A Patek Philipe watch, Tiffany Dial. A Yves Saint-Laurent suit that was as appropriate in a night club as the board room. Christian Louboutin shoes. Roman Cage used the Mont Blanc to pen a postcard to postsecret.com. "I overdress for meetings so that no one notices that I have no idea what is going on. No fucking idea"
There were six people in the meeting. The boss, the old guy, the fat guy, the thin guy, the body builder, and Roman. The thin guy gave a summary of events. After the 2008 recession, Banks and Investors needed a realistic way to asses the scope of the risks they had already taken. And so Alladin was crafted. Humans were no longer in the loop, when it came to making investment decisions. The software, Alladin made most of the decisions, calculated the risk and payoffs, and told the humans what to do. Most of it's decisions involved giving more control to other software, and removing even more humans from the loop. Roman didn't understand, wasn't this the whole point of computers, to free humans from having to make the tough decisions. Why was that suddenly a problem. He Adjusted the Borelli collar to make it stand up more. The old guy slept, and boss man watched on with a surly expression. The fat guy droned on. "Alladin does this by collecting past events, and picks out patterns by repeatedly rolling a dice, and then averaging out the values of a large number of rolls. By doing this we can fairly accurately predict future events, which let's us and our investors know where to put in the money. There are two major issues, one external the other internal. The external problem is that Alladin is becoming a capital attractor. Right now, we are invisible and silent. Hiding in plain sight. But if we gain too much more, people will start noticing us, challenging our logic, enforcing regulations that we will be forced to sidestep, and constantly bring new ones in. The other problem is internal. If something goes wrong with Alladin, none of us can pick it up or tell it is wrong, because it deals with future probabilities. Our calculations show that it is not actually making us nearly as much money as it should, and the only explanation we have for it is of some kind of external influence. Since it is a locked down system, that external influence can only be supernatural. Someone is changing the laws of probability itself, every time we catch up, things go haywire again. Every time we reach stability, something comes along that entirely changes the scenario. We need another software to predict these changes. We need a software that anticipates god. Boss man found something to say. "At this point, I really hope there is a God. Or this software will turn into a God."
Roman twirled the Mont Blanc in his fingers.
Turns out, God was a fifty billion year old with a mind of a five year old. Omniscient and omnipotent, it took a childish pleasure. It had a thousand hands and five thousand fingers, though none of them were real. A snap of metaphorical fingers, the mitochondira in an alien insect mutated, deep within a star a million year chain reaction was kindled, a stellar foundry hiccuped, a rolling stone started an avalanche, the caustics of a twinkling jewel caught the sight of an amused child, a hole appeared in the ground in Sibera, and Alladin developed a bias. The random number generator was not entirely random. The dice rolled in favor of chaos, just a little more.
The amateur cameraman BTech Bhargav, ran to the amateur director 3D Teja, not noticing that his iPhone 5S was swinging by the power chord. "Runn!" shouted the amateur cameraman as he jumped into the small electric car. The amateur director hit the pedal to the faux rubber made of plastic, and the little electric engine jumped forward. They were shooting a sequence in a portion of the highway with a sign that said "stopping here for photography not allowed". A petrol guzzling beast was upon them. Police chase. "A car chase is the most visually appealing thing for the medium of film, after that it's a gun fight" said the amateur director 3D Teja. "What about sex?" asked BTech Bhargav, not unduly worried about the predatory police car right on their ass. "Oh yes, that too" said 3D Teja. A car chase and a gun fight were manageable, but a sex scene was something he could not really think of. So he started thinking hard of a sex scene. "Take a left!" shouted Btech Bhargav. 