Electronic Data

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The weight of the statement fell heavy on the room. A dozen researchers in various technical fields shifted uncomfortably in their seats as Director Foster looked around the conference table.

Dr. Cimmerian spoke up from his seat in the back of the room. "So what you're telling us is that you don't know where it is."

Researcher Rosen nodded into his hands.

Director Foster shook his head. "Fantastic. Walk us through the process of how we lost a top secret two million dollar AI on the internet."

Researcher Rosen looked up and countered, "Well that's not exactly what's happened. The AI is missing for the moment but it's programmed to come back to Foundation controlled servers after two days without contact."

Director Foster broke in, "Just tell us what happened."

"Right." Researcher Rosen pushed his glasses up his nose. "Following the success of AIAD, we began work on a new generation of site AIs that aren't based on 2987-1. Are any of you familiar with the Jarvis framework?"

"I worked with it at Site-17 for a bit," Dr. Cimmerian answered. "Can I just say that when we complained that Jarvis was a ridiculous name we never really considered you'd go with something as silly as the 'Robotic Interface and Computing Heuristic Advanced Research Database' for your next iteration."

Rosen looked around nervously and continued. "The point is that the Jarvis framework is useful but it's a truer AI. It doesn't interact with humans the same way that Alex and Glacon do."

Dr. Hopper raised his hand to interject. "We've been moving away from the human-like approach for a while now. The Foundation needs a cold and dispassionate AI as much as we need human based problem solving."

"Yes." Rosen nodded vigorously. "But the flip side is that we can't acclimate the AI to the world with human interaction, it has no use for that kind of data. What it requires is information."

Director Foster frowned. "Your solution to that was to let it loose on the internet?"

"Since it went dark," Rosen continued, "we ran a battery of tests with other RICHARD iterations and we think we figured out the problem."

"Enlighten us, then?" Dr. Cimmerian barked.

"Right. Uh, web development hasn't really caught up with our programming just yet, and we made several errors in how the AI interacts with non-Foundation databases."

Dr. Hopper raised his hand again before breaking in. "It turns out that Python web frameworks interact oddly with the AI. We still don't understand what went wrong, exactly, but we're working on it."

Researcher Rosen glared at Dr. Hopper before interrupting. "We're fairly certain it's either the CherryPy, TwistedWeb or Bottle framework that trapped the AI in a recursive loop."

Director Foster scowled. "Get it back. Cimmerian is the first wave of 'shit gets real'." Dr. Cimmerian saluted from the back of the room. "You don't want to be here when the next guy comes."

Rosen gulped. "I promise, our contingency programming should be foolproof. It'll return to our servers before the end of tomorrow."

Director Foster stood up from his chair. "I want a new contingency plan on my desk by the end of today in case that doesn't happen."

Everyone except for Dr. Cimmerian stood up along with Foster and began to file out of the room with shuffling steps. Once the room was empty, Foster sat in his chair and looked down the conference table.

"It's really great to see you again, by the way," Dr. Cimmerian began. "Sheila still teaching?"

Director Foster laughed. "She's actually an assistant principal now. If she finds out you're in town she's gonna try to set you up with someone."

"I'm moving around too much to settle down but I'll bear it if she makes spaghetti for dinner."

"She'd love that, I bet. Though you don't gotta settle down to find someone for a little while."

"Fair. But interoffice romance has never been my strong suit."

"Shit. You remember the fallout from Clef and Kondraki's thing?"

Dr. Cimmerian's eyes went wide. "Dude. Do you realize you guys got your Dick stuck in a bottle?"

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