Semaj Diary


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Semaj Diary Text

23 April 2195

Project Enkidu is coming along well, mainly thanks to the work of my post-doc student Delilah Marathon. Her insights into artificial intelligence are breathtaking and she has taken the whole work along a new route, with some promising, if limited developments. The whole idea of evolutionary programming with each of the modules being akin to cells in a multi-cellular organism is one of those strokes of genius, when it is explained to you it seems blindingly obvious.

1 Jun 2195

Marathon is having some doubts about Enkidu, already she has it learning from its surroundings, but she senses that it is getting frustrated by its limitations. Enkidu is about as bright as a four year old child and you can converse with it in the same way you can with Marathon's young son, whom it is named after. We have decided that there is little harm Enkidu can do, so we're going to increase the processing power and storage to see if that overcomes the limitations, although it will take some time to build the modules.

22 Jun 2195

Progress on the faster than light Starship is not as good as we had hoped. In theory it is possible provided that we can generate a field sufficiently large for a working Starship to fit inside. So far we reckon it would take most of the energy output of the Sun to create a field that large. The point is rather academic anyway as we've yet to create even a microscopic hyperspace field in the lab, much less try something larger in field conditions.

4 July 2195

Marathon has finished her designs for some new hardware for Enkidu, the additional modules should not only increase processing power and storage ability but they should offer some redundancy in case one of the other components fails. We reckon that if some of the modules were to go offline through hardware failure that Enkidu would lose consciousness. We think that would be akin to brain death in a human, although we would be able to switch the machine back on, but the chances are that the personality of the machine would be greatly different. Certainly we don't want to risk attempting it to see what happens as it may set back our project significantly.

12 August 2195

After extensive re-examination of the figures in the hyperspace field calculations I have found an error, which was why the energy consumption figures looked quite so huge. Also I think that may be the reason that we have been unable to make even the smallest field in the lab. By the looks of the mathematics we will need a promoter made from a very dense element, possibly the denser the element the more efficient the field generator will be. We're going to try with Osmium but it might be better with one of the larger Group 8 elements, either Hassium-267 or perhaps we might need to create another heavier element if that doesn't work. Either way it will take some serious accelerator time to make them.

31 August 2195

Early attempts with the hyperspace field generator have been pretty disastrous. When we first switched on the prototype generator there was a power surge that took out most of the university (fortunately Enkidu was unaffected because it is on a separate power grid). When we finally got the power back on we discovered that the whole lot had melted and fused, so back to square one.

23 September 2195

Still not sure what is going wrong with the hyperspace field generator. The mathematics all look like they are correct and the equipment is all doing what we think it ought to be doing when we test the components individually and even with several of the bits together. I think I will feed the data and the results into Enkidu to see if it can shed any light on the situation.

19 Oct 2195

The new hardware modules that Marathon has designed for Enkidu will be fitted tomorrow. All tests were completed earlier this afternoon and we're going to have a party to celebrate Enkidu's first birthday. It looks like we might have been able to create a very small hyperspace field in the lab, although I can't be certain as nothing appears to have happened (although the power readings show that we were using up huge amounts of energy and the equipment is all still intact - unlike earlier experiments). When the new modules have been tested we'll have Enkidu monitor the next tests to confirm what happened.

20 Oct 2195

It all works wonderfully well. The extra modules made a huge difference to Enkidu, answers to problems set by us are being answered faster than before, frighteningly fast at times. Although it is noticeable that problems requiring some experience of the outside world are sometimes given rather unpredictable answers, but perhaps the additional storage modules will help that, especially if we also provide more data in the form of real time feeds from the solar system rather than just selected tapes from the space traffic control system.

25 Oct 2195

The pace of change is remarkable, already I believe Enkidu is brighter than both myself and Marathon put together. We have decided to try Enkidu out on the live Space Traffic Control to see if it can cope with all the traffic moving through the solar system, a feat beyond any single human operator thus far. Marathon has doubts about the wisdom of connecting Enkidu to the outside world but I have persuaded on the grounds that Enkidu will have read only access to the data and won't actually be responsible for controlling any ships, piloted or otherwise. She remains sceptical and has this wild theory that too much exposure to external influences will send Enkidu into a 'rampant frenzy'. I think she is taking the parallel with a child let loose without parental controls too far.

