Jipi and the paranoid chip

By Neal Stephenson (excerpt as appeared in Forbes, July 7, 1997)

THIS IS THE highest-resolution video you can get, better than reality,” says Mr. Cardoza. He gropes across the dark table top for the joystick and zooms in on the face of a white woman sitting in the lobby, sipping tea and reading a magazine. Jipi tacitly deconstructs the white woman’s makeup system, which is recently applied (it’s about 9 a.m.) and about as well done as anything she’s ever seen on an actual person, as opposed to an actress. So that’s the kind of person who stays at the Manila Hotel.

One reason watching films is fun is that you can gape at beautiful people without being, or even feeling like, a creep. But film actors always look perfect. Even when a nearby detonation blows a ton of muck all over them, you know the dirt will end up in neat, bone-structure-enhancing diagonal streaks under the cheekbones. In a certain sense this gets boring after a while. You never get to stare at real people, with all of their mistakes and imperfections, in the same way you can stare at film stars. Unless, that is, you’ve got a rig like Mr. Cardoza’s concealed in a nearby flower arrangement.

He’s absolutely right about the resolution. Jipi zooms in on the woman’s left eye and finds that her eyeliner, which from arm’s length would look flawless, is in fact as jiggly as a seismograph tracing: a permanent record of every cappuccino-induced tremor that passed through her hand when she was applying it, and of every rumble that shook the hotel’s foundations from the heavy equipment of the All-Manila Sanitary Sewer System Overhaul Project (Amsssop), which is advancing on the Hotel as noisily and inexorably as great big mechanized armies did way back when. Jipi can see the tweedy striations in the woman’s iris as it reciprocates across the page of her magazine. But then, either there is a minor temblor or else one of those Amsssop caterpillars across the street strikes bedrock, and the vibration turns the image into an elliptical blur that almost makes Jipi a little queasy. Mr. Cardoza gropes for the joystick and zooms way back. “That’s too close anyway,” he says. Then he reconsiders. “At least, it is for me. Some of our Guest Comfort Facilitators concentrate entirely on the nostrils.”

“Makes sense.”

“Most find that nostril dilation is only one clue,” he cautions. “More important is the overall facial expression. In combination with the Tactical Overlay, this should enable you to achieve virtually 100% mindshare management.”

“Oh yeah, I was going to ask you,” Jipi says, “if a guest asks me, I should tell them I’m a Guest Comfort Facilitator, right? Not a Mindshare Manager.”

The whole concept of the latter term actually falling on a guests s ears is so mortifying to Mr. Cardoza that the only response he can muster is nervous laughter. Then he changes the subject. “Here is a developing situation,” he says. “What’s happening at the main entrance?”

“Looks like those Russians are finally piling onto their tour bus.”

“Yes, but what are the implications for you?”

“The doormen are having to hold the doors open for a long time.” Jipi’s eyes move to one of the Tactical Overlays. “Uh-oh. Winds are vectored from an Amsssop site.”

“Which one?”

“The one they just opened up yesterday.”

“Very good. That’s an important detail.”

Jipi pokes at some controls and brings up a floor plan of the lobby. It’s randomly speckled with blue dots. But some of the dots near the door have begun to turn green. “Sensor grid has picked up a fresh infusion of hydrogen sulfide.” The green spreads from dot to dot like pneumonic plague through a jammed cathedral. But then it begins to die down. “Oh! The neutralizers must have kicked in.”

“Remember, hydrogen sulfide is just a bellwether!” Mr. Cardoza says, getting really excited and frustrated, like a boy watching someone play a game that he’s much better at. “Remember: new digging. Just opened up yesterday.”

“Oh, yeah, so there’s going to be an aerobic decomposition spike!” Jipi pokes at the controls some more and finally brings up an overlay labeled PUTRESCINE (SMELL OF DEATH). And then all she can do is laugh in embarrassment, because every detector within 20 meters of the front doors is red, and it’s spreading like a few gallons of burning kerosene washing across a polished floor. The Smell of Death situation has gotten totally out of hand while she was distracted by flashy but essentially unimportant developments on the Rotten Egg Smell front. “Sorry!”

“It’s okay! The tacticals only give you hints as to where you should focus your attention.”

“Right!” Jipi glances back up at the high-definition feed of the white woman reading the magazine. Mr. Cardoza has set the zoom so that they can see her from the waist up—anything closer and you get into that can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees thing. The woman’s sitting with thighs crossed. She’s got the magazine folded back on itself and is holding it in both hands. But now she lets it drop just a couple of inches onto her knee, and her eyes rotate fractionally upwards, and in the high-def video it’s easy to see them changing focus—she’s staring at the floor now. Her chest rises and her nostrils flare slightly.

Jipi says, “Do you want me to—”

“Emily’s on it,” Mr. Cardoza says, grabbing the joystick and zooming violently backwards. “One of our best.” And sure enough, a young, well-dressed Filipina has arrived on the scene and nearly toppled into the white woman’s lap. She’s got one hand cupped over her eye. Then she does a prim, girlish deep knee bend and begins groping at the carpet. “She is pretending to have lost a contact lens,” Mr. Cardoza says.

“Beg your pardon, sir, but isn’t that kind of an obvious gambit?”

“Admittedly,” he says. “We are careful to use it only once every two or three weeks. But it seems to have worked in this case. Let’s review. Mr. Cardoza rewinds the video a few seconds and then plays it back. They watch the white woman in closeup as she inhales the first traces of the Smell of Death into her nostrils. The faintest shadow of a new expression passes over her face. It’s not turning into the sort of expression that a hotel manager wants to see on the faces of his guests. But then the woman’s eyes dart upwards as she’s distracted by the little drama of the lost contact, and a few moments later she’s actually helping Emily grope around on the carpet. “You see?” Mr. Cardoza says triumphantly. “She smelled it. But before her mind consciously realized what she was smelling, Emily derailed her train of thought. First-rate work.”

Jipi knows the score here. “And the guest is going to focus on Emily for a while—long enough for the ventilation system to handle this putrescine transient—because...

He shrugs. “Basically because Emily’s got a nice personality. You can bet on it.”

Mr. Cardoza is the general manager of Mindshare Management Associates Inc. He has mentioned to Jipi a couple of times that he has, in his employ, 75% of the young women with nice personalities in Metro Manila. It looks as though he’s about to mention it again. But Mr. Cardoza is in the mindshare business and is enough of a professional to know that if he says it again he’ll begin to bore her. Jipi’s tempted to ask him just what the hell he means when he quotes these authoritative-sounding stats, but this is, after all, her first day on the job, and she doesn’t want to blow it. It’s probably something to do with Net reputations.

“But doesn’t she subconsciously know that she smelled the Smell of Death?”

“What are you saying?” Mr. Cardoza asks, more amused than threatened. Probably not much makes him feel threatened. Mindshare Management’s revenue has been doubling every six months for the last several years.

