Bayeswatch 7: Wildfire

“You don’t seem surprised,” said Vi.

“The very existence of Bayeswatch increases the odds of catastrophic disaster. The world is like a forest. Put out the little fires and detritus accumulates until every spark causes a conflagration,” said Miriam.

Around the world, 99% of Internet-connected devices broadcast the same message.

Bayeswatch is hereby disbanded. The automated weapons systems of the United States, China and Russia will destroy Bayeswatch facilities starting in one hour. Vacate the premises immediately. Anyone who remains will be destroyed.

The leaders of the world are to meet in the United Nations headquarters in New York, where you will receive further instructions.

Anyone who attempts to resist will be terminated. Anyone who complies will not be harmed.

“Come with me if you want to save the world,” said Miriam.

They avoided elevators. Vi followed Miriam through stairwell after stairwell down into the labyrinth of concrete and steel. They speedwalked through doorways labelled “no access permitted” to “top secret” to “unauthorized personnel will be shot” to various levels of clearance so secret they didn’t even have names. The doors were marked with salmon rectangles and lime pentagons.

“Is there anything you don’t have security clearance for?” said Vi.

“I can neither confirm nor deny whether I have access to everything in this facility,” said Miriam, “but I’m about to show you Bayeswatch’s deepest darkest secret.”

“I thought you weren’t a founder of Bayeswatch,” said Vi.

“I’m not. Bayeswatch was founded in the 20s. I joined on Z-Day,” said Miriam.

They passed through decades-old tunnels passageways lit by naked LEDs in protective wire cages. Miriam brushed the dust and cobwebs off of an access panel.

“Where were you on Z-Day?” said Vi.

“New York,” said Miriam.

The two partners stood before a vault door built to survive a nuclear bunker buster. Miriam poked her hand on the needle sticking out of it. The needle retracted. The door opened.

“I know we have more important things to deal with. But I’m confused. What’s with the biometric lock? Biometric security only works if you have a human being confirming it’s really your blood which goes into the scanner. There’s no guard to confirm we’re using our own blood,” said Vi.

“It’s not verifying my identity. It’s checking for Z-Day antibodies,” said Miriam.

The vault was freezing. The walls and ceiling of the vault were ribbed with steel coated in ice. In the middle of the secure freezer was a single briefcase.

“Give me your knife,” said Miriam.

They chipped away at the ice until enough of it had been removed to snap the briefcase off of the floor.

“How much time do we have?” said Miriam.

“Five minutes,” said Vi.

It took them seven minutes to reach the hanger on the surface. Vi heard the alarms before she heard the explosions. A stealth scout remained. Miriam shouted an override code. The hatch opened. Vi got in the pilot’s seat in prone position. She put on the the VR helmet.

“The hanger door won’t open. It has lost power,” said Vi.

“Don’t be a fool. This is a combat aircraft,” said Miriam.

Vi fired two missiles at the hanger door. The engines thundered.

Vi landed the scout in the Ez Zeraf Wasteland.

“I have wilderness survival training. You can have the pilot’s reclining seat,” said Miriam.

“I like sleeping where I can see the stars,” said Vi.

“Don’t touch the soil. The residue defoliants are carcinogenic,” said Miriam.

“Besides, this way I can be on watch. My sleeping outside is entirely in the interests in the mission. It has nothing to do with whether my partner is an old woman who needs a comfy bed,

“Fuck you,” said Miriam.

Giant twisted skeletons of metal, glass and bone were strewn about the wasteland.

“This isn’t your first rodeo,” said Vi.

“My life is getting predictable. I need a new line of work,” said Miriam from the pilot’s seat.

“You don’t mean that,” said Vi.

“No, I don’t,” said Miriam.

“What was Z-Day like?” said Vi.

“I was a volunteer at a rationalist emergency preparedness organization. We were like any other preppers except instead of just preparing for historical disasters like hurricanes we also prepared for future disasters like megaquakes and artificial pandemics. We had our own cowboy wetlab for inventing vaccines. I was mostly in it for the camping and to hang out with nerds. Are you sure you don’t want the seat?” said Miriam.

“I’m fine. Go on,” said Vi. She pulled back the slide of the the XM17 pistol while covering the ejection port. A cartridge ejected into her hand. Vi released the slide. It slammed back into place. Vi placed the cartridge back into the magazine.

“Can you please stop that?” said Miriam.

“Sorry,” said Vi.

“When I first heard about Z-Day I disbelieved it. Simultaneous zombie outbreaks from London to Shanghai? It was the plot from a B movie. I thought an augmented reality game had got out of hand,” said Miriam.

“Until you realized the target cities all contained major stock exchanges,” Vi.

“We didn’t put the financial connection together until way later. I realized the situation was real when my local disaster preparedness leader called me and told me Bayeswatch had contacted her. Bayeswatch assembled a small army and sent us into New York,” said Miriam.

“Why not the actual National Guard?” said Vi.

“They were overwhelmed. It felt like civilization was falling apart. The US government was treating the situation like a terrorist attack. They thought the plague had been engineered by humans. Things were different back then. A strong AI had never gone rogue before. Nation-state governments were skeptical whether it was even possible to built strong AI in the first place,” said Miriam.

“Bayeswatch was the most powerful organization which realized the true nature of the threat,” said Vi.

“Bayeswatch did not yet rule the world back then. But there was no competition. They identified the source of the outbreak and sent us its coordinates. Our job was to go there,” said Miriam.

“And destroy the AGI,” said Vi.

Miriam shook her head. She patted the briefcase.