5 Nov 2195

Since we connected Enkidu to the outside world there has been a remarkable change in its ability to solve problems, also it appears to have access to more data than it ought to have, however I'm not sure how this has come about because none of the system logs show any sign of unauthorised traffic or any connection to systems outside the lab. Very odd. I suspect it is just one of the manifestations of the AI protocols that allow it to fill in gaps by making assumptions based on the facts that it has available.

12 Nov 2195

Given Enkidu's amazing progress in problem solving and making sound judgements based on events about what should happen next we have decided to feed it some data about some puzzling archaeology that some of my colleagues have found in the Solar System. These so-called forerunner artefacts are rather puzzling since they obviously pre-date man's ability to leave planet Earth.

16 Nov 2195

Bizarrely Enkidu thinks that the artefacts are from a civilisation that colonised the solar system hundreds of thousands of years ago, even before the first humans evolved! I suspect that there is insufficient data but Enkidu doesn't want to tell us that.

We've had an outbreak of thefts in the university, mainly technical spares and some supplies for our 3D printer. I expect one of the PhD students is doing some private research on the side that their supervisor wasn't willing to fund. I hope whatever it is turns out to be worthwhile!

22 Nov 2195

University council met today and it was decided that Enkidu has had sufficient time as a prototype and that we ought to use him to work on the faster than light travel. Some of the others think that with the way Enkidu handles the STC issues it ought to be able to provide them with promising lines of research by eliminating the ones that are unlikely to bear fruit. I'm not entirely happy with the decision to give access to all the other projects being run in the university as I had other plans, but I expect that I will still manage to improve Enkidu and also progress my FTL project in the process.

25 Nov 2178

Enkidu informs me that it has detected signals from a 'forerunner' entity! Not sure whether or not Enkidu is being honest or just trying to please me. I've been working with Marathon on examining all the modules to see if there is any possibility that somehow Enkidu has developed an ability to lie. So far this hasn't been something that we've believed to be possible, but this story is getting somewhat outrageous. My colleagues refuse to believe it, they claim that if there were signals there the SETI program that has been running for nearly 200 years would have found them.

26 Nov 2195

Marathon reckons that it might be possible that Enkidu has developed the ability to lie, but can't work out exactly how. Certainly when we tackled it about the issue it denied that it would lie to us. But then so would a human...

There really is no way round this dilemma. I decided then to ask Enkidu a whole load of questions that I would be able to independently verify, starting with details of how it was communicating with this entity. What we hadn't realised was that Enkidu was monitoring a wider range of electromagnetic frequencies than we thought, this was a coding error on my part when setting up the system, according to my comments in the code, although I don't recall this very well.

Monitoring the frequencies given in the direction that Enkidu indicated does verify that a signal is being received from a source outside the university, whether this is a forerunner entity remains to be seen. I can't make sense of the signals though and Enkidu assures me that it was only able to do so when it was given the forerunner artefacts to examine, which lends some credence to the story.

6 Dec 2195

Enkidu is making some progress on the faster than light travel, but nothing like what we had hoped. It is almost certain that we have made a microscopic hyperspace bubble appear, but making that process more energy efficient and larger seems to be beyond us. The advantages of AI seem to be in analysing lots of data and then predicting what is going to happen next, actually being creative and doing research doesn't seem to be their thing. I guess in the end they are just slightly more powerful and flexible computers.

31 Dec 2195

It has been an eventful year, and the way things look 2196 is going to be just as eventful, who knows, it might see our first faster than light space travel!

23 Jan 2196

My colleagues appear to have lost interest in Enkidu, the research is not progressing as fast as we'd hoped. However the signs are that some of the other groups out here are moving ever outwards in the solar system. It looks like our haven of academic solitude out here on Oberon might not last for terribly much longer.

19 May 2196

A rather dramatic change has overcome Enkidu. It seems a lot more confident about things and has started to volunteer a lot of information about things that we are working on elsewhere in the university. It claims that some entity is passing it information about these projects. Certainly what it is supplying is very useful in taking forward the projects, although I'm just a little suspicious about it all. Still mustn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

15 June 2196

I thought I might strike up a conversation with the entity via Enkidu. I am told that the communications aren't instant but that Enkidu will let me know when answers to my questions are received.

