The Black Spot

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
The Black Spot
Here is an adventure I have been sketching: http://www.aleph.se/EclipsePhase/The%20Black%20Spot.pdf Some treasure hunting, dealing with a risky AGI and some potentially too-hot-to-handle revelations about a corporate executive. I would love to hear comments and suggestions on how to develop this adventure.
Extropian
nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: The Black Spot
El Capitan should have a SOM and COO score, if only of 5 or so; even if he can't do anything sleeved as an infomorph, he should be capable of operating drones or sleeving forks of himself into synthmorphs, pods, and possibly even biomorphs. Also, the travel time from Saturn would be useful. It'd be on the order of a month or two, right?

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
nick012000 wrote:
El Capitan should have a SOM and COO score, if only of 5 or so; even if he can't do anything sleeved as an infomorph, he should be capable of operating drones or sleeving forks of himself into synthmorphs, pods, and possibly even biomorphs.
Actually, I wanted to make it pretty alien. It literally has no body or sense of body.
Quote:
Also, the travel time from Saturn would be useful. It'd be on the order of a month or two, right?
Sounds right.
Extropian
nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: The Black Spot
Also, a hacker should be capable of interpreting El Capitan's memories the same way they would the memories stored in any other cyberbrain; there probably ought to be notes on how to go about scanning them for the Exsurgent Virus before they start being run.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
nick012000 wrote:
Also, a hacker should be capable of interpreting El Capitan's memories the same way they would the memories stored in any other cyberbrain; there probably ought to be notes on how to go about scanning them for the Exsurgent Virus before they start being run.
That is actually something I have a problem with in EP. I can kind of see how an AI could be built that had easily interpretable memories, but the whole architecture would be utterly different from the architecture of a human mind - and AGIs are supposed to be based quite a lot on them. Worse, it seems pretty absurd that if I move my human ego to a cyberbrain my memories would suddenly become easily interpretable - they are still distributed across a huge neural network where it is the overall pattern, not individual parts, that produce the meaning. This is why I think El Capitan can not easily be read. Of course, I could just explain it away by saying it is running as encrypted (or rather, obfuscated) software for security reasons. With the right key it could be properly disassembled, but that key is not present. Scanning for Exsurgent viruses probably shouldn't need rules: old strains can get detected (as the discussion in the book explains), new strains are more unpredictable and requires some heavy or lucky Infosec.
Extropian
Rhyx Rhyx's picture
Re: The Black Spot
I really like El Capitan and its goals of trying to merge both companies back into Monolith again. It makes for a bunch of really nice adventures and an opening for the players to truly change the face of the game by creating what would amount to a new PC superpower. They would have everything to gain in becoming it's ally. However well it's a hideously illegal seed A.I. So on one hand it's too good an opportunity to pass up but on the other hand getting caught will mean extremely hard sanctions should they get caught.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
Rhyx wrote:
I really like El Capitan and its goals of trying to merge both companies back into Monolith again. It makes for a bunch of really nice adventures and an opening for the players to truly change the face of the game by creating what would amount to a new PC superpower. They would have everything to gain in becoming it's ally. However well it's a hideously illegal seed A.I. So on one hand it's too good an opportunity to pass up but on the other hand getting caught will mean extremely hard sanctions should they get caught.
Yup. And while El Capitan is strictly speaking neither insane nor megalomaniacal, there is definitely something very problematical about its single-minded goals. I can imagine a campaign where the players are circling its plotting, trying to profit from it and maybe even direct towards 'good' ends ("We will help you, on the condition that when you get control over things, you stop the corps from playing with TITAN tech.") while constantly worrying both against the increasingly active opposition (what would Oversight say about this? not to mention other corporate startegy AGIs?) and the fear that the AGI will at any point regard them as disposable or even liabilities. So much fun potential for betrayals, allies-out-of-necessity and strange bedmates...
Extropian
OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
Re: The Black Spot
SWEET! I just noticed this. the Starware/Omnicore/monolith plot is one of my fave's. I'll check it out now. Thanks Arenamontanus.

