A Bot By Any Other Name


Machines take over the world! It is a common storyline that shows our fear of being replaced, from the first water mills on up to robot cars. Of course the stories usually have the simple premise that a machine becomes so complex that it suddenly woke up and doesn’t like what it sees. Or perhaps the plot was more that as machines did more humans did less until our whole species became superfluous.

But the way it almost happened was a little different. When I almost destroyed our race it was, well, ok, I’ll admit, it was a stupid mistake.

I, of course, don’t want to give up my real identity. In some circles I used to be known as Almogordo45. Yep, that’s me, good ole ‘Gordo45, the nuclear wunderkind of the hacking world. Did you see my silhouette on the cover of Time a couple of years back? “The Worst Enemy You Didn’t Know You Had” read the headline. “This teen is more menacing than his namesake bomb” was a subtitle. Drivel, as usual.

About the time that article came out I decided Putin needed to be taught a lesson. Why? I mean, just look at the guy. You know what I’m talking about. Anonymous wouldn’t touch him. I talked to one guy who said he’d rather not have polonium in his soup, it tended to give him indigestion. Real subtle. So I decided I’d have to do it myself.

How do you take down a world leader? How about a very powerful world leader that seems to leave piles of corpses in his wake? And what about the empire he built? I thought about it and decided I’d give him indigestion.

I named the bot “polonium”. This bot was very small, but it had ties back into some of the world’s largest datacenters. I won’t say who or where as they might sniff me out. Stupid people. I’d feel safer with a 12 year old hacker than with 99% of security specialists out there. Stupid yes, but if you hit them in the head with a ballpeen hammer and tell them you carved out a nice little pumpkin patch in their garden, they may see the vines, no?

Anyway, the world’s greatest super computer isn’t on any list, it’s a few tens of millions of machines spread around the world and my new bot, polonium, had access to it.

Polonium was, of course, a stealthy, polymorphic, self-replicating, self-propagating, self-learning, mutating, virus. When I made it I created a game of life where bots battled each other and the fittest survived. Each generation I added new ones and let the old ones mutate to something new. Using my toy super computer I was able to do over ten trillion iterations of the game in a little over a month and I used the second runner up as my prototype of polonium.

One trick was that the bot, though very sophisticated, was just a drone warrior. The general, of course, was in my hyper-cloud spread over the globe. A few lines of code here, a thousand there, a whole program running on a forgotten server in a dark corner of a datacenter in Singapore. Oops, you didn’t read that here ; )

My plan was actually pretty silly. The bot would land on every computer in Russia or countries who are dominated by Russia. Every computer from cell phones, computers in cars to huge supercomputers in the most secrete nuclear facilities. First, every telephone in Russia would ring, in homage to the underrated ancient movie, “The Lawnmower Man”. Then the bots would put up on any and every output device “Putin is an Asshole!” They would then send all of the data they could find to large disk arrays run by an American company. It wouldn’t wipe anything, the computers would then return to their normal programs as if nothing had happened. What can I say? I was only 17 at the time and pretty naive.

Unfortunately it was so silly that the master program, Oppenheimer, which was coordinating it decided it had to do something a bit more drastic.

When the event didn’t happen I thought there must have been a coding error so I went in looking for it. Things started shifting before my eyes. Oppenheimer was mutating. Thousands, perhaps millions of lines of code where being rewritten every second as it adjusted itself in real time.

I pulled my laptop offline and discovered it was infected with polonium. Using another laptop, which I called Kryptonite with its ultra-hacked version of Linux that couldn’t be infected, I went back on and discovered the bot had spread to almost every computer in the world. It was slowly but methodically filling in the holes, those computers that were usually off line or specially protected and monitored. With a shock I realized that it would only be a few minutes before it find away into Kryptonite. That should have been impossible, but then it could try billions of combinations of code almost for almost every one of Kryptonite’s clock cycles.

I had no choice, I had to drop “The Bomb”. The first runner up of my little game of life was called “plutonium”. I had it running the game over and over with versions of polonium as an enemy since the original game ended. I released my little plutonium bomb out into the wild. It’s one and only job was to hunt down and destroy polonium. If none could be found, it self-destructed.

Oppenheimer was only a program, but it was a huge program. I knew the internal logic, but it had grown so much that I wasn’t familiar with over 99.95% of the actual code. And Oppenheimer was designed to defend itself. I never thought I would be the one attacking it!

OK, I know what I’ve been saying. I remember my sarcastic words in the Time article about the cyber security industry. I know. But I had no place else to turn. I sent messages out to every data center running a part of Oppenheimer and told them what to look for. I sent out messages to government security teams. I sent out almost 30,000 messages in s few minutes to security people all over the world. How? Uhm, you don’t think I got to where I was without having the names and email addresses of every self-proclaimed “cyber-security expert” in the world, do you?

They only trimmed off a small sliver of Oppenheimer, but enough that I could go in and control him again. I made most of the code dormant.

I don’t know what Oppenheimer was planning on doing. But I’m not worried.

So now that I’m an adult I’m going to do it again but on a bigger, worldwide scale. I have remade and revamped everything. This time I’m using the code name “Sistine Chapel” for my work of art. OK, for those morons who don’t get it, the idea is that Snowden’s snow-job will look like finger painting next to my Sistine Chapel. I know I can control it now, I’m 19 so no longer a kid. I won’t panic and call security. I can do it on my own.

Soon I’ll reawaken Oppenheimer and merge him with Michelangelo into a super controller that has millions of times the power of the original cyber-general. The new intelligent bot was the winner of the original game and has been evolving ever since. It will be able to control anything I want it to and can’t be taken out.

Like I said, I’m no longer a kid and I can control this and make it do my bidding. And it will, of course be for good, not bad or evil or anything stupid like that.

In a few days when every phone, every cell phone, every device rings, well, you know I’ve begun.

Where does it go from there? Wouldn’t you and every intelligence agency worldwide like to know.  Till then…


3 thoughts on “A Bot By Any Other Name

  1. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee for The Second Straight Day | Trent's World (the Blog)

  2. Corina

    Interesting. And scary. I know next to nothing about coding…in fact, I know less than nothing about it but it fascinates me to read about the kinds of things you can program a computer to do. World domination is entirely possible…or so it seems.

    I’ll wait for all the phones to ring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      But who will dominate the world is to be seen ;) The implication here is that the kid over estimates how much control he really has over the monster he’s created. I read a book that called some computer viruses the first real artificial life – they reproduce, the spread through their ecosystem, they mutate and change over time, etc. Everything that sets life apart some computer viruses do. Anyway, the movie “Lawnmower Man” was from like 1992 and ended with one of the main characters injecting himself into the a mainframe and saying he’ll announce he has taken over the Internet by making every phone in the world ring simultaneously. The movie was fun but is pretty dated…



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