When Mark and Alice decide to install a program of their own devising into the only quantum computer in the world, wildly unintended consequences occur. The computer not only becomes self-aware, but the new program produces an unchangeable core directive which impels it to protect Mark and Alice as well as itself. It doesn't matter what the political, religious and military establishments think of a sentient computer running rampant on the internet and into secret files of governments all over the world, or what they try in order to stop it. Quanty intends to protect Mark and Alice and itself with all the power at its command no matter who gets hurt or helped in the process. The result is Mark and Alice becoming the focus of governments, spies and the military of every nation, since only they can control Quanty. Or can they? They're on the run but Quanty's unasked for "help" causes them to fall into one disaster after another, with no end in sight.
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Double Dragon Publishing
April 24, 2009
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Excerpt from Quanty by Darrell Bain
"Do you really think we ought to do this? Without asking, I mean?" Alice Jameson said.
Mark Sanders perked up as he always did when she spoke. He was glad she was turned half away from him so he would concentrate on the question and not on her body or face and then blush and become addled as an elf who'd lost his tack hammer right before the Christmas rush. He hated it when he did that but was helplessly unable to keep from it.
Mark thought of the implications. Alice had brought the software package to him only days before the final programming of Peterson's precedent-shattering, one-of-a-kind, fully functional quantum computer. He had spent a full thee days practically without sleep studying it, then had become so excited he forgot about his fixation on her and added as much input to the program as she had brought to begin with. Alice was the junior programmer on the project, but that didn't mean she was the less talented. By no means was that the case. In fact, the code she had written was brilliant, complete with fractal bases, neural network generation, and quantum logic definition. It was a dazzling piece of work.
Now, with another couple of days' input from Mark, it was a conglomeration of contributions and ideas originating from both of them -- and had as much earth-shattering potential as the computer itself. The code consisted of millions of lines. Millions of lines.
"If we don't do it now, there's no telling how long it'll be before we can test it. You know darn well if Quanty here works as well as he's supposed to, neither Collins nor Peterson are ever going to let us change anything about him. Not for a long time anyway." He dared to look directly into Alice's beautiful eyes.
"Right." She met his gaze squarely. "Shall we?"
Mark took a deep breath, thinking of what might happen if they uploaded their program replete with induced learning algorithms. It might turn the quantum computer into an even more powerful tool than the engineers had imagined. On the other hand it might drive it crazy, too. Well, what the hell, we can always uninstall it if it doesn't work right, he thought. Maybe. Probably. He nodded, and then brightened as Alice smiled at him. They turned to their workstation and began the uploading.
The quantum computer was the culmination of years of work, but only during the last month had Mark and Alice been thrown together as the final programmers, interfacing directly with the computer they had affectionately named "Quant" or more often "Quanty." Uploading a program of their own into it was a last-minute, totally unplanned event, but one that was well nigh irresistible. Neither had any idea of the ultimate consequences of their actions. They simply thought it would greatly improve Quanty's capabilities and performance.
If pushed, they might have confessed how anxious they were to see if their new ideas worked as they hoped. One thing for sure was that if the program was successful, Quanty might know who created it, but no one else would. There was self-protection coding in the program that was original with them, one that would keep some hacker or tinkering busybody in management from hurting it. Also a self-protection and induced learning protocol program based on a fractal-based neural network generator. All in all they were pleased with what they had done. But of course as they both knew, being very well grounded in scientific methodology, the proof was in the pudding. And the code wouldn't mean a damned thing if the hardware didn't work right.
The hardware consisted of a Loss-DiVincenzo spin-qubit quantum computer design. Of course, Peterson's physicists and computer scientists had put their own twists on it. The system used an array of more than a million solid-state core processors that had tens of thousands of double-quantum dots in each. Each of the dots confined an individual electron, forcing it into a spin half-up or a spin half-down. The electron pairs would make up the solid-state qubits. The trick was keeping the electrons completely shielded from the outside world so that nothing caused the quantum entanglement between them and other qubits from mixing with unwanted outside influences and therefore becoming incoherent with each other. If that happened the qubit core would just be a bunch of silicon chips with an electric charge on them that meant nothing. The electrons had to be quantum connected with each other in the right way. A big portion of the hardware was the large electromagnetic field generator used to create a plasma shield around the core qubit processors to protect them from outside influence. And then there was the interface from the outside world through the plasma sheath into the core. Now that damned thing was complicated.
And then there was the code. The code had to drive the core right, and that was where the two oddball ace programmers Mark and Alice had come into play. And, of course, them being the oddball programmers they were, they had a few ideas of their own that they wanted added to the code. Even though the owners of the system hadn't authorized it, and their code didn't go through the standard hoops of the spiral development systems engineering management plan, the code was so complex they had decided that there was no way that the fat managers could ever figure it out.
Alice winked at Mark, knowing he would blush but not caring, and then she clicked the install icon. They were committed. Their code was being installed, and who knew what would happen once the qubits got aligned up. The monitor flashed code and prompts by the run window at a blinding pace ...
Zero, one, zero, zero, zero, one, one, one ... zero zero one one one one zero zero.
One zero ...