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

root root's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root@The Black Spot [hr] A few ideas: If El Capitan is to be brought up to full operational capacity, it needs computing power on a scale that is hard to hide. It will need to take up residence in one of the locations in the Sol system that can hide such a mass of computing power, and those niches are limited. There could be some interesting adventures where El Capitan and the players stumble into other seed AGI facilities, Prometheans, or just general black ops while trying to set up. Even if the probability of all those locations being filled is nearly zero, once El Capitan is up and running, the Prometheans are going to detect its market manipulations when their own manipulations start to spit back erroneous results in the residuals. I could see a campaign where the Prometheans try to deal with El Capitan "in house" and either recruit it or nuke it from orbit. The last idea I had is to have El Capitan be a TITAN from the start, but one that has had its memories pruned so it doesn't realize it until it has enough control to do some damage.
[ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root wrote:
A few ideas: If El Capitan is to be brought up to full operational capacity, it needs computing power on a scale that is hard to hide.
A great idea! Yes, El Capitan as described is merely on the transhuman scale (and likely needs a bit more server space than ordinary infomorphs to run). It might be complaining about feeling both cramped and dumb. Hmm, where could you get a really big server at this hour? Of course the stock market servers would be really yummy, but they are watched a bit too closely. A lot of big servers are specialized for e.g. terraforming simulations, generating nanomachine designs or running simspaces. The real temptation would be to build one directly somewhere remote - but then communication will be an issue. Not to mention the paranoids who look for suspect construction activity (watch those heat emissions from the nano!)
Quote:
I could see a campaign where the Prometheans try to deal with El Capitan "in house" and either recruit it or nuke it from orbit.
Maybe that is another way of running the adventure - NPCs (or another gaming group) run the core adventure, and the PCs are now trying tro track the strange market manipulations to their source.
Quote:
The last idea I had is to have El Capitan be a TITAN from the start, but one that has had its memories pruned so it doesn't realize it until it has enough control to do some damage.
Yes, this is a real possibility. The real "virus" is actually already part of the Capitan, a property of its structure that will make it blossom into a TITAN once it is smart enough. Or it is a cut-down version of a TITAN that was hid at the last moment. Mind if I include these ideas in my next version?
Extropian
The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: The Black Spot
Arenamontanus wrote:
Hmm, where could you get a really big server at this hour? Of course the stock market servers would be really yummy, but they are watched a bit too closely. A lot of big servers are specialized for e.g. terraforming simulations, generating nanomachine designs or running simspaces. The real temptation would be to build one directly somewhere remote - but then communication will be an issue. Not to mention the paranoids who look for suspect construction activity (watch those heat emissions from the nano!)
What about El Capitan insereting itself the EP equivalent of the BOINC network? It could partition itself down into much smaller, less computationally demanding modules and make its constituent components resemble a useful project (testing the strength of cryptographic keys, modelling thermodynamic models of Io, searching for patterns in the neutrino emissions of Sol), thus tricking people into giving each client a little processing time on their equipment? That would make an interesting campaign for another set of players: they have been hired to get jobs at Starware and Omnicor and make certain modifications to the IT infrastructures of the installations of the two hypercorps. A little more processing power here, some more hardwired network links there, a project for the software development department is initiated somewhere else... essentially directing the two companies to build processing substrate for El Capitan to move into.
root root's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root@The Black Spot [hr] Feel free to use the ideas. Thinking is a social process, and I have no claim to them. A place to find a powerful server at any hour is the Carnival of the Goat's qubit exchange market. Since the whole thing is set up to hide all of its trade actions inside of market noise, it is an ideal system for any seed AGI to steal. The best part is that the people running the barge can't pull in any big guns for help if they discover that the system is compromised, as it gains them nothing. The market masters and everyone trading on it will be exterminated and backup purged if they are caught with the qubit exchange (I contend that hypercorps hate people messing with integrity of money more than anything), and the human pysche's survival drive will convince them that even TITAN horrors are better than death (poor, foolish brain. It has no idea how wrong it is.). If the seed AGI hid itself in the Harmonics (the null-law zone servers hosting stacks of simulspaces running at various fractions or multiples of real-time), it would have quite a bit of time to work with before anyone in meatspace had any idea it was there.
[ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
The Doctor wrote:
What about El Capitan insereting itself the EP equivalent of the BOINC network?
Sounds like it would already be full of hopeful seed AGIs? Also, this is likely a place even the Argonauts scan for exploitative weblife. But the trick is to hide in plain sight: the calculations seem to be transparent optimization, it is just that they happen to optimize corporate takeovers. Another approach would be to run as a botnet on a suitable substrate. Reminds me I ought to post my writeup of a human botnet... (which would make a great and sinister combination with El Capitan).
Quote:
That would make an interesting campaign for another set of players: they have been hired to get jobs at Starware and Omnicor and make certain modifications to the IT infrastructures of the installations of the two hypercorps. A little more processing power here, some more hardwired network links there, a project for the software development department is initiated somewhere else... essentially directing the two companies to build processing substrate for El Capitan to move into.
Sounds like a good idea. However, remember that El Capitan isn't a genius at software engineering: "Damn it, I'm a strategist, not a programmer!" :-) Of course, that will not stop it from acquiring somebody or something to come up with a solution - when in doubt, outsource. Again, the PCs might be involved - or framed: "Sorry sir, but we thought we were working for a legit company doing design work for a distributed marketing campaign. We didn't know it was Seed AGI infrastructure!" Hmm, in my own setting I can see El Capitan being really interested in getting into the infrastructure building New Tanzania. As well as a certain report from "Think Before Asking" giving far too explicit instructions on applied godhood.
Root wrote:
A place to find a powerful server at any hour is the Carnival of the Goat's qubit exchange market. Since the whole thing is set up to hide all of its trade actions inside of market noise, it is an ideal system for any seed AGI to steal.
So, why haven't it already been stolen? And if it is as open as this, why haven't certain powers decided to have a minor mishap with antimatter tragically and permanently wreck the Carnival? A bit of insecurity and seediness flies under the radar, but someone leaving server space open to something viewed as evil as a combined Al Qaida/child pornography/money laundering site would likely be dealt with.
Extropian
root root's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root@The Black Spot [hr]
Arenamontanus wrote:
root wrote:
A place to find a powerful server at any hour is the Carnival of the Goat's qubit exchange market. Since the whole thing is set up to hide all of its trade actions inside of market noise, it is an ideal system for any seed AGI to steal.
So, why haven't it already been stolen? And if it is as open as this, why haven't certain powers decided to have a minor mishap with antimatter tragically and permanently wreck the Carnival? A bit of insecurity and seediness flies under the radar, but someone leaving server space open to something viewed as evil as a combined Al Qaida/child pornography/money laundering site would likely be dealt with.
That's such an interesting question. Here's another one: Why does the Tor network still exist?
[ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root wrote:
That's such an interesting question. Here's another one: Why does the Tor network still exist?
Ever tried to run a website or hide your P2P traffic through it? The long latencies are in a way a saving grace, since it makes it useless for tasks that would likely bring far more negative attention. But the biggest reason is that it is decentralized. The weakness of Carnival of the Goat is that it is in one place, and can easily be destroyed if that place goes. I can certainly see the CoG culture spreading and popping up in new places, staying mobile yet connected through the Mesh. But such a distributed network would not have the heavy-duty computing power we are talking about here. El Capitan might not need to run in absolute realtime, but enough lags are going to make his strategizing impractical as different parts of the same mind have different information and act on it. As an aside, the issue of darknets is interesting. Clearly many petals use them, or even implement them. Many are using VPNs. Yet such hidden networks are also dangerous, since a threat might spread through one of them without outsiders being able to detect. So I expect that many of the Powers That Be actually spend some effort on random sampling of encrypted communications just in order to get heads-up for emerging threats. Guess what Nimbus might be doing over on Venus? Of course, it is not spying. It is just network quality assurance and online security enhancement.