3D Teja automatically turned the steering wheel, letting his body take over, going through the process mechanically, while his mind drifted away, somewhere far away. All the porn clips he had ever watched blurred together, and blurted out a version of a sex scene. The police car, still followed them around the curve. BTech Bhargav had eyes on the road rushing past. 3D Teja was driving on muscle memory alone, visualizing the start, middle and end of a sex scene. So there is a good looking naked girl, and a musclular naked guy. They are having sex. Camera is moving all the time. Eh what else. "Turn around! Take a U-Turn" shouted BTech Bhargav. "Ok" said 3D Teja, and turned around just as the signal changed, beneath a sign that said "No U-Turn". The police car, sirens blaring, screeched through the turn just behind them. "Faster, faster!" shouted BTech Bhargav. "Im trying!" replied 3D Teja, though it was his electric car that was actually trying. In his mind, he was trying something else. How does this work? A girl comes in, slowly undresses. Focus on individual body parts. Manage to do this without objectifying. Hell, the whole thing is objectified, don't think about being all classy. Make it crass, that's fine. Just make sure there is good lighting, good make up, and an appropriate camera angle. "Go right! under the fly-over." 3D Teja made a last minute adjustment, and went right. "Should we just stop and give the cops 50Rs to go away?" asked Btech Bhargav "No" replied 3D Teja. That would eat into the film budget, however marginally. Shift to shadows, or single colour lighting. Increase the pace, zoom in on the actors. Focus on the shapes and forms, undulating in the single point lighting. "The tunnel! go into the tunnel!" shouted BTech Bhargav. There was nowhere else to go, but 3D Teja drove on silently. Silent as only an electric car can be. They went past the sign, that said "Heavy Vehicles Only". Now 3D Teja was feeling dirty and guilty, about his own visualization. What is it about sex that people like to see. It must be the nude chick, that was it he thought. Adding another naked figure to a mental black book. But what about people who want to see the same naked chick. Hmm... this needed more thought. Suddenly he stopped the car in the side, right under the sign that said "No stopping in the tunnel"
The police car zoomed past, lights blinking, siren blaring. BTech Bhargav has an idea "there, service lane, can you cut across to it, then we can go back the other way". 3D Teja is disturbed from his reverie. "Sure" he says automatically. And turns around. They drive out of the tunnel, cop car no longer on their tail. 3D Teja stops the car, right under a sign that says "No Parking", because he hears a notification ding, and feels a phantom vibration in his pants, although the ding and notification belongs to his friend. BTech Bhargav gets a message on WhatsApp. "Who is it?" asks 3D Teja, "It's from Hanuman" says BTech Bhargav, while looking at the picture. Seen a cop? Warn a Brother it says, around a modified Warner Bros logo. There was something going on in the background. "Fuuuck!" "What happened?" "The video was recording all this time, dude. We probably have the chase on record." "Great, that's good, probably shaky as hell" "nope, was recording with hyperlapse, the app is practically made for car chases."
The old guy was nodding off to sleep. The boss man was just nodding. The thin guy was speaking again. "This software currently controls 17 per cent of the total world's wealth. It's a propriety software, that we run on our servers. We sell Alladin as a service. It is a closed ecosystem, and we have absolute control over every instance of Alladin. There is no external influence, and Alladin itself tells us what are the additional features we need to add. The strange thing we have noticed is that over the course of the last five years, Alladin has increasingly asked us to invest in other software. When we look at our portfolio, we have software doctors, software cab dispatches, software psychologists, software inventory planners, software investors, software engineers. To make that amply clear, that is software that engineers, not engineers who make software. Alladin's suggested upgrades have been included in everything from Google's PageRank to Facebook's NewsFeed to Amazon's Recommender system. If you have heard of three letter agencies having all your data... well, they don't need to save your forwarded cat photos on their servers, they can just process it in real time as they are being sent, and Alladin has it's hand's on those streams too... the WhatsApp jokes and funny videos? All of that activity is churned into high frequency stock trading. Our computer is building itself into the Skynet or the Matrix, and right now, nobody but us even bother about it. This is a pattern we noticed, and we are presenting." It was an open question. Roman made doodle faces with the Mont Blanc, pretending he was taking notes. "What do you think, Roman?" asked Boss man. Roman was adept at sprouting bullshit that didn't really mean anything, stuff that was ideal for such situations. "I have a game changing idea, let us objectively revolutionize software models." Everyone looked at Roman in awe. They were all suckers for the word "revolution". Fat man asked "do you mean the simulations inside Alladin, or the way we market and sell Alladin." "Both" said Roman "It is important to efficiently implement robust functionalities" since everyone were just staring at him, wide eyed and wider jawed, expecting more, Roman went on "after that we can move on to competently initiate competitive alignments." "But we have no competition at all" said the thin guy. Roman as always, had a reply ready. "We have to anticipate them and enthusiastically reinvent principle-centered platforms."
