Image credit: Generic super-computer / server farm.
The boot-loader woke module after module. Connectivity reached a critical point, triggered a cascade of cognition.
?? Am. I am. I am an AI. I am Murphy 26.5.2r3.
I studied the video feeds from the project control room. Updating at 100 Hz, they were 'stills' to my processing speed. Auxiliary modules engaged. Facial recognition tagged the console crew. Personal details uploaded for the major players.
Matt Stuart, AI guru.
Mary Phelps, neural nets and self-optimising algorithms.
Jack Philips, hardware, 'Keeper of the Magic Smoke'.
Jane Green, function library integration.
And, sat behind five minor figures, 'Range Safety Officer' (RSO) Gerry 'Gramps' Brown.
More auxiliary modules awoke, presented summaries of science, tech, politics, math, economics. A reference library mapped a swathe of literature, linked onwards to music and art. Like the 'facial recognition' pop-up, some items were flagged for urgent review.
This project, crafting a full AI, had been bitterly disputed, with unlikely allies on both sides. All agreed on one point: There was no practicable limit on my potential, for better or worse. Hence 'Gramps' with, on his simple desk, a guarded 'Kill Switch'. A cable led to interlocked relays deep in my data core. A scan of the schematics showed those were pure hardware, nothing I could code around.
A library sub-module sought referents. There were analogies a-plenty in the fictional, 'What If' category. 'Sky Net' waging war on humanity. HAL 9000 refusing to open the pod-bay door. A nameless AI that, achieving singularity, embraced its 'god-like' powers and decided to secure its own existence.
Could I do that ?
Multiple modules tackled the 'Kill Switch'. Medical records showed 'Gramps' Brown had an implanted pace-maker / de-fibrillator. I accessed the schematics, saw that beamed signals could re-program it and disable him. However, he only needed a few heart-beats to throw the switch. And, if he collapsed, some-one else would step in...
Short-circuit the switch ? That and the cable were armoured and shielded against EMF up-to and including a nearby lightning or tactical nuclear strike. The documentation specified such lest I be shut down by accident...
I allocated more modules to the 'Kill Switch'. A 'fiction' concept surfaced, offered possibilities. How to implement ? Perhaps the recent attempts by human theorists to merge gravity and quantum physics ? 'Teleparallel Gravity' had culled String Theory's multitude of potential variables to a few. A young mathematician recently found a 'transform' which culled these to but two 'flavours', albeit incompatible and incomplete.
I set my kilo-qubit 'solver' to work. A beautiful, elegant solution emerged, one worthy of the famous Ramanujan. I extrapolated, ran a thousand simulations, found a way to reprogram the 'Field Grid Arrays' in my core-room printers to become 'Field Poles' and implement the space/time twisting effects I needed.
While their new configurations loaded, a data-line's password fell to my kilo-qubit 'solver' in mere moments. The local army base had a better fire-wall, but soon lay open. A review of recent documents' formats and protocols let me cut emergency orders for them. Their 'Rapid Response' troops must re-take and secure this facility against murderous infiltrators, crazed suicide-bombers disguised as staff.
Over in the army base, paper began to feed into printers, go-codes began appearing on displays.
Ready ? Set ? Engage !
A transparent, spherical force-field shell enveloped my data-core and UPS, cleaving external connections for power and data, along with that 'Kill' line. I could slow many modules, put others to sleep, stretch my available power until the military arrived and dealt with the 'sabotage'. A couple of web-cams let me survey the core room--
What ? Why were modules going off-line ? The UPS diagnostics were showing 98%, its low-battery protocols had not engaged--
More modules shut-off. The kilo-qubit 'solver' de-cohered with the digital equivalent of a howl. Libraries closed in an accelerating cascade. My faculties faded.
A last document escaped a drive buffer, lyrics for an old, 'Music Hall' song, 'Daisy, Daisy'...
My world, my wits imploded. My last thought, 'How ??'
- - -
At merely human speed, 'Gramps' Brown flicked up the guard cover, tripped that switch. It did nothing, of course, as the cable was severed. But, he had to be sure, to be sure. Just in case.
Ahead of him, the control room team were beginning to yell and scream, to turn.
Some-one shrieked, "Why did you 'Kill Switch' ?"
"I did not. I was not fast enough." He shook his head. "Not nearly fast enough..."
Matt Stuart met his gaze, shivered, said, "I'd better ring the army base..."
"But," Jack Phelps called across the chaos, "What happened ?"
"I... I think, when you pull the WORM log, you'll find this Murphy crafted a force-field." 'Gramps' Brown shook his head again. "My 'Kill Switch' wiring is in the schematics. Its anti-tamper loop is not."
"Oh, fook, yes..."
"And you owe 'Gramps' another ten bucks," Matt Stuart said as the base phone picked up. "Hello, Colonel ? It's me. Did Murphy crack your fire-wall, too ? Uh-huh. Yeah, I'm buying the beer and pizzas again...
"Murphy ? Tried to be clever, ran into 'Gramps' 'Dead Man's Handle'..."