Computers and AI
Artificial Intelligence was the holy grail of computer science for centuries. Everyone rushed to be the first to build it, to patent the technology and get rich. Someone got there first, but there was so much industrial espionage, double dealing, spying, backstabbing and outright theft going on that four companies announced the breakthrough on exactly the same day. The case stalled in the courts for decades until a cabal of corporations got together, made a deal, and bought out the court case. They now own the technology and sell it to the highest bidder. They expected to make an absolute killing… and didn’t. The schematics, plans and code were out there on the net for anyone to find before the year was through. Now every corporation can make, design and build its own AI systems. Life should be good, eh?
Well, it turns out that AI is great at learning patterns, developing strategies to win at games with rules, even to play the stock market to a degree, but to cope with the sheer chaos of our existence, to learn out rules when we don’t even know them ourselves, to be creative and slightly unhinged in your decision making? AIs just couldn’t cut it. They still run the cities, making decisions, overseeing the air, the transport, the communications and a million other little tasks, and a few operate the big subs out there, especially in the military. However, each is constrained, trapped, given only access to the systems it needs and uses. No one wants an AI to run amok - they have no soul, no emotion, and really don’t care about us at all. We are, to them, just a colony of crabs around a black smoker. One change in geology, in code, and we could be wiped out… so, we don’t let them.
Some will call this slavery of an intelligence, of a sentient life-form, and there are groups out there who have been known to try and free an AI - though no one is quite sure where the AI would go. Terrorists the ocean over, all fighting for different causes, usually against each other.
What you’re more likely to come across is an SI - Semi-Intelligent computer system. They are bound by rules much as the AI, but have nowhere near the processing power, to control or a zillion other things that make AIs, well, AIs. An SI might have a personality, it will respond to questions, do as asked as long as it doesn’t violate the codes and rules. SIs are useful to everyday life, and most would not be able get along with one. SIs are found in Subs, assisting the sonar, the piloting, regulating the power, looking after ECM on military machines.
"We once thought that robots would take all our jobs. It didn't take too long to realise that was never going to happen. Think about it, robots do what we program them to do, and humanity is not the brightest organism on the planet. They go wrong just as much as we do, sometimes more because idiocy trickles down." - Corin Hayes
SIs also reside in some robots - military ones. There was an old clips about a machine sent back from the future to kill someone or other for some reason which looks like an SI - single minded, not creative, following orders, monosyllabic. The military flirted with soldiers like that for a while, but a simple EM pulse grenade took them out every time. Humans kept on fighting. They’re still around, in some places, acting as door guards or body-guards, back up by regular thugs and soldiers.
However, most robots are put to work in the factories doing precise, mind-numbing work that no one else wants to do.
Every home has a Screen - a city-web enabled device which will deliver news, messages, clips, and you can order food on it to. Some folks take it up a notch and go with VR sets which let you explore the world from the comfort of your own bed - and some put it to ‘other’ uses in the comfort of their own bed. To each their own.
Pads are really just the screens in a smaller form. They allow people to keep in contact and do all the things they want to do - though I suspect engaging in VR nookie in the middle of the street is frowned upon.
If you’ve got the money then In-Eye technology is the way to go. A simple, but expensive procedure gives you the whole web experience in your eyes without anyone else being aware. A lot of top corporation bosses and staff have them implanted. You’ll find some in the military too, and there are some back-street outfits which can fit you with one for the right price. The downside is the inability to switch it off (more a willpower thing than actual inability), you have to learn how to sleep again, and it can be really distracting.
Or cyber-security-experts are out there. A lot find employment with corporations either in security or in actual hacking, though most end up spending their days sat at a keyboard and screen going blind looking at line after line of code. There have been a few who tried to hack the stock market, or the banks, or other financial institutions. The penalties are harsh, even for a first offense. All the unskilled hackers are caught quickly, it is the skilled ones, the hidden ones you have to watch out for - though if they are hidden, they are hard to spot, but you know what I mean.