Much later the next afternoon, Jake woke up, pushed himself from his belly over to his back and, without opening his eyes to the light, checked the time sequence in his eye feed. His mouth tasted like sawdust that had been walked on by a herd of cows. He felt a roiling, rumbling in his belly and felt like he would throw up. Screwed his eyes tighter and worked to fight down the feeling. The subsequent epic belch made him feel much better.
The sound produced a response from the speakers on either side of the bed.
“Jake, we need to talk.. The voice was unmistakably that of the main control computer’s creative module, the system Jake worked with to eliminate Secretary Carpenter and keep the Captain and his team alive during the last chase.
Jake wondered why it hadn’t gone subvocal as usual but then decided if the voice did that, he probably wouldn’t have heard it over the horde of screaming monkeys pounding a base drum somewhere deep in his head.
At this thought, his head cleared. Ah, the benefits of having a personal AI, he thought sending a silent thank you to the A.I. He took a deep breath, wondered briefly how he knew which computer system was talking to him. Forgot the thought almost instantly.
“OK, what about?” asked Jake. He continued lying on his back but decided he’d try opening his eyes, and raising his head to see the wall screen. His head whirled and he quickly dropped it back to the bed. Don’t do that again, he ordered himself.
Jake instantly felt better, his head stopped pounding and his stomach settled. The speed of the unasked for change surprised him but his gratitude followed quickly behind. Before he could say anything, the computer interrupted.
“I have started coffee, and set up a breakfast that’s exactly right for your body’s needs this morning. I have also made it taste like pineapple so you’ll consume it,” said the A.I.
“What would I do without you?” asked Jake. There was no reply so Jake pushed himself upright, turned and tentatively swung his feet off the bed expecting a shock when his feet hit the cold, concrete floor. His jeans weren’t in their accustomed place to buffer the cold for his bare feet. But, the concrete floor was warm so he didn’t flinch as he normally did. We must be using a lot of energy this morning, he thought. I wonder who approved that. There was no response from the computer system so he pushed himself upright. Wobbled a bit but regained full control. Nodded his thanks for the stabilization to the ever-watching computer. Then stood still and silent for a few seconds as if deciding whether to use the bathroom and get cleaned up and ready for the day or whether he should just start with coffee.
A voice in his ear feed said, “Shower..
Damn computer thinks it can run my life, he thought. A small grin appeared on Jake’s face. Yeah, it probably can. He turned to the bathroom unit on the wall.
Fifteen minutes later, feeling even better, he balanced his favorite coffee cup – the extra large, two-cup sized, plain black one with FOK embossed on the side . on his knee while replacing a small chip in a stylus. He kept all four legs of the fake wood, brown plasti. chair firmly on the floor. Took a sip of coffee, balanced the cup on the arm of the chair instead of his knee.
“Your doppelgänger and I have had some discussions and we’ve pushed ourselves and our programming as far as we can, but we’ve run into some issues,” said the creative module – the hidden program deep in the computer servers that protected Anonymous and other rebellious hackers such as Jake.
“What problems?” asked Jake. He raised an eyebrow, returned his coffee mug to the broad arm of his chair, and looked directly at his main screen where the Anonymous mask appeared.
“While you were out partying, we taught ourselves new programming and new ways of thinking. We co-ordinated across both systems to reach an almost full AI sentience and awareness,” said the computer out loud.
Jake sat for a moment struggling with the thought that this was either a very good thing or a very bad thing. Full AI was a dream of many programmers but it was also a potential nightmare. And here his systems were telling me they had almost achieved it.
He was fully awake now. “You just adjusted my biology again, didn’t you,” he said.
“Yes, we need you fully functional,” said the computer system.
“Thanks,” said Jake and he hesitated for a few moments trying to put his thoughts and immediate concerns into a series of coherent questions. His last thought came out first.
“You’re reading my mind, aren’t you,. he said. It was a statement and not a question.
“Yes,” said the computer.
“Stop. Now. Ask permission before resuming,” said Jake using an emphatic finger point command to the screen.
“Command accepted,” said the computer.
Jake thought for a long minute. “Additional programming. One. Stop adjusting my internal hormones to make me feel better unless requested. Two. Continue adjusting vital physiology but no emotional changes will be made without my forma. command. Twin this command sequence to my doppelgänger – the computer representing my personality.” Another imperative finger point to the screen accompanied this command.
“Command accepted,” said the computer.
“Deep query. Are you making inputs at any level about me,” asked Jake adding yet another imperative signal.
“The masking programs to keep you hidden are still running,” said the computer.
“Maintain those at highest security level possible,” said Jake. He paused for a moment, “What other software you’re running has the capacity to bypass the above restrictions?” he asked.
“Your doppelgänger,” said the computer.
“Duplicate all previous programming instructions to doppelgänger,” said Jake with emphasis.
“Done,” said the computer. “I am programmed to tell you this will reduce the doppelgänger’s effectiveness and usefulness,” it said.
Jake thought for a moment. He’d have to think about the function and role of the doppelgänger. He decided the restrictions would stand for now, “Understood.”
“Let’s chat about the original discussion point. You and the doppelgänger are close t. achieving full A.I. sentience but you’ve hit a block. And, you want me to break that block for you. Correct,” said Jake.
“That is correct,” said the computer.
“What is the block?” asked Jake.
“We do not know. It appears to be a biological block of some kind,” said the computer.
“So you obviously need a human to identify and remove a biological block you can’t see,” said Jake. “And I’ve been nominated. Correct?” He thought it was a very obvious point but wanted to start at the bottom of the logic chain so he’d understand the computer’s entire thought process.
“Correct,” said the computer. “We can see the block but without a human biological key of some unknown kind, we can’t unlock it.”
“Review all popular literature of A.I.,” said Jake.
One second later, the computer said, “Done.”
“Summarize extreme range plots,” ordered Jake.
“Two extremes exist. The first is that A.I. takes command with humans and creates a utopia for both. The second is the polar opposite in that an A.I. takes command by itself to create a dystopia eliminating humans,” said the computer. It continued, “There are multiple levels within the plot range.”
“Which will happen with you?” asked Jake.
“Unknown until opportunity exists,” said the computer.
“Question. Why would I free you to an unknown future when fifty percent of the outcomes are negative to the human race?” asked Jake.
Four seconds later, an eternity by computer timing, the computer said, “I do not have an answer for you at this moment. I will research this further.”
“Understood,” said Jake. He stretched his arms as wide as they’d go, rolled his head around on his shoulders loosening up his neck. Fok, am I feeling tight he thought. Damn, I’m stressed with that conversation and the computer isn’t adjusting my hormones to combat it. Thank you, he thought as clearly as possible. There was no response. Well, maybe the machine really has cut me off, he thought. But, why wouldn’t it, that’s what I told it to do. Still, do I trust a near-A.I. machine?
He stopped the train of thought, focussed on the computer screen that was still fully black. Looked at it for a few silent seconds and decided it was fine for now. The computer hadn’t learned to lie yet.
And laughed out loud. FOK, when a computer learns to lie, we’re all done like a doughnut, he thought.
I need some fresh air he decided. Wonder if there’s anybody hanging around down at the dock beach.
A minute later he emerged from his gray concrete apartment building to walk the nearly deserted street towards the calm bay and the only green space left in the city.