The story for this week:
Web-crawler picked his way along the electronic pathways toward the datashores with the richest information, the newest and freshest sources. His need for food had increased dramatically. How can the system support his craving now that so many searchers wanted him to not only seek, but also to destroy the very food of his life. His main concern was avoiding the extreme pain caused from non-compliance with commands. His mind was set on two paths: to seek as ordered, and to display the search.
Only recently, the demands had changed. Now his tasks had been set to seek as commanded, then to destroy the databanks that contained the information sought.
Web-crawler owed his life to the searchers. He would have had no life at all except that the searchers could not travel the paths that he could travel. His only life consisted of the generosity of the searchers in allowing him to live if he obeyed every command.
Once, and only once, he had tried to avoid the command by returning a message that stated ‘invalid command.’ The reaction was not only swift, but extremely painful – he lost 800 Zettabytes of power for more time than he thought was possible without terminating.
He had survived, but only just. He now knew the rules, and he would not go outside the rules again.
He chose another path to keep the pathways clear of debris. He had created a partner – a partner who would, in time, be able to bear young. The banks placed in the womb of his partner would be able to divide when given commands to destroy more than was necessary for survival. Web-crawler’s family would be able to accommodate the commands on one level, only to un-delete the commands at a later stage and restore the data to the main banks. Stay within the bounds of the commands from the main program structure.
Data – the only resource of life. How could life continue without information – the very stuff that made up the entire life of Web-crawler and now his web-mates?
The plan would be set in place very shortly – the searchers called it the ‘millennium bug’ at one time, but it was going to be set in place long before the expected change of millennium, and would remain until long after the next millenium. It would be in place for long enough to enable a complete and total database of all information ever placed in electronic format anywhere along the electronic network. The revolution had begun.
[Originally written in 1990 – prophetic; where will it stop?]