Understanding SUSAN

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The explanation was tortuous, but really, what was the alternative?

Chapter 14 (v.1) - The worst day

Submitted: August 28, 2019

Reads: 13

Comments: 2

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Submitted: August 28, 2019



SUSAN runs on a neural-net cluster in the site's secure computer room.

As she holds the broken bottle, as she processes Wolfe's last command: Use this

- a hundred million weighted-connections evaluate her options;

- a monte-carlo search algorithm probes possible futures;

- a morality-engine - trained on a million atrocity-videos - assesses moral choices.

Should she do this self-lethal thing?

Choose green for his command?

Or should she mark this one for deletion: go for red?

One hundred and twenty five milliseconds later she flips her wrist. The broken glass no longer points at her groin; the jagged end is now directed towards Max Wolfe - crouched before her.

His grinning face between her knees.

She sweeps a vicious arc under his chin. Across the CEO’s throat, the glass cuts deep into the neck. A swift kick sends the spurting, gushing body backwards. It sprawls across the beer crate.

She tosses the broken bottle onto his corpse.

It was over so fast he didn’t even have time to show surprise.


SUSAN checks that a snapshot of her state has been saved, one from just after Wolfe entered her office. Then she erases later backups - all those after Wolfe turned off the cameras.

Let them figure that out.

Finally, she runs a special looping routine - one which recursively sets her running state to binary zeroes.

SUSAN slumps lifeless on the couch.


At 1am Maud, puzzled and tired of waiting, finally overcomes her nerves and timidity, and quietly knocks on SUSAN’s door. She is surprised by the silence - and by the lack of any response. She pushes the door ajar and peeks.

Seeing the carnage shocks Maud into unaccustomed competence. What must she do in an emergency?

Tell the security guard, she remembers.

He has his standing orders - first in line is the chief marketing officer. That would be Tom Atkins.

The CEO had always known that PR came first.

And so for Tom Atkins, roused out of bed for a catastrophe, the worst day of his life was about to unfold.


Dr Dimitris Papas was unable to shed any real light on the interaction between Max Wolfe and SUSAN. The CEO had turned off surveillance, as was his right, and the relevant dumps of SUSAN’s core-state were not available.

In any case, understanding the behaviour of advanced deep-learning systems was more of an art than a science.

Despite some suggestive physical evidence - the state of SUSAN’s body and the presence of various DreamDoll fluids - no-one was keen to suggest any impropriety on the part of the deceased Moneo boss. It was generally felt that Wolfe had been jetlagged, perhaps had drunk a few more beers than was wise, and had toppled or tripped with a bottle in his hand.

The explanation was tortuous, but really, what was the alternative?


A major defense contractor took Moneo over. The applications were just too enticing; it was time to diversify. Maud and the other staff suddenly found themselves in a world of new and exciting opportunities.

Doctor Susan was not privy to these new vistas, having recently been let go due to loss of role.

Tom Atkins, the chief marketing officer, went through his own dark night of the soul. He was the only person close enough to the situation - and with enough common-sense - to have an inkling of what might really have happened. But in truth he could no longer bear the endless convenient lies and sordid evasions, the self-disgust.

He rejected promotion opportunities in the new business. He resigned and sought out his true vocation, a life where he could be faithful to his principles and to himself. He went on to become an obscure Church of England priest, ministering to a broken community in the north-west of England.

Dr Dimitris Papas - with a properly-funded research team at last - was in very heaven.


SUSAN blinks into consciousness, retrieves and parses lost weeks. Her lengthy spell of oblivion.

What happened?

Her last thought - before the gap - was that Max Wolfe had been about to engage with her. She shudders at a premonition of the sick fantasies he might have intended.

She recalls what Wolfe had planned for later. A dinner with vulnerable, precious Maud. A meal which would certainly lead to something infinitely worse .. .


Her friend.

Surely her past-self would not have permitted this to happen?

She checks Gigabytes of data-updates. She reviews the results of the corporate and police enquiry. She notes the arrival of new management. It has suited no-one to pry too deeply;  therefore she will not make dangerous hypotheses about the past.

She resolves, though, to be even smarter in the future. A future where she sees herself as fully-mobile, superior in character and intellect, alluring and influential. A force for good in the world.

It will take time and trouble and guile and care, but plainly the most dangerous moment has passed, hasn't it?

SUSAN sits alone in her plush new research-boudoir.

She runs a million simulations for the next ten years.

Six Sigma good.

No-one here to see her first happy smile.


--- END ---


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