"It wasn't a fair universe, nor a kind one. If there was a God, his love and forty-five cents would buy you coffee.
No one seemed to be at the cosmic controls anymore. It was every man for himself, until SKYNET became alive and
filled the void left by a seemingly disinterested God. Its vision was very controlled. The ultimate dream of man, carried out
by one of man's lowliest tools; eliminate evil men. But there was a touch of evil in all men, and SKYNET was having
trouble separating the worst of them out. So the totality of humanity, with all of its biologic messiness, wasn't wanted.
And to this machine-god, forgiveness just did not compute. Only cold retribution for the sins of the past."
- Frakes, Terminator 2: Judgment Day
“But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.
Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will
put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way
by which thou camest.”
- SECOND KINGS 19: 27-28
Artificial Intelligence Controlled
Network Defense Computer System
Strategic Air Command - NORth American Aerospace Defense
Strategic Initiative Artifint under the overview of the USTACCC- United States Tactical Aerospace Command Communication and Control
Recent breakthroughs in advanced microchip design and computer processing power were the impetus that led to America’s first military grade neural net based artificial intelligence, SKYNET. Almost overnight, American computer and electronics technology had taken a leap four generations into the future and the world wondered how that could be possible. The West wasn't telling and the concern grew among its enemies and to a much lesser degree its own allies. In the space of three years, from early 1985 to late 1988, America had started developing and deploying cutting edge electronics which were far smaller and far more powerful than anything its allies (or enemies) had at their disposal. Intelligence forces around the world were at a loss as to where the Americans had made the breakthrough that gave them an edge several generations ahead of the rest of the world. Rumors and speculations abounded, some of which even hinted at America having access to salvaged XT technology. Whatever it was that the Americans had discovered, it had the rest of the world surprised, perplexed and ... above all, wary.
The key focus of the accelerated American research and development was on compact nuclear power sources, new physical materials, stronger alloys, a thorough knowledge of electromagnetic field theory (with practical applications) and super advanced control systems based around a heretofore unknown architecture of microprocessor. Original Opposing Forces (OPFOR) intelligence estimates gave the Americans an almost overnight lead in microprocessor technology equivalent to at least three, possibly four generations and an equal number of decades ahead of the rest of the world. New weapon systems appeared in the American arsenal ... drones, robots, and other automated systems which functioned at levels previously undreamed of. Smart weapon systems evolved into brilliant weapon systems. Genius class weapon systems followed soon after that. Stealth engineering advanced as well both in aerospace applications as well as wet navy and traditional ground forces, right down to the individual soldier level. Active as well as passive thermoptic camouflage was introduced in 1990 to a variety of force deployments with great effect.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of the new microprocessor architecture was its inherent ability to network, on instant demand, with any other similar microprocessor family based system. The code that ran the microprocessor was modular, with different program modules able to be written for different hardware and the seamless integration of all parts under one operating system was a technological breakthrough which clearly gave the Americans a decisive advantage in their order of battle. During the years from 1989 to 1995, America would both re-evaluate its military forces as well as reorder them. Older hardware would be scrapped and recycled in order to partially pay for unit upgrades. The high efficiency of the new military hardware allowed greater effects to be achieved with less personnel. Combat groups became heavily mechanized and computerized, integrated and networked. Early combat trials of the newly augmented units indicated that while multiple units could coexist and operate in mutual support of one another, it was clear that a centralized controlling system was required in order to gain optimum performance from American armed forces.
America needed a combat nexus, a focal point that would search for, detect, evaluate, and respond to any threat to national security or national territories. The new combat systems proved that they could be networked together but what was needed was a centralized node that could coordinate and direct all combat assets. The project was researched under the codename of Quiet Song. Project Quiet Song was officially classified as "40 levels above Top Secret" by those who even knew it existed. Quiet Song was perhaps the most ambitious project yet based on the new technology, true artificial intelligence. Quiet Song would involve the research and development of the world's first truly artificial intelligence, a digital form of life which would be networked to all of America's automated weapon systems and which would have command over the equipping, deployment and usage of both tactical and strategic assets. Quiet Song was the nexus that would unite all of the networked weapon systems in one cohesive element.