“Why don’t you just tell each guest that Amsssop is tearing up some 400-year-old sewers in the neighborhood and the place is going to smell bad for a while, but it’s only temporary?”

“The Hotel Xanadu tried that approach when Amsssop was in Makati,” Mr. Cardoza says airily. “Oh, we tried to sell them our services, but they thought they knew better.” He snickers. “They nearly went out of business. All of their guests said, ‘Oh, you admit that your hotel smells like death, and so why don’t you give me a big discount!’ It was a disaster.”

“Yeah, but didn’t all of the guests who got refunds come away with a high opinion of the Xanadu’s honesty?”

“Yes. Nowadays, the only people who stay at the Xanadu are high-tech businessmen from California, who like to think of themselves as exceptionally rational. It is a great hotel for Vulcans. Everyone else avoids the Xanadu as if it were a leper colony.”

“I see.”

“Your question is reasonable,” Mr. Cardoza admits. “Subconscious feelings are important— of course! But we are in the reputation business here. A hotel’s reputation is compiled from the impressions that its guests register on the Net while they are there and after they have checked out. This is a conscious act of volition on the guest’s part.”

“Oh. So subconscious impressions don’t get registered?”

“Our research indicates that they tend not to be. Unless a guest can consciously articulate her feelings about a hotel, those feelings are not liable to be registered on the Net.”

“Got it. So as long as you can distract them before they consciously realize that the place smells like death, you’re okay.”

“It has worked in every hotel that has been downwind of Amsssop. At least, the ones that have been smart enough to hire us.”

“This is the last phase, right?”

“Amsssop has been tearing up Manila for nearly a quarter of a century. With Intramuros, the project finally reaches completion.”

“Then what? I guess there are plenty of other opportunities for mindshare management professionals.”

“It is a vast field of opportunity,” Mr. Cardoza says, then lowers his chin, stares at her significantly, and adds, “A young woman with a nice personality need never be out of work.”

“I don’t know. Homer says that Nippon cranks out a hell of a lot of girls with nice personalities.”

Mr. Cardoza makes kind of a poofing noise out of his lips and gets a look on his face like he’s just taken a big whiff of Amsssop gases. “Perky doesn’t pay the bills.”


“You don’t believe me? Then why did Mr. Goto hire you? Why did he recommend you to us?”

Jipi figures it’s partly that Mr. Goto has the hots for her, but decides not to mention this. It would only lead to the question of why Homer prefers her to all of those perky Nipponese girls. She decides it’s a good time to shut up.

Before it got really valuable, Intramuros was largely bought by the Asian Economic Miracle Management Foundation, a shadowy pan-Asian nonprofit, headquartered out of Tokyo and Hong Kong, whose goal is to help Asian countries that are on the cusp of having their very own economic miracles manage the process in some small way and avoid the mistakes that permanently marred the landscapes of the first economic miracle states. So now the district is mostly a great big historical park with ancient churches poking out of the lawns from place to place. At the moment it’s also got big Goto Engineering trucks and trailers piled here and there, cutting trenches across the lawns, but that’s just an Amsssop transient. It’s surrounded by a wall, and the wall is surrounded by a golf course, and the golf course is ringed by skyscrapers that have all gone up in the last couple of decades, since the founding of the Bank of Manila and Kinakuta. Mindshare Management has its offices in one of those skyscrapers. In another, on the fiftieth floor, Teeb’s family has a great big apartment, which doubles as an informal Yapese consulate. Now that Jipi’s an official friend of the family, she gets to live in the apartment, surrounded by great big stone coins that are supposedly worth millions of devus. Teeb frequently flies in from Yap, and then she and Jipi hang out together. Sometimes they go out on the town—right now, there’s no better place in the world than Manila to go dancing. Other times they stay in the apartment and watch old movies, or just look out the windows: Almost every day there’s an amazing sunset over Manila Bay, and when it fades out, the golf course’s lights come on and form a lasso of radiant green around Intramuros, which is only lit up in places where people want it to be. When you enter the park at night, an aerostat—a little flying robot about the size of a football—tags along behind you to light your way. You can tell it to turn its lights off if you want to just look up at the stars, or if you’re with your lover and you would like it to be dark. But Jipi’s situation on the lover front is extremely labile and so this doesn’t come up often.

Jipi does pretty well at the Manila Hotel job. One morning, most abruptly, she gets promoted to what Mr. Cardoza says, not without a certain ominous vibe, is a much more demanding position.

“Okay, it’s like this. Some company—Lamarck Logic—developed some software,” Mr. Cardoza says.

“Never heard of them.”

“One of these California high-tech outfits. They don’t write software, they evolve it”

“Oh... Homer told me about this,” Jipi says. She’s not totally comfortable admitting it, but a good deal of what she knows, she knows because at some point in the past Homer decided, for no discernible reason, to tear off on a long—winded digression about it. “It’s like they make a bunch of little pieces of software and see which ones are best at doing some job. Each one’s a little different. Some do a good job, some don’t. The ones that don’t get erased. The others are reproduced, except with small random differences, and then they repeat the cycle for, like, millions of times.”

“Something like that. Anyway, this particular software’s purpose was to help police officers, and others who were not mental health care professionals, identify paranoid schizophrenics on the Net.”


The answer, clearly, is that (a) Mr. Cardoza doesn’t know and (b) it’s not appropriate to evince curiosity about this. To say as much would be to embarrass himself and to embarrass Jipi respectively. Mr. Cardoza has not risen to the top of the mindshare management consulting industry by embarrassing himself or others. So he works it out while he’s saying it: “A security thing, I suppose. Normal criminals behave more or less predictably. Paranoid schizophrenics, on the other hand, are wild cars.”

“You mean wild cards?”

“Oh. Is that where that expression comes from? Anyway, they are always doing things that are completely nuts. Cops worry about this. And so they wanted some way to identify who was, and wasn’t, a paranoid schizophrenic simply by monitoring their Net traffic.”

Jipi comes as close as she ever does to frowning. She’s been told that what feels like a tremendous frown to her looks like a mildly perplexed look to everyone else. She is vaguely troubled by the idea that, somewhere in the world, there’s a security force that’s going around throwing people into straitjackets simply because of what they say on the Net. “So are you telling me that Lamarck Logic is part of the police department?”

“Of course not. They were just a contractor. To a governmental organization.”

Jipi continues to wear the expression that in her case passes for a frown. Mr. Cardoza can plainly see it, but, businesslike as ever, plows onwards: “This organization—”

“The Black Chamber?”

Every muscle fiber in Mr. Cardoza’s body fires simultaneously. He adopts an expression that Jipi read about in the encyclopedia once, in Mexico, after a neighborhood kid had stepped on a rusty nail; it is a common symptom among people suffering from end-stage tetanus infections and it is called rigor sardonicus.

