rashbre central: Artificial: Amy's secret place

Friday 5 May 2023

Artificial: Amy's secret place

Saturday morning, around 10 o' clock and the Apartment entry phone rings. I go to the TV-access control and can see Amy van den Leiden standing outside. She holds up a bag, which I can see she has brought from the bakery. The good one near to our apartment block.

"Amy?" I say startled, "Come on up!"

I look around the room, which is mercifully tidy. The Batmaids came around yesterday and provided a full-service clean up, thanks to Aude.

I'd not been around much in-between and I'd even put my laundry away.

A couple of minutes later, Amy appears and I can see that she is carrying not just the patisseries but also a couple of cups of divine-smelling coffee in one of those pulp-paper trays.

"I remembered you take your coffee the same as me," she begins and sweeps into the kitchen area to put everything down.

"Er-welcome!" I say and look at this impromptu breakfast. 

"I wanted to see you away from the office," she explains, "There is something I need to discuss. I didn't want the others to know I was making this arrangement."

That would explain the clandestine surprise, but I still don't know what it is.

"Oliver, we know you are a specialist in Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. It is because of that we are asking you to do some tests for us. We have been testing the Cyclone 2 and its interfaces and making steady progress. Your colleague Matt Nicholson has been directly involved in the tests od C2 and his feedback is good. We think there will now be a way to link between a computer and a human interface. If so we will have achieved HCCI - Human to Computer to Computer Interfacing."

"I see, but if you are making progress, then how do I fit in?"

"You are the domain expert of AI and AR on our team. Frankly, you are also younger than Rolf and Schmiddi. That applies to brain plasticity."

"Yes but neuroplasticity peaks at five years old and by twenty-five, the typical brain has become rather set in its ways," I explain.

"I partially agree," says Amy, "But in your case, there is continued growth. We noticed it when we ran the tests during your induction to Brant. It means you are ideally placed to assist us with the Cyclone 3 testing. Don't worry, it is still non-intrusive, but means we are layering in two different technologies. It is the most advanced Cyclone variant here and way ahead of anything else disclosed in the Literature."

She was referring to the huge body of scientific papers around AI and brain research.

"The thing is, we have already been testing the Cyclone 3, and we can see hw it works but we need to 'send someone in' who can self-diagnose the current issues around performance."

I wondered if I should let on that I knew the Cyclone 2 was too darn slow, based upon what Matt had told me, but I decided it was better to keep quiet about it. Anyway, if what Matt says was true then his buddy would be along soon to try to speed things up and this problem may go away of its own volition. 

Amy continues, "There is something else I want to tell you about." She pauses, "This part is sensitive and deeply confidential. I shoulder remind you that you signed a series of confidentiality agreements during your enrolment."

I'm wondering what comes next.

"We have a facility where we hold a group of volunteers. They are all ex militia and have come to us of their own free will. They still get the same pay that they would in the military, but are assured that they will not be placed in harm's way. They are called Platoon Bravo "

"So are they guinea pigs? For Cyclone 3?" I ask.

"Yes, Oliver, you are correct. We have around 35 people enlisted into our special group. It's about the same size as a platoon and run by a lieutenant then further divided into sections, squads and teams, with corresponding control structures. I was planning to take you to see them today. My car is in the car park."

"Okay, I take it they are on the campus somewhere?"

"They are, but discreetly hidden away in a quiet corner and in accommodation which looks like regular housing. Behind the row of neat housing is what can only be described as a building site. I'd say it was messy by Swiss standards, with diggers, concrete pipes, metal skips, trenches and semi-demolished houses. Incongruously, a couple of tanks are also parked in the area.

"It's a practice zone," explains Amy.

"For what?" I ask, "World War Three?" 

"In a manner of speaking, yes," answers Amy.

We pull up outside a small shop. Amy leads the way.

We enter, and she takes me to the back, where there is an elevator. We step inside and she presses the button. It takes us down. I realise we are going underground. 

The doors open, and we are in a spacious corridor. She turns left and we walk toward some steel doors. She flips an electronic key from around her neck and we enter through the doors.

Nothing could have prepared me for the sight. A brightly-lit aircraft-hanger-sized space, with a machined stainless steel floor. Varied military hardware spread around as well as regular cars, vans and trucks. There was also an intense scurrying of workers, mostly dressed in military uniforms. 

"This is where the magic happens," starts Amy.

"These people have all been processed by Cyclone 3. They still wear the Cyclone 3 helmets, which give upon them certain extra skills."

"Bit I thought you said the Cyclone 3 interface was too slow to be effective?" 

"That would be astute of you, but I guess you picked that information up from someone else, maybe Rolf or even Matt?"

I remember it was Matt that had told me - during our quiet lunch together.

"Monday we will want you to trial the Cyclone 3, and to see if you can work out why it is underperforming. I brought you here today to show you that these people have undergone Cyclone 3 trials and are still fully functional!"

"So why are you keeping them in this special area?

She looks at me earnestly, "We want to isolate them for a long period, maybe one year during which we can be pretty sure that they will not be spied upon by anyone else. They have been given a mission here. They are building a habitable recreation of the Mars surface."

"But it's a decoy mission?" I ask.

She nods, "Yes, they need to have something to keep themselves occupied  along with a common goal. Mars is it. Between you and me, I think Jupiter's moons are a more useful target, but they are too far away to consider at present."

"Okay, say I'm in? What happens?"

"First you get a large bonus payment, paid immediately to a bank of your choosing. Then, in eight weeks, you will received a further bonus if you stay in the program. Your option to continue on similar terms occurs after every eight weeks." 

"Is it the same for the people already here?"

"Not exactly. They have annual renewal options. You are a special case. We can tidy the paperwork and make the first payment tomorrow. I don't need to remind you of the confidentiality of this?"

"Let's shake. Agreed," I say.

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