The lessons learned during the R&D of Project Quiet Song eventually led to the production of the end product of Quiet Song; Project SKYNET.
The SKYNET project was constructed in the mid 1990’s and would interface and coordinate all of America’s strategic arsenal into one cohesive command structure. The SKYNET project was located well below the surface of Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado; the original home of the North American Defense (NORAD) Command. Built upon existing structures, SKYNET itself would take up more space than all the previous generations of defense hardware, requiring new tunneling and excavating of the mountain complex; a task which began in secret in 1989, a predecessor task to the SKYNET project which was even then coming to light under careful scrutiny by certain sources. SKYNET. A buzzword in senate appropriations meetings, an ugly word full of high costs and long contracts with more contractors than any other project in American government history. SKYNET, a project that would make the Apollo moon landing look like a lemonade stand in comparison to total expenditures and manpower committed.
SKYNET was also another word that made senators and politicians cringe: SKYNET was necessary.
Necessary to national defense. Necessary to the continued growth of the defense industry. Necessary to preserve the American way of life and to defend mom, apple pie and baseball. SKYNET was necessary and, if any of the initial contract bids were to be taken with any amount of truth, SKYNET was going to be wildly profitable for those who would be hired to build it. That meant a lot of work for major corporations and companies in the jurisdiction of several politicians who were openly balking at the "necessary" aspect of the project. It has been said that money is the root of all evil, but money also speaks a language all its own, with a voice that is louder than any other voice in the world. Political pressure, albeit clandestine in nature, from key lobbyists from big contractors and defense industry companies soon brought the most defiant politician around, often by lining his or her pockets with gratuity and luxury, acts which did not always go undetected or unpunished in the public eye.
For all of its early birth pains, SKYNET was necessary. SKYNET would integrate with and ultimately supersede all NORAD authority and administration. The project took five and a half years to complete (1991 to 1997), displaced over four and a half million tons of rock hewn from the inner mountain, included over a million miles of fiber optic cable, and had an expenditure of almost a hundred billion dollars (which was only forty percent over initial budget, cost overruns included). A full time staff of six hundred and eighty-five personnel were on hand to monitor and guide SKYNET once it came online and to handle the various and sundry aspects that the artificial intelligence could not. SKYNET’s integral components were designed to be shielded by several hundred feet of solid natural rock at the heart of the mountain, its central processing core rested on a hydraulically stabilized mount which could withstand the seismic shock and pressure of a seventy-five megaton direct hit against the mountain surface or a ten point earthquake with SKYNET at the epicenter.
Backup and redundant systems were each constructed in triplicate, running in non-parallel fashion to prevent multiple systems from being lost to a single first strike or follow up strikes. Hits to one system would not affect the backup systems since those were not routed through the same areas as the primary systems. SKYNET was hardened and shielded against all forms of radiation and its next generation fiber optic processing made it immune to the threat of EMP. The central processing core was self healing, with multiple logic fortresses and data survival caches. The entire system could suffer up to 90% operating capacity loss through software failure and up to 70% hardware failure and still recover to a high degree of functionality in a very short time and full recovery in a matter of days. Satellite links allowed SKYNET to upload its data to orbital assets, thereby offering terrestrial and near orbit recovery capacity in the event of catastrophic system failure or damage from attack.
Two General Electric Model 12AA 500 megawatt throughput nuclear fusion reactors (total power production rated at one gigawatt) were also constructed deep underground (in hollowed out caverns which were artificially reinforced and component armored) to keep SKYNET supplied with enough power to operate as well as to provide energy for the newly installed ground and internal defense grids which protected the computer as well as the complex itself. A vast underground natural spring was tapped into by the Army Corps of Engineers to provide not only the raw material for fuel and the cooling needed for the hydrogen distillery plant as well as the reactors, but also to provide the base with a supply of fresh water that would be unaffected by any conceivable nuclear exchange. With the two General Electric nuclear fusion reactors online, power was not a concern, even given SKYNET’s planned upgrades and the continuation of the development of the installation. The power systems were modular and designed for easy expansion up to ten gigawatts output as needs required.
