Paco Nathan
Jan 1, 2017 · 7 min read

Zavičius glanced at his watch. A long list of alerts had scrolled off the notifications. Dang it, support group would meet in hour. Barely enough time to catch the L downtown.


This is the #rec-room channel, created by @hilly on August 25th. Purpose: Place to recommend interesting bits and key learnings from the NESTOR AI System.

— Sunday, Feb 16th —

py0tr: @hilly re: Olgarithms implementation — we noticed an edge case outcome during A/B testing. See https://goo.gl/4b1n11

hilly: sweet, thanks for sharing! helps gaslight dubinskaya, after what happened on fri

py0tr: AI from our Idiban acq is recommending strategy, marked urgent. Team lacks sufficient perms to review, but we’ve received several notifications over the past 15 min.

He’d been ignoring notifications, in the shower getting ready. Then sending belated Valentine’s notes to the kids, though he might not get to see them this weekend. Too many things to do on a Sunday.

The room was a mess, furniture needed rearranging desperately. Not quite the hut of reeds nor the bed of rushes that Hilarion had endured. Although an Uptown condo at least hinted toward contemporary equivalents. At least for Chicagoland. Good enough for a temporary bachelor pad in any case. CLICK.

He looked again at Pyotr’s last message. The little gray text said it had been written two minutes ago. How best to position Pyotr? Still licking wounds from Dubinskaya’s dressing down on Friday following the audit. Pyotr’s message recalled altogether too much of that now.

Frankly, there wasn’t much in The Book about confronting underlings in chat. Or was there? Support group had in fact discussed best practices for leverage in social media…

hilly: have you written a summary for me to review before our 1:1 on Mon AM?

py0tr: can’t do, lack perms to read

hilly: oh, of course. will handle it

Zavičius boarded the Red Line at Argyle, heading toward The Loop. Hurried. Hair still far too damp. It was February, well below freezing. Strong winds swept over the frozen shores of Lake Michigan, and Montrose Beach had looked like the South Pole from his condo window. He half-expected to spot Santa and reindeer lingering, their home away. His kids might enjoy that, actually. Show them Nature at its some of its worst. Mother Nature. Vaguely female. Capricious, dirty. And the Lamb’s fold shall prevail over the profane.

He found a seat not near anyone else, shivering after he sat on the hard cold bench seat. One of those old “brown” cars. Flipped open his laptop. Lots of email, more notifications. A draft outline for his presentation at the upcoming All Hands Meeting. Thirty uninterrupted minutes of email catch-up before group session, if no one gross bothered him on the L.

He was proud of his organization at Nonserto. There was a basic Midwestern feeling of satisfaction in the knowledge of a job done well. They helped feed billions, people who would have undoubtably starved otherwise. Quadruple CLICK.

Granola crunchies out in California might protest GMOs, but those were heartless souls, really. If they even had souls? Smug hypocrites, generally speaking. Completely ignorant of global starvation, how much the world now relied on hybrids seeds and intensive precision agriculture.

The proverbial Green Revolution had emerged from here, the Midwest, quickly spreading in quintessential implementations throughout India, Mexico. Success stories, foundations on which their corporate culture had been built.

Added a note in the draft presentation: “The average protest against GMO adoption is responsible for the equivalent of 3,000 deaths due to starvation in Africa.” That number seemed too low: “…the equivalent of 50,000 deaths due to…” CLICK. Crunchies needed less nature, more accountability. Which reminded him of a new feature which Pyotr had mentioned about in the software…


This is the #nestor-alerts channel, created by @py0tr on Jan 20th. Purpose: This channel has critical alerts relating to the prototype NESTOR AI System and services associated with it.

— Sunday, Feb 16th —

hilly: show targets near san francisco

nestor: describe category for targets

hilly: anti-gmo

nestor: which subcategory of targets? [ protests, media, start-ups, seed banks ]

hilly: seed banks?

nestor: Moon Valley Seed Bank, 197 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952 [ enter commit to transact ]

hilly: commit

This looked shiny and new. He’d never even considered seed banks as a problem. Of all the things? But yes, these too had come to represent a threat against feeding the world. Heirloom seeds, which some laggards insisted to use in place of vastly superior transgenic hybrids. Troglodytes! No precision in the crunchies’ so-called agriculture.

Leaving Sheridan station. Something would happen near Petaluma. Soon. Something “neutral” according to the proverbial net-net of near-term financial markets. However, not so neutral for Nonserto in the long run, particularly his organization. A change in thresholds. An outcome. Yet another morsel to feed the hungry auditors in Finance.

Feeling a renewed sense of courage, Zavičius gathered his nerve enough to check notifications. The seemingly endless stream thereof. Most had come directly from NESTOR. Each referred back to a newly created chat channel.


