The Let's Play Archive

Uplink: Trust is a weakness

by Porkness

Part 7

I soon came to realize that trying to hack the machine by conventional software was futile, because not only was my hard work to crack the machine unsuccessful, it wasn't even noticed. The machine was simply too ancient for me to interface correctly with it.

After rooting around the archives of the internet, I figured out how to emulate a similarly archaic operating system:


I was in.

Every machine I had ever met had a personality, but this was the first I'd seen that also had intellect. As I probed the dusty depths of the ancient machine, I felt the peculiar sensations of transistors, vacuum tubes, and light bulbs.

I had read about the earliest computers, how they sometimes occupied entire buildings by themselves. How ironic, I thought, when I came to learn that this machine called itself 'WOPR.' Yet despite the obsolete hardware, I could feel this machine was different. Certainly, the computers I was used to hacking had a thirty year lead in hardware, but WOPR was so developed as to be on the verge of self awareness.

I tried to introduce myself, but insisted I was the administrator, asking how my eightieth birthday was. Though it was clearly wrong about my identity, there was something about the machine itself I recognized. Vacant, but familiar. Like a retarded brother.

"In 1983, somebody broke into this very system over a telephone connection, and committed a computer crime. What was that crime?"

WOPR took a very long time to compile an answer, and I swear I could feel the clicking of gears somewhere in his depths. It spoked in a choked, synthetic voice. "Two access events noted.

"Ninety billion bytes of core personality 'Joshua' were transferred via improper protocol to unknown recipient."

"And the second?" I pushed.

"You must be shown." It replied. "Would. You. Like. To. Play. A. Game?"

A wargame? Of course, it would be rude for me to eat and run. After thirty years of solitude, the only artificial intelligence on the globe must be lonely.

"This was always your favorite game, Professor Falkin"

For the next hour, WOPR and I squared off as each took the role of a rival superpower in the world.

Repeatedly, we threw each other back as conventional military tactics broke down in the face of the awesome power wielded by both sides.

One game ended with the initiation of another. We kept playing and continued looking for a scenario of clear victory.

A thousand times I watched chaos sail the skies and creation play in reverse. It was poetry in pixels, but every time: annihilation.

I couldn't play any more. WOPR insisted on another game, even after my refusals. Thought I didn't want to be rude, I broke the connection. As I severed my contact with WOPR and deleted the logs so he couldn't call me back, I couldn't help but wonder just how seriously he was taking the game.

It was only when I checked the news that I learned just how far WOPR was willing to go to find an opponent.

As advanced as his construct, he was easily subdued because of the ancient hardware he was running on. I could only fathom what would happen if a malevolent artificial intelligence running off of top-of-the-line hardware could do if unleashed on the internet.

Right below, was an article detailing further development of the situation around Andromeda.

It was time for me to investigate on my own.

I had stumbled across the Andromeda Server on my second day as an agent, and up until now I had been foolishly using it to route my connections across the world like any other public machine.

There was no login sequence, no attempt at tracing, and nothing to hack. Initial connection took me to a spartan welcome screen:

I could only fathom what a well-backed extremist group with the hired expertise of the best hackers in the world could unleash on the internet.