30 Stories in 30 Days #18 – “Faulty Programming, I”
Faulty Programming, I
Stepping from her hibernation chamber, it took Huytr a few moments to notice the time readout on the console. “Ship,” she asked, “why did you wake me thirty-seven cycles early?”
“One of the bio-simulates on Planet 764978-03 is not acting in accordance with its programming.”
“It what fashion?”
“One of the sub-groupings of sentient beings on Planet 764978-03 governs themselves through a primitive representative democracy. The bio-simulate in question has been elected to the highest position in that democracy.”
Huytr sat back on her tail. “How did that happen?”
“Are you asking by what process the primitive representative democracy operates or how the bio-simulate secured victory in the election?”
“It did not act in accordance with its programming.”
Huytr drew her eyestalks into her skull. Hopefully, the next time she was at homeworld she could get a ship with an upgraded intelligence matrix.
Instead of arguing with it, she extended her eyestalks and said, “Display all relevant data.” That was a mistake because the ship then displayed thousands of useless documents such as the history of bio-simulates. Huytr’s people had been using them for thousands of cycles and all long duration surveyors were experts in how they functioned. If a primitive, yet sentient species was discovered, bio-simulates were seeded into the population. They would take the form of the local sentient beings and live average lives. After the surveyors picked them up, that lifetime of experiences would be downloaded for study.
Withdrawing her eyestalks again, Huytr corrected herself. “Display all relevant data on the sub-grouping and this bio-simulate.”
The amount of information was now more manageable. Every cycle, the bio-simulates performed a status upload and Huytr began by reviewing these uploads to discover what had been learned about this sub-group of sentients and their process of representative democracy. Primitive species usually had primitive views on the nature of the universe and those on 764978-03 were no different. That was to be expected, but what Huytr found surprising – and rather distasteful – was how members of the sub-species would purposely mislead their fellows in order to gain power. After checking the uploads from bio-simulates in other sub-groupings, she discovered it seemed to be a trait of the species. She made a note of this aspect because it might mean the species had been overclassed as sentient. It was possible being exposed to such primitives could have forced the bio-simulate to go outside of its programming.
She then studied the status uploads from the bio-simulate in question. Like the other bio-simulates, it had – since this species gave birth to their young – absorbed the genetic material of an existing fetus. It was born and grew in accordance with the biology of the species. As she studied the status uploads, however, it became apparent to Huytr that something had gone terribly wrong. Bio-simulates were programmed to go unnoticed and not interfere with their natural development of the sentients. But this one was doing the opposite. And worse, Huytr discovered that it excelled in the art of misleading the sentients even going so far as stating things most of the species knew to be false. And yet, they chose it to lead them, she thought.
After studying all the uploads, Huytr was no closer to an answer. They only contained a fraction of the full data, so if there was some event that had altered the programming it couldn’t be discovered until a full download was performed. Unfortunately, Huytr didn’t have the authority to order that.
Withdrawing her eyestalks she said, “Ship, send a message to the local quadrant survey command. Send them all the data I reviewed concerning this bio-simulate. Tell them nothing in the uploads indicate why it is acting outside of its programming, but I have suspicions that this species has been overclassed as sentient which may have caused some error.”
After a short pause, the Ship asked, “Do you wish to add anything further to this report?”
Huytr thought for a moment, then said, “No. Send report.”
Returning to her hibernation chamber, Huytr said, “Wake me when you receive a reply.”