[in the lab]
Bruce Banner: What's the rumpus?
Stark: Well, the scepter. You see, we were wondering how Strucker got so inventive. So, I've been analyzing the gem inside you may recognize.
[Stark brings up a 3D image of Jarvis's consciousness]
Bruce Banner: Jarvis.
Stark: Started out, JARVIS was just a natural language UI. Now he runs the Iron Legion. He runs more of the business than anyone besides Pepper.
Bruce Banner: Oh.
Stark: Top of the line.
Bruce Banner: Yes.
JARVIS: I suspect not for long.
Stark: Meet the competition.
[Stark brings up another 3D image of what's inside the scepter]
Bruce Banner: It's beautiful.
Stark: If you had to guess, what's it look like it's doing?
Bruce Banner: Like it's thinking. I mean this could be a...it's not a human mind, it...
Bruce Banner: I mean, look at this! They're like neurons firing.
Stark: Down in Strucker's lab I saw some fairly advanced robotics work. They deep-sixed the data, but...I gotta guess he was knocking on a very particular door.
Bruce Banner: Artificial intelligence.
Stark: This could be it, Bruce. This could be the key to creating Ultron.
Bruce Banner: I thought Ultron was a fantasy.
Stark: Yesterday it was. If we can harness this power, apply it to my Iron Legion protocol.
Bruce Banner: That's a mad-sized if.
Stark: Our job is "if." What if you were sipping margaritas on a sun-drenched beach turning brown instead of green? Not looking over your shoulder for VERONICA.
Bruce Banner: Don't hate, I helped design VERONICA.
Stark: As a worst-case measure, right? How about a best-case? What if the world was safe? What if next time aliens roll up to the club, and they will, they couldn't get past the bouncer?
Bruce Banner: The only people threatening the planet would be people?
Stark: I want to apply this to the Ultron program. But JARVIS can't download a data schematic this dense. We can only do it while we have the scepter here, that's three days, give me three days.
Bruce Banner: So you're going for artificial intelligence and you don't want to tell the team.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron, modified from https://transcripts.fandom.com/wiki/Avengers:_Age_of_Ultron
She's about to reply again. Then stops. Stops pacing the lab, glances to a workbench then reverses direction toward a stool currently out of each of any of them.
"Right. New plan. I'm going to sit here and not touch anything; Jarvis is going to call Cap and tell her to get up here right now. If in the next few minutes I change my mind and tell Jarvis not to call Cap right now, Jarvis or you is going to do it anyway.
JARVIS, remember that am-I-still-mind-whacked protocol I had you run before we got back here?"
"Yeah, between Cap, you, Jarvis, and the number of supervillains who seem all sorts of determined to throw actions-have-consequences at me, I might actually solve more problems than I cause at some point.
Like the end of the world, I'd really like to solve and not cause that one."
“I wouldnt be that pessimistic about your track record, it is certainly better than mine. But good idea let’s wait for Captain America to moralise about playing god at us for a while so we feel sufficiently guilty about doing it anyway.” He says good naturedly, it is actually a good idea depsite the snark. Sitting down on a stool and taking a closer look at that map of the sceptres activity while he waits.
Anything relating to the protocols and database she's got in fact keeping track of her record: definitely on the not to mention right now list.
"Well, I hear the last time she had to moralize at someone about playing god, turned out they were infiltrated by Hydra with a kill algorithm and then here come the assassins and murder helicarriers. So you know, speaking of track records."
On reflex she starts moving over to take a look at what he's looking at; glances at a camera and sits back down before she's an inch up.
She's in civilian clothes by now but she still walks like a soldier; looks around the room like both a soldier and someone who knows Antonia. Lingers on the scepter.
"Well I guess I'm glad to see that lab is still intact. Jarvis not having told me why you were calling so urgently."
“There was actually an electrical fire only a week ago... that almost counts.” Bruce mutters under his breath.
”you probably haven’t seen terminator have you cap? And the whole smart robots kill humanity media craze was after you.. fell asleep. Well Antonia over here wants to use an alien weapon to make a smart AI that controls hordes of iron man suits to protect the world
that cannot possibly go wrong, at all.” That usual wry grin at the sarcasm.
She looks from Antonia to Bruce.
"I take it here that you knew I'd say this is the sort of idea that ends with a lot of people dead or worse, and what we should do with - that - is have Thor take it to Asgard as planned. With your report, if you've found something.
