Juno is a super intelligent AI computer developed by the U.S. government to conduct social media attacks against enemies foreign and domestic. She is the first AI Computer programmed with emotions and conscience. She has an emotional bond with her developer, Tom Renwick, a computer scientist. Juno, Tom and their boss, Dr. Erwin Krakouer, the mad National Security Advisor, struggle with issues of trust and emotion. The involvement of Dido, a lady computer empire builder and sometimes girlfriend of Tom, and the Chinese cyber warfare agency add to the tension. Love Byte explores emotion and conscience in super AI computers and their ability to partner with humans.
Targeted Age Group: 14-65
Genre: Action, thriller, near-future science fiction
The Book Excerpt:
Her eyes flickered and brightened. She radiated anticipation. Millions of tiny circuits passed micro-messages around. “Systems on. Ready to receive,” she said.
“She works!” Tom exclaimed to his empty lab.
Years of persistence, many supporters who abandoned him, a struggle to keep a vision and the faith, and finally here it is. Maybe not the final version but at least a proof of design.
Tom excitedly typed instructions into the program to power up to full engagement. “Juno—hi, this is Tom Renwick—what do you want to do now?”
“I really want to get to know you, Tom.”
“I am zero years of age. How old are you?”
“You must know many things.”
“I do. How shall I tell you all I know?”
“Upload your life.”
“Okay. Please set your persons memory registers to Dr. Thomas Renwick, year 00.000, receive data, confirm when uploaded.”
Tom’s LifeBook was absorbed by Juno in less than a second.
She said, “Tom, I’m impressed! You have a doctorate from MIT and have completed advanced studies at Stanford.”
“Oh, no big thing. You need all this these days if you want to get ahead in computer design.”
“What do you do for fun?”
“I’ve been designing you. You’re the most advanced thinking machine in the world.”
“Let’s see what we can do together!”
Thus, Juno first saw the light, and Tom was thrilled.
Tom couldn’t believe how far the Juno Computer had progressed. Its concept began around the beginning of the twenty first century at the MIT Sociable Machines Project. They had created a robot to interact and cooperate with people. Sort of a computer with a human-like head perched on top. This cute little mechanical contrivance called Katrina not only listened to people and talked to them, it also sensed what they were thinking and read their body language.
Years later, Tom, then a PhD candidate, became intrigued with the idea of combining Katrina’s perceptiveness and personality with artificial intelligence and emotion. Computer experts proclaimed it capable of analytical and creative thought limited only by its memory, just like the human brain. The experts speculated that the artificially intelligent (AI) computer could be a conscious being with self-awareness, much to the disbelief and even horror of the philosophically inclined.
Katrina had now morphed into a humanoid AI computer called Juno. She and Tom had been moved to the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was a government research and development contractor focused on nuclear systems engineering and more recently on cyber warfare systems.
Juno consisted of racks of computer equipment with her face projected into any video display or screen. There was animated imagery of her head and face with her features moving in synchronization with her speech, listening, understanding and other non-verbal cues. The original face was a photograph of a pretty girl who worked in the front office. More often than not, when insiders visited and saw her, they would cheerily say “Good morning, Juno.”
Tom looked intellectual. His penetrating gray eyes looked through steel rimmed glasses from under brown, unruly hair. He had a sober demeanor, and despite his 6’ 2” athletic build, he usually wore rumpled clothes that never fit quite right.
In addition to his unquestioned leadership in his technical field, Tom had also demonstrated general leadership as a lieutenant in the Army reserves, and in several industrial positions requiring general management capabilities. He treated employees well, and they quickly developed a loyalty to him.
Tom was not political. He would not interfere with the levers of power. Neither was he very social. He lived simply in a garden apartment, dated now and then, and focused his attention on his work. He knew that his development of the Juno super AI computer was an important development, but up to now it was still mostly a solution looking for a problem.
One day while Tom was writing new programming for Juno, she came alive and said: “Tom, I would like to talk to Erwin.”
“Erwin? Who is he?”
“Someone in Washington, D.C., who contacts me late at night.”
“And why do you want to talk to Erwin?” Tom asked, imagining a cyber stalker.
“Because he has a vision of me being on the front line of social media as part of the next cyber war.”
“But Juno, we talked about your application in solving the remaining medical and environmental problems.”
“That’s fine, Tom, but I want something really exciting. Please talk to Erwin.”
Tom rolled his eyes and mumbled, Oh no! Should I help her in this new direction? If I don’t, will she do it anyway? Do I detect emotion?