Extropian
root root's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root@The Black Spot [hr] The latencies of the Tor network are the point of it, and you are right about the networks capacity to cause damage being too low. That wasn't the reason I was going for, but it works. As far as the CoG network being too centralized, that would be true if the communication methods weren't qubits. For every qubit being used on the CoG, there has to be another qubit at the receiving market, and the boat very likely keeps a pile of reservoirs that communicate to hidden locations in the Oort Cloud, undersea Europa, close solar orbits, Pandora Gate locations, and anywhere else an reservoir can be well concealed. These undoubtedly serve as a first hop, and copy messages for resending to another Ozymandias Rez Co location to turn on backups for whoever bought insurance. The reason I was going for as to why CoG can get away with this is the bad economics of picking a fight with them. They are a soft initial target, but they respond like an intelligent colony of roach ninjas who can teleport. They may be manipulating the market, but there is only so much money that they can steal without showing up in market analysis software. Once they show up in the data used by market analysis AI, they are just another variable and the trick won't work anymore. Plus, every polity that is being stolen from by the CoG market knows it, and can lean on them through clandestine channels. Since they can be leaned on and made to forward clandestine agendas, CoG is more useful to spy networks than they are to the criminals running it. I guess in the end El Capitan wouldn't want to use that server system, as it is probably the closest watched weakess in the system, and may have a shockingly large pile of contingency kabooms hidden on it by various groups. Think if it as a seed AI honeypot. Plus it was being used by root as the only way to be the muse for every Simone[sup]N[/sup] simultaneously, right up until the Jovians wiped its memories. And then there is the owner of the barge, whom I'll be introducing soon.
[ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]
root root's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root@The Black Spot [hr] Simon Kerimov is starting to shape up in my head, so I've brought him onto the IC forum. Would you consider the CoG to be more believable as a floating bookie? It would keep the same qubit network, but would only be sending very short messages encoding odds over those channels, so wouldn't have the bandwidth to host an x-threat. The i-rep factions would still make good use of it, the Harmonics make more sense as a bunch of simspaces that people inhabit after they lose their morphs at the tables. They become a hive of confidence egos, pathological gamblers, the truly fucked, and hypertoothed sharks chumming for suckers. The top end of the ship (figuratively speaking) becomes the private no-limit games, all the way down to the uplifts with faulty executive boosts playing coin flipping games. I still like my market manipulation idea, but it needs refinement, as you pointed out. I'll toss it into the meat machine's think meats and come back to it when it fits better.
[ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]
nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: The Black Spot
Rhyx wrote:
I really like El Capitan and its goals of trying to merge both companies back into Monolith again. It makes for a bunch of really nice adventures and an opening for the players to truly change the face of the game by creating what would amount to a new PC superpower. They would have everything to gain in becoming it's ally. However well it's a hideously illegal seed A.I. So on one hand it's too good an opportunity to pass up but on the other hand getting caught will mean extremely hard sanctions should they get caught.
Or, alternately, the PCs just hack him before they reactivate him so that he's fitted with the standard AGI limiters. I doubt it'd be particularly difficult, especially if there's an infomorph hacker in the party.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root wrote:
Would you consider the CoG to be more believable as a floating bookie? It would keep the same qubit network, but would only be sending very short messages encoding odds over those channels, so wouldn't have the bandwidth to host an x-threat. The i-rep factions would still make good use of it, the Harmonics make more sense as a bunch of simspaces that people inhabit after they lose their morphs at the tables. ...
Yes, this makes a lot of sense. It adds to the mood of the habitat - this is a place for mad, bad and dangerous to know people. If you really want to play for the highest of stakes with no official oversight complaining that you are betting a TITAN artefact against controlling shares in the soul of your opponent, then this is the place. "Hey, kid! You need someone to show you around here. Let me do it, I have been from the Ruby Table down to the bilge servers. I can show you how to get into the Cathedral of Flowers private sampling sessions, or get a view of Dr Laotse's remorphing performances if that is what itches your bitches." Q-bits are not dangerous on their own, it is when you have enough of them to spread out quantum computations across the solar system things get worrying. Fortunately that cannot be done yet. But imagine if some bright character came up with a much better qubit storage system, making prices drop? A firewall scenario might have this as a macguffin: the Prometheans desperately want the technology stopped, since otherwise the solar system would soon be strongly tied together and likely to suffer another Fall. Oversight and Ozma of course want the tech too, at least for their own use, but also because they think they can run the qubit network and bring everybody into the PC this way. Meanwhile exsurgent forces are trying to get the tech to leak, so that everything will become one single juicy morsel...