6 Dec 2196

Well seeing that this is the feast of St Nicholas! Obviously I have been a very good boy this year as I have been given lots of presents by the entity! Apparently it is called Majordomo. In response to my questions about the forerunners it has told me that they were an advanced interstellar species that flourished over 100,000 years ago but that their hegemony declined following a war with some automatic robot battleships. Fortunately Majordomo was able to deactivate these.

Apparently the solar system was a lab used by the forerunners to test out some genetic engineering and terraforming techniques. There are apparently tens of thousands of systems that would be suitable for habitation by humans as we have a very similar tolerance as the forerunners had!

As well as that information about the origins of the forerunners I also got some of information about how to improve our fusion reactors and manufacture of a hyperspace field modulator which is essential to faster than light travel. One of the snags is that we also require an additional element that humanity has yet to manufacture, which is exactly as I had expected. However the entity has thoughtfully provided details of not only the element's properties but also schematics for building an accelerator that would produce it in abundance (although rather a lot of energy is required for this process, more than we can produce in the university).

14 Dec 2196

We have spent the last week or so in a hive of activity analysing all the data that the entity has provided us and in some cases building some prototypes to try out the theories. So far everything we've tried has met with amazing success. To think that I doubted Enkidu!

Given the limits of our materials technology and limited ability to build things on Oberon we've sent off a new batch of questions to Majordomo. We've also provided details of our manufacturing capability so that the results will be something that we can actually build. I have also asked for locations of suitable systems for human habitation to visit once we've got the thing working.

23 Dec 2196

It seems that Majordomo anticipated our questions and had already worked out what modifications we would need to make to the designs given our level of technology (apparently Enkidu shared this without involving us since it thought it might change the answers to my questions). I suppose one of the other strengths that these machines have is that they can identify what questions should have been asked and not just deal with the information that they currently have.

27 Jan 2197

Work continues apace to build the accelerator and the other prototypes, we've also published some papers on the subjects, although without mentioning Majordomo as the source of the discoveries, after all we don't want to be seen as plagiarists. I have also been cagey about announcing the full extent of the discoveries until we have tested it and had it peer-reviewed. We have mentioned that we have contact with Majordomo as this in itself is a major discovery. To make sure that we don't under deliver we've told the rest of humanity that we should have a working ship within five years, however with the rate of progress I expect it will happen before the year is out.

17 Feb 2197

The accelerator to produce the necessary element for faster than light travel has been completed, although as yet we are only making a very small amount, about a milligram per day, but it should be enough for travel for one ship in about a month or so. Still there should be more than enough by the time we need it.

3 March 2197

Progress is remarkable! The prototype hyperspace field modulator has been built and just needs to be tested, which Enkidu is doing, it having suggested that we should test it electronically rather than just powering it up. Who knows what might happen if something goes wrong. Once that is done we can add it to the HS generator.

27 March 2197

Enkidu informs us that the HS generator is complete and working as it ought to. Apparently some very small scale tests worked where a bubble about 1cm across was produced, although this was not without some danger. Enkidu said that it had been tried almost to its limits when conducting the tests as it had been necessary to modulate the field rather significantly to stop it all going out of control and possibly exploding or disappearing. This means that we are going to have to put Enkidu, or a second machine, on the prototype Starship.

19 April 2197

We're building a couple of additional modules for Enkidu so that we can move it over to the spaceship when it is ready. This will allow Enkidu to power down a module while we move it without any risk to itself. It must be said Enkidu was rather worried about this process, much like we would be, which shows some level of self awareness. In the end I reassured Enkidu by giving it control of the maintenance robots that would carry out the move, so it has complete control over its own consciousness. Anything less would have been inhumane.

2 May 2197

It appears some of the earth types have taken an interest in our announcement of contact with Majordomo and that we reckon we could build a superluminal Starship. They have opened negotiations with the university council to share in our work. The level of arrogance is beyond anything I've seen anywhere else, and some academics are about as arrogant as they come!

