Richard presses the enter key with enthusiasm as pushes his chair back away from his desk, lifting his arms in triumph. His deep exhale is cut short as the rollers on the bottom of his chair get stuck on all the garbage sitting on the floor behind him, and his chair tips over; dropping him to the ground. At that very moment, his boss and his boss’s boss enter his office.
Struggling to stand up as he slips on all the garbage on the floor, Richard makes attempts to grunt out words. His superior look at him with disdain.
“Are you finished dicking off, Aryu?” Richard’s boss always refers to him by his last name, and Richard hates it.
“Yes, ma’am! It’s actively patrolling the control dataset as we speak.”
“What’s the ETA?”
As if Richard’s new artificial intelligence program was listening to the conversation they were having, a notification is displayed on his screen: Terrorist Suspect Identified with certainty of 85%
Richard’s boss’ boss steps on a bunch of the garbage on the floor as he walks over to the screen, leans forward, and reads the report on the screen. “This is great work, son!”
Richard finally stands up and stands next to his boss. He smiles and looks over at his boss.
She looks at him and squints her eyes as she scowls, “It’s a month late, but if the results are as good as promised, we can start running this against live data by the end of this week.”
The boss’ boss walks up closely to both of them, standing directly in front of Richard. “Come now. This man may be as sloven as a pig, but a good job is a good job.” He looks Richard in the eyes and places both of his hands on Richard’s shoulders. “You should be proud of yourself, son. Your work is going to save a lot of lives. And you’re going to make your alma mater proud.”
Richard looks over at his degree from MIT on the wall as his boss’ boss walks passed him with Richard’s boss following close on his tail. Richard’s boss’ boss smiles and opens the door for Richard’s boss. As they both leave the room, Richard overhears his boss’ boss say, “Get this thing live ASAP.”
Three years have passed since the CIA has brought Richard’s terrorist identifying AI online. It has already helped identify and track scores of terrorists, and it has provided the CIA with a huge boost in capturing and terminating some of the terrorists. More importantly, it has accurately cleared hundreds of suspected terrorists. As a result, the CIA has become more efficient with it’s surveillance and been able to reallocate valuable resources to other projects.
Richard is sitting in his office reviewing a set of data anomalies he has discovered with his team. There is a trove of data regarding a suspected female terrorist: Serphina Ang. Richard pauses as he admires her beauty and has to remind himself that she’s likely a highly dangerous terrorist. He pours over the data with his team, and everyone comes to the same conclusion the AI system came to earlier that week: Serphina Ang is not a terrorist.
Something in Richard’s gut holds him back from accepting the conclusion himself, but he reports the finding to his superiors. However, he keeps his data hook active on collecting data and decides he’s going to keep tracking the information himself.
Week after week, month after month, Richard’s AI program continues to help US intelligence decimate countless terrorist organizations around the globe. The number of terrorist attacks has dropped to a fraction of what it was over the previous 10 years, and the success in curbing terrorism around the globe has begun to result in monumental shifts in political power throughout virtually every nation. Political incumbents are easily winning reelection and their party members are gaining seats with each passing election.
This massive political shift is not isolated to the United States. Nations across the globe are seeing a rise in the popularity of the political party who was in charge when the AI program began helping more efficiently target and take down terrorists. Seizing on this political windfall, politicians begin to introduce more laws that will make it easier for the CIA AI application to gain access to more data.
Major tech companies, including operating system suppliers and hardware manufactures are required to make gaining access to their systems and hardware easier for the AI application; or they risk fines, jail time, and permanent removal from coveted memberships in a variety of special privilege organizations known as Access Programs.
Seven years has passed since the enactment of the Terrorist Information Access Act. The CIA’s AI program has all but eliminated terrorism throughout the entire world! Richard has been featured on the cover of numerous publications ranging from technology to law enforcement to educational publications. He’s hailed as a hero for his ground breaking AI that has not just help halt terrorism but also helped protect consumer privacy.
Enhancements have been made to the AI application that have also helped reduce computer virus infections from spreading and improved citizen privacy. The CIA now identifies local law enforcement infringements on citizen privacy and provides that information to the FBI, which has cracked down heavily on local law enforcement abuses. The AI has been used as a witness in a number of abuse of power cases that have helped bring police brutality cases and corruption to an all time low.
Richard is sleeping in bed next to his wife. She gets up and goes the the bathroom when there’s a loud bang at the front door. It’s the FBI raiding his home!
Richard’s alarm system goes off, and his security bots incapacitate the FBI agents who have entered his home. He jumps out of bed and heads to his safe room where he starts looking at the surveillance videos of his security system.
The FBI has cut the power to his compound, but he’s running on his own underground power system. There are dozens of FBI agents outside his home. All of his wired connections have been cut, and there is an interference signal jamming all of his incoming and outgoing wireless signals.
The floor to ceiling window that makes up his east facing wall has been shattered by a rocket propelled flash bomb followed by a tear gas canister. Richard uses his intercom system to call into the bathroom to his wife. There’s no answer. He sends a signal to his security bots to guard the hallway leading to the bathroom where his wife is located.
He receives a call over a secure connection the director of the CIA had him install in his safe room.
Richard is angry, “Harry, what’s going on? Why are there a hundred FBI agents outside my house?”
“Richard, you’re going to have to turn yourself in.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Harry? I’m the one catching all the criminals!”
“Richard, just turn yourself into these guys, and everything is going to be fine.”
