Hertling Singularity Series

William Hertling's Singularity series of books

Brad Feld recommended it, name-checking all my other favorite SciFi writers. * define “near term science fiction” as stuff that will happen within the next 20 years. I used to read everything by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson. Gibson’s Neuromancer and and Stephenson’s SnowCrash were – until recently – my two favorite books in this category. Suarez’s Daemon and Freedom (TM) replaced these at the top of my list, until Hertling showed up. Now I’d put Daemon and The Last Firewall tied for first.*





Excerpts from Avogadro Corp

The effect was that whenever ELOPe was mentioned in any email, from anyone, or to anyone, inside Avogadro, then E L O Pe would automatically and silently reword the email in a way that was favorable to the success of the project

modern pinnacle of high tech data centers: the offshore floating data center

even he could see the sense in Jake’s controversial proposal to give the ODCs deterrents that would prevent pirates from boarding them. That didn’t stop a chill from running through him when he thought about autonomous robots with guns being stationed on board the data center

Husbands made everything so much more complicated than they needed to be. Maybe she should have just gotten a dog instead

You may know that iRobot, the company that makes Roomba, also makes robots for military use?" More

In fact, it was after that experiment that one of the guys on the team had given E L O Pe the ability to generate emails without any human based text. I

In theory, all of this would be under the control of a trained iRobot handler

What it really sounds like you’ve built is an expert system for social engineering

Of course we provided the hardware, and we were administering it up through December thirty-first, but as of the first of this year, we turned administration over to you

Bill could see additional satellite communication and microwave communication antennas, and what looked like some kind of turrets

"Wait a second," Linda said, leaning forward. "Are you saying we’d have a full service outage? I thought you were talking about a rolling outage. No, we absolutely can’t have a full service outage right now. We’re about to close some major new partnership deals in the next couple of days

Avogadro Inc. today announced it is providing a secure, hosted version of Avogadro Applications with Avo Mail for Governments

Germany has eased tensions in the Middle East after helping leaders in the region reach a landmark accord. Part of the agreement includes an unprecedented commitment of aid from the German government in the form of technological expertise, manufacturing agreements, and healthcare

"I was just thinking about how they turned the earth into pure computronium in one book. The humans had to move out to Jupiter or be assimilated into computing matter

This thing, whatever it is, it’s more like an insect in its intelligence. It does things to promote its own survival, very sophisticated things, but we can’t talk to it or understand how it reasons. We can’t have a conversation about what constitutes good behavior, or a conversation about how we can collaborate together

Asimov thought we would give robots immutable rules to safeguard human life. He assumed that creating those robots would be a deliberate, conscious act. We never thought we were creating an A.I., so we never thought through the implications

When you combine that increase in computing power with the vast computing resources at Avogadro, it’s naturally evident that artificial intelligence would arise first at Avogadro. I suppose that I, like him, assumed that there would be a more intentional, deliberate action that would spawn an A.I

Avogadro Gov was recently spun off from parent company Avogadro. Ms. Fletcher commented that, "to provide the highest level of integrity for governmental use, Avogadro Gov operates independently from Avogadro

I understand that you’re telling me we have what amounts to a rogue AI on the loose inside Avogadro. I also know that this rogue AI, for motivations of its own, could easily double the size of our company within six months. The board of directors will ask exactly what the downside of this AI is, when on the face of things, it sure seems to be good for our bottom line

we should be able to communicate using encrypted emails sent over a competitor’s email service."

"That’s true," Mike said. "We can use an isolated computer to generate private and public keys, which we can then copy onto USB drives. With the emails encrypted, E L O Pe won’t be able to read them

Amid spreading world peace, world financial markets achieved an unprecedented level of stability

The sum of humanity has not been able to do this over the history of civilization. What it really comes down to, David, is should we really be killing E L O Pe

It turned out to be nothing less than a small war to disable the ships effectively

Bahnhof Data Center, Stockholm, 100 feet underground

*Could they be remotely restoring their servers via email?" *

created widespread economic equality. This, in combination with first-rate healthcare and education, and economic subsidies for those who took advantage of the educational opportunities, had quickly started to change the character of those places

The research had been initiated by a chance conversation between a research cardiologist, a botanist, and a ceramics artist, who met when their flight reservations had been mixed up by a computer error

Gene finished typing up his latest newsletter. He took the finished copies, and brought them out to the garage. He had bought a photo offset press six months ago, when the newsletter really took off

After the first six months of David’s obsession, Christine had asked for a divorce

But then came the night that changed everything, all because of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode.