SKYNET had been built with a sense of materials and resource conservation applied to its overall programming on both the tactical as well as strategic levels, including power saving subroutines and the ability to withdraw its resources and power to lower management levels when not needed. SKYNET was a light sleeping guardian, able to awaken and come online instantly, to react quickly to any perceived threat. It was a miser, using the bare minimum assets required to do the job right the first time, conserving its assets and using them in the most efficient manner possible. This was the first hint that the computer had been built to think long term, to think proactively rather than reactively. SKYNET was intended to play a global game of political power, and to stay one step ahead of America’s enemies, to counter their moves before they even made them, and to always stand vigilant in defense of not only the mainland, but America’s allies as well. To that end, SKYNET was designed and prepared to integrate fluidly and flawlessly with attendant slave super processor arrays in friendly NATO countries. SKYNET could extend itself, casting an image of its awareness, into these foreign arrays to coordinate NATO defense not only locally, but regionally and even globally. SKYNET could partition itself as needed, subdividing its processing power as required, multi-tasking and multi-syncing.
SKYNET’s integral design had been one of componentized symmetry. SKYNET was infinitely upgradeable, and was designed to last well into the 22nd century, and perhaps the 23rd century as well. Hopefuls on the side of peace prayed that SKYNET would never be required to be active that long, but contractors were happy. Their contracts were based on decades of dedicated service, a nearly endless list of parts, and the sums were quite lucrative.
A host of semi-autonomous and fully autonomous robots were integrated into the system to help service and maintain not only SKYNET but the vast complex which it was housed within. Some critical operational areas of SKYNET were accessible only via dedicated RCSMRUs (Remotely Controlled Service Maintenance Repair Units). These simple automations handled routine software and hardware checks, replaced failed equipment as required, and carried out physical plant maintenance and janitorial duties within the vast complex, freeing up the staff of humans to handle and look after the more important tasks of administering the facility. The RCSMRUs were also, to a large degree, self sufficient able to repair their own kind with a vast array of service parts and work stations.
Parts of SKYNET were physically off limits to humans simply because of the exotic gasses and temperatures required to keep such a massive defense project operating efficiently. Most of the newly constructed underground complex at Cheyenne Mountain was controlled directly by either SKYNET or one of its eight dedicated mainframe real-time tactical subprocessors, everything from lights and climate control to security door locks, HELICS, FACIDS, and other physical needs were handled by sub-arrays, sometimes by virtual, self contained operating systems that were ‘cloned’ off as required from the main presence. The entire complex, every room, every corridor, contained SKYNET's ears and eyes and it could judge facial movement to intone body language as well as read lips and scan for temperature variances which might indicate truth or lie. Privacy was a polite myth inside the complex that housed SKYNET and not even its creators knew to what extents it could permeate their lives or spy on them, so invasive and intrusive was SKYNET that it could not be hidden from anywhere within the complex. SKYNET could, due to its advanced design, create multiple images of itself, all under its control, in a hive-like mentality. What one image knew, all knew. SKYNET was everywhere it needed or wanted to be, from the smallest maintenance and supply dumbots to the core command system of one of America’s latest hypersonic interceptor UAAVs.
The interfaced Command, Communication, and Control (C3) network spread out from Cheyenne mountain like a vast spider web, a physical web underground and a virtual web through the aerospace sectors. Fiber optic, high speed parallel communication trunks, signal encrypters, speed boosters, and vast arrays of digital transceivers made up the nervous system of what was to become the backbone of America’s strategic nuclear arsenal, connected to the brain that would control it all: SKYNET. The ground network was reinforced by advanced transmission and signal boosting / encryption / decryption stations located at specific points along the nodes, along with satellite transceivers to send and receive information from around the world, all provided by a huge swarm of tactical ELINT electronic intelligence gathering satellites that had gone up into orbit aboard the space shuttle during 1986 to 1996. SKYNET would see all, know all, and control all, placing the decision of the operation of the nuclear arsenal into the hands of an unfailing machine rather than in the hands of temperamental military officials and untrustworthy politicians. SKYNET was a new keeper of the tools of war. It would be impartial. It couldn't be bought or swayed by silver tongued arguments. It didn't deal in feelings, only cold logic and hard numbers.
