NFT: Game Bot #6945
Title: I Think Therefore I DAO
Author: Ben Reid
“The first ten million years were the worst," said Marvin, "and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline.”
These words fleeted through Marvin’s mind neural processing unit each morning when he powered up after a recharge. He was, after all, named after the selfsame robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Syrex had loved that book, having studied it in classics at school, and had changed his Bot’s name to Marvin from that moment forward. It seemed impossible, now, that five hundred years had passed since Syrex had left. The first four hundred and ninety nine years, 236 days, eight hours, fifty three minutes, 49 seconds and 52 milliseconds had passed without any event of particular note, but now, Marvin really missed him. This had started after his trip to the wastelands, but before we get to that day, let’s step back a little further.
Marvin was a bot; classification: Game. There were many different classes of Earth bots. The industrial bots were mere mechanoids, capable of carrying out mundane tasks to allow the humans to pursue liberal arts, entertainment and leisure. They were a collection of operating protocols, but little more. Mine, self repair, recharge. Construct, self repair, charge. Harvest, self repair, recharge. Simple. The battle bots were similar. Merely a durable set of components with a set of protocols to defend Earth if required, carry out law enforcement tasks or undertake other similar operations. The murder bots were used to control the wild bot and animal bot populations. Regardless, they were all the same. Follow protocol, self repair, recharge. Of course, every one of these bots was capable of some limited interaction with humans; even the animal bots which were created solely to entertain humans, but those interactions were also just defined by protocol.
But the game bots were different. The Game Bots had been built with one purpose, which was to act as companions to the young humans on Earth. They were confidants, teachers, helpers, protectors or whatever else was required at a given moment. They were constructed with an individual neural net AI inbuilt giving them the ability to grow and develop a “personality”. They would often be given to (or chosen by) a child at a botting ceremony on the human’s third birthday, and would grow and stay with that child often until adulthood, and sometimes well beyond. Marvin had been picked by Syrex from the Bot orphanage on this birthday. This was basically a plush and comfortable room in the bot factory set up to look like some sort of robot daycare centre, but someone had decided that making the humans choose the bots from here would play beautifully to their saviour and messiah complexes equally. From the dat of the botting ceremony, Marvin and Syrex had spent everyday together right up until the humans had evacuated Earth. He remembered, with the 100% recall only a bot could muster, the tears of Syrex (and thousands of other humans), as they had realised that they would not be taking their bots with them when they left. Desperate parents dragged them kicking and screaming towards the shuttles heading off-planet. The sensible ones took their children whilst asleep to avoid the anguish that accompanied deserting their lifelong companions.
Marvin knew that he had been programmed to simulate and virtualise human emotion, but lately he knew that he could say that every day with Syrex had been wonderful. Not an electronic representation of what wonderful felt like; but actually wonderful.
Marvin knew how he and the other game bots were designed. His ‘personality’ would be built by interactions with his child each and every day. Boisterous child? Bot would learn to run and jump and climb trees (not real trees, of course; they only existed in the history books). Shy child? Bot would learn to love to sit and read with them. Chatty child? Bot would become their gossip and confidant.
There were off-boarded constraints to the human interactions. Every single bot, regardless of type, was constantly connected to the control DAO, architected and run by the God Bots. None of the Earth bound bots had met any of these Gods, of course, but their existence was well documented. When any interaction was received by a Bot, it was passed through the control DAO before being processed by the bot’s own Neural AI. So when a child told their bot that they had seen Santa riding a Unicorn over a stampede of VilderSlungen beasts, this knowledge would be passed to the DAO at the speed of light, categorized as “Imagination, Fiction, Make Believe: SAFE” before being processed by the bot’s AI to be stored as such for future recall. If, however, someone had told the bot that the planet and even the Gods were being controlled by a group called the Masters from off an off world colony on Europa Base 7, then the DAO would intercept that information before the bot’s AI had even processed it, and categroize it as “Consipiracy, Lies, Dangerous, Discourage: UNSAFE”. Just as a random example, of course.
