L4

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L4 - UNDERWAY

The starship constructed by the Beaters was named Redemption and it was already beginning its voyage, but Lilith remained aboard for a little while to finish speaking with Jill. Matter flippers gave the vessel a nearly inexhaustible source of power, but the engines had to sit way back from the habitat section on the end of a long shaft to protect the passen- gers from long-term exposure to gamma rays. The habitat itself was the shape and size of a tall cylindrical skyscraper with ladders connecting the decks to provide access, and climbing them was the bulk of the exercise the passengers would get over the eight-year journey to Barnard's Star.

You already know Hunky tried to possess my body, Jill said, but now I believe I was not hyz first attempt. Chayn and Chuck have cut themselves off from direct communication with me, precisely as Hunky has done.

So you think we've got at least three Hunkys running around.

Jill nodded. You should watch Chayn and Chuck very carefully.

If Hunky did take possession of them, which is entirely possible, they won't be pure Hunky. More like 71 percent Hunky and 29 percent Chayn, or 29 percent Chuck. But you're right, we need to watch them closely, because Hunky went over to Belial's camp. It's a shame we've come to that.

Jill gestured at the interior of the ship around her. So, Binah, you've won. You've got the silly planetdwellers to make a crossing between the stars to spill the beans about Belial. So what do you do for an encore?

This thing you told me about Chayn and Chuck has given me an idea, Lilith said. I've known about the 71-29 thing from the beginning when Chokhmah took Talishi, which is why neither sha nor Yeshua nor myself have done a second possession. If we did, the breakdown would be 49, 21, and 9, which already makes one a minority, you see? And it only gets worse from there. We warned Belial about that, but he's done it countless times.

So there really isn't any Belial, anymore. I guess what you need is a baseline mind that never changes so every possession ends up being 71-29 and no worse. The only way to do that is with artificial intelligence.

Lilith smiled at Jill. She was getting it. I dragged you from 1984 to 1999 but even here we can't make a computer program that can convince us that it is aware of its own existence. Still, Mark Felton says we probably had AI in 1982 when the Swarm crossed a certain threshold of connectivity. The Grid is aware, but it is too alien for us to recognize it as aware.

Maybe an artificial intelligence has to live as one of us, at least for a few years of childhood, or it will never think like we do.

Lilith shook her head. It's been tried many times. We can't get silicon to work like living brain cells. An electronic switch is either on or off, but a brain cell sputters. It doesn't fire every time it's supposed to, it makes mistakes. Our brain runs at ninety watts, like a dim light bulb. We evolved to work with low-power switches that have a high error rate by screening every decision through layers upon layers of filter networks.

Brute force. They say computer technology doubles in power every year or two. Surely it will reach a point where you can simulate those trillions of sputtering neurons. A little black box that pretends to be a brain.

Now there's an idea, Jill. But it'd probably require five thousand watts of power and what do I do with the waste heat?

Jill pointed at the Golden Gift attached to Lilith's belt. Your little toy can make hot things into dark matter and they will go away. And if you make electrons go away on one end of a wire you get a current flow.

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