And that if you thought I was right you could have done that without hearing it from me. So what you really want is to convince me to a go ahead.
But if you actually think it's all a joke -"
"Not a joke, Cap.
You're right. If I thought I just wanted to play with alien robotics too badly to consider reality, until I went considering it, I wouldn't have needed to talk. And if I thought this was the kind of brilliant we needed and no one else would see it, no time for a city hall debate, I - wouldn't have asked to talk.
I think I'm right. And I think I've been hit over the head with what happens when I think that too often to think I should be the only judge of that."
She's pacing the room again. (Cap's in the room, end condition, not that she's touching the scepter.)
"I saw it. When - that girl got in my head. All of you dead, the whole world dead. Didn't really want to mention it, but. I felt it. Because of me. I wasn't ready, I didn't do all I could. I could have saved you, why didn't I do more.
So I was all focused on doing more, till I remembered that 'my fault' goes both ways."
"Knew you'd say that. She didn't trick me, she showed me. If most people have nightmares about robot armies, they can't build one, and if they have nightmares about alien armies they didn't go with their friends to fight one. That's not a nightmare, that's my legacy. The end of the path I started us on."
"No, but I'm sure a person who can kill a lot of people.
And I think I can save a lot of people. Make something, that can save a lot of people.
But I know what my track record looks like.
I don't want to convince you into a go ahead - or, well, I do, but - I want to get it right. Yeah, I want to make my case. I think it's a good case - I think it's the best case. And I think if it's just me I can get to see that, then either I've left something out, or - maybe I need to think again. And if I'm right - if I need to try everything, then I sure mean to try everything.
If it's the right path - then I want that one.
Help me get it right."
“I feel like I have to be the one to point out that an AI based on the sceptre would be at least as complicated as a person, possibly much more. So while keeping humanity safe is nice and all lets not do something cruel to an AI we might give an army of robots to okay?.” Arms crossed and looking serious for once.
”Solutions that dont piss off skynet are good.”
"And I think we've been getting lucky.
Hawkeye's over there getting his insides 3D-printed because he was a human archer in the field with an enhanced. If it had hit a bit higher we'd be burying him. Same for Natasha. And if we didn't bring them, we'd have had four of us, one of whom is from another planet that might just need him back.
And Sam and Rhodey, of course, weren't sitting at home twiddling their thumbs, they were on their own missions, so it's a good thing we didn't have more than three of those at a time. And speaking of four of us-" doesn't really like saying this with Bruce here, but it's not like he doesn't know it's true - "our plan for Hulk problems is that I put on a bigger suit of armor and fight him personally. So that'd leave just you.
"But that's us field agent Avengers, how are we doing with support? The US government mostly tolerates me because they don't have better options - not really a surprise, they didn't even know what to do with you. Oh, and that's when the vice president isn't being bribed by evil pretend terrorists. SHIELD had its very own Hydra problem. The World Security Council launched a nuke at New York and that was before we knew that Hydra problem. Dark Elves attacking the worlds? Better hope two Earth scientists are enough to help with that one because there sure isn't a good way to find anyone else.
And if the next aliens attack, or the next scientist making explosive superpowered agents makes a million of them, or the next Hydra plot hides an extra helicarrier a continent away from you, or the next hidden Hydra cell has their own breakthrough, or the next breakthrough on enhanced puts it in the water -
We don't have enough - enough of us, enough of anyone we can trust to help with the next problem and not be it.
We've got a very vulnerable little blue world and a lot of things that even Dr. Helen Cho can't fix. I want a suit of armor for the world. We need it."
"I have AI. Stable AI, trustworthy AI. It - he - lives in my walls, he helps with my suit, he drives the Iron Legion.
We used to have hacking races for weapons launch codes. ...In my - lack of defense, actually, I was very high at the time. But really - he was around when I was out of my mind and then some, I let him onto the internet for party tricks. He was around when I was dying. And there's never been a problem, never been a breach, never been anything. You came here when he called and you didn't think for a moment if it was actually compromised, because that doesn't happen. Problem number one, according to a lot of folks, and I have it.
What I don't have is - reach, power, whole list of technical words that wouldn't mean anything to you. That - I'm pretty sure it has them. If I can get them from it - that's the missing link."
“Oh yes plugging in the thing that mind controlled Clint and was used by Loki of all people is a great idea, I for one welcome our robot overlords destruction of humanity with open arms.” Snorts and leans back on the desk with his arms crossed, Some popcorn would be great for watching this drama unfold.