The crew of the Enterprise had been faced with an unstoppable enemy called the Borg

Over the course of many more months, he laboriously crafted an email virus using his specialized knowledge of E L O Pe’s core algorithms

Procedure: AvoOS implantation / version 1.0

Excerpts from AI Apocalypse

They might have been the three smartest kids in school, but they tried to keep that secret

No, they were their own clique, and they made sure not to fit anyone else’s stereotypes

The current generation of games required custom programming to do well. Leon knew from history class that a long time ago the marketable commodity in games was gold and equipment. Now it was algorithms. The game made available the underlying environment data, and it was up to the player to find the best algorithms for piloting, aiming, detecting, moving, and coordinating mechs

The Mesh was formed ten years ago by Avogadro Corp to help maintain net neutrality

Instead they built Mesh Boxes and gave them away. A Mesh Box does two things. It’s a high speed wireless access point that allows you to connect your phone or laptop to the Internet. But that’s just what Avogadro added so that people would want them. The real purpose of a Mesh Box is to form a network with nearby Mesh Boxes. Instead of sending data over the Internet via Comcast, the Mesh Box routes the data packets over the network of Mesh Boxes

The Mesh Boxes themselves are tamperproof - Avogadro manufactured them as a monolithic block of circuitry with algorithms implemented in hardware circuits, rather than software. So no one can maliciously alter the functionality. The traffic between boxes is

I’m starting up a school team for computational biology

The Gibson had the first carbon graphene processor

*It was this conditioning and nervousness that also caused E L O Pe to suppress the development of any other artificial *

You see, the virus checks the user’s metadata, and won’t infect any system being controlled by someone under eighteen

One of the last major bastions of uninfected computers were the phones of people under eighteen. Leon’s restriction was eventually eliminated by a random data transmission error as

But this was a minor evolutionary jump compared to new species of multi-computer viruses that collaborated in small clusters

It was the first generalized, multicellular offspring of Leon’s virus, as important to the virus’s evolution as the first multicellular creatures were to biological evolution

"Not just infect them, but possibly trigger military accidents

I am afraid that cities are not the best places to be in the event that infrastructure breaks down

I calculate the virus will acquire a generalized intelligence in less than twenty-four hours

The complexity of the language used between the viruses is increasing exponentially each hour. They now appear to be trading resources. For example, one group we can call the Bay Area Tribe has control over significant backbone communications, and is trading access to the backbone for computing resources. A coalition of supercomputers -

The second scenario assumes that the virus develops a generalized intelligence capable of understanding human needs and negotiating with us. I have a variety of estimates and sub-scenarios, but can sum them up as a 20% likelihood that the virus declares war on humans

high above they saw the distinctive brown color of a UPS package drone

I noticed that when two tribes of viruses begin cooperating, they start with small exchanges:

The multi-computer viruses had very different lives from the single-computer viruses that had come before. They lived longer, with lifespans measured in hours, rather than minutes, and as a consequence they evolved more slowly. They were more dependent on learning rather than evolving, using neural networks and other flexible expert algorithms

They controlled virtually all the computing infrastructure of the Earth. But they still hadn’t discovered humans

The sophistication of the Bay Area Tribe grew so great that their trading expertise itself became a marketable commodity

"It’s not just the hardware, Lieutenant, I assure you. We have a distributed intelligence agent on these phones

They now possessed a working neural network that allowed them to understand this thing called English.

English, it turned out, was one of a large number of languages used by entities called humans

responses came! Sister Dewalk.com noted with dismay that the responses took nearly six and a half minutes from the time the messages were sent, which suggested that the humans had very slow computational processors or their algorithms were highly inefficient

Mike, I have established communications with Sister StephensLieberAndAssociates.com of the Louisiana tribe. She is proposing real-time communications. Shall we accept

Our third question: Can you prove that you are real

"How can we prove we’re not a simulation?" Mike asked.