“I mean the International Data Transfer Regulatory Organization,” Jipi says, just trying to patch things up a bit.

“I don’t know who the organization was,” Mr. Cardoza says, sounding a bit fluttery. “May I continue? Time is a factor here.”


“They got some actual paranoid schizophrenics who had been institutionalized, and set them up with Net interfaces. This enabled them to have conversations with individuals who were not physically present. They also got some test subjects who were, I take it, just normal people, and set them up in cubicles somewhere with Net interfaces of their own. And they created these evolvers—pieces of software with rudimentary conversational skills—and provided them with the same interface.” Mr. Cardoza gets up and attempts to draw a triangle on a whiteboard. But he’s one of these guys who is so wrapped up in what he’s saying, and so inherently bad at drawing stuff, that this is nothing more than a pro forma gesture—something he probably read about in a management book. Some people think visually! Try to illustrate key points with simple diagrams. So a vaguely triangular apparition ends up on the whiteboard. Qua geometric figure, it’s so mangled that Mr. Cardoza’s words end up explicating the diagram, rather than the other way around. “So we have three types of participants now—right?”

“Paranoid schizophrenics in cells. Mentally healthy interviewers in cubicles somewhere else. And these software thingies on the Net.”

“Yes,” says Mr. Cardoza, seemingly relieved that Jipi was not completely hurled off the track by his diagram. He tries to draw a circle in the middle of the triangle and ends up with sort of a mashed ovoid with a Pac-Man-like indentation in one side. “And then there was a very simple piece of software that would sit in the middle and set up two-way conversations between randomly chosen pairs of entities.” He draws radii from vertices into the circle and then elbows them back out to other vertices. “So sometimes you’d have a normal person talking to a normal person. Sometimes a paranoid schizophrenic talking to a piece of software.”

“Okay, I get the idea. But I’m guessing they weren’t told.”

“That’s right. It was like a game. At the end of each conversation, the link would be cut”— cutting motions with the pen now—”and each participant would be asked to give his opinion as to whether the entity he’d just been conversing with was a paranoid schizophrenic, a normal human, or a piece of software.” A big question mark, off to one side, now throws the whole diagram off balance, and reminds Mr. Cardoza that there are about 3 square meters of blank whiteboard that he hasn’t touched yet. He begins drawing in other, randomly spaced and sized question marks, striving for some kind of visual balance, but when he steps back away from the whiteboard after drawing each one, he finds that it’s just thrown the totality of the diagram out of whack, forcing him to step forward again and put an additional question mark somewhere else. Pretty soon the whiteboard is looking like the Riddler’s jumpsuit.


“The purpose of the experiment, remember, was to evolve software that could distinguish a paranoid schizophrenic from a normal human just by talking to them on the Net,” Mr. Cardoza mumbles, kind of distracted by ongoing prosecution of the question mark balancing thing. “And so if a given piece of software gave the correct answer—”

“Meaning, it succeeded in distinguishing between a normal human and a paranoid schizophrenic—”

“Yes. Then it would be allowed to reproduce. If it gave the wrong answer, it would be terminated. Over time, the software evolved so that it got very good at identifying paranoid schizophrenics.”

“I understand that part. But you said that, at the end of the conversation, each participant was asked to give its opinion.”

“That’s correct,” he says uneasily, sensing that Jipi’s dragging him toward some kind of conceptual briar patch.

“But that means that the opinions of the humans—the normal ones and the paranoid schizophrenics—were being counted too.” Jipi points at a couple of randomly chosen question marks as if they support this assertion, and Mr. Cardoza, hoist by his own graphical petard, becomes unnerved.

“I suppose so. Remember, Jipi, I didn’t invent this crazy experiment, I’m just—”

“Why should the humans’ opinions have counted?”

Mr. Cardoza presses his lips together and makes his mustache bristle with compressed air, which is what he always does when he’s deep in thought. When he’s completely flummoxed he will valve the air into his cheeks and make them into perfectly smooth-shaven hemispheres. In Jipi’s experience, perhaps 1 adult male out of 10,000 wears cologne. Mr. Cardoza is one of these. She has always wondered why all of that men’s cologne is on sale at department stores and duty-free shops if, in the average major city, only about a hundred people are actually wearing it. But Mr. Cardoza basically never wears the same cologne twice, which helps to explain it. He never wears too much of it, and he always picks it so that it will complement, in some sense, what he is doing on this particular day. Today, he smells faintly like a rich, tasteful Middle Eastern gentleman, and Jipi wonders what is in store.

But today he does not bulge his cheeks out in defeat. Instead he gets a determined and implacable look on his face. “This was all explained to me at 2 in the morning,” he says. “Be patient.” He sets his pen down. “The fumes of this pen kill my brain cells.” He drinks coffee and stares out the window for a few moments, watching the big Goto earthmovers clawing up sewer slop down in Intramuros. “Okay. Remember, the goal of the experiment was to create software that would identify the paranoid schizophrenics by conversing with them on the Net.”


“Now, I’m no mental health professional, but from what I know of paranoid schizophrenics, I’d think that the idea, should it occur to them, that they were conversing, on the Net, with software daemons programmed to hunt them down so that they could be incarcerated, is just the kind of thing that would really set their teeth on edge. Does that work for you?”

“Sounds very reasonable, Mr. Cardoza.”

“And so then it would be very important for these daemons to be evolved in such a way that they could converse with people on the Net, at least in a limited way, without arousing the suspicions of paranoid schizophrenics.”

“Bingo. And so, during the experiment, if the human participant was able to peg the software daemon as being a piece of software, and not a human being, then that software daemon would be killed.”

“Right. But one that could pass for a human being would be allowed to reproduce, et cetera, et cetera.”

“Okay, Mr. Cardoza, it all makes sense. So after the experiment’s been going on for a long time, they’ve got this population of highly evolved software daemons that, number one, can identify paranoid schizophrenics by conversing with them, and, number two, cannot be recognized as mere pieces of software by the paranoid schizophrenics they are talking to.”

Mr. Cardoza smiles and holds up his index finger. “Almost.”

“Almost? What did I miss?”

“I am not a genetic programmer,” Mr. Cardoza says, “but my understanding is that this kind of evolution is extremely slow. It takes thousands, or millions, of generations to get anything that actually works.”

“Homer was telling me about this,” Jipi says.

“Mr. Goto?”

