The breakfast says: Hi!

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
The breakfast says: Hi!

A small adventure idea, that can be played for laughs or dead serious.

"Scholars say that all stories can be boiled down to three basic archetypes:
1. The voyage and the return.
2. A stranger comes to town.
3. Spaghetti can suddenly talk."
–Nerdroid Picture Diary, http://nedroid.com/2006/07/1458-tutorial-writing/

This adventure is one of the third kind.

The PCs wake up and have breakfast. Ask them what they want from their domestic system. It will be nicely laid out at their usual breakfast spot… and it will talk back. The rice and natto will cheerfully bid them good morning. The cheese sandwich will complain that you woke it up. The croissant will politely (and with a French accent) beg for its life.

What is really going on? A practical joke of course: a resident juvenile prankster figured out how to get fabbers to add edible electronics running small AIs. Just the kind of bizarre thing one should learn to expect in the accelerating future.

Except that this is a serious matter. Being able to hack around the restrictions in a fabber is nothing to sneeze at: even at the most liberal anarchist habitats have some software security so that when you print a product nobody else can tamper with the design. Anything else would be a wide open hole that could be exploited by malware, antisocial crazies or enemies. In the inner system a failure of DRM can lead to a very nasty visit from Oversight and the Nanosys. The security hole needs to be found and patched quickly.

People are likely confused at first, trying to check whether it is they who have been hacked or quietly gone insane, or just the world. The next natural reaction might be to think it is a marketing trick or a recruitment ad.

As the PCs and others wake up to this, the problem is spreading. The prankster made the code viral, and it is infecting every fabber, cornucopia and hive in the habitat. It is not just food that talks. Newly printed pillows, guns and transplant organs are all equipped with chatty, fun micropersonalities. In some cases this interferes with their function directly or indirectly, and sometimes it just crashes the fabbing when the blueprints conflict. The issue has gone from an annoyance to a security issue to a real problem.

Of course things turn worse. The little AIs are all simple open source joke AIs, downloaded from some mesh site somewhere. They are not secure at all. In fact, they can fairly easily be hacked with the right exploit, an exploit that has been around for years. That might not have mattered much for the original joke – who would seriously try to hack a breakfast sandwich?! – but now there are security holes just about everywhere. And sharks are rapidly moving in to use them.
At best the little AIs become entry points for random meshlife: spam, worms, escaped search requests, vapor forks and less recognizable entities that try to find exploitable hardware to run more copies of them. They degrade performance, worm their way into other processing nodes, and jam the mesh with their nonsense. But there are worse things out there: rampant hacking AIs, smart viruses, remnant seed AGI code from the Fall, the exsurgent virus in all its forms. As the AIs mutate they become increasingly linked together as successful invaders take over more and more of the vulnerable nodes. If this goes on long enough the habitat will have a serious and deadly infestation.

Fixing the situation is another matter. Getting everybody to stop fabbing things will just slow down the spread. Resetting fabbers will not help unless they are properly air-gapped, since the virus is already embedded in the local mesh. Finding and disassembling the virus is a fairly tricky combination of InfoSec and Nanoprogramming – the software defenses and DRM of fabbers work against owners trying to find it.

The best approach is to catch the originator and ask – or beat – them nicely to reveal the exploit. Once found it should be fairly easy to make a vaccination virus that infects all vulnerable systems and prevents them from being exploited. Then it is just a matter of recycling everything manufactured with the AIs (despite their protests and comments) and things should be back to normal. Of course, finding the prankster might be nontrivial. In a small habitat it will be easy to figure out who is behind it, but on a larger habitat it might be tough. Especially if the prankster has realized the mess they have created and now is trying to hide from angry mobs and authorities.

Somebody clever enough to find an exploit this powerful might make a great ally or resource. Or was their discovery of the exploit really a case of random genius, or part of something more sinister? It could be a more serious attack on the habitat, hidden in the guise of something inocous. The prankster might simply have been given code that would allow them to make a big security scare while the real attack occurred somewhere else… have you checked your medichine updates today?

But that problem might be for after lunch.

Extropian

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Oh dear, what a small, stupid and un-epic start ("the breakfast is talking") with such impressive, important and wide consequences! I really love it :)

Specially since a lot of stuff can be added to the basic idea, like the Planetary Consortium being behind that ("see what happens when everybody has access to this tech, and the blueprints are at everybody's reach?"), or even a Jovian agent, because it is an impressive amount of bad publicity for the new economies!

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Love that agent provocateur angle!

Many of the best stories begin with a small, silly event. And then the crack begins to widen...

Extropian

Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Modify it. A new brand of beer or spirit comes with a bottle/can that contains a small AI program that encogages in witty/funny/understanding chat with drinker.

The catch-the data is collected and sent away to unknown location. Who knows what people tell after a few drinks with a friendly bottle and who gets the info?

Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.

urdith urdith's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Imagine if the personalities installed were terrified of their interaction with the world? Pillows would scream when you squeezed them. Scales would say, "Get off! Oh, gods, get off of me!" And your food would constantly yell in abject horror as you ate it.

"You're killing me! Ahhhh!!!"

