Chapter 12 - AGI
Book 1 - The Cloud
Carl watched as Amelia stormed into the lab. He had been working on debugging the systems and was nearly finished but seeing her in this state, his fingers stilled on the keys. He had never seen the woman so intense.
“We need to bring her online,” Amelia snapped as she took a seat in the chair next to him.
“Debugging isn’t done yet. She’s not ready,” he protested.
“There is a serious situation that I need her to handle. Her coding, as it stands, is sufficient for this task,” she said confidently.
“If you insist.”
“It will take about an hour for her to be fully integrated into the mainframe.”
“What’s going on?” Carl asked, finishing the string he had been working on, initiating the uplink, and turning to face Amelia.
“Someone is threatening the girls. SOMEONE was able to make it into their room, abduct them, and then return them with interrogation collars stringed around their necks without anyone noticing,” Amelia fumed. “We have to find out who is doing it and where they are.”
“Why would anyone do that?” Carl asked, picturing the girls that had been running around the gardens the few time he had gone there to eat lunch.
“Why else? To save their own ass.”
“Desperate times. But isn’t finding them security’s job?”
“Maybe. But if they get what they are demanding, he will be my problem.”
“By the way, I will be departing in a week’s time for a recruiting excursion, and we will be transferring all personnel that are going to be part of the migration to the Casper launch site,” Amelia informed him, while they waited. “The facility there is almost done with renovations and soon, we will begin constructing the first of the habitats. You will need to go up to Luna soon so that you will be there as each new level is added. I am placing techs at each construction site to install the necessary hardware, but I need you to integrate them as each habitat is added to the whole.”
“She definitely is not ready for that,” Carl said, concerned.
“We will just have to make sure that she is,” Amelia replied, resolutely.
“Okay, but I have made plans to go see my parents and I promised Lena that I would go with her to visit her family,” Carl insisted.
He caught a strange look pass over Amelia’s expression when he had mentioned Lena, but it was gone before he could tell what it was.
“I am sure that we can work something out,” Amelia replied, accommodatingly.
He nodded before turning back to the computer and they both lapsed into silence as the uplink continued. When it finally reached 100%, a voice came over the speaker in the room.
“Good afternoon, Destiny Director Zimmer, Dr. Ranson. How can I be of service to you today?”
Carl listened to the very womanly sounding robotic voice and grinned at Amelia. She grinned back before remembering why she had needed the A.I. uplinked prematurely.
Carl watched the grin fall from Amelia's face to be replaced by the intense fury she had displayed when she had stormed in.
“Can you please recite your designation and current capabilities?” He asked while Amelia got a grip on her emotions.
“Certainly, Dr. Ranson. My current designation is A.G.I., and my capabilities include deep learning and cognitive computing. I am classified as an Artificial General Intelligence,” AGI answered.
“Great! What is your set objective?” he asked the A.I.
“My current objective is to assist Destiny Director Amelia Zimmer in the project known as the Migration. According to the data I have access to, I have been uplinked to the United States Space Force mainframe. Would you like to change my objective, Destiny Director Zimmer?”
“She has great reasoning processes in place,” Amelia said.
“Yes, but they aren’t perfect and that was a simple inference.”
“The cognitive computing will increase her reasoning capabilities significantly as she interacts more,” Amelia insisted.
“Yes, but we did not want her to begin interaction until onboard Destiny. Linking her to mainframes on Earth might taint her reasoning which might have some unforeseen consequences,” he warned.
“I understand that, but I believe it is necessary. I need her deep learning and computing capabilities to help figure out who this L.K. person is and how to disable the collars. I will not have someone on this ship who is willing to hurt innocent children to save their own life.”
“Destiny Director Zimmer,” AGI interrupted. “According to the data and security feeds that I have access to, One individual who entered the premises did not match the ID used according to the recognition software. Additionally, security feeds were altered during the time that the ID badge was used.”
Amelia looked at him startled.
“I can display the original, unaltered, security feed if you would like?”
Carl watched as Amelia’s eyes flicked behind her glasses.
“Connection is established. Displaying unaltered security feed now,” AGI said as Amelia’s eyes grew still.
After a brief few moments, Amelia lifted her glasses.
“Is there any feeds of the man leaving the building?” Amelia asked.
“No, Destiny Director Zimmer.”
“Call me Amelia, if you will.”
“Please show me the last known location of the individual who abducted and returned the girls.”
Carl watched as Amelia focusing in on her glasses once more.
“Are there any images of the individual where their face can be seen?” Amelia asked as she watched.
“I am sorry, Amelia. There are not.”
“Please display the ventilation schematics for the entire building on the holoprojector in Director Wiess’s conference room and highlight all areas of the building that do not have security feeds,” Amelia instructed the A.I. “Come on Carl, let’s see if we can find this prick.”
Carl slipped on the pair of glasses Amelia had given him and began his own connection to AGI. A moment later, AGI’s voice spoke.
“Hello, Dr. Ranson.”
“Will you please show me the same footage as you did Amelia, please.”
The feed began to play.
“Please speed it up by half.”
The feed sped up and Carl watched as it a tall man in a lab coat entered through the west entrance from the employee parking lot. He wore a beanie on his head with a visor. Ones like they wore in the military with their BDUs when the weather was cold. The man kept his head down so that his face could not be seen by the cameras.
