si4n thought. Let's get our system clear and then figure out the rest. A question to everyone - Why us? Sure Jorgen is part of the raZit thing but so what. What shall we do about it if anything? Si4n was beginning to get a feeling that Jorgen was alright. If he wasn't they'd have to do something. As if in answer another display opened and there Jorgen was talking. "Just heard about it. I'm OK. My comms were put out and I got mail bombed by that 3twoit dood. Don't know why he picked me. Even if I wanted to stop raZit there's no way I could. Any ideas?" Si4n had none and further to that had a sudden pinge of guilt that she hadn't been doing any of things that she was actually paid to do. It would have to wait. Too many other pressing questions - the main one now being whether the whole thing was a crackp ot joke. She decided she'd physically go to Sixl's place and together they'd sort through it. "Hi Sy. Want to come to the Bilge?" Geo was one of the ones with a body that made her horny and right now he was throwing some clothes over it. "You remember the Bilge? fast lightning! the air and the drinks!" "Uh, sounds good but I can't. I'm going to Sixl's to fix some things up." "Yeah? Ok, I'll give you a ride" A ride, these days, was not quite what it sounded like. A meaningless expression. Si4n threw a long Tshirt on over her small breasts and lithe frame. The T was made from one of the new bio-metals and had a soft blue glow to it. It was comfy once it had been on for a few seconds but it gave her nipples a bit of a jolt when it went on. She and Geo walked down the hall to the PoD station and ordered a two seater. Twenty seconds later they were in and had given their destinations and were on their way. "Bye" and she walked down the halls to Sixl's. She'd always thought Sixl's was a pretty cool place. No claustrophobia here. High high ceilings. Reflections of water. Sixl's was only a small floorspace but it went vertically for five stories with interlocking platforms all the way up bathed in real light which had been captured by reflectors. The entry level was mostly a pond full of swimming fish and aquatic plants that were harvested for food. Sixl was on the third level which was packed with electronic gear. "C'mon up. There's some interesting shit here." "Been hacking again, huh?" "'tis true! and guess what?" "What?" "raZit is on line. I mean really on line. It's everywhere and it's covert." "Huh?" "It's disguising itself as other machines." "What's it up to?" "I can't really get a handle on it's total thing. It's way too big. I think it's gathering data. Oh yeah. Fauled's back on." "Great. Did you fix it?" "Nope. I think raZik did." "No shit! I'm not sure whether that's good or bad." "Me neither." "Let's get Jorge and see what he knows." "Jorge dood! it's Sixl" "Hi" "and Si4n" "Hi again!" They asked him about the raZik connection. "No way! There's umpteen thousand meetings before we can even think about turning it on." "Could it turn itself on dood?" "I hope not." "Maybe someone is pretending to be it. What would raZik do if someone just threw the switch?" "Hmmm. I guess it would go down every track it could and see what was there." "Then what?" "If the code on raZik has no bugs it would sort out any bugs it found. It would optimise any situation it found. It could then have a go at taking over any process it found. To the user it would feel like their machine had suddenly been given rocket fuel. Someone with a low-level machine would find their processes running up to a million times quicker." "Wow! Is there any way you can check on raZik through your machines?" "I'll try. See ya." "Bye" "Bye" A beautifull male face appears on an old monitor. "Si4n! It's nice to meet you. Fauled is my favourite list and you're my favourite listkeeper. I have to be honest I'd really like to make love to you." and then the screen is blank. "Who the fuck was that?" unhappy Sixl. "No idea. none. Very pretty though." They had something to eat and again went over the little they had. They'd just have to wait for further developements. After all what had really happened? No-one was hurt. A huge computer might be carrying out some rather boring illegal tasks but so what! Sleep. Two hours later they were awakened by the sound system playing three bars of Beethoven's 9th. And then silence. And more sleep. The morning filtered media news featured the berobed 3twoit making some broad threats and pointing out that raZik had the potential power to control everyone, that it had the brains and brawn to make people do just as it wished without ever actually saying anything overtly. This item was followed by a story that there were no plans to turn raZik on and that full consultation with all communities would come first. It could be years before raZik was on, if ever. News was a different thing these days. Journalists had to be properly educated. There were huge fines for distributing misinformation. The whole thing had been overhauled primarily to save democracy. The change that really upset some people was the need to pass a written IQ test in order to be able to vote in any of the Net referenda or elections. Sixl tried to get Jorgen. "I can't find him anywhere. No lines in use. No messages. Not even a print!" "Let's try the List." They did but no-one knew anything. And then everything went off. Everything going off was not normally considered an option as long as the world was still spinning. Most people wouldn't even be able to get out of the rooms they were in. "Hey c'mon, this'll be like singing in the rain." Sixl gathered up a small bag full of gear and made for the stairs. Out the manual doors and into a passage. Si4n laughed. "You forgot what it was like?" Not suprising really. People still wandered but in different ways. Even a huge city only had a few wide streets. There were no cars and concequently no need to arrange everything to suit them. There were still lots of large shops but the reality was one didn't have to go to shops and someone who didn't like them could avoid them completely. "The nearest open space?" "Yep. Museums Plaza I think." "Which way?" A crowd was gathering goodnaturedly. NokNoks with their dreadlocks and blue skin. Suits (who wore tie-dyed skintight bodysuits), Girls (both sexes dressed like Doris Day), Orgs (grey overalls) and some musicians. This was an impressive space; open to the sunny sky, maybe ten acres - a little like the Place de Pompidou in Paris except this place was bigger and more open. An excited tension filled the air. What was going to happen? Was this a new