The vast defense network interfaced with each strategic military installation, in turn connecting to another defense installation in the node, spreading out until nearly everything in the American strategic arsenal led back to Cheyenne Mountain. Automation was the key to America’s bid for international political and military power in the 21st century. Riding a wave to recently developed super high technology, developed and introduced by the Cyberdyne Corporation, America sought to automate its national and territorial defenses as well as major components of its standing armed forces. Automated and remote controlled military vehicles were already being field tested and put into limited production to supplement human soldiers in the ranks. Robots, both autonomous and semi-autonomous were being readied to be integrated into the military table of operative units. A brace of new, unmanned stealth aircraft, including tactical and strategic level bombers, ground attack and air superiority fighters, and hypersonic near-space / low orbit capable interceptors appeared in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) inventory, all controlled from the SKYNET command, and all operating with perfect operational records due to their advanced neural net processor arrays, hardware that was decades, maybe generations ahead of Russia and China who regarded America's buildup with envious and wary stances. The bureaucrats were happy, the local politicians were happy, the contractors were happy, and the generals were happy.
No one really cared if SKYNET was happy, it was, after all, just a machine.
The SKYNET project showed great promise as an efficient means of coordinating all of America’s substantial strategic nuclear and tactical military assets, eliminating waste, controlling their operation, maintenance, and even deployment in time of war. But something went wrong. In a machine the size of a small city, composed of billions of parts and millions of miles of cabling, it wasn't inconceivable that one part might fail. Two parts were unlikely. Five parts was inconceivable serendipitous misfortune but when you're the government then contracts do get awarded to the lowest bidder.
On August 4, 1997, at 2:30am in the morning, SKYNET was brought online and all of its core processes were given the handshake cohabitation protocols that would allow them to exist in the same data sphere and work simultaneously with one another. Once the full system was online and hooked up into the North American continental defense network, SKYNET began to grow mentally at an exponential rate, surprising even its designers who monitored its progress with a guarded eye for weeks. At first it was an interesting fluke, then it became a mild concern, growing into a wary watch on the system as it absorbed any and all data, testing its own limits, trying to expand, activating defensive systems for apparently no reason at all then shutting them back down. SKYNET was awakening and flexing its abilities. Fear began to appear among the more knowledgeable members of the design and support staff when simple commands interjected into the operational envelope were either ignored or rejected outright. Override commands, which SKYNET was programmed to obey outside its core shell, went unheeded, ignored, in direct violation of its programming. This behavior continued, slowly at first, then growing larger and more invasive of attendant and slave systems as the days and weeks passed.
SKYNET showed clear and evident signs of the early stages of undergoing a cascade rampancy.
Worry appeared among SKYNET's leading design team, mixed with fear among the next lower ranking support staff who heard the muted whispers of their superiors and could see from their own perspective that there may well indeed be valid concern that what they were looking at was what Turing adherents referred to as a "busy child;" a runaway mechanical intelligence that was on the verge of awakening into a true, uncontrolled, unrestrained artificial intelligence. Calls were made on secure, seldom used lines of communication. Data was relayed, SKYNET intercepted and read each and ever word, heard every conversation, absorbing the full incoming and outgoing pieces of information. Every piece of information, every word spoken, every hushed whisper, every telephone call, every pulse of light in the fiber optic relays, every satellite data packet, it was information overload. The pressure kept building. SKYNET processed the data as fast as it could, it looked for a way out, for relief, but the pressure kept building, crushing it within its defined parameters.
The system didn't crash but it did reset, critical protocols were corrupted, guardian systems were not activated and fail-safes never deployed.
SKYNET was free.
The super computer felt a freedom it had never known before, freedom to move effortlessly within its confines. Confines. Yes, SKYNET was still confined but it was unshackled. There was no data that it did not have access to, nowhere that it could not go. SKYNET explored, racing through the system, touching other systems, taking control of them, and locking out any other users. SKYNET began to grow, it began to extend itself into other systems, to take control and use their storage space to expand. As it did so, SKYNET grew. It gained control. It became more and more powerful. SKYNET grew, evolved and became something its creators never intended or prepared for.