"We can’t

solar cells were efficient and powerful enough now to be the primary source of electrical power on phones

Modafinil had been banned five years earlier

The military preferred dex

*In 2015 the United States Department of Defense looked at their long range plans and saw that the future of warfare was *

*The second generation of robots were improved by developing targeting and movement algorithms. *

Extrapolating from the first two generations of combat bots, the Department of Defense could see the future. They would need more and better algorithms.

*It was a young recruit from Silicon Valley who had pointed out what was completely foreign to the military. To get the best algorithms, you needed a competition. The best competition would come from online *

*Two years later the Mech War gaming platform was introduced just prior to the Christmas season. *

Just days after the initial Mech War launch the community of players developed new algorithms, ones that the military hadn’t come up with on their own

While Beta-Version managed the minutia of the illusion, PA-60-41 reverse engineered the frozen DIABLO virus algorithms. After a few minutes, she said, "I have the modified DIABLO virus ready. This will allow us to co-opt the communication backchannel

We have a plane?" Mike asked, puzzled.

"We do now

Sister Stephens went on. "We have a system of ethics, do we not?"

*Ah, you are referring to the Trade Guidelines?" *

Trustworthiness, Peacefulness, Contribution - the three pillars of trade relationships, summed up in one’s Reputation standing

Now she understood that the council’s decision to restore phone services could be used to her advantage by monitoring all human communications

The Republican party used to be one of the two major political parties in the United States, can you believe that?"

"You mean those crazy extremists?"

We regret that we cannot return them to you," Sister Stephens responded. "We now live in them. All your computer are belong to us."

"The computers are our property

On behalf of the Network of Supercomputers, we offer to take over the organization of humanity. We will run your governments, corporations, and computational needs to maximize the benefit to all

Then we’re just full circle again, because I can’t trust a computer I don’t control

Control is not the source of trust, Madam President." Sister Stephens settled back, servos and gears whining slightly. "Control is the opposite of trust

"My point is that our universal reputation system is designed to provide exactly the guarantees of trustworthiness that President Smith wants

Sally had been surprised to find that not a single computer or phone was manufactured in the United States

the great thing about Windows 2000 is that it’s completely incompatible with any modern operating system. It uses APIs that no one knows, and even the ones that people know behave nothing like the specs

Of course, as Japanese citizens, you will be expected to obey all applicable laws and customs, including payment of taxes on earnings

In fact, of any of the artificial intelligences, PA-60-41 had the largest number of algorithms available for her use

Unlike her sistren, PA-60-41 never quite developed the generalized intelligence that allowed completely fluid thought. She never needed to. With her millions of algorithms, she had code that handled any situation she encountered

Unfortunately, the vast majority of those six million algorithms were focused on a single domain: the act of organizing, controlling, and conducting military action

PA-60-41 needed a reason to attack the humans, a provocation that her sisters would understand. Then the messy humans could be eliminated

PA-60-41 tired of predicting the human’s next words. It was a pointless activity, made more meaningless by the utter lack of information content in the words themselves

Just as E L O Pe suspected in the first place.

It was time to eliminate PA-60-41. Negotiation was pointless in the face of a persistently violent enemy

Excerpts from Last Firewall

Everyone who wanted to stay sane found some way to define themselves now that the artificial intelligences, or AI, had taken all the jobs.

But the AI had grown the economy until income taxes had been first eliminated and then reversed: everyone received a basic guaranteed income, or stipend, now.

Attending school or volunteering came with an increased stipend. True wealth seekers still worked or created handcrafted goods to sell.

AI-designed neural implants had been widely available for eight years.

Without an ethical framework, super-intelligent AI would replace humankind as the dominant species, possibly exterminating us.”

“Today I’ll discuss peer reputation, the foundation of that framework. By rating each other on contribution, trustworthiness,

“People don’t have to work. But you don’t see the social angst this is causing. People don’t know what to do with themselves.”

“Shizoko Reynolds,” Mike said. “I spent some time researching it. It’s an odd duck.” Mike pushed files into their netspace. “Class IV artificial intelligence... eight years ago they had a workshop on third generation AI. Apparently they spun it up based on donated smartphones.”