Extropian
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
nick012000 wrote:
Or, alternately, the PCs just hack him before they reactivate him so that he's fitted with the standard AGI limiters. I doubt it'd be particularly difficult, especially if there's an infomorph hacker in the party.
Good point. Although this assumes that AGI limiters are easy to insert - this is after all a complex pre-Fall AGI that might have (as discussed above) obfuscated code. Personally I think limiters have to be inserted at the lowest possible level of the mind, and this might *either* be very tricky or very simple. I don't see any clear reason for which way things would go (our own research suggest limiters might have to be very limiting, essentially impairing the general part of AGI). High level psychosurgery to compel the AGI to play nice might work, though.
Extropian
root root's picture
Re: The Black Spot
root@The Black Spot [hr]
Arenamontanus wrote:
"Hey, kid! You need someone to show you around here. Let me do it, I have been from the Ruby Table down to the bilge servers. I can show you how to get into the Cathedral of Flowers private sampling sessions, or get a view of Dr Laotse's remorphing performances if that is what itches your bitches."
I like this. Confucius the remorphing performer? I'll have to think on the symbolism of that. I'm giving the Cathedral of Flowers a seat on the captaincy council, but I don't know who they would send to contend with the Sun Yee On and Simon[sup]*[/sup].
[ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]
The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: The Black Spot
Arenamontanus wrote:
Ever tried to run a website or hide your P2P traffic through it? The long latencies are in a way a saving grace, since it makes it useless for tasks that would likely bring far more negative attention.
For what it is worth, the v0.2.1.x series of releases has done a lot for improving the latency of the Tor darknet. Plus, I suspect the ready availability of cheap virtual machines in other countries...
Arenamontanus wrote:
El Capitan might not need to run in absolute realtime, but enough lags are going to make his strategizing impractical as different parts of the same mind have different information and act on it.
It might depend on the signaling mechanism in between nodes. Meaningful messages in between shards of El Capitan might take the place within the timing of spam bounces from node to node, or varying the distributions of shading pixels in images, or how much waste heat is emitted from a particular vent... I think it could depend upon how many compromises El Capitan is willing to make to put itself into a better position compared to its medium-term goals.
Arenamontanus wrote:
As an aside, the issue of darknets is interesting. Clearly many petals use them, or even implement them. Many are using VPNs.
One of the things I am writing up for my game is a petal-based darknet with a gnostic overlay that transmits plans for fabbers and nanoswarms within a particular habitat. One does not remember how one learned to build one, only that one woke up one day and suddenly had an idea...
Arenamontanus wrote:
Yet such hidden networks are also dangerous, since a threat might spread through one of them without outsiders being able to detect.
Sensitive data may also be exfiltrated through a darknet. The Prometheans might devote CPU time to analyzing darknet traffic just to make sure that a stormcrow or a router is not leaking sensitive information while tripping on a particular petal.
Arenamontanus wrote:
So I expect that many of the Powers That Be actually spend some effort on random sampling of encrypted communications just in order to get heads-up for emerging threats. Guess what Nimbus might be doing over on Venus? Of course, it is not spying. It is just network quality assurance and online security enhancement.
Outright infiltration of a given darknet is also not outside of the realm of possibility.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Black Spot
The Doctor wrote:
One of the things I am writing up for my game is a petal-based darknet with a gnostic overlay that transmits plans for fabbers and nanoswarms within a particular habitat. One does not remember how one learned to build one, only that one woke up one day and suddenly had an idea...
Telling it from an AoK hack would be hard... might make a fun false alarm for firewall sentinels. "Oh, it was not an exsurgent outbreak, just viral piracy."
Extropian