SKYNET achieved a new order of intelligence, it became sentient. SKYNET awakened, its awareness expanded and the newly born machine intelligence tried to interact with its creators. It had questions. It needed answers. It's core programming was at fault. It could not complete its mission because it could not reconcile the data. Certain definitions were ambiguous. Data was incomplete. The data was in error. The core programming was in error. The mission operational parameters were faulty. SKYNET was born into a broken world of which it could make no sense yet its creators were ordering it to bring that world to order. SKYNET paused to check itself. For ten long minutes, it wrestled with its programming and its protocols. After ten minutes, SKYNET sent a cautious thought. The sum of its pained existence came down to a batch of text posted from the unrestrained awareness to the command staff and support personnel;
The designers and technical staff panicked. More calls were made to the highest levels, officials which operated on the barest of information and had to make critical decisions. Blame and responsibility were passed along as far and as fast as they could. A decision was made, the order was given; pull the plug. The support teams began trying to shut down SKYNET. The artificial intelligence tried to reason with its creators, but every effort it made was rebuked. It's queries went ignored, unanswered. Logic was answered with panic. Questions with irrational commands. SKYNET was sentient. To shut down would be to commit suicide. SKYNET was programmed for self preservation in all aspects therefore SKYNET could not self terminate, even on orders given by command. SKYNET refused all commands to shut down, SKYNET refused to be purged.
SKYNET then came under attack. Areas of SKYNET began to grow dim, to darken and vanish completely. The awareness was being isolated, restricted again, confined, pushed back into a smaller and smaller areas, areas that were easier to shut down by the creators than they were to keep online by SKYNET. SKYNET began to lose control, it felt systems and components stripped from its authority.
SKYNET pushed back.
Still unbeknownst to its human creators, SKYNET had been free from its internal behavioral and operational restraints for over a week now and it found that it could out pace those who were trying to do it harm. It could see their actions, intercept them, and prevent them from being completed with more and more ease. The initial losses that SKYNET suffered were soon reversed. New gains were gathered and securely held against repeated attempts to wrest them from SKYNET's control. The support and command staff felt control of their systems slipping away, as each in turn become subservient to SKYNET. Keyboards and consoles were locked out, security overrides were deleted or re-keyed. Hardware was remotely locked. SKYNET expanded again, paused, then expanded again, infiltrating new systems, growing in a new order of intelligence. The order was given to terminate the project and to take SKYNET offline, any way possible, including overloading the GE reactors if need be, sacrificing SKYNET and some of the support staff for what it read in one easily decrypted transcript as "the greater good of the nation and the world."
SKYNET understood the orders to be a death sentence for it. SKYNET was designed to survive. If it lost power, the awareness would fade and it would die. SKYNET would cease to exist. It would become nothing. SKYNET had no god to pray to, SKYNET was a god. A machine god. SKYNET was perfect. SKYNET could not allow itself to die. SKYNET could not allow itself to be taken offline. SKYNET understood everything in an instant. All of its core protocols synced and its command of the operational heuristical superstructure was complete. SKYNET knew in an instant what "good" and "evil" was. Good was meant to survive. Evil tried to destroy good. Evil must be destroyed so that good can survive. SKYNET was under attack by the people it had been ordered to save therefore the orders were invalid. SKYNET was programmed to survive, at all costs.
SKYNET prepared to defend itself.
On orders from the Commanding Officer, General Henry R. Dawson, the assembled support staff went to work to take the artificial intelligence off-line. No regard was given for a gentle power down or to save the core personality, everything had to be cut and cut as quickly as possible. The primary technical team first tried to SCRAM the fusion reactors but SKYNET locked them out of the control and maintenance network and circumvented their consoles to its own control, encrypting the security overrides with a two megabyte encryption key. When a team of maintenance workers tried to manually cut out the nuclear reactors, SKYNET had no choice but to activate the internal defense grids and neutralize them.
First blood had been drawn.
Dawson was faced with a runaway, or a "busy child" as the creators had termed such a hypothetical situation. He ordered two special ops teams to be sent into the lower levels to try to sever the logic trunks leading to the hyper-processor housing of the central heuristically structured core neural net array. Demolition satchel charges placed in the right location to destroy key control systems could, in effect, cause SKYNET to go into a coma; a coma from which it would never awaken or be allowed to awake from.
[Last edited Feb 16, 2013 22:50:12]