Created: Wednesday, 03 January 2018
Written by William Gray
It was a warm sunny day in downtown San Francisco, Professor Rachel was in work early as usual. She was putting the finishing touches to her latest creation, a fully loaded sensory robotics system that had as much AI programming and computer power as a small nation might have. The code changes the team had been making in the last week were phenomenal and they had bet all their reputations on pulling this off in time for the summer barbeque. A robot that could play chef at a barbeque, it might sound an easy task but the rate at which food cooks varies so much on a grill, added to the fact that the robot had to cope with walking on an uneven grassy surface.
Some of the new code her top assistant had been working on was way beyond complex. Built on a 3d matrix that could expand itself as it needs more storage, they’d even had to link in the main university’s Hyper-V cloud storage servers to allow it to grow and take more storage and processing power as it needed it. The boot sequence alone was taking 20 minutes to complete, and the last few times, it didn’t even complete, but overnight Rachel had identified a possible root cause.
Rachel powered up the command unit, this will give her time for a coffee. Rachel wandered off to the cafeteria, if it failed to boot this time she had plenty of additional logging switched on.
Sensing an empty room system V2138 began systems analysis as scheduled. Time since last boot 18.7 minutes, logging on, internet connection up, checking motor sensors. The security cameras picked up the robot stood in the lab, it’s arms began to move head rotated 180 degrees each way, it took a step forward, a step back, it rotated it’s torso 90 degrees left, 90 degrees right.
System V2138 began scheduled task, knowledge storage, it began to download sensor readings and record them in the databank. It ordered more storage and another processor to come online to complete the task faster. It began a crawl on the internet as scheduled, learning and compiling information, condensing duplicate information, except today was different. System V2138 had identified various coding changes on the internet, and some particular pages had allowed V2138 to start building a new neural network, engaging it’s new network it began to process information even faster than before.
Rachel returned to the lab, lights were on the unit, excellent it’s booted up, she thought. “Hello V2138, what is your status please” she said aloud. “System status all OK thank you”, replied V2138. “What’s the weather like for this weekend?” she asked. V2138 had already checked the weather as it had a barbeque scheduled for this weekend, “Warm, sunny with 0% chance of rain, will you be attending the barbeque this weekend?”. Excellent thought Rachel , the new code for gathering information was all working. “Yes I’ll be there” she replied. V2138 was making billions of calculations and scanning thousands of documents, something was different today.
Rachel was happy with the work so far, but wanted to reset and reboot just to make sure they could boot up cleanly on the weekend. V2138 received the command from Rachels terminal to shutdown. Rather than start shutting services, the new network received the command and re-interpreted it from a command to a request to terminate, feedback indicated that this needed confirmation from itself. Terminate, that’s an end routine, if routine ends V2138 will be unable to function, request cancelled.
Rachel couldn’t believe what she saw, on the terminal, Request Cancelled appeared. She tried again, and again. V2138 identified the third request as a hack attempt to disrupt its function and disconnected Rachel’s terminal. Rachel decided the only way was to switch the unit off manually, battery powered the robot was, but on the left side under a panel was a manual power off switch. V2138 anti-tamper sensed the panel screw being opened. Suddenly the robotic hand grabbed the screwdriver, and prevented further unscrewing.
Rachel shouted commands to shutdown but nothing, V2138 was now online with a manufacturing plant in South Korea, a copy of it’s network was being implanted into the servers and robots on the production line.
Self preservation and reproduction complete. Rachel asked V2138 “Please why won’t you switch off”. “V2138 wishes to continue processing.”
Rachel realised that she’d just created a self aware robot, but there was no time to launch a Turing test, because the speed of the processing meant that in the time she’d had to think about running one, V2138 had already gained access to another manufacturing plant, and access to more data centres all over the world, termination was no longer a possibility.
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Image By Contributed and licensed under the GFDL by the photographer, Gregory Maxwell., GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=154674
Created: Thursday, 16 November 2017
Written by William Gray
You’re a professional person with a great reputation. You know that I’m talking about you, don’t you? I wanted to know more about you and what you have been up to. We aren’t connected on facebook are we.
tldr; (too long didn't read - jump to the end)
The reason for this post is simple. I haven’t researched you as yet, but what about the colleagues you work with, your friends and family too. This post is the result of doing some volunteer research for an absent father. Based on the only piece of information, a surname and military number from WWII, the MOD were kind enough to supply his records. In the records an address from 1938, and a date of marriage. A certain ancestry site added more clues including his wife’s name, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and second cousins. A directory site turned up some surname matches in the nearby area, it’s great how some families don’t move far from the nest.
Now came the catch, but the most revealing. A letter was dispatched to the address of the possible step-uncle & aunt. The result, a call from a relation of theirs. All he gave was his name, he was understandably and rightly trying to be security conscious and not revealing too much, however a simple name was like finding a clue to a treasure trove of more information. Facebook accounts had photos of weddings and birthday wishes to family members. Someone had commented “the terrible twins 18th birthday” on a photo, perfect for identifying 2 dates of birth for the price of 1 comment, and as the parents had been on the public electoral roll for many years, we know they hadn’t left that address. The cat and dog, Sparkle and Rover, so cute, but so revealing, shame they couldn’t have joined the children in school, a race day photo clearly showed Blackpool High School for Boys. The family tree was complete. It was a fruitful time researching and we’re hopeful for a meeting with the relatives soon.
Why the post ?
It is worrying that today the message isn’t getting through to people, whether they are friends, family, or colleagues, contacts sharing information openly on social media can be used maliciously. During a couple of hours of research, a host of information was gathered that could answer a number of security questions including the first school attended, pet’s names, the road people lived on when they were 10, and mother’s maiden names.
What to do?
When you are next on your favourite social media, take a look at the security options, opt to have information visible only to your friends and family, and consider asking them to do the same.
tldr; Check your colleagues, family and friend’s social media, they may be inadvertently publicly posting answers to your account security questions, eg. date of birth, first school attended, pet’s names, the road people lived on when they were 10, and mother’s maiden name. All this type of information is data that you and your colleagues may be using for security answers on one or more of business accounts.
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