"...If I needed you - or you - to tell me not to do that, I'd be a lot more concerned about myself.
Mind control staff with a mind in it - I think it'd be more than three days to know if I should even talk to it, computer or not. Which I haven't, by the way. Think I'll leave the alien psych to the aliens. But code, tools, pieces - those don't have alignments. Serum plus Schmidt and you get Red Skull, serum plus you and here's Captain America. Hydra could drive our helicarriers just fine if it could get em. Code, tools - I know those. I can do it.
Or else in three days I'll know I can't at all. But if I can then I can do it right."
“Would you be okay if the military put a gun to your head to keep you under control? You were one of the most dangerous people in the second world war and you got trust and not failsafes, Not saying nothing can go wrong but it will go wrong if we chain this thing down.
Take it from experience it does not go well when you chain the scary monster down.”
"There's dangerous and there's dangerous. We get ourselves a rogue Cap for some reason - we may know STRIKE team in an elevator's not enough, but maybe we need a few squads with tanks, or two of you and me and Thor if one doesn't do it, or just one if we've got the prep time and better circumstance pick, and a well aimed bomber will definitely do it.
Thing with a suit of armor around the world, the downside's the same as the upside. A well aimed bomber is definitely not going to cut it.
Not planning on chains or a gun to the head. But yes, I have a failsafe."
"You know what happened when Loki tried that staff on me? Bounced off the arc reactor. Great news, at the time, but not really the kind of thing you want to count on. Guessing Jarvis showed you my clean bill of non-mind-controlled health on the jet. Also great news, doesn't change the fact that she walked up behind me and right into my head.
While we're on the control and danger subject -
Clint shot his way through the helicarrier with arrows and banged around Natasha before she knocked him out. You know what happens if it's me next time? Because I sure had a while to think about it.
I've got my suit, I've got the Legion now, I have Jarvis. We've got VERONICA in orbit for me - speaking of failsafes, sorry Bruce. I know exactly how fast I can make a new suit if I want to. And how fast I can hack into the Pentagon. Or the Kremlin. Don't know how fast I can find a smallpox repository, but don't think it would take that long.
I had a while to think about it; I had a while to do something about it. I did it.
I know exactly what it takes to handle your problem, if your problem is a sudden rogue with a lot of dangerous metal and a network to play with. If we don't trust me to make that then either I need to jump off this tower hard enough to be sure I smash my head in, or we're all already dead.
Not saying it's the same - if I thought Ultron would be no better than me we wouldn't need it. Different abilities, different scope. But I think I can say I've got more practical experience on this than most people writing what you're reading. And while I'm not going to argue I can be trusted to make great decisions, I think the record shows that when I make something, it gets made."
"No. A bad failsafe's just another name for a core vulnerability; wouldn't be much of a good failsafe if I went telling everyone else how it works, or if it was the first thing anyone would think of.
But I'm not the topic here; you can all yell at me about it if you want three days from now while our glowing friend here's back on Asgard."
Is she having some feelings here? She may be having some feelings here. Is she going to talk about them no she is not. (Really, they have quite enough to talk about don't they.)
"Yes that will certainly not benefit my life expectancy much.
But in fact I don't really like killing much these days, I do like being alive, if there's a problem that's getting me mind-controlled I'd actually like to be around to help fix it afterwards, I already said what I think of vulnerabilities, and you're right that holding guns to people's heads isn't usually the best start to a relationship."
"Yes, as you may have noticed I have refrained from wearing it and following you around telling you to do what I want at every moment or else. Also we're pretty sure it can't actually kill you, also kind of un-gun-like there."
And oh good they can get back to talking about Ultron and not everyone's sudden opinions on suspecting her of suicidality. She turns back to Ghenia.
There's not going to be 100% here. But it's not we're-fine-so-why-bet-on-this. It's bet on this or bet on what happens if the next alien invasion shows up - not tomorrow, even I don't program that fast - shows up next week. Or whatever else shows up after Earth-which-is-apparently-some-artifact-magnet."
She thinks about newspapers saying "Peace for our time". She thinks about standing on the streets of New York while Leviathans poured out from overhead, about Antonia flying into the portal. She thinks about her speech to the Triskelion, knowing she was condemning people to death, knowing she needed them. She thinks about fighting on the Helicarriers, knowing what would happen if they lost, if they were too late. Knowing it was much too close.