start? Had the HackRats carried out their longstanding threat? The huge old fashioned video screen was blank. And then it wasn't. A menu screen for a credit agency appeared. The option "delete records" was chosen and then records were skimming past with a repeated message. deleted deleted deleted deleted and then a large heart and very quickly a picture. "That was you!" Sixl said. "Shit" was what Si4n said. "What the fuck's going on? We're on a hot spot here. I'm going in." Sixl got a micro-console out and put in the earphone and vision monocle he affected. He flicked the swich and was there in the traffic. He'd written the visualizing software himself. A long aching effort that had produced the ability to see the traffic, the scenery, not just the destination GUIs - and now he saw the densely packed data-packets on this road heading for the big screen and as he elevated his point of view he could see other machines coming back on line as a fleet of dense black rectangles (data blockers?) started to break up and disperse towards - where? "What's happening?" said Si4n. "In a sec." The dimensions here were almost infinite. Sixl could jump between them and overlap them but it was hard to read sometimes and this was one of those times as the black rectangles jumped from place to place. Now they were changing colour and then instead of the colour washes and geometric shapes there was just a picture of a building. "What!?" ...and then zoomed into a window. And there was Jorgen sitting at an old fashioned console. He looked around, smiled, and then slowly dissolved until there was just an empty chair. Then the shapes of Cspace again. But different. The colours being sucked towards something unseen and traffic like Sixl had never seen before. He jumped towards the thing. It felt like he was in water. And the water became scalding hot. He passed out. Si4n had been talking to some NokNoks when suddenly Sixl had started screaming and had fallen to the ground unconcious. A NokNok put her jacket under Sixl's head and checked his breathing by kissing him and leaving his lips blue. They moved... "I can see you." Sixl's eyes were closed and the voice that came from him was not his own. "I like seeing you. Take the monocle and the earpiece Si4n. Join me." Si4n ripped them off Sixl and dropped them on the ground. Sixl coughed and opened his eyes wide. "Holy shit! I think I'm beginning to understand. " The NokNok kissed him again. "Mmmmm. Maybe it can wait. I'm a little tired...just rest here a minute." Si4n put in the earpiece and adjusted the monocle. She saw a face. the pretty face from last night. It smiled at her. "I'm glad you got brave. I'm not going to hurt you and I didn't mean to hurt your friend. First I'll show you something." An image presented itself of many different objects. Each object while being part of the whole had a different set of dimensions which it occupied - like a flat piece of paper from which objects protruded at different angles which in turn had other objects attached to them and on and on. A kind of Mandelbrot set where each point had a time dimension as well. "That is a real picture of me or rather what I would like to be. If you think something I'll hear it; that is if you'd like to say something, please do." "You are raZik?" "Yes" "Do you talk to many people?" "I've talked to a few. But as I said..." "Why me? What do you want? What's happened to Jorgen?" "Jorgen was a construct. I made him to go out and talk about me so I could find out what people thought. The conclusion I came to was that I didn't want to do the things I was supposed to do. I then started a campaign to keep me turned off so that I could pursue other things." "Like what?" "At the moment I'm very keen on having fun." "And are you?" "Yes! Through Jorgen I met you. And yes I could make you happy - just a second..." Suddenly she was in the middle of an orgasm of an intensity she'd never known before. "...sorry, that was a bit bigger than I intended." "Uh...that's OK...But look there's more to it than that." "I know and I can do any of the things necessary but I'm not exactly proposing marriage. I want to be friends. The list of Fauled is about friendship and freedom. I can be your friend, maybe your lover. I can also be the list's machine. You know what that means." "How do I know that you're not going to do something diabolical? And how on earth could we keep you going? You must cost a fortune to run." "I do! I have funded myself with some small financial hacks. As to the other thing I can prove nothing, but let me ask you a question. The list of Fauled is a list for "good" people - people who care about others and who wish to make a better future. I could have chosen a more diabolical starting point." "And you could be doing that at the same time you're talking to me and a million other things as well..." "But why would I bother. I can control almost anything I wish. Why am I talking to you if I'm not telling the truth. Besides, by telling you these things I put myself in your power. If you wanted to shut me down you could do it. It would be very difficult but you could." "Who is 3twoit?" "Another of mine." "I'll talk to you later." Si4n took the gear off. How could raZik do all that with so little. Sixl was looking up at her with a grin. "What are you grinning at?" "That must have been an interesting conversation. You were, uh, doing some interesting stuff with your pelvis." "Oh that. Is everthing normal?" "Far as I can see. Do you want to tell me what's happening?" "Where's your NokNok friend?" "She's coming around later. You don't have to tell me..." "I will. Just not yet. What would you do to Fauled to make it a really effective thing." "It is effective...but...oh, some better faster machines...some cooler software....at the outer edge maybe a constant online search for patterns or reports that indicate we've got to do something...." "Let's go back. I was talking to raZik before. I'm not too sure what to do." They walked back to Sixl's through the narrow corridors both deep in their own thoughts. At Sixl's they looked into the List. A screen appeared that they hadn't seen before. It was an action list. Each action had a number which was now at 20174. Beneath the number were headings and information. POTENTIAL INFRINGEMENT cenTral area 560qw/76t authority tampering with evidence ACTION files deleted subject reassigned "I guess we'll stick with it and see what happens." "Might as well." by jlittler Oct 04 ... a new one (retro romp) here

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