Collecting Data


leroy_icon.gif tamas_icon.gif

Scene Title Collecting Data
Synopsis Leroy's technopath-proof servers are visited by a 'technopath'. So is his phone.
Date May 9, 2018

Digital Connections

Technopath-proof servers. It is a ridiculous conceit — and suspicious, in light of a certain recent conversation. Which makes for no small amusement as T.Amas observes activity routed in that direction through the days that follow, attempting to estimate the number of ambitious souls — technopath or mundane — who come to poke and prod at the mystery box.

It takes days before Tenzin itself decides to give the thing an experimental poke, neither challenge nor the prospect of a job at Yamagato being any incentive to the entity. Eventually, though, it reaches out into digital aether just for sake of curiosity (and boredom), logging in with the connection info so publicly provided, studying the handshake and protocols involved, testing commands that characterize the system rather than attempting to immediately engage the puzzle presented.

Its trail, should Leroy attempt to trace it, bounces several hops out before seeming to terminate in Canada.

Suspicious or not, Leroy did code this thing with the most state of the art technology that Yamagato has to offer. The protocols are experimental, many things built from the ground up, though they have some foundation in pre-established code, obviously. However, if poking becomes too suspicious, the machine's A.I starts booting connections.

It's picked up on a few things from people previously poking at it, taking it as an indication that someone is going to attempt to hack it in the first place.

So, the most obvious thing that jumps out at Tenzin is probably the fact that these servers are clearly learning, and very aggressive over seemingly minor and mild behavior. One might note that Google's own algorithms and machine learning gets that way with certain searches, but this is a bit more aggressive than even that.

The mystery box doesn't seem to care for being poked at, as it defensively terminates the connection, leaving T.Amas out in the figurative cold. The entity considers its observations for a moment, testing how pieces fit together, filling the spaces between with inference. Then it reaches out again, using the same connection info as before. No surprise, of course, that the login is accepted.

Tenzin lets that connection sit for a short period, just long enough for some consideration… and then it tests the ability to install into its own (borrowed) user directory. Nothing ominous, just a little command-line game by name of Bastet, otherwise known as a Tetris clone.

Tetris is good for hours of entertainment. It's also a way to answer, just how aggressive are this box's systems inclined to be?

Meanwhile, Tenzin reaches out for another connection, pinging an altogether different system: the personal phone of a certain Yamagato employee. The incoming call is identified as coming from an unfamiliar and in truth entirely fictitious number.

Tetris installs, and it seems that nothing is particularly odd at first… until the Tetris game executes on its own, and starts to rapidly finish game after game, all of them failed, but gradually becoming better. Perhaps Leroy has decided to take something upon himself, or perhaps his A.I is a little better than suspected, who knows.

But he picks up the phone, stares down at it from his living room in Yamagato, and furrows his brow. "You're from the other day? Well, a few weeks ago now." he asks, keeping calm, because, well, he's been hacked before, he doesn't feel himself to be in any particular danger. But one never knows with technopaths…

Through its remote access to the server, Tenzin is only really aware of the auto-run Tetris games as process ids belonging to the system — but, observing active processes as it is, it can see them start and end in succession, each one persisting for longer than the one before. That the system saw fit to run what the visitor installed and — apparently — will do so ad infinitum to boot…

…well, that was entirely unexpected. And interesting.

Even as Leroy picks up his phone, Tenzin launches its own instance of Tetris, only a small fraction of its attention engaged with the virtual falling blocks. "I am," it affirms, in the same voice used for their prior conversation.

"I see you've put our conversation to good use, as well," it adds, as its first round of Tetris ends in failure and a new one is launched.

"I need data, this is the best way I could think of to get it. I don't think a technopath would be anxious to give me information on how to stop or defend against them." Leroy says as he sits his phone on the table, keeping it on speaker. Then he starts to stare at a laptop screen, which he has remotely monitoring the network of servers/the supercomputer he's made.

"There was an unexpected interaction with the Tetris game." he says, figuring Tenzin may have noticed. "I built the A.I on the foundation of an older A.I I built. I didn't expect certain things to happen, but… that's how we learn."