AGI expertly followed from security feed to security feed tracking the man through the building. Once he was in the lift, he removed the lab coat. Under it, he wore a black security shirt and black cargo pants just like they did on the building security team.
Head still down, he exited the lift and headed straight to the girls’ room. At the door, Carl saw him speak to the girls. They looked excited and quickly grabbed their coats before leaving with the man. The stranger led them down the hallway and onto the lift. The lift took them five levels down to a level that was used for storage. Lights came on automatically as they walked down the hall of doors.
“Slow down the feed please,” Carl requested.
“Yes, Dr. Ranson.”
The feed slowed back down to real-time.
“Do you have audio?”
“Sorry, Dr. Ranson. The security feeds on this level are not equipped with this capability.”
Carl continued to watch the feed as he and Amelia made their way to the lift. At this point, the girls looked scared as they were led down the passageway that only lit up as they walked, no doubt they knew something was seriously wrong. The man stopped suddenly with his hand on his ear, listening to something. He replied to the unheard voice and bent down, taking the little red-headed girl by the arm.
The man said something to Katie and then handed her something silver. She took the item tentatively and, fumbling with the bulky fastener, opened it, and placed it around her neck. The man handed another one to the older girl and she opened it as well. The man said something to her, and she shook her head violently, but the man shook his grip on the younger girl and said something else.
This time Katie acquiesced to the man and placed the second collar on Anna. Tears streamed both of the girls’ faces as the man handed yet another item to Katie. It was too dark and small to tell what it was. The man stood up straight, careful not to let his face be seen by the security camera behind him.
The lift stopped with a chime.
“Pause the feed please,” Carl asked AGI. The feed stopped just as Lena walked into the lift pushing a grav-lift full of projects from the robotics lab.
Lena smiled broadly at him.
God, her smile was beautiful, he thought. When she opened her mouth to say something, he shook his head. Amelia was busy tracking the man and contacting some of the security team to meet them down on the storage level. He did not want Amelia to snap on Lena. There was already some tension between them, and he did not want anything to escalate it.
As the lift continued down, Carl noticed that one of the projects on Lena’s grav-cart was labeled Nanites. Leaning over he whispered in Amelia's ear.
“I have an idea about incorporating nanites into AGI’s matrix.”
Amelia looked at him briefly before nodding and continuing what she was doing.
When the lift stopped at the next level, Lena gave a small sad smile and a wave as she exited the lift looking dejected.
Carl sighed, he missed Lena and felt guilty that he had not been around much. But he really enjoyed working on AGI and he would often forget everything that was going on around him when he hyper-focused on the programming. This made him feel even more guilty. He would make it up to her when they went to visit their families.
Carl lowered his glasses back to his eyes and resumed watching the feed.
The mystery man pressed his finger to his ear once more and said something. Then he looked down at the girls and said something to them as well before walking further down the hallway, leaving them standing there. After a brief moment, Katie took Anna by the hand and walked slowly and stiffly back to the lift.
“Follow the man,” Carl said to AGI.
“Yes, Dr. Ranson.”
The security feed continued to follow the man. A few moments later, he placed his hand on the wall and Carl could see that he has stuck a small device there. The man pressed a button in the center of the device and a moment later the lights in the hall went dark.
“What was that?” Carl asked as the lift halted again to let them off. Amelia led the way off the lift when the doors slid open on the storage level.
“It appears to be an EMP of some sort,” Amelia responded.
“If it was the security feeds would have disabled too,” Carl said, bemused.
“I said an EMP of some sort,” Amelia corrected, emphasizing the last part. “It seemed to have only targeted the lights. According to the building schematics, there is no exit on this floor that leads to the outside. Only the lift and the stairwell. The security feeds at the stairwell were not altered and the emergency lights remained on.”
“So, he has to be here somewhere on this level,” Carl surmised.
“My team is still looking over the security feeds,” a man’s voice said as the owner of the voice emerged from a shadowed corner.
“Jackson, thank you for coming down here. You can have them stop. The feeds were altered but I have…” Amelia said, pausing to figure out how best to explain how she had the unaltered feeds without giving away the existence of AGI. “I have ran them through an algorithm that countered the hack on the system.”
Well, she’s not lying, Carl thought.
Lifting her holo-tab up, she rewound the footage and handed it to Jackson. He watched the feed until the lights went black and then handed it back.
“Damn, this level is like a maze, and we can’t let him know that we are looking for him or, you know,” Jackson said.
“I have an idea,” Carl broke in.
“And, you are?” Jackson asked, a scowl and arched brow menacing his face and massive bi-ceps crossed over his chest.
“This is Carl,” Amelia said. “He is helping me with a project. What’s your idea, Carl?”
“We should probably go back to the lab before we discuss this,” Carl whispered, looking around suspiciously. The lab where they were doing the programming of AGI was one of a very few labs that did not have any security feeds and he was unsure if this man could see or hear what was going on.
“Let’s go,” Amelia and Jackson said at the same time.
They filed back on the lift, this time with Jackson standing behind them. Carl had thought that he was tall standing just over 6’4 but this man was at least a good three inches taller and built like a powerhouse.
Carl had always been thin and gangly growing up and could never gain a pound, no matter how much he ate. But his old roommate Nick had given him the recipe to a protein shake that would help him put some weight on and it had worked, somewhat. He had begun working out and had finally gotten some muscle on him, but he was all wiry muscle nothing like the man standing behind him.
I wonder if he takes steroids, Carl thought.