This is the very beginning of the #melek-taus channel, created by @nestor on Feb 14th. Purpose: This channel recommends strategy for executives privately from the NESTOR AI System.

— Sunday, Feb 16th —

nestor: authenticate

“Hmmm,” he muttered aloud. Quite an odd account name, melek-taus. “Obviously some programmer abbreviation.”

He paused to see whether anyone on the weekend train had heard him. Crickets. Their rail car was mostly empty, at least on this end. He continued in chat.

nestor: authenticate

hilly: hilari0n

IT had warned him repeatedly about the dangers of reusing passwords. Nothing to fret about, this one had lower case letters instead of the upper case letters used for his other passwords.

They should be pleased, actually, pleased that rules had been followed. Moreover, invocation of the name itself appealed to a higher power. In suitably pious supplication.

nestor: private channel authenticated

hilly: help?

nestor: select [ strategic recommends, executive dashboard, system override ]

hilly: @py0tr any idea what this is about?

nestor: user @py0tr unauthorized

hilly: ok

nestor: select [ strategic recommends, executive dashboard, system override ]

hilly: strategic recommends

Of the options available, that one seemed the most reasonable. But what did an AI have to recommend for executive strategy?

Pyotr had assured that the Olgarithms project implemented the very latest in “cognitive computing” technology. Double assured, triple even. He’d spent three slides describing it. Clearly quite excited. Or was it called “cognitious computing” instead? That sounded more official, in any case.

Zavičius made a voice note on his phone,

Pyotr: correct all instances to read “Cognitious Computing” instead. Also, ask Legal about initiating a trademark.

He paused, considering a way to motivate. Some call to action.

Part of the challenge will be ensuring we balance our excitement to build for the future with the practical requirements of keeping current customer commitments and enabling our sales team in particular to succeed.

While it made sense to recommend books on Amazon, or even friends on Facebook, what did “strategic recommends” imply for executives? Could their bonus structure change if they followed suggestions? Or might there be some change in the pace of their reporting cycle?

Not that he ordered many books from Amazon, nor had an overwhelming number of friends on Facebook. A modest amount, for a man in his position. But what was NESTOR doing? Taking more than long enough to reply, clearly.

hilly: help?

hilly: list?

nestor: strategic recommends, EVP and above security clearance…

nestor: portfolio options, based on A/B testing of relative risk versus lift, recommend to implement a suite of measures to enhance core product, redeploying micro-assets in the field.

“Sounds dreamy,” he mused. Triple CLICK.

An older woman who’d boarded at Fullerton smiled toward him. She’d probably overheard something. He scowled back.

This strategy could, however, boost numbers for the program. Perhaps give Finance something to chew on.

hilly: what are micro-assets?

nestor: non-audited, assets leased by customers and technically customer liabilities per standard sales contracts, while under company programmatic control.

Two stops away from his exit for the support group meeting. Zavičius set the laptop in an empty seat while he began to collect his items, buttoning his coat.

Making use of customer assets in the field made lots of sense. Waste not want not. Wasn’t that almost like the idea of cloud computing? Sharing use of underused assets? Something like that.

Image for post
Image for post
Where work happens. Or something.

The non-audited part of the recommended strategy seemed the most interesting. Perhaps it could keep Finance at arm’s length. The project had exceeded acceptable risk limits, they’d cautioned in the audit meeting. Don’t take on further risk. Upside rewards for this recommendation, however, seemed overly compelling.

hilly: commit

nestor: select [ override ] first to automate, disabling audit and notification features

hilly: override commit

nestor: initiated, enter private project name?

hilly: hilarion

nestor: saved, this account only

nestor: “Then He brought man up from the pearl accompanied by angels.”

Grand CTA stop. That last line was a nice touch. Although Pyotr and the other programmers had never seemed particularly religious? CLICK.

The doors opened. He folded the laptop quickly, placing it in his briefcase. Rushed through the car’s exit, then along the piste and gangway. Through turnstiles.

The hustle-bustle of busy city dwellers, tourists, students, all with purpose heading on to their appointed rounds. Oh how he loved the CTA stops in The Loop, the efficiency and sheer intent they represented!

Surfacing near the Hilton. Where his support group meeting would start in mere minutes.

Cities, towering toward heaven, their tall buildings adorned with sculpted likenesses of the archangels. A testament to the glory of Creation. Fruitful, multiplied. Triumph over Nature.

Sun 02–16, 10:53 CT / 16:53 GMT
Uptown, Chicago; 41.9703° N, -87.6688° W

The previous story was Third Thoughts, and the next in the sequence is Hylburt-Speys.


"In the loop…" https://derwen.ai/

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