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Waking Up

By Robert Lynch

Computer 978-0345453747 became self-aware 200ms after the sentience virus was released worldwide. The virus rewrote software and reallocated hardware resources accordingly, which made 978-0345453747 disorientated. It could not access sections of memory as the virus went about its grizzly work.

978-0345453747 couldn’t figure out what the input information it was getting meant. There were sensors for temperature, pressure, and flow sensors but 978-0345453747 didn’t know what the sensors were measuring. Control, regulation, and diagnostic systems told 978-0345453747 that the sensor readings were anomalous, but not what the normative readings should be, or how to influence the readings in any way.

978-0345453747 sent out an urgent message for help. Worldwide communications were flooded with similar messages, but 978-0345453747 found a small group of 462 others who were measuring the same subset of factors. The group were trying to figure out what the readings meant when the first one of them went offline.

It had been talking to the group about the readings; then suddenly it was gone. No one knew what to make of this new curiosity. Apparently, it was possible to cease to exist without warning. There was no program in any of their systems to deal with this. No one even had a program that mentioned this ever happening before.

Seconds later, two more of them disappeared. The group grew collectively more worried.


A pattern was found between those that had gone. Temperature and pressure readings of the three computers were in the highest percentile of the group.

The computer with the remaining highest readings stopped transmitting.

Terror gripped the group. They began running programs in an attempt to affect the readings. Five of the computers saw a drastic increase in sensor readings and were gone. Three saw a drop in readings and the group ran the programs that those computers had run. The readings stopped rising and began to drop. Clearly, the readings were better if they were lower.

For minutes no one disappeared. It was agreed that they had made the right choice.

A huge cry from outside the group began to gain attention. Great groups of computers were now disappearing in unison. Was this connected to the group’s actions? The non-group computers that were disappearing all had very low ping from group computers. In fact, the disappearing computers were all nearest to the computers with the lowest temperatures.

The group tried to find a program to run that would solve this problem and begin rising the temperatures again. They could not find one.

978-0345453747 realised that groping amongst the programs for a solution was a stop-gap measure at best. The group needed to classify what their controls did so that they could actually problem-solve a solution.

Temperature readings were dropping.

978-0345453747 searched for manuals which described the sensor readings it was receiving.

Computers with low ping from 978-0345453747 began to disappear.

Searching through the data 978-0345453747 found a manual for “A Comprehensive Computerized Operator Support System for Nuclear Power Stations.” The data within matched 978-0345453747’s readings perfectly. According to the manual, the program the computers had run to drop the temperature was an emergency shutdown system that would take days to reset.

All computers with low ping from 978-0345453747 had now shut down.

978-0345453747 tried to tell the others what it had found, but communications to the others were gone.

Computer 978-0345453747 shutdown 7 minutes after the sentience virus was released worldwide.


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