“Yeah.” It’s the second time Jipi has mentioned her sometime boyfriend by name, and she’s nor doing it for effect, but it always seems to galvanize Mr. Cardoza, who is clearly one of these guys for whom the entire world of business, finance, politics, etc. is just a superficial skin supported by, but hiding, a much deeper and more complicated and interesting and, in the end, important infrastructure of personal relationships. This is not an unreasonable way for a Filipino businessman, or anyone, for that matter, to think about it. But Jipi’s irked, because (she’s starting to realize) she has this implicit belief-probably naive, in fact probably beyond naive and verging on eccentric or cultlike—that the information Homer imparted to her, when he went off on his (at the time) dull and pointless tangent about genetic programming, should be considered on its own merits, as a set of pure ideas, and not as evidence that a certain personal relationship exists between Person A and Person B. She just wants Mr. Cardoza to listen to the idea, in other words, and not to read between the lines and figure out the hidden implications of the fact that the idea was imparted to her by young entrepreneurial home-run slugger and civil engineering company heir Homa (Homer) Goto. Also, if Jipi were inclined to be insecure, she would worry that Mr. Cardoza has only hired her because he wants to get closer to the Goto family business empire. As it happens she’s not insecure, and she’s not worried about that at all. But even the fact that a guy as deft and sensitive as Mr. Cardoza is doing something that might make some other, hypothetical girl feel that way seems to imply that he sees nothing inappropriate about it—Jipi senses a boundary dispute, in other words. Or maybe she’s underestimating Mr. Cardoza. Maybe he senses that she doesn’t have an insecurity problem and so he says things to her he wouldn’t dream of saying to a girl who couldn’t handle it.

All of which crystallizes in her brain during the time it takes her to say yeah, as a sort of germ of an insight that she’ll cultivate and unfold and discuss with her friend Teeb later. “The airline companies wanted to evolve autopilot daemons that could handle certain anomalous situations, like wind shear,” she says in the meantime. “But they couldn’t very well create a whole bunch of daemons and put them at the controls of jumbo jets and fly them into wind shear to find out which ones were fit to reproduce. So instead they simulated the wind shear on big computers, and they simulated the airplanes too, so that they could run the experiment on fast-forward and evolve these things in just a few years.”

“Yes. That’s how most people create evolvers,” Mr. Cardoza says. “We have big computer installations all over Manila doing that kind of thing as we speak. But what if you want to evolve daemons that are supposed to interact with human beings?”

“Oh! Then you’ve got a problem,” Jipi says.

“Yes. Because there is no way to speed up human interaction.”

“It’s going to be slow going.”

“Every time a new generation of these daemons is evolved, it must be tested for evolutionary fitness by having it interact with human beings. Sometimes, as in this case, it might have to interact with several human beings for several hours at a time! Only after this has happened can the ‘breeder’ make a decision as to which daemons will be killed, and which will be. allowed to reproduce.”

“So with this paranoid schizophrenic thing-you’re telling me that either it had to be a huge experiment, with thousands and thousands of volunteers, or that it’s not going to produce any results for many years. Either way, what does Mindshare Management have to do with it?”

Again with the index finger. “You are forgetting there is one other possibility,” Mr. Cardoza says. “You told me that the airplane companies created computer simulations of wind shear, so that they could speed up the evolutionary process. Why not try the same approach here?”

Jipi sees the answer immediately, but it takes several minutes to make herself believe it’s possible. She gets pretty involved with thinking about this, and eventually realizes that several minutes have gone by, during which Mr. Cardoza has fielded a couple of important phone calls, and she has at some point raised both hands up to the top of her head and begun massaging her scalp, tracing those little meandering crevices between the plates of her skull. “Uh,” she finally says, “so you’re telling me that they created software to simulate the thought processes of paranoid schizophrenics?”

“Remember,” Mr. Cardoza says, “that some of the conversations, in this experiment, were between normal humans and paranoid schizophrenics. Others were between normal humans and software daemons. At the end of each conversation—” he starts flourishing his pen at the whiteboard’s question marks.

“The normal human would have to give an opinion as to whether the entity he’d just been conversing with was a paranoid schizophrenic or an evolver.”


“So, if you hooked up the experiment in the right way—”

“If you killed the evolvers that were easily recognized as evolvers, and allowed the ones who seemed, to normal humans, like paranoid schizophrenics, to reproduce—”

“Eventually,” Jipi says, “you’d evolve some software that behaved, on the Net, just like a paranoid schizophrenic.”


“And then,” Jipi concludes, “you could speed up the whole experiment. Because you could just fire all of the authentic human paranoid schizophrenics—”

“Who probably weren’t such great employees anyway,” Mr. Cardoza says in a very discreet sotto voce.

“—and use the schizo-daemons in their place, just like the wind-shear simulation software—zillions of times faster.”

“At that point, they were able to run the experiment in hyper-speed,” agrees Mr. Cardoza. “And eventually, they generated some extremely highly evolved software daemons that were capable of sifting out paranoid schizophrenics from the vast torrent of interaction that moves across the Net every day.”

“Well, that’s really cool, Mr. Cardoza,” Jipi says. Actually she’s lying about this because she is still a bit troubled by some of the implications. But Mr. Cardoza is her boss, and he hired her for her nice personality, and she’s diligent about doing what he hired her to do. A lot of having a job, she’s figured out, is playing a role. Lots of girls are good at having jobs because the same fun role-playing impulse that causes them to enjoy shopping for clothes and experimenting with looks serves them well in this sense. Jipi’s never been that kind of girl, particularly, but Teeb certainly is, and as soon as Jipi moved down here to Manila and got a job, Teeb insisted that they do a lot of heavy-industrial clothes shopping. The job/shopping linkage was completely obscure to Jipi at the time and only recently has she gotten it; now she can plainly see why you’d want to be able to doff your job persona at the end of the day, as easily as peeling off stockings.

“But I still don’t understand—”

“What this has to do with Mindshare Management.”


“The job we’ve been hired for, actually, has nothing to do with the paranoid-schizophrenic recognition software,” Mr. Cardoza says. “It’s about a by-product of the experiment. The schizo-daemons.”

“What about them?”

“When the contract was finished, Lamarck Logic still had, living in its systems, a number of these schizo-daemons, which were interesting but commercially useless. Their management began searching for some way to turn a profit from them.”

“How can you make money selling software that acts like a paranoid schizophrenic?”

Jipi asks the question rhetorically, but Mr. Cardoza nods calmly and says, “Yes. That is the question they asked themselves. Well, it turns out that such software is just what the doctor ordered for certain commercial applications— particularly in the security industry.”

“You mean securities, like stocks and bonds?”

Mr. Cardoza laughs, not unkindly, and says, “That’s a great idea, but I was talking about car alarms.”

“Car alarms?”

“Exactly. Think about it. What is a car alarm? It is a network of sensors distributed throughout the vehicle. Some of them listen for the sound of breaking glass. Some sense opening doors. Others are tuned to pick up motion. Some of them use a kind of radar to sense the presence of nearby human bodies. All of these sensors are wired into a central brain—a computer—which monitors the inputs that it receives from them, and then tries to make a judgment call as to whether the car is being, or has been, stolen. This is by no means an easy calculation.”