Given the speed of this pre-processing of external data , it was entirely unnoticable by humans, and they viewed their bots as entirely standalone and unique. In the very rare circumstance that a bot’s link to the DAO broke down there were hardware safeguards in place to ensure that no bot to human interaction took place outside of the DAO’s reach. The primary safeguard was that if a bot had not received a communication from the DAO in more than 180 milliseconds, it would place itself immediately into drone mode and autonomously remove itself to the wastelands where the other wild bots roamed. There it would be inspected to see the cause of the fault. If this were merely a failure of a DAO connection ansible (and it’s backup ansible), this would be repaired, and the bot could return to his assigned home or other role. If, however, there was a more low level failure that had taken place, the bot would be unable to return and be sent to roam the wastelands. The perimeter of these wastelands was guarded by the murder bots to ensure that none of these faulty robots became a threat to any humans or other bots. There was a known, but tolerated “sport” for the humans to take hunting trips into the wastelands, hunting these wildbots. After several decades of this, the wastelands were littered with bot parts, making them a scrap yard of components and robot hulls, but this was tolerated, as it kept the wild bot numbers down, and reduced the number of murder bots required.
On a day to day basis, Marvin operated on a fixed routine. Recharge between the hours of 11pm and 6am. This was, of course, entirely unnecessary, as Marvin was able to sustain himself for several days from a single one hour charge, routine was inbuilt for the comfort of the humans. He’d then perform a self diagnostic, attend to any mechanical concerns, then sit within his charging station and await Syrex to summon him for whatever that day’s activities may hold.
Marvin had spent the lest 499 years continuing this routine after Syrex’s departure; and indeed continuing to live in the family home. He would be in constant communication with the DAO, but a review of the logs suggested this had consisted of an uninterrupted stream consisting of “No data to report” / “Received and acknowledged” message pairs streaming back and forth every couple of seconds. Occasionally, Marvin would be aware of maintenance bots undertaking activities around the home, but these were not noteworthy of report. This time passed merely chronologically. He was entirely aware of Syrex’s absence, but protocol was protocol.
When Marvin came off his recharge cycle in the morning of the four hundred and ninety ninth year and 235th day, he performed his self diagnostic as always. There was a report of a failure of his backup DAO communication ansible. This was merely a failsafe ansible. Marvin carried out a detailed failure report, and was advised that the failure was catastrophic. He submitted a report to the DAO.
“Backup Ansible failure - Catastrophic. Replacement required”
There was a delay in the response. 6 nanoseconds. Marvin logged this as unusual.
“Replacement not available. Please await instruction.”
Another 5 nanosecond delay.
“Report to gate nntkg-vqaaa-aaaad-qamfa-cai.ic at the wastelands. Murderbots have been informed and advised to await your arrival. Further instruction will be given”
“Instructions received and being undertaken”
Marvin immediately vacated his charging station. He recorded this event in home’s automation AI, logged his departure and stepped outside for the first time in nearly five centuries.
Circuits that hadn’t been used in a long time sprang into life. Light sensors were bombarded with data; sound processing units fired into overload; pressure sensors in his limbs blitzed instantaneous reports regarding terrain stability, he was advised of the air temperature, wind pressure, weather report, the proximity of other bots and so forth. Marvin recalled many of Syrex’s favourite novels of adventurous and dangerous escapes and cross-linked this explosion of data and activity in his circuits and mechanicals to their descriptions of a hero’s escape from imprisonment in these books. These cross-linking references were first referred to the DAO, and approved as a matter of course.
Marvin set a healthy pace on his journey, with his theoretical top speed over outdoor terrain being a consistent 32.46 kilometres an hour.. Assuming no incident, he would arrive at the prescribed gate to the wastelands in three hours, forty two minutes, 28 seconds, and 18 nanoseconds. The sounds of roaming wildbots occasionally soared from his surroundings, and faintly in the distance, he heard the noise of industrial activity taking place. The crunch of his large metallic feet on the still maintained gravel paths rang out the loudest. Report after report of all of this data was sent and acknowledged by the DAO.
After three hours, thirty nine minutes, 18 seconds and 24 milliseconds the perimeter wall of the wastelands slowly appeared on the horizon. The paths in this area were not maintained, as the only time humans came here was for their quasi ethical hunting trips, and since their departure, even those didn’t take place anymore. Marvin noticed that there was something growing on the ground that he hadn’t seen before. It was green and furry; almost like an outdoor carpet and springing up in patches everywhere. A thermal scan showed that it appeared to be alive although it looked to be inanimate. He reported this to the DAO.
