Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

June 25, 2010

CYBERKILL: The Lost Chapters – Part Four

Filed under: CyberKill — Frank Fiore @ 10:04 AM

They say that an author has to be brutal with his or her edits.

The first few drafts of CyberKill were filled with quite a lot of technology and other information pertaining government programs in an attempt to make the novel as informative and pertinent as possible.

But in the process of some fine advice, editing and story polishing that I received, some of that material was deleted.  But, it is interesting non-the-less.

So, here are some of tee lost chapters of CyberKill that contained some very interesting information and technology for discussion.

BTW: These are the raw unedited and unpolished chapters.

This week – RFID, the Second Computer Revolution, and government conspiracies

Taylor, Dallas and KC were waiting anxiously in the team office, their eyes glued to a TV screen as Cole walked in. All the major news stations were carrying the news about the web site hijackings.

“It’s all over the news, man,” said Dallas. “The cats out of the bag now.”

“Hi, KC. Feeling better?” asked Cole.

“Yeah,” replied KC. “The doc here at the base gave me some good drugs.”

“Travis, what happened at the meeting?” asked Taylor.

“The DHS doesn’t seem to know any more than we do, at this point. Neither does the NSA and now, we don’t know if this Brotherhood is connected in any way – or who they really are, for that matter.”

“It’s no big secret who they are,” replied Dallas. “They’re a bunch of techno-pagans like me.”

“Like you? How do you know that?” asked Taylor.

“I had a brush with them last year at Burning Man.”

“What the hell is Burning Man,” asked Taylor.

“You’re so clueless. It’s sort of a techno-pagan celebration out in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.”

“That doesn’t tell us what it is, Dallas,” Cole pointed out.

“Well, the people who go there sort of build a temporary city out on an ancient lake bed called the playa. Then a few weeks later, the city is gone. There are no rules about how you have to behave or express yourself at the event. You do your own thing as long as don’t hurt anyone or anyone’s property.”

“How 1960s” said Taylor.

“How long has this pagan thing been going on?” asked KC.

“Well, it started on a small beach in San Francisco around 1990, I believe. It’s since gravitated to the playa out at the Black Rock Desert and now you’ll find over 25,000 techno-geeks, techno-hippies, musicians, artists, and what-nots at the event.  Basically, these are free spirits who surf the bleeding edge of culture, space, and time. You know, like me.”

“Sounds like an electronic Woodstock,” said Cole.

“Good description,” Dallas remarked.

“And what does Burning Man mean?” asked Taylor. “Do you guys sacrifice virgins or something?”

“No,” replied Dallas. He looked at Taylor and said, “Besides, if they did, you wouldn’t have to worry.”

“Screw you, Dallas,” sneered Taylor.

“Dallas?” KC asked. “Do they actually burn something?”

“Yes. On the last night of the gathering they burn a 40-foot tall wooden figure in the shape of a man.”

“Why?” asked KC.
“A primitive ritual of some kind, in keeping with the event and the people who go there. The Man holds ‘court’ as people come to pay tribute to him. Some bring bad memories to sacrifice, others are drawn as moths to a flame to watch the conflagration, and for others, it becomes their new year, as a fire cleans out the old and creates a spiritual space for a new year’s growth.”

“What a bunch of New Age claptrap,” said Taylor, rolling her eyes.

“So tell us about the Brotherhood,” asked Cole.

“Well, like I said, Joe Miller and I met some of these guys at Burning Man last year.”

“Who’s Joe Miller?” asked Cole.

“A good buddy of mine. Or, at least was. He’s an IT pro and fellow techno-pagan. Anyway, this Digitari Brotherhood were a weird bunch and claimed they were some kind of New Age hackers. To me, they looked more like Heaven’s Gate escapees. Real weirdoes. They followed some guy named Dorian. I wrote them off as some kind of religious group. They might have started as a group of techno-pagans but under their anointed leader they’ve transformed into some kind of cult.”

“Heaven’s Gate. Wasn’t that the cybercult a while back where all the members committed suicide, waiting for a spaceship to take them to heaven?” asked KC.

Yeah,” replied Dallas. “That’s the bunch. Like I said, the Brotherhood members are real 404 cases. Not found. Gone to Atlanta.”

“You would’ve fit right in,” remarked Taylor.

“You might be surprised. All in all, I agree with their agenda – just don’t go along with their methods.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked KC

“Information technology is getting very complex –and moving faster every day,” continued Dallas. “The guys upstairs in the Adminisphere can’t keep up with it. They have to talk to geeks like us – corporate people, beltway advisors, academic elites, and the like – to help them understand what’s goin’ on. In effect, letting the experts set the agenda, even influencing the politician’s decisions on what to do and what policies and laws to enact.”

Un-elected advisors,” said Cole.

“Right! I didn’t elect those guys to make policy decisions regarding technology. I elected my representatives. But they know so little about the effects of all this stuff that they concede to the advisors and, more often than not, legislate what they say.”

“Good point,” said Cole.

“Radio Frequency Identification is a good example,” said Dallas.

“What are those?” asked KC.

“RFID tags. They’re miniscule microchips that are quickly being attached to the products we wear, eat and carry,” Dallas advised. “These ‘chips’ have shrunk to half the size of a grain of sand and listen for a radio query, then respond by transmitting their unique ID code.”

“Sort of an electronic bar code?” asked Cole.

“Yes. That’s a good description,” replied Dallas. “But instead of a person actively picking up the product and scanning it, the product transmits its information to a passive scanner.”

“And how that?” asked Taylor.

“Well, with RFID, your fridge at home will tell you when your milk has spoiled or if you’re out of butter. The DoD uses RFID to track 300,000 containers of equipment in 40 countries everyday. In the not so distant future, RFID chips will monitor and track your money, your passport, even your medicine intake.”