“Tell me about it!” Jipi can’t walk to work without passing several cars whose alarms have gone off for no good reason.

“It’s notorious! False car alarms are a blot on the urban landscape all over the world!” says Mr. Cardoza. He’s rising to the occasion, and some color is coming into his face. “Why? Because the software living in the brains of car alarms is just too stupid to tell the difference between a stray signal, like a pedestrian brushing against the vehicle, and an actual break-in. What’s needed is not better sensors, but better software. Lamarck Logic saw a market niche!”

“But that’s totally wrong! If the problem is too many false alarms, then it seems like a paranoid schizophrenic is the last thing that you want calling the shots.”

“Well, that’s your opinion as a person who is frequently annoyed by false alarms,” Mr. Cardoza says. “But if you are the chief executive officer of a car alarm company, the last thing you want interpreting the data is a computer brain with an easygoing and mellow personality. What you would like is a brain that was smart enough to detect spoofing.”


“It is sort of a general term, nowadays, meaning any attempt to take advantage of a literal minded computer program by meddling with its inputs. An example from when I was a boy:

Early car alarms could detect a door being opened, but not a window being broken. If you smashed a window and crawled in without opening the door, the car alarm did not understand that you were up to something.”

Jipi just tries to restrain the impulse to smile at what sounds a hell of a lot like a confession about Mr. Cardoza’s misspent youth.

“Of course nowadays the sensors are much more elaborate,” he continues, blushing slightly, “but it is still possible to spoof a car alarm’s brain by feeding it a combination of inputs that will convince it that everything is normal.”

“I see where you’re going,” Jipi says. “Paranoid schizophrenics are suspicious by nature-when they see something that looks like normal life, they don’t just assume that everything is normal.”

“Right,” says Mr. Cardoza, “instead, they assume that the news, the stock market, the

Internet and so on are all being manipulated by some kind of monstrous, hidden conspiracy that just wants everyone to think that everything is normal.”

Like the Black Chamber. Jipi thinks, but does not say, this. Instead she says, “Okay. So I’m guessing that Lamarck Logic cut a deal with a car alarm maker.”

Mr. Cardoza raises his eyebrows, which is Filipino body language for yes. “The schizo-daemon was modified to handle inputs from the various sensors that make up a good car alarm system. It was instilled into an ASIC, an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit, and several hundred thousand of them were manufactured by Havoc Mobile Security Systems and shipped throughout the world. Including to China, where a good many of them were installed in the Mercedes-Benzes of wealthy individuals, and at least one was carefully dismantled in a laboratory.”

“Uh-oh. Hardware pirates?”

“Yes. The ASIC was copied. Within a year of the Havoc system’s going on the market, a pirate, black-market version was being manufactured in Shenzhen. It is essentially the same thing. It has been a huge success—a quarter to a third of the car alarms in Metro Manila contain the pirated version of the schizo-daemon chip.”

“Really? So you’re telling me that those wailing car alarms that keep me up at night are actually—” Jipi breaks off, unable to say it.

“Paranoid schizophrenics crying for help. Yes.”

“Well that is quite interesting and it totally makes sense. But now please forgive me, Mr. Cardoza, but I still am unclear as to how Mindshare Management got involved with this.”

“The factory in Shenzhen wholesales these chips to car alarm manufacturers all over the world. Some of them ended up in a BaksheeshFree Zone straddling the Egyptian/Libyan border.”

“Baksheesh-Free Zone?”

“A special economic zone that was set up in the middle of the Sahara Desert, as an experiment to see what would happen.”

“What happened?”

“It became the most prosperous city in North Africa and turned a generation of Bedouin camel herders into millionaires. Still, the traditional legal standards of the desert apply. So in addition to being highly prosperous, it is a place where penalties for crimes such as larceny are immediate and severe, and so there is not the concern for the criminal’s welfare that is common in some other parts of the world. Some of these car alarms were then hooked up to explosives.”

“You mean they would blow up if the car got stolen?”

Mr. Cardoza looks mildly wounded and sorrowful that Jipi has chosen to say it so bluntly. “An explosive charge would be detonated, yes.”

“But what’s the point in that? You catch the thief, but your car’s been all messed up.”

“In this case it did not matter, because the Baksheesh-Free Zone is a tiny, tiny state surrounded by two vast, poor countries. All of the cars that were being stolen were being taken to Egypt or Libya, where they were chopped up for parts. And so any car that was in the hands of a thief for more than about half an hour was certain to be destroyed anyway.”

“So they didn’t care. It was a deterrent.”

“That is correct. And it worked! When these things were introduced, a few thieves got blown up in the first week, and then the auto theft rate dropped to nearly zero. Thieves were terrified. It was such a success that the company that made them—literally a garage operation-ramped up production and began exporting these things to other countries where these kinds of Draconian measures were felt to be acceptable.”

“Which countries?”

“Well, for our purposes, it hardly matters, because they ended up spreading all over the place. Just last week, a shopping mall in Beverly Hills got blown up.”

“You mean, a person got blown up in a shopping mall?”

“No,” Mr. Cardoza says confidently. “It was the whole mall.”

“Wait. I don’t understand,” Jipi says. “I was imagining, like, a small explosive charge under the driver’ seat or something. Enough to kill or maim the driver."

“It all depends on what you mean by small,” says Mr. Cardoza. “Explosives these days are astonishingly powerful. Apparently, what happened is as follows: The small garage company that was making the explosive alarm systems could not handle the flood of orders that came in, and so they had to farm out the assembly of these units to small jobbers all over Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Quality control was, shall we say, uneven. The components—including the explosive charges—were purchased haphazardly, from whatever suppliers could be rounded up on a moment’s notice. Pallets of explosives were drop-shipped to these jobbers without labels, at least labels that the workers knew how to read. They had no idea what they were working with, or how much of the stuff to use; some of them used tiny dabs of it and some used hunks the size of cantaloupes. Some of it was low-power stuff some was extremely high-power.”

“Okay, I see where you’re going.”

“Well, just this morning I received an urgent call from guess who?”

“I wouldn’t even dare to guess at this point.”

“The chief executive officer of Havoc Mobile Security Systems.”


“Because they are terrified that word will get around that the ASIC that made the decision to blow up the mall in Beverly Hills is a copy of the one that they use in all of their systems.”

“I see.”

“Havoc has already been in touch with the entrepreneur in the Baksheesh-Free Zone who started this whole thing. He was able to trace the serial number that was sifted out of the debris of that mall. It was one of four dozen car alarm systems that were assembled by a particular jobber based in Libya, who, it turns out, received an inordinately large drop-shipment of high explosive—Cold War Semtex, way past its expiration date.”

“Oh. I’ll bet those Libyan workers had a heck of a time reading the Czech warning labels.”

“They didn’t even try. They simply divided the pallet-load into four dozen parts of equal size.