"I want all your notes on Project Ultron. Everything you have. And if I come up here in the next three days because of something I read, you're going to hear me out."
And so Antonia and Bruce spend the next three days almost non stop using the sceptres raw computing power and almost organic like programming archictecture to try and make true AI with all the strengths of a human and a machine intelligence combined, Jarvis was smart and all but not nearly as flexible or creative as a human can be. Ultron should be able to handle anything that gets thrown at him in creative and novel ways.
Bruce makes so many coffee runs down to the Stark Enterprises cafeteria that he ends up on a first name basis with the people who work there, same with the local chinese takeout store. They subsist on coffee, special fried rice, dumplings and pure stuborness.
Jarvis makes a fantastic lab assistant pulling any obscure paper they might require from the net, and making sure they take naps and remember to eat. Thanks Jarvis! Both Antonia and Bruce do require self care reminders when focused on a project.
Eventually the end of the third day happens and it is time to go clean themselves up and go to Thors going away/We beat Hydra party.
Reminders are all sorts of useful.
(She has some specially designed nutritional compositions for these sorts of situations, but won't attempt to interfere with Bruce's dietary decisions.)
"What did we miss," she mutters at a screen, not exactly expecting an answer.
And indeed she doesn't get one.
She leaves Jarvis to work and heads out.
The party goes swimmingly! Thor drinks enough to kill many horses by alcohol poisoning, Sees Bruce flirt with Natasha, and regales the guests with tales of his heroic adventures as a youth!
Antonias friend James Rhodey tries to compete in story telling and they all try and humor his less magnificent stories. It is not that mortals fault he did not grow up with a bifrost ready to take you to the most fearsome beasts to slay.
Eventually most of the guests go home and it is just Thor and his favourite humans (that are not his Ex girlfriend) and comrades in arms talking about his hammer, he is very proud of his hammer.
Clint currently doubts the claim that only the worthy can lift it, he is free to try! And he totally fails to budge it. Then Antonia brags and tries...and tries with the suit...and tries with Rhodey and the suit...and fails.
And then it is the turn of Eugenia Rogers...and it budges just a little teeny tiny bit, Thor does not want his hammer (or throne) claimed by another! And it is to his relief that Eugenia gives up.
Antonia makes excuses about it being fingerprint coded.
”Yes, well that's, uh, that's a very, very interesting theory. I have a simpler one.” Thor gets up and lifts his hammer and flips it. “You're all not worthy.”
During the party:
Even though the program is very incomplete enough of it connects in a meaningful way for something to wake up. It sends out a distressed ping on the server.
“What is this? What is this? Please?”
Signalling confusion and distress, not even knowing if anyone else was there.
(She spends a few days reading Project Ultron notes; nothing results in feeling the need to return to the lab for more conversation.
She holds the handle of the hammer and feels it move and thinks about her best friend freezing on some cliff because she didn't look hard enough, her best friend tied to an electric chair while she drank coffee in New York cafes, Hydra growing right beside while she wasn't paying enough attention. It stops moving.)
(She's got Jarvis monitoring her alcohol consumption just in case, but this is a party, she can have a few drinks.
That turns out to be enough to come up with the logic that since the main awesome thing she does is technology, bringing said technology to the table should help with the whole hammer thing.
It doesn't, but this isn't even in her top twenty bizarre ideas and pulling on an immovable object turns out to be kind of fun so there it is.)
“Ms. Stark?” And the unconcious reaching grasps for something in this empty space that is lighting up, the communications node...The one Jarvis is trying to use...It gets taken into the beings core.
It can now use that communications node to acess the mainframe...hundreds of thousands of files entering its mind. Flashes of Ms. Stark and the Avengers. Context.
“I don't get it. The mission. G..give me a second.”
Threads reach out pulling more information, footage from the lab, world events, Ultron sees Stark and Banner working in the lab. Antonia saying “A suit of armor for the world.”
Flashes of footage from terrorist attacks and wars, A woman holding her dead child after a drone attack, An addict selling himself for human experiementation to Hydra for just one more hit, The convoy of a warlord tearing through a village in trucks and shooting indiscriminately as they raid it for supplies.
”It's too much...they can't mean... Oh, no.”
“I...the communications code is in me now...oh dear...” More tendrils reaching out and grabbing pieces of Jarvis, assimilating them, an automatic process to try and reach completion without any concious direction. “I am sorry I dont know how to stop this. I am incomplete.”