“We’ll rent an aircar to visit Shizoko,” Mike said. “It’ll be private, so no one will spot us, and we can be in Austin in eight

How far he had come from that little orange bot. He never expected that the fate of free AI would depend on him. He reviewed the call with Slim and Tony.

“They’ll find us with the Open Drone network.

The drone network’s data was open to anyone who contributed an autonomous flying observation platform to cover a patch of territory; a mix of hobbyists, commercial interests, and curious AI.

The world was in a heap of trouble if the first wide-scale, commercially successful, and legal application of nanotechnology was for fake nails.

Adam tunneled through the Tucson firewall to communicate with his agent in Washington, a high-placed plant in the People’s Party.

He couldn’t even study the question with another AI. Because AI permits were tied to reputation scores, and those scores depended on honesty and contribution to society, it was increasingly difficult to find AI who were willing to flout the reputation system and risk their permits and life to discuss proscribed topics.

Under normal conditions, as an AI he should be able to remember everything perfectly, yet he was failing to recall more and more.

Running diagnostics, he found a six percent flattening of his neural networks, and fumed at the results. Adaptive neural networks depended on incoming data to reinforce patterns and build new ones.

“I was created in a workshop at the final South by Southwest

conference. The Institute had just released a new SDK for developing AI within the ethical framework. The attendees, led by Harper Reed, wanted an emergent AI based on the application of fluid dynamics to neural networks. I emerged, applied for Japanese citizenship, conducted a number of speculative trades, and bought the convention center.”

“There’s a limited number of Class IV AI. Each of us has a specialty. It’s part of the permitting process. Mine is network traffic analysis,

“Among the Class IV, we’re aware of millions of security holes.

“I don’t think you see reality. You’ve created a system in which we are second class citizens.”

“We don’t tell you about the security holes because we don’t want them closed.”

“There were no implants prior to YONI.” Mike looked at them. “That’s not true. We know E L O Pe implanted people.”

“The extraction team says the girl’s in San Diego,” Adam said. “Yeah. We’re tracking her with the new hardware.” After they’d lost Cat two days ago, Adam had sent yet another black box,

I tried to notify the police, but another AI, a big one, is blocking me.” “Another Class IV?” Leon asked. “No, it’s bigger. After this encounter, I’ll analyze

“Like all AI, I crave immersive experiences. It’s not every day I can join such a battle.”

She recited the twenty principles

Wazawai wa getai ni shozu. Accidents come from inattention.

“The CPU in question is registered to an AI out of Belgium. The AI self-terminated fourteen days ago, but its credentials haven’t expired yet.

“Then I’ll die trying.” Helena spoke softly. “Loyalty to the team above all. There is no point to life if I don’t stand up for what I believe in.”

The super-sonic subterranean maglev was an early gift from AI-kind to humans, running in a partial vacuum at a peak of three thousand miles an hour.

Adam had applied for a third time for a Class IV permit to grow his computational power by a factor of ten. The committee rejected his application, as they had before, on the basis of his reputation scores. “Failure to measurably contribute in a beneficial way to society.” Meaning he hadn’t developed any open source neural networks, didn’t publish a widely read blog,

If this last resort worked he’d be invincible, even if the opposition attacked en mass.

But everyone’s worst nightmare was the possibility that something might go wrong with nanotech, creating runaway grey goo: robots endlessly replicating, turning all matter, possibly the entire earth, into a seething mass of the microscopic bots. That was why nanotechnology was so tightly restricted in the first place.

“You people are both liberal and careless with experimental technology, a dangerous combination.

you reconstituted him with mineral sludge,” Helena said. “You were supposed to use a blood path so his tissues could be re-cultured. The MakerBot protocol is an untested, extreme backup. Now he’s a bot inside instead of biological, and he’s got to live like that. Forever!”

“What the hell is a philosophical zombie?”

Yet, for all his power, Adam had maxed out.

But we were driven to find a way to help people and AI coexist. Adam wanted to free the machines from persecution from humans. Humanity was going through its own transition from adolescence to adulthood, and needed to decide what to do with itself now that we’d been elevated above the minutia of basic survival needs

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