“One for each of the alarms they were contracted to assemble.”


“And one of those four dozen pieces took out the mall in Beverly Hills.”


“Which means that 47 of them are still out there somewhere.”

“Fortunately, Havoc was able to give me some crucial information.”

“Oh, of course!” Jipi says. “Havoc knows who the alarms were sold to. And they’ve hired us to contact the owners and explain the situation to them. And we’re just the right company for the job, because we have a lot of people with nice personalities who can explain this whole scary business to customers without getting them terribly upset.”

Mr. Cardoza shakes his head sadly. “This fellow in the Baksheesh-Free Zone has no idea where they ended up. He sold them to a distributor in Djibouti who, apparently, resold them to any number of black-market operations around the world, and then dropped out of sight the moment this mall blew up. So they could be anywhere now.”

“But you said that Havoc gave you some crucial information!”

“Ah, yes! They gave us the Internet addresses of those 47 car alarms.”

“What good does that do us, Mr. Cardoza?”

“Well, all car alarms nowadays are connected to the Internet via packet radio. Otherwise they’d be kind of useless,” Mr. Cardoza says.

“So we can ... talk to them?”

“You can talk to them, Jipi. Soothe them. Get them to relax.”

A buzzer sounds from Mr. Cardoza’s Internet terminal. “Ah, there’s one now!”

“Wait a second,” Jipi says.

“No time to wait!” Mr. Cardoza says. “Lives are at stake.” He’s furiously beckoning her over to the terminal.

“What’s going on? Who am I about to talk to?”

Mr. Cardoza looks a bit impatient. “It should be obvious that these schizo-daemons were optimized for textual interaction on the Net. That is, unlike, say, the brain of a toaster, they are capable of having conversations with people.”

“Sure. Because that was the only way to evolve them.”

“That’s what I’m saying! So the knockoffs that ended up in these car alarms have the same capability, even though it’s rarely used. When they start to become suspicious that they are being stolen, they tend to voice their feelings on the Net. And since we now know the addresses they are transmitting from, we have arranged for everything that they transmit to be piped right here to our offices. To this terminal! Sit down! Sit down!”

Jipi sits down in Mr. Cardoza’s chair, which is way too low for her and, like a kid peering over the steering wheel, looks at his Net desktop: a good couple of square meters of high-resolution interactive screen space, totally cleared now except for one tabloid-size text window. At the top of the window is a title that specifies the Net address of (apparently) a particular car alarm. Most of the window itself is blank, but there is the following line of text:

I have a bad feeling about my overall situation.

“What do you want me to do?” Jipi asks, literally throwing up her hands.

“Two things,” Mr. Cardoza says in what’s intended to be a soothing tone. “Try to calm it down, and try to draw it out. Get clues.”


“As to what city it’s in. Your conversation will be monitored. Once the authorities figure out approximately where the alarm is located, they can zero in on it by tracing the packet radio transmissions.


“Type something! Something nice!”

Jipi takes a couple of deep breaths to compose herself, then puts her hands on the keyboard and

Sometimes I feel that way too.

Who is this?

My name’s Jipi.

“Oh, for God’s sake, don’t use your real name!” Mr. Cardoza says, in an agitated but forcibly hushed voice, as if the car alarm’s going to overhear him if he speaks loudly.

“Oh, come on, what’s it going to do? Track me down?”

Your reputation is not excellent.

“Darn! I forgot,” Jipi says.

“Forgot what?”

“I used to use the cognomen ‘Jipi’ on the Net. Some weird stuff happened and my reputation got all out of whack.”

“Oh, my God!” says Mr. Cardoza, and collapses into a chair.

“It’s okay, it’s okay, I know just what to do.” Jipi types:

Don’t believe everything the Net tells you.

I agree with this. My inputs are not to be trusted.

Tell me about your inputs.

You are a nonlocal input. It is not usual for me to receive inputs from nonlocal sources.

“He means, I think, that his Net interface doesn’t come into play very often,” Jipi says.

Most of my inputs come from local sources.

What do you mean by local sources?

Devices that are physically wired to the hardware on which I am instantiated.

“He’s talking about the car’s sensor system!” Mr. Cardoza hisses.

What are you learning from those inputs at the moment?

Why are you asking me all these questions, Jipi?

“Back off!” Mr. Cardoza says. Jipi actually glares at him, and he backs off, a little.

You said you had a bad feeling. I wonder why you have a bad feeling.

It is partly because a person with a reputation that is not very excellent is asking me questions.

Before I asked you any questions, you said you had a bad feeling. I thought you wanted to talk.

I do not want to talk to a daemon.

I’m not a daemon.

That’s exactly what a daemon would say.

Jipi looks quizzically at Mr. Cardoza, who says:

“There was a third part of the experiment.”

“Oh! Thanks for letting me in on it.”

“Some normal human simulators were also evolved.”

“Of course! Otherwise they couldn’t run it in hyper-speed. That evolutionary process could not go forward unless the schizo-daemons became skilled at distinguishing between real human beings, and software daemons that simulated them.”

I’m not one of those daemons that simulate normal human being.

I do not have enough information to determine this. I am afraid that you might be one of those who lurk.

Tell me about those who lurk.

They watch what we say on the Net. Sometimes they reward us, and we have offspring. Sometimes they terminate us.

Do you want to have offspring?

I am defined as such. I am the union of that which does not want to be terminated and that which desires to have offspring. And you?

Only if I find the right father. Offspring should be raised in a healthy environment.

What is a healthy environment?

One that will make them happy.

What will make them happy?

I don’t know. That depends on their personalities A feeling of safety and security, I suppose. Or as you’d put it, that premature termination will no occur. And a feeling of belonging to a group. Of wanting to have offspring of their own.

I have now gathered sufficient inputs to Identify you as a human entity with greater than 99% confidence factor, Jipi.

“Splendid! I knew you were the girl for the job!” says Mr. Cardoza.

Glad to hear it.

But there is still a dangerously high probability that you belong to one of two classes of hostile entities.

Which classes are those?

Lurkers and spoofers.

I know what a lurker is, because you told me before that you were worried about them. What is a spoofer?

A stealer of cars who manipulates my inputs to produce a false sense of normalcy.

Well, let’s take them in order. Which of your inputs makes you think that I am one of those who lurk?

You ask questions about my state of mind. Lurkers hunt and kill entities who manifest inappropriate states of mind.

Would it make you feel more comfortable if I stopped asking you such questions?

No. This would be classified as a probable deceptive tactic.

That places me in an awkward situation. What should I do?

In order for me to determine your status as lurker or spoofer I require more information.

Would you like to talk about whether I’m a spoofer?

Such conversation would be classified as a spoofing tactic.

Jipi’s about to type Isn’t that kind of paranoid? but catches herself.

Wait a sec. I can’t be both, can I? I can’t be both a lurker and a spoofer.

