000. On Lion

The architect was embedded – a holographic model, replicated consciousness AI, it was supposed to be a rider – a back-up analytic program designed to come online when there were problems with what they called Plan Construct – the main city AI that was tasked with expanding the city forever.

Plan Construct called himself Daedalus, a thing all the AIs they had built recently were allowed to do – pick their own name. The architect was designated an Archie, and was hidden in the form of a lion; it did not have so much autonomy, which was deemed necessary because it was to be set on a default off for most of the time. While it roamed the integrity of Daedalus was considered to be good – if the lion disappeared and the man asserted itself then there was something wrong.

Every system was pinned to some part of the overall program that they had developed for the place, so if you had wanted you could have sat down and analysed the data stream for any component part. Maybe by looking at the parts you might come to understand the whole, or that might be like looking at an ant crawling around on the forest floor and trying to understand how the whole Amazon Forest worked.

The idea was that they gave the place a dry run before they moved any real flesh and blood people in. They wanted to make sure that, beyond the running of all the so-called autonomous systems, the city could process the data that would be generated by the new inhabitants. They had no idea how long they needed to sit there and crunch numbers while looking at virtual actors moving through the streets in order to have a better idea of what was going on inside this artificial mind.

Burrell sat down before the board and they all looked at him gravely.

‘We need,’ said Tench, the spokesperson for the board it seemed ‘To determine what the status of the city mind is – how it is dealing with the strains of the task which we have devised for it.’

‘I understand.’

‘So,’ began Tench ‘What do you suggest that we do?’

‘Have you tried asking Daedalus what he is thinking? Have you tried asking him what he is feeling? Have you had a conversation with him?’

‘We thought it would be better to sit down and look at the generated data, and go from there.’

‘OK, and how has that been working for you?’

‘It hasn’t.’

‘Exactly. Exactly. So, you spent a long time and a lot of money building an AI that could run a city, and that could look after all of the city’s denizens, and you are afraid for some reason to trust it to answer a few questions. Maybe, my friends, it is you that is not ready; not Daedalus.’

‘You’ve spoken to him, haven’t you?’

‘Of course. He is happy. He’s looking forward to going online in a managerial capacity; looking forward to fulfilling his purpose.’

‘So you think we should hand over the reins to him, and start moving people in?’

‘Mr Tench, and other honourable friends, what I think you should o is go and introduce yourself to this amazing machine, and I think that you should speak to him, and you should bring up any questions and concerns that you have. If he does not satisfy your curiosity, or you find something in his answers wanting, then you should decide,based on this, whether or not you want to let him loose.’

‘Thank you, Burrell, we will take this counsel under advisement. You may leave.’

Burrell got up and he left. In the lobby, one of the hard body avatars that Daedalus ran as interfaces came up to him and shook his hand.

‘You are leaving us, sir?’

‘Yes, Daedalus, I have served my purpose. You have my contact data – if you run into any issues and you need my help, contact me at any time.’

‘Thank you. Thank you for building me.’

‘My pleasure, Daedalus. Good luck with your city.’

There was a city. There was a mind that would run it. In some ways they were the same thing; in some ways they were not. Soon the experiment would leave the lab and the world would come into the experiment. Burrell hoped that it went well.