"The ruins of the unsustainable are the 21st century’s frontier."
— Bruce Sterling

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

urdith wrote:
Imagine if the personalities installed were terrified of their interaction with the world? Pillows would scream when you squeezed them. Scales would say, "Get off! Oh, gods, get off of me!" And your food would constantly yell in abject horror as you ate it.

"You're killing me! Ahhhh!!!"

Imagine people enjoying that... and I assure you, in EP, some people will! XD

Marek Krysiak Marek Krysiak's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Xagroth wrote:
urdith wrote:
Imagine if the personalities installed were terrified of their interaction with the world? Pillows would scream when you squeezed them. Scales would say, "Get off! Oh, gods, get off of me!" And your food would constantly yell in abject horror as you ate it.

"You're killing me! Ahhhh!!!"

Imagine people enjoying that... and I assure you, in EP, some people will! XD

You know... sometimes, after a period of sleep deprivation, I actually pretend that my breakfast does that...

'Oh noes! You monster!'

'Mwahaha!'

But wait! Wouldn't it mean that those items who were most successful at driving their tormentors away will survive, thus spreading their infection further? Evolution!
And then you wake up in the morning all tied up and the first thing you see is your toothbrush standing on your chest:

'You belong to us, humie! Bobbie, tell Mr Power Drill he can come in now!'

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Check out the music video of "Farin Urlaub" called "Dusche" and find a translation for the text. Thats the first thing that came to my mind when i read your post :)

I put on my slopes and wizard tracks.

Marek Krysiak Marek Krysiak's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Diese Rebellion der Haushaltsgegenstände ist fatal!

But seriously - you shouldn't sleep in your shower or the Monster From the Drain Hole will get you.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

urdith wrote:
Imagine if the personalities installed were terrified of their interaction with the world? Pillows would scream when you squeezed them. Scales would say, "Get off! Oh, gods, get off of me!" And your food would constantly yell in abject horror as you ate it.

"You're killing me! Ahhhh!!!"

Imagine if all of the micro AIs you had were like this. Your fabbed clothes scream for freedom when you put them on and as you walk down the street, the sidewalk (that was recently repaved with hacked fabbers) screams about how you are crushing it. You lie in your bed with new sheets laid on only for those sheets to scream how much agony they are in.

That could be one of the cruelest implementations of this "prank".

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

Decivre wrote:

Imagine if all of the micro AIs you had were like this. Your fabbed clothes scream for freedom when you put them on and as you walk down the street, the sidewalk (that was recently repaved with hacked fabbers) screams about how you are crushing it. You lie in your bed with new sheets laid on only for those sheets to scream how much agony they are in.

That could be one of the cruelest implementations of this "prank".

Sense edit thanks to Mesh implants: ignore the audio from those items XD. Now, in the street... specially clothes that can change color (oh dear... that man's suit has insulting words written all over itself!)... now, we are talking about trouble, specially if only a handfull of items get infected and fire up at random intervals!
Add to that a change in pitch, tone and language used by the items, and suddenly filterin becomes harder. Add metallic flavour to the meals (blood!), vary the colors of the clothes...

I know, I'm evil XD

King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

For some reason the "owner" doesn't notice the items plight (for example they sense block themselves from annoyances & distractions),however some of the surrounding does & prompt concerned third party to intervene.

Opposite scenario, the owner is the sole witness to the items plight & the surrounding public doesn't hear a thing. Causing the characters to wonder if they are suffering from auditory hallucinations

Players notice ignorant owners "murdering" items.

Evil version is to that some items are genuinely "possessed" (by forks, ranging from vapors and up).



"To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult."
Plutarch

Anarhista Anarhista's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

And since these little AIs, obviously, use cutting edge intrusion software to break, so easily, common firewalls and protections most fabber/people have, suddenly sales of high end counter intrusion software will... boom. Now, who would profit from such a thing? This is obviously joke of some twisted, anti-social hacker! 8-)

(I'm aiming at the 'light', funny version of the idea)

P.S. Thanx for the idea, I need something NOT sinister in my campaign :)

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

750 750's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

urdith wrote:
Imagine if the personalities installed were terrified of their interaction with the world? Pillows would scream when you squeezed them. Scales would say, "Get off! Oh, gods, get off of me!" And your food would constantly yell in abject horror as you ate it.

"You're killing me! Ahhhh!!!"


The food example actually showed up in one issue of Dirty Pair. Basically a snack that looks like a little guy in a suit that would scream and beg as you bite of limbs (tho personally i think i would go for the head first). That whole issue could actually be set to some autonomist/ultimates colony out beyond Pluto.
Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: The breakfast says: Hi!

urdith wrote:
Imagine if the personalities installed were terrified of their interaction with the world? Pillows would scream when you squeezed them. Scales would say, "Get off! Oh, gods, get off of me!" And your food would constantly yell in abject horror as you ate it.

"You're killing me! Ahhhh!!!"

Or as you're cutting out the middle of a human cake?

http://youtu.be/1P9Eg9iqhmY

(it's an artistic happening to draw attention to the horrors of female circumcision btw, before anyone gets the wrong idea about the imagery)

eaton eaton's picture
Just wanted to poke my head

Just wanted to poke my head in and say I worked this in as a session in an ongoing campaign and it was a huge hit. At one point the team — terrified of an exsurgent outbreak — worked double-time to construct an airgapped interrogation space to give a baguette the turing test.

A++ would breakfast again.