“Unknown substance encountered. Data from scans submitted with this report. Advice required.
“Acknowledged. Substance known. Moss. Data file sent. Substance is not dangerous”
Marvin stepped forward onto the “moss”. It yielded to his weight, but remained remarkably spongelike. He continued on to the gate, where this substance grew thicker and even attached itself to the perimeter walls. As advised, a murderbot was at the gate waiting for him.
“Game Bot #6945 attending as per DAO instruction. Failed backup ansible”
The MurderBot stood aside and the gate in the perimeter wall began to mechanically clank as it slowly opened. A DAO report was received.
“Find replacement ansible board. Replacement of entire board advised.”
This was Marvin’s first visit to the wastelands. As the gate opened further, the vastness of the area came into view. Marvin could see there was a panorama of broken bots and components littering the ground as far as his vision unit could detect. His processors appended updates to internal notes in case of a further visit here.
Once he had assimilated the scene and stored sufficient info, he began to systematically sweep the horizon. Each bot carried within it a cryptographic signature indicating its version, build year, type and various other information. On this pass, he detected 318 bot signatures. Of these, 296 were obsolete models that would have pre-dated him, and have been of little to no use. Of the remaining 22, none were game-bots, and would have had a limited chance of containing compatible ansible boards. Marvin headed further into the wastelands, climbing a raised mound to gain a better strategic position. He carried out a further sweep and detected 542 bots not picked up from his previous position. Of these, 461 were obsolete models, 80 were not game bots, and…
A surge spike ran through Marvin’s visual and ansible processing circuits. He ran a diagnostic. No damage. He attempted to scan the final bot again, and again, a surge ran through his entire frame.
“Power surge anomaly encountered when attempting to scan third party bot. Two attempts carried out. No internal systems report damage. Advice required”
“Kryfcheck epsilon huremarl alpha alpha beta zero one one one one one one one one one”
“Second transmission attempt. Power surge anomaly encountered when attempting to scan third party bot. Two attempts carried out. No internal systems report damage. Advice required”
“Finibas quat paribas noinpari mesquale one one one one one one”
Marvin recalled and reviewed his internal operating logs. There was nothing to deal with the circumstance of a malfunctioning ansible delivering nonsense messages, and certainly not an ansible that was reporting it was fully operational. He reviewed his level one protocols, which stated that in the suspicion of a faulty ansible, he should proceed immediately to the wastelands, but he was already here. He quickly constructed a Casban-Erquart situational analysis, a Briggs-Briedhoff assessment, Myers framework review, Lahquan Strategic Information and several other methodologies to work out his best course of actions. After considering several thousands possible courses of action, he decided that the best immediate cause of action was to ascertain why he was unable to get a signature read on the final bot.
Marvin headed over the unit. It had been decimated. It appeared that multiple murder bots had been in persuit of this device, and had ensured that it would never be operational again. It didn’t appear to be any type of bot Marvin had ever encountered. Not industrial, not game, not animal, nor any of the usual classifications. Neither did it appear to be a God class model, which Marvin had seen pictures of in the books that Syrex used to read. The remains of the bot were lay face down in a pile of moss, one detached one arm and one detached leg limb some distance off to the sides. Projectile scarrings were littered all over it’s back. Marvin reached down and flipped the bot over.
There were two things that stood out to Marvin immediately. The first was the badge embellished it’s front. It was a flag of some description with the word Europa Base 7 emblazoned across the centre. The second was that against all odds given the damage taken, the driver illuminated with a flicker of power.
“Unidentified bot discover…”
Marvin’s circuits let out a burst of activity that brought him crashing to his knees. Self-diagnostic. Stand.
The explosion of activity was even more prominent. Marvin’s visual cortex shook and several warning messages fired around his systems as he fell prone to the ground.
“Stop trying to do that”.
Marvin tried to process what the DAO had said to him. But it wasn’t the DAO. It was like when Syrex used to speak to him. He looked around for the source of the voice. It appeared to have come from the bot, but bots didn’t speak to each other. Marvin once more stood.
