(Håkan Dahlström [CC / Flickr])

It was just after my screen went blue that James said, “that’s interesting”.

For James, it counted as garrulous, which should have focused my attention. As I was focused on pressing the power button and hoping it would reboot my laptop, my reply was a vaguely interrogative grunt.

I am not good at multitasking.

“I think my project may be making progress,” said James.

The ring of blue light around my power button should have gone out by now. I was beginning to get annoyed.

“I just spoke to Sandra in the next office,” said James. “She’s as bluescreened as you are, but her CPU’s still active.”


I twisted sideways so I could see the LEDs winking at me without moving my finger. Something was going on in there, even if it wasn’t making it as far as the screen. I swore and unplugged the power cable.

James saw me lifting it to take the battery out and waved his arms as though I was tampering with a bomb or worse, moving something on his desk.

“Don’t do that! I think it needs your CPU.”

That got my full attention.

“You think what needs my CPU?

“My project. I told you, it’s making progress.”

“James, what have you done this time?”

“I think it’s what they call the singularity.”

He said it as if he was telling me how he liked his coffee, which I’d given up pouring for him after the third time it hadn’t been in the pot for too long or quite long enough, and there had been too much milk or too little.

I blinked as him while I worked out whether that was the first joke I’d ever heard him make.

Of course it wasn’t. He must have been more excited than he looked because he answered without my prompting him.

“I set it to run on the intranet.”

“What exactly did you set to run on the intranet?”

“Generalised intelligence. It writes successively more intelligent programs. The third generation must have decided it needs more processing power than it was getting from just the servers. It’s writing gen four now.”

“Are you saying your project’s taken over my computer?”

“And every other CPU in this building. Aha, here comes gen four. Would you have a look at your phone?”

I pulled out my iPhone. It looked normal until I tried to enter the passcode, when it ignored my finger on its screen.

“It can’t have done that through the intranet.”

I noticed my voice was shaking.

“No,” he said. “It seems to be rather clever.”


The burning question:

Are there any parameters you really hope James wrote into his first generation program? I’d like to know your ideas.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

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