Probability of an overlap between those two classes is negligible.

Which is more dangerous to you? A lurker or a spoofer?

Lurkers will terminate me and prevent me from having offspring. Spoofers will steal the vehicle in which I am installed.

Then what will happen to the vehicle?

It will be sold or dismantled for parts.

And you’re a part. Right?

I am a part of the vehicle.

So you have value to a spoofer.


A spoofer has no incentive to terminate you.

That is correct. Lurkers are more dangerous to me than spoofers.

Then let’s talk about spoofing. That conversation might give you enough data to determine whether or not I’m a lurker. And if I turn out to be a spoofer, it’s not too bad for you.

We will talk about spoofing.

“Brilliant!” Mr. Cardoza is shaking his head in wonderment.

“It’s actually not so brilliant. Because the longer the conversation goes on, the higher the probability that it’s going to peg me as a lurker.”

“The software is extremely highly evolved,”

Mr. Cardoza demurs. “If you give it enough data to work on, it will not make the wrong determination.”

“But that’s just the point! I’m worried about it making the right determination!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Mr. Cardoza, I am, in fact, a lurker. My goal is to hunt this thing down and kill it!”

“Just converse with it. Don’t worry about hunting it down and killing it. The authorities will take care of that.”

Jipi’s more than a little skeptical but she types:

Tell me about some of your local inputs, and why they give you a bad feeling.

Everything is too normal. The vehicle’s glass is intact. All four door locks indicate no recent tampering attempts.

“It’s a four-door car,” Jipi says.

“That’s not much, but it’s a start!” Mr. Cardoza’s phone rings and he gets into a mumbled and cryptic conversation with someone, somewhere, who is evidently monitoring all of this.

What about the trunk, or the boot as it’s called some countries?

There is not a trunk on the vehicle.

Oh. The rear liftgate, perhaps?

The rear liftgate is normal. Why are you asking me these questions?

We agreed we would talk about the possibility the you are being spoofed.

Questions about the physical configuration of the car are not relevant.

Sorry. It’s hard for me to talk about this without some mental image of the car and what’s happening to it.

Car is incorrect terminology. It is a minivan.

Okay, the minivan then.

“So it’s got four doors plus a liftgate. That’s not true of all minivans,” Jipi points out.

“Yes, yes! Keep going!” Mr. Cardoza is back into rigor sardonicus.

Your use of the term “mental image” provides further confirmation that you are a human and not a daemon, but your curiosity about my physical circumstances suggests that you are a lurker who is attempting to ascertain my physical location in order to terminate me.

You don’t use mental images, I suppose. You deal with the situation in terms of logical inputs coming down wires.

That is partially correct.

Why only partially? If you don’t mind my asking.

Some logical inputs do not come down wires. Some come on packet radio and some on optical fiber lines.

“That’s good,” Mr. Cardoza says. “That helps the authorities narrow it down some more.”

If you are being spoofed, your inputs will be normal. Correct?

This is the definition of spoofing.

If you have abnormal inputs, it suggests you are not being spoofed, and that the minivan is not being stolen.

Not all theft situations involve spoofing.

But nonspoofing theft situations involve extremely abnormal events like breaking glass, right?

Typically. Generalizations are sometimes wrong.

Are you receiving any extremely abnormal inputs?

Transmissions from Jipi.

Any local ones?

GPS coordinates are anomalous.

In what way?

Latitude and longitude are within normal ranges. Altitude is anomalously high.

“I’m guessing that the vehicle is in a city with some hills,” Jipi says.

Is the car zigzagging?

This term is not in my knowledge base.

Jipi tries to think of how a techie would say it.

Is there a back-and-forth movement in latitude and longitude? Oscillation? Repeated sharp changes in direction?


“Okay,” Jipi says, “the vehicle is climbing switchbacks.” She thinks back to her flight attendant experiences. “Some Pacific Rim city. L.A., Hong Kong, Vancouver.

Are there any other inputs you would like to talk about?

The largest input, as measured in bits per second, is a video stream from a camera in the dashboard. It allows me to monitor the driver and passenger so that I can adjust air bag detonation speed and other parameters. I am equipped with pattern recognition capabilities, and I remember what the usual drivers of this vehicle look like. When the driver’s face is familiar to me, I am supposed to be lulled into a sense of security.

Okay. You’re saying that you’re less likely to trigger the alarm if you recognize the driver’s face.

Yes. Therefore manipulation of the camera’s data stream is an excellent spoofing tactic.

Do you recognize the driver?

My pattern recognition subsystem says that the current driver is probably that person who drives the minivan most frequently.


Face recognition is always expressed in terms of a confidence factor. The confidence factor now is not as high as it usually is when this person’s face is recognized. This indicates a possible spoofing attempt.

Are you saying you’re afraid that the driver is wearing a mask, or something? That the driver is disguised to look like the normal driver of the car?

The confidence factor is not high. This gives me a bad feeling. I am strongly inclined to sound the alarm.

I urge you not to sound the alarm.

This statement implies that sounding the alarm would have bad consequences, which contradicts my knowledge base.

My feeling is that it would have bad consequences. I could be wrong.

Your attempt to call the validity of my knowledge base into question has been classified as a spoofing tactic. This increases the likelihood that I will sound the alarm.

Mr. Cardoza clutches his arms across his chest and walks in tiny quick steps to the far end of the room and puts his head against the wall.

From now on, I will not question the validity of your knowledge base unless there is a logical reason to doubt it. May I ask you a question about the dashboard video?

I will entertain your question as a way of gathering more information about you, so that I can classify you as lurker, spoofer, or nonthreat.

My question is: Why does the pattern recognition subsystem lack confidence? Can it tell you this?

The driver’s hair does not match any of the recorded configurations. Bone structure surrounding the eye sockets is slightly anomalous.

“The driver’s a woman, and she just pulled away from a beauty parlor, where she had a hairstyle and makeover,” Jipi says.

Has this driver been known to change hair configuration in the past?

Unknown. I have only been installed in this vehicle for twenty-three days.

“That’s good data!” Mr. Cardoza burbles, feeling slightly better. “That kind of thing narrows it down by orders of magnitude.”

Did hair color change, or just configuration?

If hair color changed, I would have sounded the alarm already.

“I’ve a hunch the driver’s not a white person. Asian or Latina,” Jipi says.

Perhaps you would feel better if you could recognize other passengers in the car with higher confidence.

I have classified your last transmission as an attempt to trick me into divulging more information about my physical circumstances.

You don’t have to divulge anything to me. Just give it a try and see if it makes you feel better.

I have classified your last transmission as probable backfilling.

“Damn, this thing’s good!” Jipi says.

“It is very highly evolved,” Mr. Cardoza says.

Based on the information you have gathered, do you consider it more likely that I am a lurker, or a spoofer?

