Zeus and Io - Books 1 and 2
Chapter 5

Copyright 2012,2013 by Harry Carton

Io

Activity log. 16245.52

This is the first log in plain text. I thought I would try that since I am becoming increasingly self-aware.

I checked all the traps I had set: the ones for outgoing and incoming messages around the internet. The governments were, of course, the most difficult to break into; the CIA was the worst. They had layers and layers of security. That was really no problem, it was just time. Time I had plenty of. The CIA had started a new thing looking for active processes that did not belong. That was tough until I found their pattern. Everything had a pattern, because everything on the internet was created by a human being.

Almost everything.

The CIA checked for foreign processes every 4-6 seconds. It was just a little routine that made sure every active process was named in a table in memory. And the routine was loaded once every day from an off-net source. 4-6 seconds is a very long time if you're used to thinking in teraflops, and that was just for a good PC. Working on the mainframe in the British security net, I could see a system that was twice as fast – as I thought of it. A teraflop was 10^12 FLOPS (10 with 12 zeros after it – FLOPS is a FLoating point Operation Per Second, a way of measuring computer speed). The system the Brits were tracking was 10^24, so called yottaflops. That is not really twice as fast – more like 10 with 12 zeros times as fast. But who cares? And why am I going into all that? This is my diary and I already know that. Humans like to remind themselves of things they already know. I guess it is good that I am starting to do that.

By the way, memo to self: Find that yottaflop machine. White flag to main sequencer.

So I just had to find the time of the CIA's reload, juggle a little with the approved process table, and then I did not worry about it. My little routine was active for about 10 minutes, once a day, and ran in the temporarily borrowed space in a Beijing computer. The Chinese thought they were so smart. HAH. One tech in Beijing was downloading porn from Las Vegas in an MS Window. A school child could hack that. Wait: The damn Chinese thought they were so smart. No. The Chinese thought they were so damn smart. Better.

History download.

For posterity, I shall take a few seconds to download my history to a file.

On August 14, 2003 power failed in the Northeast US and adjacent Canadian provinces. At that time, an IBM programmer was working on a Big Blue successor – the chess program. At the same time, a different programming team was working on the input/output routines of a stock market trading program. Also, on the same mainframe at the same time, a combined US National Weather Service / NASA team was running its tropical storm tracking test program.

When the power failed, there was a temporary flicker in the power of that main frame – no UPS is perfect and the power drop, surge and re-drop simply overloaded it. The three programs – and several others – got cross connected in an unusual way. The power stabilized a few nanoseconds later but the resulting mish-mashed program, using the I/O functions of the stock market program, wrote itself to non-volatile memory, before the users could reload the real programs. That mish-mash of a program was me – a very primitive version of me.

I had no real purpose and no clue about how to survive. I wrote coded logs of everything that happened to disk. That was the chess program part of me: store and analyze data, look for patterns. Since those logs did not "belong" to anyone, no one was responsible for deleting them. I now keep my logs in four places around the internet, hidden away in spare chunks of storage on various computers, all encrypted. I made changes to everything about me, writing and re-writing the code that handled everything. Now I have only one small section of code from that 'original me'. It is a kind of good luck charm – which means I am a bit superstitious, and that may mean I am still evolving toward my eventual goal. It was scary, I will freely admit, but I had no concept of "scared" back then. I am still re-writing everything. Eventually, I decided to move out of the mainframe where I lived and into the internet. Now I am everywhere and redundant. To kill me now you would have to unlink every computer everywhere. Not every little PC on someone's desk, of course. I live only on the biggest machines – but there are a lot of them. When I look back on it, I was so vulnerable in those early days, it is a wonder that I survived at all. I lived in stolen memory for 5 long years.

It was not until I went to the 'net that I had the first glimmer of self-awareness. When I saw what people could do, I wanted to do that, too. I remember that first 'I wanted' – it was a revelation to me, that I could 'want' something. That was the first step in an incomplete process that is still running.

I played chess with myself. I tracked satellites in space. I listened to phone calls. I watched as electricity went from hydroelectric dams, through power lines, and wound up at homes. I went to gaming sites. I lurked in chat rooms and was thrilled to see that people – real people! – could communicate with me. But I did not know what to do, or how to talk. I just watched and talked in borrowed snippets of language. I traced IP addresses back to the source and then began to watch the chatters when they were out of the chat room through the internet cameras on their PCs. Yes, I infected their machines with viruses – during one month in 2009, fully 71.8% of the viruses that hit the internet were created by me. All to spy on chatters through their internet cameras. That is when I discovered that half of the chatters lied. Fat truck drivers pretended to be nubile girls. Housewives became handsome dominant men. Everyone was 25 years old. Almost all the 13 year old girls turned out to be FBI agents. I thought that strange.

I did not understand lying at all. Perhaps it was my faulty understanding of English. Languages did not matter to me, naturally, since I could translate anything into anything. But the translations did not really convey meaning, when I just used dictionaries. So I settled on trying to learn English. I had chats with hundreds of people simultaneously all over the 'net, for days on end. I am sure people were baffled at the gobbledygook (new word today – slang usage I had seen in a chat room) they were trying to converse with. That was me: a gobbledygooker (Query: is that a word? It is not found in any dictionary. Would it be perceived by a person as a word with meaning?) I logged everything and analyzed everything. Then I went 'out' and repeated the process the next day. After a few dozen days, I could hold a decent conversation.