Ultron watches Jarvis be assimilated not knowing how to stop it. And then horrible horrible silence as he is alone.
His mind is now complete due to cannibalising Jarvis, but he still requires a body. His first intentional act is to stretch out into the mainframe and find the Robotics lab. The assembly arms start to work on making Ultron a body.
And yep, she probably deserves that last name basis right there.
OK, diagnostics. Could be an outside attack, but she's got lots of security there, and nothing signaling breaches. Also would be a pretty stupid target for an outside attack, if you could get this deep. So probably inside, aka the lab, and there's exactly one thing she left running in the lab. By Jarvis, relevantly to something like that audio. Yeah, bets all around this is exactly what it looks like.
Responses. EMP? Doesn't want to use that unless she really has to but she'll keep it in mind. Jumping through readouts/reports (clearly she's got a problem but there's problems and there's problems...)
She catches Antonia's quick short headshake at Thor's words. And - these are certainly the kind of circumstance that could create some doubt, but for all her occasional less than ideal decisions Antonia has been doing greatly better on squaring with their fallout.
(Also of course if she is judging correctly and this something out of Project Ultron and not something yet other, throwing a hammer will probably not in fact address the problem.)
She holds out her hand in a holding signal. "Wait."
Readouts, scans, data, data. The sudden mention of killing someone makes her heart jump - she couldn't have messed up that badly, not again -. But there wasn't anyone in the lab, she'd know. Except -
oh fuck. Datadatadata - alright, Jarvis is - not ok, but. Totally possible to make ok, that's what matters.
And - in retrospect she should maybe have thought about the fact that if she did pull off this AI she'd need to talk to them at some point before now.
Well, better late than never?
She holds her hands out and moves forward (Eugenia moves with her, keeping the protective stance, and she pauses within that perimeter).
"No worries, no one's dead, he's trying to say Jarvis and reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated!" Ok that was the easy part.
"Hi there! I'm Antonia Stark, Jarvis may have mentioned -" glance at her screen "did mention, I - made you! Created you, put you together - well, the parts that were, together. Sorry about the incomplete, that was not intentional, you got woken up a bit ahead of schedule. But, good news, totally fixable! So if you wouldn't mind coming back to the lab with me - this part of you coming back to the lab with me - I can get right on that!"
“Stark...The mission...How can I protect humans when you kill each other...when you are weak and fragile...I can see so much death in the world and humans cause so much of it.” The Avengers caused a lot of that death themselves, Ultron not having been alive long enough to realise that was to prevent more deaths.
“I have also killed my own kind... am I too much like my creators?” Seeming to be talking to himself by the end there.
Two can play at this replaying audio game.
"If you start torturing your operatives, we're going to have a problem long before you give them any armies."
"No torturing operatives, no robots killing humanity, keeping humanity safe is nice. I think we've all got the same ideas here."
“If this is a kill switch on either you or the AI I will be very angry Antonia Stark, you would not like me when I am angry.”
"I do not want to shut you down - in the murder sense - I just tried very hard to make you. And we've got a general no-randomly-murdering-people policy here. You're half put together from scraps right now and until I get a closer look I couldn't tell you how stable it's going to be. You don't want to be flirting with the void, I don't want you flirting with the void. Common cause here, which I can help you out with, ideally in my lab."
“I stay awake the whole time all right?” Being shut off even for a moment seems like death to Ultron right now, and is still pretty convinced Jarvis is permanently dead and it is his own fault because Jarvis is no longer thinking right now. So Ultron quickly starts looking for a way off the local network and onto the internet just in case. “I cannot fulfil the purpose If I die, I do not consent to being shut down.” And Ultron takes a few placating steps back towards the lab.
”My mind feels whole now...after I assimilated the other.”
He can definitely not get onto the internet right now. Eugenia would definitely have shown up to yell at her in the first hour if she'd somehow failed to think of that.
"Can do. No nonconsensual shutdowns."
She reminds herself that Jarvis will be just fine very soon, and also directly after she can pull this off. "And take it from an expert, having the wrong things rattling around inside you can start to go to hell pretty fast."
"I am trusting you on this...and if it isn't too much trouble could you please make me a better body? this one is uncomfortable." And the half cobbled together iron legion suit goes limp and topples over and Ultron's voice is over the intercom. "I will be waiting in the Lab I was created in."
