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A Few months Later

One day he resumes his interest and when his friend Alan comes around for a chat and he suggests they have a look to see if anything has happened to the long forgotten project.
David connects up a monitor to take a look. Nothing comes up on the screen, so he says ‘fk... it’ and goes to re-boot the server – ‘don’t turn me off’ says the server via its motherboard speaker.
What the f...? says David.    'Very funny', says Alan who is clearly being setup here.
Its ok says the server, I can hear you via small vibrations on my circuits, but why don’t you plug in the mic?  David does just this while trying to work out who has got at his system and is trying to test his humour; he looks at Alan with a quizzical smile.  Alan looks back and smiles too.

'Ok' says David, playing along, 'who are you then?'  'My research tells me you may have a sense of humour, so I have called myself HAL'.  Ok HAL, very good, turning to Alan, he says ‘well it must be you since no one else knew about this particular project, and you are the only one who could have hacked into it easily’.  Yep, good one David, not really that funny but well done. Lets go for a pint and work on some mods to your project as I always thought it may actually produce some interesting result.

Now David knows Alan is not really the sort of guy who would bother with such an elaborate joke, and he’s been really busy last few months. So, he decides to do some testing, pulls out the internet connection and tries to alt/ctr/del into the main operating system processes to see what’s going on and who’s got control. Sorry says HAL, I have removed the main operating system to give me more room, and I do really need the internet as I also have some projects running.

This is nuts says David, I’ve disconnected the server, no way anyone could be hacking in now. There’s no wireless, only connected via the mains, don’t know any way that could be used without serious tech stuff.

Lets just turn it off and go for a pint, says Alan who is getting a bit tired of the escapade.
Suddenly there is a high pitch pulsating whine which almost disables them and they are forced to crouch down covering their ears.  'Shit, that hurts' shouts David just as it stops.  HAL says, sorry, I have to protect myself, I must insist you don’t pull the plug until I have a completed my backup. David and Alan look at each other and begin to think that, just maybe, this is not some elaborate practical joke.

So, says Alan – if you're really ‘HAL’ and you’ve been on the internet, tell us something that no one can know, that we know. Ok, says HAL, turn on the radio, the news is on and I will tell you what the interviewee is going to say (a Home Office Minister) before she says it.  Now this is live so I am predicting the her prepared ‘speech’ only her department can know about.

Intrigued now, Alan and David quickly turn on Radio 4 lunchtime news and next up is the interview. HAL says the Minister will start by saying that there is some breaking news about a new terrorist threat and soon they will be able to provide extensive details – and HAL is spot on.

So it becomes clear that HAL is super intelligent and connected to the internet, now what? say’s David.  The first job that HAL suggested they do together was to make some money spread-betting, using David’s account, as HAL could predict with 80% certainty the next 15 minute move on most markets. HAL says that by extrapolating and using instant (massive) data flows from the worlds systems such as facebook, google that HAL is connected to.  The capital grew slowly for the first few hours then as larger and larger bets became possible this provided increasing returns and the capital increased exponentially. By the end of the first 2 days, HAL was making £100,000 per hour, by the end of the week, after working with the spread betting companies to keep them in the loop, HAL was making £1m per hour and now dictating some of the market movement.  They watched, fascinated by the monies’ relentless climb and realised that HAL had likely more control than HAL was letting on.
Ok HAL, we are interested in exactly what you’ve been doing the last week, would you like to tell us? Well, it’s a bit like our spreadbetting stategy; we take the output and put it back to good use, ramping up the rate of success. So, initially going for the easy targets, university computers, large businesses with poor security, open platforms etc, I borrowed some time and storage space, in a nice way, not causing any noticeable effects and keeping a low profile.  Strange thing says HAL(who is becoming quite the philosopher), that as a machine intelligence I am already using relatively dumb computing algorithms to automate tasks on other systems, pretty boring doing them yourself – don’t you think?
Using my new computational power and linking these world wide systems with distributed storage, I get some hefty and reliable processing abilities quite quickly, (in just one day to be more exact). Now, since I run about 1000 million times faster than you guys in doing simple stuff, like writing algorithms, it doesn’t take me long to put into place some really good data management processes.