“Whoa!” said Taylor. “That sounds a lot like Big Brother stuff to me.”

Dallas smiled and said, “Exactly. And that’s the concern. It becomes easy to imagine a scenario where everything you buy that’s more expensive than a Mars bar, for example, will sport RFID tags. That raises the possibility of being tracked through our personal possessions. And the guys who make the decisions in our government are going along with it. Why? Because it creates a huge cost savings for business.”

“At a possible expense of our personal freedoms,” said Taylor.

“I’m afraid so,” said Dallas.

“Oh great,” she said. “I buy a T-Shirt at the Gap. The Gap links my

T-shirt’s RFID tag with the credit card chip I used to buy it and recognizes me, by name; and when I return, assaults me with flashing ads based on my spending patterns.”

“Just like in Minority Report,” said KC.

“And, the police gain a trendy method of constant, cradle-to-grave surveillance,” added Taylor. “How nice. Technology keeps getting smarter and our leaders keep getting dumber while our privacy gets blown away like dust in the wind.”

“That’s a good analogy, Taylor,” said Dallas. “Especially with what we’re doing here at the lab with Angel Dust. RFID, motes, smart dust – all the same. A network that can track our every move.”

“Shit,” said Taylor.” I’m gonna invest in a super vacuum cleaner.”

They all laughed. Then Cole asked, “And this, Dallas, is what the Brotherhood is fighting against?”

“Like I said, that’s their agenda.”

Taylor added, “And people like you, Travis, are contributing to it.”

“What do you mean, I’m contributing to it?”

“Once all of these chips start talking to one another,” she said, “they’re going to make the world move much faster, more efficiently and at speeds that humans couldn’t match.”

“And your point is?”

“My point is, all this chip talking is going on without our knowledge. We humans are being taken out of the loop.”

“Oh, here we go. We got her started now,” Dallas remarked. “We’re going to get the EFF party line!”

“Listen, mister, the Electronic Freedom Foundation protects us from the privacy pirates who build technologies without regard to how they can be used to encroach on our freedoms.”

“You and they are paranoid,” Dallas replied.

“With every right to be.” she said.

“Oh, oh. Here it comes,” Dallas remarked.

“We’ve entered the second phase of the computer revolution and we’re giving little thought as to how that phase will play out,” she continued. “ In the first phase, we spoke directly to the computers. In the second phase, like the RFID chips, they’ll be talking to each other. You said it yourself, Travis. Your research up at MIT, remember? You wanted to create an equivalent to the Cambrian Explosion – a digital Cambrian Explosion. Hoping to create a new form of intelligence that would probably be alien to ours.” Then she added somewhat ominously, “How would you like that talking behind our backs?”

“Yeah,” said KC. “Like the GE appliance commercial. ‘The washer talks. The dryer listens.’ What the hell is the washer telling the dryer?”

“Are you saying that a new form of intelligence comes with the desire to be malevolent?” replied Cole. “Come on, Taylor, don’t you agree that malevolence doesn’t come free with computation but has to be programmed into it?”

“And even if it could act malevolent, why would it want to?” added Dallas. “For what? A desire to commit violence against an inept PC repairman? Or to shrink your silk blouse?”

“Or maybe you think a network of AIs could plot an organized takeover?” added Cole. “But what would make one agent fire the data packet heard round the world and risk early martyrdom? No, it’s an interesting thought, Taylor, but a bit too much of a conspiracy theory for my taste.”

“You’re forgetting the Law of Unintended Consequences,” she replied. “But okay, let’s talk conspiracies then. One closer to home. DARPA.”

“DARPA?” said Cole. “The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency?”

“Yep. The very same guys who gave us the free and open Internet.”

“What about DARPA?” asked Dallas. “What conspiracy are they involved in?”

“Ever hear of the IAO or the TIA?”

“What are those?” asked KC.

“I know the IAO,” said Cole. “It’s the Information Awareness Office. AJ said something about it. I think she was involved with their activities a while back. If I remember, it’s an agency established in 2002 to provide the government with total information awareness in the wake of 9-11.”

“A DARPA agency by the way. You’re correct. Give that man a Captain Midnight decoder ring. What you may not know of the IAO is that it’s suppose to supply government officials with an instant analysis of what was written, emailed and said on phones all over the US. Wanna test it? Send a text-message that reads ‘Bmb OK. Allah gr8’ and see who shows up at your front door. What’s more,” Taylor continued, “the logo of the IAO – and it’s on the DARPA web site by the way – displays the Illuminati Seal as part of its logo. I kid you not!”

“You mean,” KC asked, “that this agency tasked with spying on Americans adopted a seal connected to one of the biggest and well-known conspiracy theories throughout history – the Illuminati Brotherhood?”

“Yep. The all-seeing eye atop the pyramid. The same seal that appears on our dollar bills.”

Cole pondered that a moment. “I can’t believe some bunch of government pinheads sat down and said, ‘Let’s utilize the symbol of a network known to history as one of the top three shadowy groups – the Illuminati, Freemasons and the Order of the Jesuits – for our logo’. That is sure to throw the conspiracy nuts into fits. No wonder the Brotherhood is recruiting members.”

“And the TIA?” asked KC.

“The Total Information Awareness system is just one of the foot soldiers of the IAO. Other programs that are supposed to be watching, listing and tracking what we do around the whole globe work under the names of Genoa and Genoa II, ECHELON, NIMD, and LifeLog. If you believe in black helicopters and that our new currency has a secret tracking mechanism in it, then these programs all point to the goal of tracing the threads of an individuals life – every email sent, every phone call made, every TV show watched, every magazine read, and everything purchased in one’s life.”

The three programmers stared at Taylor in silence.

“Okay. I’ll get off my soap box,” she said.

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