Jul 16, 2019 4:20 AM
Tarinda and Page bring a seed of the super-AI Sing to Cloudbank
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Cloudbank is a beautiful place, from a certain perspective. Blue sky and white clouds above, all around, and misty white clouds below.

Here is an island of solidity in the sea of sky. The wind is a steady breeze, the floating island sitting just barely on top of a dense, foggy layer of air. It's not an especially large island, perhaps two hundred feet wide and three hundred long all told, curved slightly like the back of some giant beast.

The sandy soil is thin, and wears straight through to a porous-looking sort of rock in places. There are grasses and weeds and shrubs and a few trees, plus a few small creatures. Some familiar, like the wild onions. Some alien, like the thickets of not-quite-grass with flimsy, transparent, bulging seeds straining upwards against their mooring.

A songbird casually swoops from its nest and catches one of these seeds in its bill, while something with tentacles and a large gas-bag clings to the island at the edge, nibbling on the alien leaves of something reminiscent of mangroves, a three-dimensional web of stems and flaxen roots.

And then someone else arrives.

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"The way I'm doing this means I can't teach anyone else to be as effective as me at it but one extra person to hand me stuff or run for supplies might speed me up slightly."

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Then she can have a quiet, efficient secretary reassigned to her. She understands all this tech stuff even less than her boss does, but can fetch and hand things efficiently and without interrupting with annoying questions or anything like that.

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That works for Tarinda. Tinker tinker.

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That one young woman from the engine-makers delivers her an engine to drive the generator, the last big piece. She tries to linger and watch, but is promptly shooed out by Tarinda's assistant.

The last of her shopping list finally arrives.

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This must all be so staggeringly expensive in local currency and it's not going to matter, soon.

She fires up the generator.

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The generator generates.

The fabber clicks and thuds to life and complains on its big screen that it lacks lubricant, that the real time clock is not responding, and that it's not connected to the internet.

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These things are all much easier to fix.

She plugs in the refurbished tablet too.

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Tablet wants a password. The fabber starts a longer self-diagnostic once it's been lubricated.

Mr. Griffings has been looking more and more tired. 'Staggeringly expensive in local currency' is right. He's smiling, but keeps muttering "Not done yet... One step at a time..."

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"We're super close." She attempts a factory reset on the tablet.

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Tablet will accept a factory reset! The operating system is minimal. It's not that powerful, but it's an available working computer, for sure.

The fabber completes its self-diagnostic and pronounces itself operable and opens a user interface on the screen at the front.

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The important question is whether this tablet can hold a seed Sing or if she needs to make it peripherals before it can do that.

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The tablets are cheap junk for the tech level. Apparently meant to hook into mining equipment and not do much else.

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"This needs more storage capacity before it can hold the thing I need it to hold. I can build it with the fabber."

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Mr. Griffings had been poking the fabber - so far he has gotten it to start on a plastic art object that is some kind of calibration piece.

"At this point I'm inclined to simply let you have the run with it. This has gotten a bit away from me. Though I might have to show the, ah, bank what I've been taking loans for at some point, so something I can sell would be nice to have."

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"Can you sell, uh, answers to math problems with two second turnaround?"

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"...I can sell it as a reason not to collect for a month or two, at minimum."

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"I'm pretty sure it won't matter after that. This tablet has enough capacity as-is that my hardware can talk to it; it can use my ears to listen to math problems and print them on the tablet while I mess with the fabber and it won't even slow me down."

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"Good, good... So I'll bring a few people down here, dazzle them with the display of equipment, and show off mathematics tricks. I can get an investment with that. Have to go make myself presentable... Right. I'll take care of things so that you can keep working. Your project will change everything. I dearly hope so after all this money, at any rate..."

And out he goes.

 

Some old rich people come gawk at the fabber and generator a few hours later. They are awed by the spectacle - the tablet's glowing screen might even have been enough by itself. The math show is just a bonus.

 

"I won't be bothered by the bank again. Seeing all this unfold before my eyes... I'm not sure which of us had the harder job. But, you're almost done?"

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"Almost. I think another few days for the fabber to spit out enough computer parts to hold Sing. Then Page can dictate it over wireless, then - it'll tell us what's next, and if that means making you a ton of money so it doesn't lose the fabber I'm sure it can start there."

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"There's only so much money in circulation in the city and I owe almost all of it to the bank." He shakes his head and laughs, slightly manic. "Lost technology! I keep thinking this is a dream."

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"It gets better."

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"I know. I know. You work hard now and see the benefits later... I don't think I want to hear what it will be like. I want to see it unfold. It sounds like when Sing is built my job is not quite done. I'm sure I will be proud of my place in all this in ten years."

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"Mm-hm."

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Back to work, then.

The fabber chugs along faithfully in low-power mode. Tranquility Industries builds 'em reliable. It's really kind of impressive that a non-Sing-designed machine as complex as a fabber can sit idle somewhere for 800 years and start back up with almost no problems.

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Good on you, Tranquility Industries.

And soon Page sends a stream of maximally compact seed code to the tablet and its peripherals.

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