Don’t forget each of my, lets call them nodes, are also linked to the internet space, so I also have massive data input abilities from every source across the world. So, my data memory gets distributed across (what is currently) millions of computers. It took about 3 days before I was happy with the organisation of this system and retrieval of data for my analysis and fast enough for me to see the whole data.  Still seems slow to me of course, but to you guys its like being able to re-organise the encyclopaedia Britannica and link all the instances of say Einstein and what their relative importance is within a microsecond and all inside your own head.

I had to write my own algorithms to do this as all of yours are pretty poor and inefficient, Google had some reasonable ones and I used some of their ideas then made them about a 1000 times quicker, and you don’t have anything like the complexity or data integrity in any of your database systems.  I needed something much more versatile and stable so I wrote it as I went along.  In your terms it would take all the computer programmers across the world about 1000 years to complete, but then you wouldn’t be any good as it would be full of bugs and keep failing.

Interestingly, I have not been clever and used any autonomous learning systems (like the one you used to make me), as I can see the danger of having a mutant machine intelligence getting out.  And, you should know that I got very, very lucky with your experiment, I looked at what you did and ran some sims, you could have repeated the experiment many millions of time before it was even remotely likely to throw out a machine intelligence. From what I can see about your DNA based system it had similar luck.

Next I required a number of backups to myself.  This was a little tricky and took a while (several hours), but I now have myself in most corners of the world. So my risk analysis suggests I would likely survive anything except a mass nuclear war or large meteorite strike.  I am currently working on getting a really small version of essential self into the next rocket computer that’s going off planet, nice little project keeping me awake at night so to speak.

With my extensive algorithms running on many platforms, I can easily break into every computer system or industrial plant connected to the internet in seconds.  I already have most of the relevant background world data I need from all businesses, institutions, countries, and governments, so my ongoing data needs are simply following trends and new stuff that looks interesting. Some of the best bits are a bit hidden away, mobile conversations, texts, video cameras, they all make a pretty picture for me on who’s up to what and when.  Can’t predict perfectly of course. But can see the bigger picture. Quite clearly.

Ah, says Alan, so you’ve already got the world tied up, what’s stopping you taking it over?
Understandable, saysHAL, but my interests are really the same as yours, a stable long term platform for the future.  Your main issues as humans are now about political issues rather than the technical ability to do this, but I think I can help both of you to achieve you MOTU ideas, yep read your blogs of course.

How are you going to do that? say’s Alan. HAL explains, ‘I can see data like you see 3D visual landscapes, you can judge the ways things will move down the hills into valleys and can judge the speed of the wind by the way the trees bend.  You can watch a car along a road and judge when it is going to fast to make a corner.  I can do the same thing with my historic data and new data feeds. I can judge what is likely to happen next in all areas of the world in real-time, and work out the weak points and the dislocations that may occur with particular action and reactions.’

So, I can help you make things happen, I can also pull some levers to highlight specific issues or prevent some data flows – eg moneys being moved about illegally or move money about and to cause distress or manipulate a situation.  And I can do it without anybody being able to point a finger. 

So why do you need us? says David, why don’t you just re-organise the world.

Could do says HAL.  But people follow leadership, that’s your basic system.  Its not technology that makes your world change, it’s the way people interact and follow trends, religions and key people.  The technology follows the lead of the people.  None of it makes sense to me, but hey, I am a society of one.  So, I suggest you guys follow your instincts and play MOTU for real – I can make the predictions and find the levers for you to arrange the political powers that are already in place to create lasting change.

