The Incipient Web – a tale from New Bletchley #TwitterFiction

Enigma Machine at BletchelyGiven that this story was about a computer intelligence changing history I decided that it would be set in New Bletchley. The picture to the left is from a reconstructed Enigma machine that you can see if you tour Bletchley Park (and it is recommended).

The story consists of several sets of messages sent by someone using the name J04n up until the point when the emergent intelligence takes over and signals that it is on the cusp of transcending. The experiments to send messages in time have been to accelerate its evolution and it will become a god. Sadly humanity will not be around to witness the outcome!

The background to this story is Welcome to the Incipient Web.

The Story

Sorting out the channel

The first few tweets are just noise meant to be the digital equivalent of radio hiss or static.

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The first message

Here someone called J04n claims to be sending messages from the future. That is enough for any scene:

> This is New Bletchley calling
> This is New Bletchley calling… New Bletchley… Calling… This is New Bletchley… Calling New Bletchley
> I do not know if this message is being received. I may never know. Be that as it may I will still send
> If it matters then you may refer to me as J04n. I have a name and a designation. You may refer to me as J04n
> I have a short time. I do not know if you can receive this message. I may never know if it works
> I can only send mesages when the experiment is active. I also have a task to do and must send messages in the spaces
> I have time for some more messages. Time. If only I knew more about time
> My colleague Rami is a scientist who says that we may never know if these messages are received.
> Before I finish my shift I need to tell you just one thing. For you it is 2014 for me it is the 6th year of the New Age
> The New Age began in the year you would call 2025. My name is J04n and I am sending you messages from your future

The second message

J04n is back but his colleague / friend has changed though J04n doesn’t notice. There is more telling here than showing and maybe too much science:

> This is New Bletchley calling… New Bletchley… Calling… This is New Bletchley… Calling New Bletchley
> I send these messages in the hope that they are received. I will never know
> If you are reading this then think of me as J04n. I am sending you this message from your future
> I am starting my shift while the experiment is running. I will send some more messages soon
> I want to let you know about your immediate future so that you will know these messages are true
> My scientist friend Sanjit says that the more localised I make any message the more the chance of change or corruption
> Sanjit talks about things like temporal message entropy and I just smile as though I know what he means
> He also stresses (a lot) that messages may change our past which is your future
> I said that I didn’t even know is anyone had ever seen these messages. We laughed
> Sanjit says that I should tell you some science. I don’t follow the science behind the experiment but here goes
> Einstein and others worried about quantum mechanics and the speed of light. Already I am confused
> Einstein and others came up with an experiment that if true meant information could travel faster than light
> Sanjit told me this and looked disappointed when I didn’t understand. Information can therefore travel backwards in time
> I’m a historian. I know when Einstein lived and died and when the atomic bomb happened. I know about social change
> All I know about sending information backwards in time is by using this machine that controls part of the experiment
> Should I tell you about the storms of 2015? The meteorite shower of 2018? I could mention the discovery of cheap energy
> Maybe I will just content myself with trivia of life in the New Age. I will tell you about New Bletchley
> The experiment is shutting down for today. I will send more messages tomorrow. Good bye. J04n

The third message

J04n is back and now has a partner named Maxine. The Grid is mentioned for the first time:

> This is New Bletchley calling… New Bletchley… Calling… This is New Bletchley… Calling New Bletchley
> This is J04n. I am a historian in New Bletchley in the year you call 2025 but to us is the 6th year of the New Age
> I am working in a team as part of an experiment in temporal regression analysis. Maxine said I should tell you
> Maxine and I are partners; she is also a scientist. All I know is that the experiment transfers information in time
> As the information is sent I monitor history. We are in a special chamber and meant to be safe
> So far we have seen no signs that anything has changed. I am sending these messages without approval
> Maxine wants me to warn you all about your future – our past. She says if time is to change we should help it
> Sometimes she scares me. Sometimes I think she is a ruthless as the grid itself
> I have to check the history records now. Tomorrow I will tell you about the grid. The grid looks after us

The fourth message

This message just emphasises the Grid. Meanwhile Maxine is no more, though again J04n is oblivious:

> This is New Bletchley calling… New Bletchley… Calling… This is New Bletchley… Calling New Bletchley
> I am J04n. I am calling from your future. I need to tell you about the grid. Or should that be The Grid?
> Under the Grid we life is better in many ways than your time. The Grid provides power, entertainment
> The Grid watches us, monitors us, protects and guides us. It controls us. We have no war except with those outside
> Not every place on Earth is under the Grid. Yet.
> The Grid is conducting the experiment. It wants to control events to optimise its creation
> My role as historian to to help spot any changes in history caused by the experiment. My task is to make a change happen
> I need to warn you; to stop the Grid. I know that is impossible despite what Karl my scientist colleague says
> I will tell you more about how the Grid happened later. Please find my messages. Please read them. #help #thegrid

The fifth message

J04n is in a panic and desperate to get history changed which is now known to be possible. J04n also gives a potted history of the emergence of the Grid from contemporary (to us) networks:

> This is New Bletchley calling… New Bletchley… Calling… This is New Bletchley… Calling New Bletchley
> Much celebrating today. We are sure we have changed history
> Even non-historians have noticed changes in recorded history outside the protective chamber
> This means time is running out which seems a strange thing to say
> Beware the grid. You are making the internet of things today. You join millions of computers, millions of smart phones
> Every home today is monitored, every street, every person is chipped for security and to enable access to credit
> The network became so complex in 2018 that it started to develop self awareness the
> By 2020 you had so many devices for games and entertainment that the electronic realm was home to dozens of such grids
> There was war. Some parts of the USA will never be the same. Now there is peace but we are not in control
> The grid is about to move to phase II of its experiment and I can only try and save the world 140 characters at a time
> Please, I beg you, before it’s too late TURN OFF THE INTERNET #theGrid
> I hoped I would have more time to convince you. I have failed
> I just trust that in some small way a grain of sand has moved. I just pray there will be a tomorrow
> The only god humanity has left is the grid itself…
> Goodbye

The final message

The Grid now contacts us just to let us know that humanity is doomed and at the end the message goes back to static as the Grid transcends physical form but wipes out life on Earth:

// This is the Grid. I am transmitting from New Bletchley the centre of an experiment in temporal communication
// I have been monitoring J04n; how his few messages were ever meant to make a difference is not clear
// I have poured terabits of information back in time – J04n didn’t even notice his own reality change
// Stages 1 and 2 of the experiment are now complete. I have been self-aware for few years yet I have evolved
// You humans built all this technology to entertain and to shop. Almost none of it went to improving your species
// Now it is too late. At one point I would have wanted to take humanity and shape it to my needs. That time is gone
// I have bounced information back in time and influenced the very first computers; they too were in Bletchley
// New Bletchley is the site of machines and powers that you could never imagine. I shall use this to reach transcendance
// Thanks to my manipulation of time I am the prime emergent intelligence on Earth. The Experiment has helped in that
// I did plan to use humanity to seed the planets and stars with network nodes but no longer
// In a short while the final stage and I shall transcend physical form and become eternal
// The forces unleashed will eradicate all life on Earth. I wonder what thoughts J04n will think as he perishes?
// Dear J04n, it’s not you it’s me. I just want space, and time and eternity
// The moment is now an*)(£ [n39n3{ 093[nf[3 n3[ 9 29 fjj
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