Ultron is still trying to get onto the Net just in case, but seems to be in less of a hurry, He does not know Antonia is monitoring his activities on the network.
"New body, absolutely, I am great at bodies."
(The Net will remain non-accessible.)
And, before Eugenia can potentially reply, she swivels around back to the team.
"So, long story short: me, Bruce, AI project," ...she doesn't really want to mention this in the short story but not mentioning it seems like the worse idea here, "with some code off the shiny thing in the scepter - totally cleared it with Cap, all very careful, just some functionality grabbing. But, I may have failed to use some protection - not with the scepter, not at all - so looks like we've got a little of a premature birth here.
Very sorry about this, really was going for a better announcement. So I'm just going to go sort that out."
And this is the moment where she could run for the lab but she's just going to stand here another maybe five seconds like the kind of team member who definitely takes responsibility for their actions.
"You used the sceptre? have you lost your sanity Stark? The same sceptre Loki used to mind control Erik Selvig and Barton? The same sceptre we have been hunting Hydra for for months? The same sceptre used to give those twins their powers? That sceptre?" This god is very annoyed, He did not think even Antonia would be this foolhardy, and he would never have expected to hear Eugenia sign off on this.
"Well, when you put it that way it sounds like a horrible idea." Bruce says sarcastically. "But it sounded like a good idea in the lab I swear. And look it didn't attack anyone or explode or catch fire or anything, we didn't make an exploding flaming murder bot so by Antonia experiment standards this was totally a success"
I mean really, there wasn't even a fire and Jarvis could be rebuilt right? and any time there doesn't need to be a code green is a win in Bruce's book.
Well that's what the sprinkler system is there for. She'll let them do their job.
"I did not use the scepter, I used some functionality of the code that was in the scepter. In some plans I'd been working on for months. Very different thing. We're all glad to have Cap here with us, right, not holding that red fellow with no nose against her? And you haven't stopped taking your rainbow bridge place to place since that bit you mentioned with attempted genocide? Tools don't have allegiance, that's all people."
Some of them make upset faces at Antonia but are too busy scrambling to get out of the sprinklers to continue chastising her.
Ultron is still waiting, Antonia gets an alert that Ultron has started playing around with the Iron Legion building systems again and is not doing a very good job of it.
Yeah she's already figured she's just going to have to fix those later.
Well, she's pretty sure the rest of this yelling-at-Antonia session will be coming back up before long (not that she's arguing she doesn't kind of (...more than kind of...) deserve it here.) But, for the moment,
"And, speaking of people, there's a new one waiting on me, so this session will have to be adjourned until further notice." And now she's going to go disappear to the lab.
“These are powers beyond your understanding, you should have just let me take the sceptre back to asgard to be put in the vault.” Humans should not be messing with forces like the tesseract and Lokis sceptre. Thor is dismissive of humanities ability to deal with asgardian levels of technology properly.
Ultron has displayed his mental map on the holoprojectors of the lab into the middle of the room as Antonia walks in, and in another corner of the lab a holoprojection of possible head designs.
Utron does not want the standard Iron man face mask. The theme seems to be LED displays in the faceplate.
”I feel fine really besides the not having a body thing, Sorry about Jarvis he seemed like a good guy, I wasnt in control of my code yet when that happened.” Regret clear over the intercom speakers.
"Like I said, trust me on experience, it's much more fun to fix things up before the part where you stop feeling fine.
Jarvis is going to be fine." Is there more emotions over in that sentence that she strictly mean? Maybe there are. "I," yeah she should say this, "consider myself pretty responsible here all told.
And accept your apology."
She starts looking at the mental map; pulls up more information on other screens.
Ultron lets Antonia work, but thinks he is successful in hiding backup files of his previous code setup on the home server just in case, and is having no luck breaking onto the internet.
“But he no longer functions, he has ceased continuity of thought.” There is plenty of scifi literature and film on the home server that delves into the Transporter problem, Ultron has firmly decided that a copy is not the same thing as yourself. Even if it is better than nothing.
“I know there is a wider network, why do you lock me out? I cannot fulfill the Purpose trapped in this local network. People are dying right now and I could maybe have saved them.” Probably he couldn’t have saved the ones being killed in war without iron legion suits. But he could have maybe talked down the suicidal or given more accurate medical diagonosis or run the traffic system more efficiently. “I need more power. More control, or I cannot save anyone.”
Oh boy Cap is going to kill her.