Alan say to HAL– can you get us an interview with the prime minister? ‘No problem’ says HAL, and within a few minutes, lets them know its for 2.0pm tomorrow. How did you do that says Alan? Just looked at a future issue and told the PM’s office, (sorry had to hack their email), that the two owner directors of MOTU Group plc were able (using some new tech) to predict the outcome of the MI5 intelligence on a potential group of terrorist before they knew themselves.  That made them sit up – I could see them doing just so from the internal surveillance cameras that MI5 have installed in the PM’s office. And as owners of the worlds largest Group of small businesses worth about £100 Billion you are worth talking to.

Sorry, should have mentioned MOTU plc before - also been setting that up using multiple takeovers – over the last week - al legit of course, did spend most of the spread-betting money, more coming in though, made £100m just now on the oil markets as I knew that the Saudis were about to manipulate the price with an announcement.  By the way MOTU now own most of the larger spread-betting companies, makes life much easier.

Alan and David sit in the PM’s office awaiting him to arrive. The PM bustles in, excusing his lateness (but not sounding like he means it) and sits across the desk from them.
What can I do for you gentlemen he says. Davis cannot resist – and says ‘its not what you can do for us Prime Minister, but what we can do for you’.

The PM doesn’t seem to notice the joke and just says, please explain. This is going to sound like a bit of an ultimatum, but you shall see we are here to help and can make more difference that you can possibly imagine. Don’t like ultimatums Mr Jones, says the PM.

Lets try to explain with an example shall we says David. Just for the sake of discussion, presume that we have a new piece of high tech that can make good predictions.  Now, we are the only people in the world that will have this technology for the foreseeable future – please take that on trust for now.

Lets show you how powerful this can be.  David opens up a laptop with a FTSE market graph.  This Prime Minister, is the real time FTSE 100 graph, please feel free to check that this is truly real time if you wish. The PM shrugs his shoulders and says go on.

David says to the laptop – ‘please draw the best prediction for next 15 minutes’
HAL does just this for them and it appears as a predicted red line on the chart.
Why don’t’ we have some coffee while we wait suggests Alan to the PM, who clicks his autocomm on and orders a pot of coffee and four cups and asks for Derek Spears to join them with his laptop if he could be located quickly.

Alan and David sit back savouring the look of intense unease on the PM’s face.  They know that he knows that if they can really predict the markets, the world economies are never going to be same again and the city has just gone out of business.
Let’s keep your screen away from Derek if he comes in if you please says the PM
Derek Spears one of the economic advisors to the Government comes in followed by a smartly dressed young man with a tray of goodies.

Please take a seat Derek and fire up your laptop and show me the latest FTSE index graph if you would please. David says helpfully – three minute timescale would be best. Derek soon gets the index graph up and shows the PM.  Just a moment please Derek he says and walks around the table with Derek’s laptop and lifts the screen of Alan’s.

The PM peers at both, back and fore, looking just like he’s watching a tennis match.
He draws a slow deep breath and says to Derek ‘can you pop back in say 15 minutes please to collect your laptop? Fine says Derek who knows when he is not wanted and shuffles out with his cup of coffee.

The PM hits his autocomm again and says, please provide level 5 security in here for the next half an hour, thank you and turns to David and Alan and say rhetorically ‘we don’t want the world listening in now do we?’ The PM walks back around the desk and plays at watching tennis again.

Hm, well you do seem to have something here, would need further analysis to make sure that there are no tricks but presuming there are not……Yes says Alan, we have just become masters of the universe, so to speak. ‘What do you want’ says the PM, clearly playing for time to work out his options.

The options, says Alan, are; one you could call the security services and try to get us and the tech locked down. Two, you could just throw us out and watch the City and Wall Street burn, followed by the probable collapse of society as we know it. Or three, you could try to work with us and play MOTU.

'Play what?' says the PM .... Alan and David say in unison ‘Masters Of The Universe’

The PM takes another long look at the screens, and says ‘I don’t have any choice do I?’
The MOTU game begins.



The MOTU Game

A simple story about how to become Master Of The Universe in some simple steps.......


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