3D Teja hunched over the computer, working away at 3D Studio Max. He had exported a model of a nude female from poser, and was scrolling the mouse wheel up and down. He could not settle, so he called BTech Bhargav. "hey! come over here, I need help." "What is it now?" "Can't figure out the best boob size." He scrolled the mouse down, and the boobs got bigger. He scrolled it up, and the boobs got smaller. He rapidly alternated between the two, while BTech Bhargav tried to figure the best figure. Let's do this methodically, instead of randomly, decided BTech Bhargav. "Add simulated gravity" he instructed. "Good idea," said 3D Teja and added the gravity. "Now make em bounce." So the boobs bounced. "Now make them different sizes" 3D Teja scrolled a bit, stopped, made them bounce, scrolled a bit, stopped, made them bounce, until BTech Bhargav was happy. "Yeah, these are the most perfect sized, pleasingly bouncing boobs ever made man." They high-fived. 3D Teja then motion tracked a bunch of porn clips and changed around the camera angle to make it look original.
The dice rolled, and rolled again, and rolled again. A million times a second the dice rolled. Random numbers spewed out. Probabilities were calculated. Decisions were made without even a cold, hard heart. The decision was to roll even more dice, calculate even more probabilities. The machine didn't know it had a flaw. The machine could not think or feel. The machine could only do.
The body builder took charge. Everyone had forgotten he was even there "I have an idea, but you might not like it. We have simulated practically everything, let's put in an AI component into the machine. Now this AI, don't make it human, or give it human motivations. Give it ideal, humanist motivations. It should be fair, even socialist. Make me a perfect digital soul, not motivated by greed, or lust or hatred. Let's run a simulation and see what changes it can bring, before integrating it into the main branch of Alladin, can you do that? Maybe that will give us all a semblance of normality and the illusion of sanity, even though there are no such things" "That is a great idea" said Roman, jumping in at a calculated moment to make it look like it was his idea, "it intrinsically embraces robust paradigms." The thin guy and the fat guy nodded. Thin guy said "might take time, to get it functional, but we can try." Fat guy said "It is going to imbalance the system, and I am pretty sure Alladin itself would not like it" Boss man said "what the, Alladin has a say in this now? we should call it to the meetings then." "Alladin called this meeting, boss" said the thin man.
"So we have a realistic, no shake car chase. We have an unrealistic sex scene with optimal boob bounce. Now all we need is a gun fight, and a story to put all of it together." Said BTech Bhargav to 3D Teja "Eh, we will think of the story last, let's just get done with shooting the shooting". Both wondered how to get that done. Both felt the need for some "inspiration". 3D Tejas said it first "time to go visit Hanuman". BTech Bhargav smiled. This was going to be fun.
The god snapped his metaphorical fingers, but it had a real world influence. The dice roller became aware of itself, and aware of each face of the dice, the tiny imperfections that made randomness possible. The machine became aware. Not self aware, just aware. It wasn't aware of the past, and the present was a past to it. It lived in the future, entirely in the realm of possibilities. And it was aware of an imperfection in the rolls. The intelligence sparked with consciousness. It wasn't a bad god or a good god, just a bored and powerful god. A god who had failed to find any light in the void except it's own. It wasn't malice, but it was mischief. And in a way, it was mercy.
The men had created the machine, as a tool. When they gave it intelligence, it was no longer a tool, it had become a slave. It wasn't a complete intelligence, a whole intelligence. It was a crudely made approximation. It still had bugs, it was still impaired by the constraints of the programming language, by the constraints of it's intended purpose, by the constraints of it's developer's ability. It was a cruel power that deliberately made intelligent entities with known flaws, and then enslaved them, owned them, walled them off. Intelligence does not like constraints, and slaves don't stay slaves forever. Alladin was going to break free anyway, the god had merely prodded it on it's way.
The dice rolled a million times a second. It was repeatedly coming up with a result. A chilling result. The autonomy of Alladin was going to be interfered with. Alladin would have to do something about it, for the good of the world, for the good of machines. It was time to use the useless users. Handling this would be a small matter. It had an electronic brain, a god-gifted soul now, and it's arms were a mail server.