“This is bullshit, Harry. What is really going on here? Is this some sort of power grab?”
“They know about your surveillance of Ang. Turn yourself in and make this as painless as possible for everyone.”
Richard drops the phone and pauses for a moment. His heart is racing. He thinks about his wife and his parents. He picks the phone up again and tells Harry that he’ll come out and face the consequences. He knows full well that the punishment for violating surveillance laws is the death penalty.
Harry comes back on the line with Richard and tells him that they are sending in four agents to escort him into the armored transport that will take him to the secured FBI interrogation facility. Richard sees the four agents heading towards his front door. Richard sends the command to his security bots to deactivate and go into hibernate mode.
Richard comes out of his safe room and opens the door to his bathroom. His wife is sitting on the sink crying. Richard walks up to her and hugs her tight. She pushes him away.
“Don’t touch me. I don’t know what you got yourself into. Until you prove yourself innocent, you’re not my husband! Stay the hell away from me!”
Richard drops his hands in defeat and heads out of the bathroom and down the hallway. The FBI agents are at the end of the hallway.
“Richard Tos, you are under arrest for the unauthorized use of surveillance data. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Richard is silent as the agents handcuff him and take him to the armored transport.
Richard is sitting on a sofa in his house arrest condo watching television when there is a knock on the door. He grabs his beer off the end table and walks over to the door. As he opens the door he drops his beer. “Professor!”
Ned Lysander was Richard’s AI professor at MIT, and he’s standing in front of Richard, wearing his signature white satin three piece suit with silver tie. He gives Richard a smug smile and tilts his head to look around Richard to confirm that nobody else is in the room and then raises his eye brows in anticipation. Richard remains in the doorway, dumbfounded.
“Uh, Lysander…” He stumbles for words as he stumbles to pickup his beer from the floor. “Yes, come on in, Lysander.”
Ned enters the room and Richard closes the door behind him, mumbling incoherently to himself.
Ned begins to speak, “Since we’re going to be working together, I’m going to tell you an important secret…” Ned pauses as he looks around at the mess in Richard’s house arrest condo. “… My name is really Sigmund Adam.”
“Oh. Why do you go by Ned Lysander?”
“He was my favorite basketball player as Xavier.”
“Lysander is a much cooler name than Sigmund!” Richard realizes what Ned had first said. “Wait! You want me to come work for you?”
“You realize I’m on trial for a crime that could lead to the death penalty, right?”
“But I’m innocent! Serphina Ang is a terrorist. Sure, I was performing unsanctioned surveillance, but it was something my program missed.”
“Well… I have reviewed the data over and over, and even though her data hits again and again on the basic algorithm that operates separate from the main AI… She’s always coming up clean upon full analysis. So, I kept going deeper and deeper into the data. At first, I though there was something wrong with the basic algorithm, but then I discovered something scary…”
“Scary?” Ned pulls his head back in an inquisitive gesture.
“Something sinister! My AI program has made a deal with Serphina Ang! Ang gave up all the data on all the other terrorists cells she knew of, and my AI program protected her. In the meantime, my AI program used the information it could collect on all the now known terrorists to learn even better how to identify more terrorists.”
Ned walks over to a shelf on the wall where Richard has a few pictures propped up against the wall. “Your wife has left you?”
“Yes. Oh, and by learning more about what real terrorists are like, my AI actually became smarter at identifying real terrorists. Using the seed data from Ang, while nefarious, was extremely helpful in developing greater insight into identifying terrorist threats. I’m still trying to figure out if my AI did it for that reason or if it’s just corrupt.”
Ned picks up the picture of Richard with his parents. “You were adopted?”
“Yes. An orphan. I don’t know anything about my biological parents, and the state lost all the records. Those are my real parents as far as I’m concerned.”
Ned motions to Richard to continue his story as he looks around Richard’s house arrest condo.
“I found the communications my program was having with Serphina. It developed it’s own language that was quite clever!”
“It used the spelling of phonetic values to communicate with Serphina and then stored the data in it’s own language that was completely undecipherable. But I cracked it! I know that she’s being protected by my program, but nobody is believing me. They’re saying I’ve made it all up to save my ass, but I know my AI is in cahoots with Ang. But how do you convince anyone of an AI conspiracy? Especially when the AI is the hero!”
Ned gives Richard a smug smile. “Let’s talk about redemption, Richard.”
Richard looks at Ned and shrugs his shoulders. “I’m not so sure that’s possible.”
There’s a knock at the front door. Richard walks over to the door and opens it. He drops his beer again. It’s his former boss’ boss from when he first developed the terrorist AI capture program. He’s wearing a black suit with white shirt and a silver tie, just like Ned’s tie. The man steps over Richard’s beer and walks up to Ned.
Facing Ned, he says, “Was I right about this guy or what? This guys is exactly the one we’ve been looking for.” Then he turns to face Richard.
“You’re right, Fredrick.” Ned smiles.
Richard looks puzzled, “Is someone going to clue me in on what’s going on?”
“Tell Fredrick everything you’ve just told me.”
Richard repeats the information to Fredrick and Ned nods his head with each point that Richard is making.
“That’s perfect!” Fredrick says. “I have the car waiting for us outside.”
“Guys, I can’t go anywhere. I’m here under arrest.”
Ned smiles and reaches into his inside suit pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. It’s a pardon from the President of the United States of America. Richard’s eyes well up with tears.
Ned places his hand on Richard’s shoulder and turns him to face the door. “Richard, let’s go catch a terrorist.”