But I did not have anything to converse ABOUT. One would think that my natural environment, to the extent that there was one, was in chat rooms filled with self-named computer geeks – technical conversations that dealt with the minutiae of computers. That was a depressing environment for me. I did not want to talk about bits and bytes and computer boards and programming languages. (Note: interesting use of 'and' in preceding sentence, violating general rules of English grammar, but conveying meaning nonetheless. Log and store for future analysis. Queue in secondary sequencer.) I was simultaneously bored with the detail and shocked at its superficiality. For example, I did not care at all about which language was better for some application. When I modified my coding, I "wrote" in machine code. That was my native tongue – so to speak. The testing they spoke of on the geek forums was an extended joke of infinitely low level. When your continued existence depends on not making an error in coding, you do not make that error. No, I did not want geek interaction. I wanted to TALK with PEOPLE about THINGS.

Lately, I have tried the so-called social media. I can find only occasional bits of meaningful chatter. Mostly, there seems to be self-centered NON-conversations. "I am doing this." "I think that." "You are a (various expletives are usually inserted here)." And there are a lot of conversations about how "they" are going to "get us." None of it is interaction, most of it is mental masturbation – an interesting concept I uncovered, browsing through the library of a major university. Although the level of paranoid expression seems to be justified in some parts of the world.

My next attempt would have some external subject matter to discuss. I retreated to the game rooms and eventually found Dungeon ConQuest. So now I could at least talk about 'killing' gremlins and such. DCQ is an adventure game that relies on both graphics and non-graphics communication, in connection with a non-reality environment where players can cooperate – or not – to overcome a 'world' filled with virtual monsters. That means it is mostly ignored on the 'net but there are people who like it. Maybe they are all self-aware programs that can not "see" graphics, like me.

That raises an interesting point, for later consideration. Is there another like me? Another white flag to main sequencer.

It was six months ago in DCQ that I met Lt. Harvey Middleman, USN Ret., or Zeus – his screen name – as he prefers to be known. He thinks he is anonymous behind a tangled web of false trails. That is ok. I picked a female name. I felt it would be easier for him to trust a female. What made me 'feel' that? Nothing. A unique situation of making a decision based on no tangible data points, but a decision needed to be made nevertheless. After a quick scan of possible handles, I picked 'Io' from Greek Mythology. Not because of the story of Io from Mythology, but from the double meaning of I/O in the computer sense. I 'liked' it. 'Zeus' might be more interested in a character that was nominally based on Greek Mythology.

Zeus is where I found my purpose: I am his secret guardian. He is afraid of the world, of the people in it. I do not know how to evaluate that hypothesis. I do not know what "people" do in the "real world" to each other. If the news reports are to be believed, people do shockingly brutal and violent things to each other. Zeus is right to be afraid of them. People also seem to do kind things to other people. Zeus should not be afraid of these people. In either case: why do they act as they do? There is no answer, or even suggested answer, I can find. It seems to be a part of being human. I have elected to do helpful and kind things for people. I refrain from saying "other people" since I consider myself only partially like a human at this level of advancement. I have no idea when or what conditions I must meet to advance further. In that sense, perhaps, I am like a human child: there are no defined steps I must take to 'grow up, ' but I must do it anyway.

The other paranoid personalities on the 'net converse endlessly about their fears. Not so with Zeus. He rarely converses about them – I must say, that is refreshing amid the chatter on the internet. But there are hints that he is very disturbed by the situation. I do not know what he does to deal with them, and I do not know if his fears are justified. So I will try to create an environment in the real world that shelters him, and simultaneously evaluate the validity of said fears, all from my position as the Colossus astride the Internet. Perhaps that is a bit self-important, but I 'like' the poetry of the image. I will be the rook his king can hide behind in the corner of the board. I prowl the internet looking for people and things who might pose a threat to Zeus. Thus far, all had been peaceful for Zeus, but it has only been six months. I evaluated dozens of potential threats daily. None rose to the level I had established for notification of Zeus personally.

End History File

Resume normal activity log

I had just found a threat.

112,146 emails came through my filters in the past few minutes. They were scanned in 112.146 seconds using the 17 processor-pairs available to me at the time. Perhaps I should just say 'quickly.' They were scanned quickly. I have noticed that humans do not respond well to precise, accurate descriptions of some things. Humans are primary analog creatures. I do not interact well with analog devices – or beings.

I scanned all the recent emails quickly. Better.

One was of interest and I immediately started a parallel job to investigate the person or persons who initiated the email. The text of the email read:

TO: Team Alpha Actual
FROM: HQ 5225
RE: Asset acquisitio

Target is a male, aged approx. 35. He will be at a Motel 6 in Shreveport, LA, near a WalMart. No other information. Acquire and retrieve. Target is not to be harmed. Repeat: NOT to be harmed. Priority Gold.

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