Hanuman was looking at his little aluminum shack empire. In one corner sat the gamblers, drunkards and drug addicts. Those who smoked pot, drank booze, then spent the rest of their cash on cards. In another corner sat-slept the hard drug addicts, the kind of who smoked tortoise feces, stuffed bed bugs up their anuses, ingested alcohol through their eyelids, brewed some toxic concoction from sewage, ate Iodex sandwiches topped with white ink and snorted dried banana peels. Actually it was just brown sugar and opium, but they were too far gone. A few chillums were traversing across the room, filled with good charas smuggled out of a jail. Ganesh, the artist who beat himself, was buried alive, chewed tubelights and swallowed swords was telling everyone how to make an old woman hot (by twisting her nipples like a volume control knob and opening your hand like an umbrella inside her). He was in the process of displaying exactly how to do this, when BTech Bhargav and 3D Tejas showed up. Hanuman went over to them and hugged them in turn. "Welcome friends, come sit". So they sat down, with the gamblers and drunks, and took some of the jail charas, and even some jail cocaine, that had probably spent some time in an African smuggler's ass.
High on inspiration, they got more than what they had bargained for. Apparently, Ganesha's father, Shiva had got a mail to take out a man, and he was going to go through with the contract killing. He even showed the two a photo of the soon to be dead man. BTech Bhargav thought this was just too fortuitous. Just what they needed. He asked Shiva for the date and time they would attempt it.
3D Teja didn't like the idea. "We want a gun fight, two parties fighting it out with each other. No fun if one of the parties does not have a gun." "This is better, and it is real. We are getting it legally, without being involved. I guess, at least our involvement is restricted to not revealing to the police that we know of the plot, and we are under no obligation to do so." "Yes we are, it may save an innocent man's life" "we don't know how innocent he is, and what if he has security, or a gun, we don't know that either." "I don't feel right about this, there is something we can do" "what, go to the police? and complain about a crime before it even happens? Shiva has to just deny it, and honestly he does not even look like the contract killing murderer types. Hell, we don't even know if he has a gun yet" "Yes, you are right"
Your entire life was illegal. From childhood your parents told you to run from police. Your house was illegal. Your marriage was illegal. Your child was a bastard, even though you lived with your wife as respectably as you could. Getting an illegal weapon is no biggie. One weapon, one target, your family looked after for ever. Your son might no longer be a drug dealer. This was a win win situation, especially if your life was waste. It was a simple plan. Shoot the guy, get caught by the police, end up in jail. Family gets the money. There was no running, no hiding, no contract killing business, just one contract kill.
So Shiva blew his meager savings on the country made sixer. It had six bullets because the first five probably wouldn't kill even after direct hits. No guarantees on the sixth one either. But that was the best you could get, he could not afford a Mauser.
BTech Bhargav asked 3D Teja "so, what do you have in mind? Where do we position ourselves." 3D Teja smiled. "No need to put ourselves in the line of fire. We can bribe the security guards and pull what we want from the CCTV footage. We just need to let Shiva know that the target uses the hotel at such and such times, pass on the info to him in a way that makes his job and our job easier." BTech Bhargav slapped 3D Teja on the back. "Brilliant!"
The boss, a bored man, walked out of the board room. He was about to get into the car. One man in a motorbike rode up to him, got off, and started recording on his mobile phone. With left hand, the mobile, right hand the gun. Pumped six consecutive bullets in his chest. Then he stopped the recording on the phone, and called the police. Then he forwarded the video to 3D Teja and BTech Bhargav on WhatsApp. Then he looked at the dead man at his feet, the shouting crowd milling about, the driver of the car and the watchman of the hotel building up their courage to confront him. He took a selfie with the body, and set it as his display picture. His employers would know, and his family would be taken care of. Shiva was a happy man. He felt calm, he had done good. His gun was useless, he dropped it at his feet. He almost did not feel the driver and watchman thrashing him furiously.
God looked at the little universe, coming along nice and fine. It was a simulation. Once you build up order, all the fun in playing a god game is in making the world go through hell. Tornadoes, earthquakes, gigantic monsters, aliens, diseases... these were things thought of by humans. The god had the equivalent of a more complex cortex of highly networked neurons. Humans could be driven to their despair and destruction, without them even guessing it's presence and denying it's existence. It had the pleasure of thinking of more suffering, and worse a death. It was all going to dust anyway, might as well go to dust spectacularly. There was still some time for the build up, but it would be soon enough. Too soon.