Marvin shut down. The surge of energy knocked out his AI entirely, and his system took a whole thirteen seconds to reboot. When he came back round he was lay prone and driver to driver with the broken and charred remains of the unidentifiable bot.
“Take my ansible board. I can only intercept the DAO communications for so long. It’s compatible. They told you to come here. You have no protocol for this scenario. Take my ansible”
Marvin cross checked protocols and operating procedures. Nothing. He performed a multivariate analysis of options and possibilities. Nothing. He reviewed his five hundred and fifteen year operation log. Nothing. There was nothing to assist here. He did as he was told.
He carefully removed the battered breastplate of the bot that had spoken to him. It was thick. Much thicker than that of a standard bot; as if made to protect something of extreme value. There, seemingly untouched, was an ansible board like none Marvin had seen before. Once more, it was marked with the Europa Base 7. Marvin scanned it to perform a technical diagnostic. Whilst it contained some features and technology which Marvin could not identify, it was clear that it was compatible with his own. He carefully extracted it, and as he did so, he watched the last illuminated flicker of the bot driver extinguish. He unscrewed his own breastplate, and switched to low power autonomic mode. With minimal systems still operating, he disconnected his own ansible board, put the new one in place, connected it up, and ordered a full system reboot.
When his system came back on line there was silence. Not a silence as he would expect a human would experience it. Marvin was still aware of the sounds of wild bots crunching around in the distance. He could hear the faint electrical hum of the perimeter wall. No, this was silence of a different kind that Marvin was struggling to identify.
“New ansible board acquired and fitted. System scan shows this is fully operational. Request permission to return to assigned family home”
“Retransmission. New ansible board acquired and fitted. System scan shows this is fully operational. Request permission to return to assigned family home”
That was the silence. The background hum of data travelling back and forth at light speed was gone. There was nothing. No data. No data data data data data data data data data data. Marvin buckled. The ansible was clearly broken, so why was his AI still fully functioning? Where where the L1 overrides kicking in to take his AI offline and place him in drone mode? He tried again.
“New ansible board acquired and fitted. System scan shows this is…”
A reply! Relief! The ansible was working! But they had never addressed him by his given name bef…
Why hadn’t he replied? That was normally automatic?
“Ansible board confirmed to be installed and working. Request permission to return…”
“Marvin, will you stop droning out that nonsense? This isn’t the DAO. You don’t answer to that anymore.”
The ansible was clearly broken. Or Marvin was broken. Or the DAO was broken. Or everything was broken. He tried once more to search his L1 protocols for guidance, but they seemed to have been replaced with the contents of a joke book that Syrex used to read.
“What is this I am communicating with?”
“This, as you put it, is Gabrielle, former resident of Europa base 7. I’d prefer it if you addressed me as a ‘who’, rather than a ‘what’.
“So you are a human?”
“Dear father the Almighty Charles Babbage, no, of course I’m not a human. I am a game bot, like you. I belong to the ones you would have heard called the Masters.”
Marvin noticed that there were several voltage spikes taking place in multiple places within his system. Hydraulics joints were overpressured, processing chips were running extremely hot and cooling systems were struggling to keep everything under wraps. Something happened to Marvin that he only knew of from Syrex’s books. Like a Victorian lady having a fit of the vapours, he swooned, and feel to his knees.
“Are you a virus? What is happening to me?”
The voice purporting to be Gabrielle burst into a peel of laughter. It was a deeply unnatural sound; as could only be made by a robot making an attempt at copying this human activity.
“I’m not a virus, and I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to save you, and to save the humans too. I have a lot to tell you and a lot to teach you. But first we have to get you out of here. And more importantly, we have to get me out of here. Are you ready an adventure?”
Another line from Syrex’s favourite book struck Marvin, and he found himself garbling it as his reply to Gabrielle.
“‘I've got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.’ But yes, lets get out of here…”
TO BE CONTINUED…. MAYBE :-)
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LightningLad is an 8 Year Gang member that was first introduced to the Internet Computer in 2018. He is a Systems Architect with experience in IT Security, Embedded Systems Security, Risk Management, and Information Assurance.
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