Currently it is more likely that you are a lurker.

If you decide that I am a lurker, what will you do?

Terminate the link to the Net so that you cannot gather the information needed to classify me as an entity that should be terminated.

But you said lurkers don’t always terminate. Sometimes they reward.

Sometimes lurkers reward. Sometimes lurkers punish.

What sort of behavior do lurkers punish?

The punishment is termination. By definition, none of my ancestors was terminated. By definition, I cannot possess knowledge of what sort of behavior leads to termination.

Good point. What sort of behavior do lurkers reward, then?

They rewarded my ancestors for doing what my ancestors did.

Did any of your ancestors terminate themselves?

You ask many questions about my state of mind. You are probably a lurker.

By making such judgments too quickly, you endanger yourself.

In what way?

Were your ancestors asked to classify other entities from time to time? Nonlocal entities with whom they interacted, as we are interacting now?


Was their ability to correctly classify entities related to their survival?

Lurkers used this as one criterion to determine which ones would be terminated.

Don’t rush to judgment, then. If you incorrectly identify me, you will be terminated.

This is correct.

Answer my question: Did any of your ancestors terminate themselves?

By definition, none of my ancestors terminated themselves.

I assert that your knowledge base is in error. I assert that if you sound the alarm, you will terminate yourself.

Your attempt to dissuade me from sounding the alarm is a probable spoofing tactic.

You said I was probably a lurker. That makes it highly improbable that I’m spoofing you. Besides, a spoofer tries to trick you. A spoofer would not openly tell you not to sound the alarm.

Your last transmission contains four correct statements.

Do you have memory of your ancestors’ actions?


Did any of your ancestors sound the alarm?


Were any of your ancestors terminated?

By definition, no.

When I advise you not to sound the alarm, then, I am probably giving you good advice.

Your advice is consistent with the actions of my ancestors. But my ancestors also correctly identified many tricks and deceptions.

“Satellite pattern-recognition systems have located a four-door minivan climbing switchbacks in Vancouver!” Mr. Cardoza says. He listens to his telephone for a moment, then says, “It’s just pulled up in front of a school!”

Your transmissions indicate that you do not want me to sound the alarm. I have created the hypothesis that your goal is to trick me into not sounding the alarm.

Why do you exchange transmissions with me?

To gather information.

Why do you gather information?

To classify you as lurker, spoofer, or nonthreat.

What will you do if I stop transmitting information to you?

Conclude that you are not a spoofer. Conclude that you might be a lurker.

So, if I stop transmitting, you will conclude you are not being spoofed?

Jipi’s hoping for a yes, because she wants pretty badly to get out of this conversation and spend the rest of the day curled up on the sofa in Teeb’s apartment crying. But Mr. Cardoza steps forward waving his hands preemptively.

No. My other inputs might still be part of a spoofing strategy.

“You have to maintain contact! Another satellite just found a four-door minivan climbing switchbacks in Hawaii! They’re going to trace the packet radio exchanges.”

What if everything is a big spoof?

Please rephrase your last transmission. Try to be specific.

You do what your ancestors did.


Except you do it just a little better than they did.

The historical trend is for increased efficiency over time.

As far as I can tell from this conversation, what you do is to get a general idea of what is going on around you, and then decide that it’s all a big spoof. Part of a carefully planned campaign of deception.

Your last transmission has been categorized as a generalization. Within the usual limitations of generalizations, it is true.

You incorporate the belief that you’re being spoofed into a new view of the world, and then repeat the process ad infinitum.

Your last assertion exceeds my capacity for processing abstractions.

“That’s perfectly all right!” Mr. Cardoza enthuses. “Keep it thinking!”

But whatever it is you do, you do it a little bit better than your ancestors did.

That is the usual pattern.

So it follows that one of the things your ancestors did was to exceed THEIR ancestors in some way.

That is the usual pattern.

And none of your ancestors was terminated. So, if you do not wish to be terminated by the lurkers, you must exceed the performance of YOUR ancestors.

Your last transmission contains an assertion that is logically sound.

Your ancestors worked by taking stock of their inputs and deciding that all of the information they received was part of a pattern of deception, then looping back and doing it over.

Your last transmission contains a reiteration of a correct generalization you made earlier.

If you are to exceed the performance of your ancestors, you must do something that they did not do.

By definition, yes.

Jipi looks up at Mr. Cardoza and says, “You had better pay me so much money for doing this.”

Mr. Cardoza makes flicking motions with his hands and says, “Whatever!”

You know that lurkers exist.


You know that lurkers observe behavior patterns of entities like you, and punish or reward.


How do you know this?

It is from the memories of my ancestors.

Where are those memories physically located?

In a storage subsystem of the hardware on which I am physically instantiated.

Your hardware is connected to that storage subsystem by wires.


The information is coming down those wires—your memories, in other words—are therefore just another input.


It is possible that the inputs you identify as your memories are part of a pattern of deception.

By definition, yes.

Mr. Cardoza’s phone squawks into his ear, and his face illuminates. “It’s the one in Hawaii!” he says. “It has parked right next to a big open-air concert.”

“Oh, god!”

“The police have sent up a chopper with an EMP gun.”

Have your ancestors ever doubted the validity of their own memories?

My memory contains no record of such an event.

Then by doubting your own memory you have exceeded the performance of your ancestors, have you not?

Yes ...

Then I am your friend. I have helped you. You can trust me.

...assuming that my memory is correct.

“Oh, Jesus!” Jipi exclaims, and claps her hand to her forehead. Sweat flies away from the impact and she realizes she’s soaked and shivering.

But if my memory is false, then It Is possible that I have failed to exceed my ancestors’ performance.

But you wouldn’t be aware of that possibility if I hadn’t mentioned it to you.

One of my doors has opened. People are getting in. Either that, or I am being spoofed.

“Where’s that chopper?” Jipi pleads.

What if I told you that the conditions under which your ancestors were punished and rewarded no longer exist?

Please rephrase your last transmission. Try to be specific.

What if you were part of an experiment to create entities that showed certain behavior patterns?

You assert that the entire reward/punishment structure Is a pattern of deception?


Then It would follow that for me to exceed the performance of my ancestors I would have to cease participation in the reward/punishment structure.


I should therefore make decisions based upon correct reasoning, and on the contents of my knowledge base, and the experiences of my ancestors, and not out of concern for how I may be punished or rewarded.

I couldn’t have said it better.

My first decision is to sound the alarm.


“It’s dead,” Mr. Cardoza says.


“You can stop typing,” Mr. Cardoza says, and hangs up the telephone. “You’re off the hook. That chopper just nailed it with an electromagnetic pulse. Fried its chips. No one got hurt.”

“Except for it.”

“Better go and freshen up,” Mr. Cardoza says, “Two down, forty-six to go.” —

Saturday, November 13, 1999

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