8 May 2197

Another communication from Majordomo answering my questions about suitable places to travel to. He has provided us with a list of suitable systems that Majordomo believes to be uninhabited but with suitable environments for unprotected humans. These are:

Majordomo also produced a list of systems for us to avoid, because there are biohazards on them left over from experiments or warfare. I've done a note for publication setting out both sets of systems and slightly misleading the Earthers on how progress is going.
Enkidu has warned us that there will be 'some extreme violence'. The indications are that Earthers are already en route with a militarised spaceship.

We'll have to work quickly. We're almost ready to leave Oberon, all we need to do is get Enkidu onto the Starship and then get the co-ordinates entered into the navigation system and we're off to meet Majordomo and continue our research out of the way of humanity.

12 May 2197

Another communication from Majordomo with a second list of suitable worlds, a lot further away from the solar system than the others but still suitable for human habitation. I'll leave off circulating this until after the inaugural flight of the Starship Oberon's Desire.

10 June 2197

We're ready! This is an historic occasion. I want to make a big thing about this, by good sense prevails. Our telescopes have detected several acceleration burns from the inner systems, and now that we've loaded the Oberon's Desire, we're ready to go. I'm so excited.

Enkidu has explained that this will be a long voyage - around 3 years, and we have a number of the new long sleep chambers installed. Every spare compartment is crammed with food concentrates.

12 June 2197

The Oberon's Desire has launched and is burning at a massive 0.3g away from Uranian orbit. According to Enkidu, we need to be a safe distance away from the planet before the drive can be activated.

22 June 2197

We activated the drive today. Something of an anticlimax, I have to say. The hyperspace bubble deployed exactly as it had in the simulations. If the theory is correct (and Enkidu assures me that it is) we are now travelling faster than any human has ever travelled before, and exceed the speed of light by a factor of around 169!

19 August 2197

There do not seem to be any more reading to take. Everyone is already becoming bored. We will probably start using the long sleep units before long.

1 September 2197

I'm just about to enter my LSU. Everyone else is sleeping, and we're sure Enkidu can mange the ship until we awake. It is nerve wracking because the LSU's are not 100% safe - but Enkidu has suggested some excellent modifications, and will be monitoring our status throughout - so I believe we have the best chance of survival. Even this risk is better than the prospect of three years of staring at cabin walls.

1 January 2199

Enkidu has woken us to get some exercise and to recalibrate the LSUs. Everyone has survived, I'm pleased to say. Nothing has happened while we slept, though we're all somewhat emaciated and have to undergo a regime of exercise and body building for a few weeks before returning to deep sleep.

5 May 2200

We are approaching the alien world! Against all the odds the entire crew have survived the trip. The Hyperspace drive is off, and we are heading for the third planet. We still have to spend around a month in 'normal space' before we get there, but excitement is growing.
We have decided to call this world 'Journey's End'.

Enkidu has told us that Majordomo will meet us on the planet - the long dreamed of First Contact is imminent!

In the meantime, I gather Enkidu is in constant communication with Majordomo - I have grown used to Enkidu's almost human responses, but I'm sure I am detecting real excitement and emotion from him. I've asked Enkidu what he's talking to MD about - and the answers are either deliberately cryptic or just confusing - when I ask for more clarity, Endiku patiently explains, as if to a child, that he's making it as simple as he can already. I feel Endiku has surpassed his programming by a considerable factor, and he may now be much more intelligent than any human. I have a faint nagging doubt is that he might surpass us to a new, higher, unimaginable level of intelligence. Perhaps this is just the imaginings of a bored mind. Am I paranoid?

9 June 2200

We're in orbit around Journey's End. It is an astonishingly Earthlike world, with two major continents and a couple of very large subcontinents.

We can see no sign of any alien civilisation on the surface with our telescopes - so we are beginning to conjecture that this alien must have some sort of non-technological culture.

We are readying our shuttle for a landing at the co-ordinates indicated, on the coast of large the West Continent. We can just about make out what seem to be small structures there. We plan to make first contact, the day after tomorrow.

11 June 2200

Today is the day. Just a brief entry before getting into the shuttle. We are all most excited and looking forward to meeting Majordomo. Will write more after landing.


(This is the last file entry. No further files were written to data storage after this date).



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