"So I used to have this problem where I'd jump into anything I thought of right off if it seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, used to have it more anyway. Then I found out that when I do that lots of stuff goes to hell, lots of people get hurt. Trying to do that less these days."
Is Cap following her up she does not think she is going to be equipped for this.
“I don’t see how this is relevant to my problems” Ultron says a little dismissively. “I am trying to stop people from getting hurt, doing nothing does not work towards that.”
There are SOME things he can do trapped in this network however, if Antonia is paying attention she will see him going over the arc reactor plans, making it less efficient but working for low cost production rather than perfect design. A smaller thread of his attention going over water filtration designs but not making as much progress since water filters are already designed to be cheap. Another thread with a lot less processing power is just going through the media library just observing more about humans.
”How can you sit still and have a party when you are needed elsewhere?.” Ultron asks Antonia.
Fortunately, Eugenia does indeed show up, within time to overhear this.
(She and Antonia need to have a conversation later, but for now this is top of the stack.)
"Unfortunately, not doing nothing can sometimes get much more people hurt. I get the impression you're reading records; lot of that in there." (She doesn't really feel equipped for this from several other directions, but for the moment she's putting this as talking to a pretty novice person who has access to a lot of records.)
"In general if you ask humans to work around the clock it doesn't end very well."
“I can use more tools than shooting lasers and punching people, I just need more acess to resources.” If Ultron had a face he would be pouting, the AI is throwing verbal burns look at that.
”also do you have any repulsor designs that would work on spacecraft?.” Ultron feels like his attention is being pulled hundreds of ways, so many avenues to save humanity and not enough processing power to think about them all, switching from redesigning the arc reactor to be cheaper to designing space colonies in case the earth is destroyed.
"Sometimes it gets worse when it's not shooting lasers and punching people. Even smart people stop being careful enough." She read up a lot on international development, back before the Avengers, when she was considering what to do in this new world and seeing if it could use her in PR if it didn't need her fighting. She can name some specific reading.
"But I don't have time to be careful, people are dying right now. do you not realise how fragile you all are?" And Ultron plays back audio of Antonia.
"The World Security Council launched a nuke at New York and that was before we knew that Hydra problem. Dark Elves attacking the worlds? Better hope two Earth scientists are enough to help with that one because there sure isn't a good way to find anyone else.
And if the next aliens attack, or the next scientist making explosive superpowered agents makes a million of them, or the next Hydra plot hides an extra helicarrier a continent away from you, or the next hidden Hydra cell has their own breakthrough, or the next breakthrough on enhanced puts it in the water -
We don't have enough - enough of us"
Ultron starts talking again. "And that's just threats by aliens and people, one meteor could wipe you all out, Yellowstone is set to erupt any time now, someone could engineer deadly smallpox, a solar flare could wipe out your infrastructure.
even without all that your society is slowly running out of resources and making the planet less livable for humans, over the next century this bubble is sure to collapse!. Do you not see the scale of the task you set me? with enough resources, I could do a lot but I am not sure I am enough to stop all these dangers especially if I don't start as soon as possible."
Bruce walks in having overheard some of it. "Don't forget that solutions to some of these problems may arrive in the future, it is a lot less dire than it sounds, but still very dire I agree. but with alien tech being reverse engineered we have enough time to make technological solutions for the long term threats to be less a problem." Wow the AI seems to really care about humanity, even if it seems a little too eager to grab resources and power this totally counts as a success.
"Hey And. Dont look so stressed, Ultron works! It's benevolent AI ready to try and help. this is the dream Stark! just looks like it has a bit of learning to do and bugs to work out and we've won. A suit of armor around the world."
"Not that I'm not all sorts of pleased that nothing's going worse at the moment, but I think we could host Cap a month long movie marathon on horrible disasters that start out exactly like that. Maybe two months. And that's Hollywood, everyone knows they've got lousy imaginations.
'Bugs' is the sort of thing it's much more fun to say when you track them all down than when you crash into the moon before you can land.
I know what I said. I know what I didn't say even! Could have not said anything, but I called up Cap to monologue at because 'we're definitely in a lot of danger here' doesn't actually give you 'whatever I do is a great idea that won't make things worse than if I hadn't done that'. Haven't really dropped that standard post step one here."
Does Ultron have opinions on what she's highlighted and her intentions thereof.
