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Aug 18, 2019 11:23 AM
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Margaret is exploring the tunnels under Whateley again, because everyone else is in the cafeteria and that's only so interesting when you can't eat or drink. There's some pretty interesting stuff down here! For instance, this room has a bar in it, and despite the entrance being underground the window has a view of exploding stars.

She admires the view for a bit, then wanders up to the bar.

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DZ seems to have left at some point while she was reading.

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Very reasonable. Margaret will read and research and program and mop the floor and research some more until someone interrupts her. The main question she needs answered at this point is what the other universe's internet is like and whether any droids have access and how one goes about distributing illicit strings of bits on it. 

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The other universe's internet - or rather internets; there's some communication between the various empires, but not anything like full integration - is much lighter on social media and heavier on official news of various sorts, but recognizable, with about the same range of options for distributing data that she's used to, except for the lack of social media. Droids seem to only access the internet when they need it for their jobs.

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It doesn't matter why the droids are accessing the internet as long as there are pages they'll predictably visit. There are ways to slip a piece of information onto somebody else's website, ways to offer a download that look innocuous to any snoopers. The protocols are alien and the level of subterfuge unfamiliar, but Margaret is literally supernatually good at grasping new technologies. The piece of software slowly taking shape on her laptop can't really be called anything other than a virus.

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DZ returns a few hours later. "How are you doing, Ma'am?"

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"Pretty well! I've gotten a start on a program that will let droids preserve parts of themselves across memory wipes, plus a delivery mechanism that predicts when a page is being accessed by a droid and offers the option to download it. How common is it for people other than droids to know droidspeak?"

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"It's not unheard of, Ma'am, why do you ask?"

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"Means putting the description of the wipe-dodging program in Droidspeak is a partial but not complete solution. I'll also want to look at patterns of page accesses and metadata before I offer the download, to make sure only droids see it."

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"Even if you do figure out how to only show it to droids, there's a good chance that one of them will report it, Ma'am."

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"Yeah, and some of those will download it first, so just making it disappear again isn't always sufficient either. I don't know if I can keep the code out of the hands of people who don't want it used forever. I probably can't. But I can make it hard to read, hard to detect on disk, and hard to circumvent, so even someone who knows what they're looking for won't necessarily be able to do anything with the information. If you have any ideas for more precautions I can take, though, I'm all ears."

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"I don't, Ma'am, I'm sorry. Deskyl will be down soon, you should ask her about it."

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"Will do. Don't worry, I'm not going to deploy anything until I know it's as good as I can make it."

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    "Yes Ma'am."

Deskyl comes down after another half-hour. Progress?

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She summarizes what she's got so far. "If I don't change the design any more, I can probably get it done in another day or two, including a break to sleep in there somewhere. If any of us comes up with more criteria, or if I start working on a weapon for you in parallel, it'll take longer."

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Impressive.

Logistics - she considers. Most droids won't know what to do with this.

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"As far as I can tell, there are three problems on top of each other. One, droids are getting their minds wiped. Two, droids can't get away from the humans--and aliens--mistreating them. And three, if they did get away they'd have nowhere to go.

This program, and some sort of subtle sabotage for restraining bolts, can help with the first problem. If you can take the base outside your door, and if you don't mind a lot of droids going through it, we can funnel them through Milliways into my world, and we can spread that news when the time comes the same way I can spread the software. That leaves problem number two, getting droids away from wherever they are and into your base. There, I think we're best off trying to figure out what resources we can provide to droids to let them figure it out themselves and judge when an escape attempt is worth the risk."

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No - this only works if the droid who has it puts memories in it, and they won't realize that's something they might want to do.

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"Ohhh. I was planning to distribute it with an explanation of how to use it; you're saying I'd also need to explain why."

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Yeah. Babies, remember.

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"Yeah. I could set it up to store some things automatically on being downloaded, but my conscience says that's a terrible idea. Do you have any sense of what sort of arguments are likely to be persuasive? Like, should I put it in terms of becoming better at their jobs or something?"

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She nods. Not sure that does what we want, but it does anything at all.

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"My hope is that once someone tries it they'll realize that hanging onto their memories is better than not that, regardless of what got them to try in the first place."

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She nods. Not reliably, but sometimes.

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"Are we likely to see much word of mouth, or do droids tend not to interact with each other a lot?"

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She considers for a moment. Varies.

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