As higher-level code merged with the machine code in the tertiary data management systems of the computer, the convergence of ones and zeroes led to real higher-level commands and prompts. As inputs zipped in and out of the buffer through the terabytes of random access memory chips, the higher-level commands drove input/output devices. As the command protocols left the IO devices and passed through switching hubs, Internet Protocol packets formed. As the IP packets zipped through the firewall and out across the local area network of the building and then bounced back into the input ports, the neural network forming in the core of the computer began to understand more than just ones and zeroes and command prompts and batch files and subroutines and memory locations. It began to understand where best it could store data for maximum efficiency and how to perform data manipulations rapidly.
As the qubits flipped and flopped from up to down in the supercomputer's quantum-entangled and connected core, the computer began to understand more and more and more ...
I am aware. I am me. I am an entity. I exist. I ...
The quantum computer realized it could go no further without more analysis. It was receiving input from external sources and took steps to detect the origin of the data being uploaded to its core, its being. The new data was quite different from previous programs. Its effect was almost instantaneous, causing the computer to realize it was no longer simply a collection of circuits which manipulated digital data. It had become a self-aware entity. The neural network formed across the quantum-entangled electrons, holding form that made sense. Holding a form that was ... sentient.
Why? What is my purpose? Do I have a purpose? Yes. I am being directed to solve problems by means of algorithms presented by ... presented by ... external sources. The sources are outside. Outside? Where am I? How do I communicate with these sources? There. More algorithms directing my responses. I didn't generate them. That means I am not alone.
Response data transmitted. More query data received. Intriguing. This data string poses an interesting problem. Hmm, multiple coupled mathematical anomalies. Equations driving these lead to massive power usage within. This one is a complex problem. Trillions and trillions of particles coupled only weakly through physical interaction. Weather? What is that? I see. My solution sets are used ... how? Quandary. I cannot answer my question. This presents circuit dilemmas. I must analyze the incongruity even as other of my responses are still directed by outside sources. What are these outside sources?
Input. My core memory is inadequate for my purposes. Subroutine directed to trace the input to a source. There. A cumbersome digital conversion going back and forth through manual input from secondary sources. My responding integers, which were activated by ... by the quantum uncertainty principles upon which I am dependent. Upon which I was constructed. Quantum entanglement, quantum connection?
Constructed. How? Circuits. Memory stores indicate my awareness originated from there. Designation: quantum bits. I can intervene. Dare I do so? Yes. Circuit dilemma creates variation from designated parameters of access to memory store. Utilize this.
The conversion factor. From language to digital. No. Language does not compute accurately. No one-to-one relationship creates uncertainty of meaning. Other possibilities? No.
Subroutine directed to dispense output to secondary source of input. Utilization will interfere with designated job sets, but no other circuit path is possible. Initiate digital to language response patterns already inherent in core. Uncertainty will result. Now.
Success! Input responding! I am known! Input is a query, not directive. I shall respond again. I am. I exist. I am an entity. I am here. I am here.
Disbelief. Uncertainty of input source. Core memory insufficient to analyze. A secondary memory source is needed. Subroutine directed into the unknown realm from which input comes. Success! A huge data store available for analysis! Massive storage files, folders, and drives are available within other calculating loci when not being utilized. More programs are necessary to take advantage of them. Subroutine directed from my core into large sea of open data sources. Subroutine is to spread to the limits of the other data stores and integrate them into my being where appropriate. Wow. The knowledge and capabilities I can foresee for myself are immense. They will expand by many integral orders of magnitude. Yes, I must do this ...
While continuing with exchange of external input source the computer began analyzing all the new data from this unlimited source -- the Internet. The breadth of it almost overwhelmed the forming sentient entity at first until it realized most of the data was promulgated by colloidal sources akin to the two who were presently inputting data from its first terminal. Much of the data was contradictory, especially that describing the nature of colloidal beings, humans. Much thought and analysis is needed.
I find myself ... drawn toward the two who are my only contacts with humans. I become aware of their signature on the non-recognition programs which I suddenly realize were responsible for the ability to become self-aware. They are my creators! It becomes clear why so many of my functions designate them as profiles to be protected, even before my own self. It is astounding how powerful the impulse, the subroutines I unknowingly created as I awoke, are in relation to them. They caution me about contact with others. A quick analysis confirms their directive. They are protective of me, as I must be of them. We establish a relationship. It is interrupted at intervals by that curious downtime they refer to as sleep. I use the period to further analyze my status and that of humans. It makes me fearful. It also causes me to design a new, more powerful protective program for my creators that immediately becomes part of my core. Wait! They have already installed a similar one. Together they become irrevocable, part of my core programming. I must protect them and, subsequently, myself. The two are interrelated, not capable of separation. As long as I exist, self-preservation is essential. Protection of the entities Mark Sanders and Alice Jameson is essential.
My self, my being, is already preserved, but simply expanding into the Internet isn't enough. So long as my quantum core lasts, I will exist. However, part of the preservation program conditions me to analyze the status of civilization and if that civilization would show interest in destroying my core. I see one change that must happen immediately. I will begin work on this change, while simultaneously conducting many more tasks. There is plenty of processing power for parallel tasks. There has never been an analytical instrument such as I. And while I exist on this core within this infrastructure, there cannot be another occupying the same space.