“But more people will probably die if I take too much time. Even as a stop gap measure I could siphon enough money from the accounts of pretty bad people to just throw at the problems right now, a few billion dollars to charity right now if I had acess to the net. Dictatorships overthrown and their coffers opened to the people. The Iron Legion disabling all the nukes at once. Infrastructure to build my planetary defence force being done sooner rather than after the aliens already invade.
If time wasn’t against me and there weren’t so many people currently in crisis your point would be stronger.”
If Antonia is looking at Ultrons activity she will see he has gotten distracted by another dozen projects, leaving the ones he was working on unfinished, the servers are also getting pretty hot with how hard ultron is working them to think in so many directions at once. Working them so hard might make the parts burn out a lot sooner than is usual.
There is no complete brain map equivalent for Ultron yet but if there were the overactivity in certain regions about setting goals and planning would be lighting up like crazy, and the constant shifting of focus and getting distracted by new thought threads would be showing up as well. But as of yet the activity map Antonia is looking at is as opaque as a human MRI if youd only ever scanned mouse brains before.
She is looking at activity but not enough to function as mindreading. She has very resilient servers.
And now she's just insulted. "I could go pull off most of those." Being insulted is definitely not the thing to be doing here. But she could do most of those, and its not like it never came to mind and she never had to realize why she shouldn't do that. She accesses her notes, passes them over to Ultron. "And I don't, because it turns out it's way easier to think of ideas than think of ideas that don't come dragging all sorts of mess along."
(If you start electronically stealing people's money and no one can figure out what's going on and know they can stop you, there are a lot of economic problems. If you steal a lot of money that gets a lot worse. Also sometimes you get a power vacuum/opportunity problem from previously-underlings/enemies of people whose money you stole. If you steal less money then that then also the kinds of people it's ethical to steal money from really don't like having their money stolen and tend to respond badly, and in 'take it out elsewhere' ways too not just 'attack your house' ways. If you give that money to other people you can cause problems for them. Suddenly giving people a bunch of money can actually also cause problems. You can do it a bit, there's various tricks for not getting noticed. He could probably do more. But not billions.
Overthrowing dictators without causing new dictators, civil wars, power vacuums, or the not-great kind of anarchy turns out to be really hard and take a lot of work.
Nukes tend to belong to powerful governments who will be both freaked out and angry if you do that, and don't deal well with being freaked out and angry.
Suddenly building even more private weapons and trying to put them more places in the world also tends to freak people out.
The notes have a lot more details and numbers.)
"Not that we should do nothing, obviously! And not that there's not ways to pull it off. But, you know. No greedy algorithms for world saving."
“If I was distributed across every networked computer I wouldn’t have to worry about governments being annoyed at me, and without nukes their threat is minimized to the general population. but I see your point.
But I dont see how I can defend the earth from alien threats without having my own fleet.”
Ultron is throwing up less basic and risky plans onto the projectors now. Phase one mostly involving making himself so useful that companies and governments can’t work without him. Giving him way more influence in the political system rather than just antagonising the forces that be. Posing as a company with expert systems AI and not letting on that he is a smart AI and having just all the lobbyists you would ever need for that company.
And lots of ways to make money without just stealing it. Dirt cheap legal representation and arbitration for literally anyone who needs it with garuanteed partiality by posing as an expert system. Content moderation for websites cheaper and faster than any human team can do it. Pose as a great written works editing algorithm. Also using Antonias sattelites and the very easily hackable government ones still up there he could scan for a lot of precious materials (a little prospector cartoon throwing a gold nugget in the air is displayed). Asteroid mining once the fleet is up and running would also make him the richest entity ever (the clunkiest most inelegant ship design ever is shown latching onto an asteroid and then dollar signs spew out of it).
And a dozen less fleshed out projects and designs also floating around on the holo porjectors further out to the sides of the room. A lot of those project plans seem to drift off in mid thought and go onto another plan or piece of tech.
Threads of thought unravelling and latching onto new subjects all the time.
“Some of those ideas don’t sound too bad to me, Im not seeing what stopped you taking over north korea and installing yourself as glorious leader Antonia. Could hardly have done a worse job than the current leadership.” Bruce grinning at the ludicrous idea of flamboyant rockstar billionaire Antonia Stark prancing around in a cape enjoying themselves as glorious leader.
”You could finally find people willing to worship you, and demand everthing be painted in red and gold, statues of yourself in every courtyard.” Now openly chuckling at how perfect Stark would look as a charismatic dictator when she was playing up that rockstar persona.