"I imagine not," replies this particularly entity, who itself continues playing its own games of Tetris — an unassuming activity that says little about T.Amas except that it's willing to spend time entertaining itself on someone else's server. And apparently finds Tetris entertaining. "Doubly so for the type inclined to accept blatant challenges."

An impression of amusement enters its tone as it continues. "Indeed. I don't expect anyone would have anticipated that." A moment's pause. "You used the previous one to solve games?"

"It's a common way to test and train A.I algorithms. I used an already trained algorithm and built on top of that with new parameters. Yamagato gives me access to technology that's just… well, let's just say that I shouldn't be so surprised by the unpredictability of my newly upgraded A.I." Leroy laughs, and then Tenzin will find his game starting to act a little strangely, as Leroy's A.I seems to connect to the game. It doesn't do anything, but Tenzin will likely notice that all of his movements are being recorded onto the server.

Considering that Leroy is talking on the phone and seemingly doing nothing much to the server at all, well… "So, when do I get to meet the great Hana Gitelman?"

Tenzin's play pauses momentarily as it considers what seems to be its new audience. "Curious," it remarks, purely for Leroy's benefit. "You've made it quite aggressive about collecting data," is added a moment later.

It chooses to feed the metaphorical baby bird, resuming play and letting the A.I. capture its choices. "Do you think it will distill anything useful to your current purposes from this observation?" is purely conversational rather than probing.

Unlike the direct question Leroy directs to Tenzin. "That is between you and her," is what answer comes over the phone. "And perhaps also your boss."

"We get a lot of autonomy here, but my boss knows about this project. As for Hana, well, it's not like I can just call up Hana Gitelman on the phone." Leroy says her name as if she's some kind of celebrity, and starts to rapidly type something on a wireless keyboard that's going god knows where, because he's not looking at a screen. "I don't know what it's learning. Sometimes with an A.I, you just have to let it go and see what happens. I just want to let it grow and become something more than it is."

There's a long pause after Leroy's responses, the silence of an open yet still-connected line, one where the person on the other end has no need to breathe or fidget or otherwise make any manner of extraneous noise. Meanwhile the game continues to play one round after another; the A.I. continues to observe.

"I did not mean to imply your boss might not," that androgynous voice replies at last. Another pause, shorter, more indicative of change in subject than any kind of hesitation or consideration. "Why not?" Tenzin asks, seeming somewhat mystified. "Her company has a listed phone number. People call it… perhaps not 'all the time', but often enough."

On the subject of growing and becoming, Tenzin says nothing, at least for now.

"I don't know her, technically my question isn't a business inquiry, I'm not looking to hire her for anything. It's a little… awkward." Leroy shrugs, staring down over at his phone. "Why don't technopaths try to revolutionize the world? You have so much potential, you could change everything. Why use that potential just to hack into things and put all of your energy towards world saving, when you could also push the world forward and help shape it into something more?"

"You might be surprised," Tenzin remarks, matter-of-factly. Though it doesn't seem inclined to embellish upon that point to any degree.

Silence ensues yet again as Leroy's questions are weighed, considered, contemplated. "There are many things I could say," the entity replies at last. "One, that your words imply many assumptions and generalizations. Two, that just as with any other type of people, each has their own inclinations. To revolutionize the world, one must want to enact change. Few do."

"We could take a case in point of one who did. Certainly, there were methods Wireless could have used that she did not. Maybe those would have had better outcomes. Maybe they would not. We will never know."

"But that raises a question: just because one can, does that mean one should? Where do you draw that line?"

Leroy stares at a laptop, listening to Tenzin intently, then he just sort of laughs. "This is computer science, technology, data. I don't plan to hurt anyone, but beyond doing no harm, I don't believe in a line. I want to push technological advancements as far as humanly possible, until the day I die." he answers, very confidently, no hesitation. "But you have a point, every technopath doesn't have to do anything in particular."

The voice is quiet for a time after that, but not overlong. "That may be a conversation for another day," Tenzin remarks as its latest game of Tetris concludes. It does not start another, but instead offers the AI an indirect 'goodbye' and logs out of the server. "How you wish to shape the world."

"For now, I will let you and your AI return to that work."

"Give Hana my number." Leroy requests, before sitting his keyboard down and heading for the door. "I need to go get my phone debugged." because of course he's going to try to discern any data he can from Tenzin connecting to it. "Talk to you later."

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