by Jörn Grote
Six little girls had been raped in virtuality; their web-interfaces had been hacked and someone had invaded their minds. One moment they were playing in the everyday version of a virtual kindergarten, the next moment they experienced the most horrible thing that can happen to a kid.
Connected to Thousand Eyes, the all-mighty, all-seeing AI of the police department, I followed every trace, every lead. All I found were blind alleys.
Then the seventh girl was raped. In this instance I had enough time to witness every trace of intrusion into the girl’s web interface fading away as I watched; every bit of evidence slipped away.
When I asked Thousand Eyes how that could happen, it just asked, “How could what happen?”
Thousand Eyes had been corrupted. I had heard stories that sometimes high officials had the keys to make Thousand Eyes turn a blind eye to everything they did.
And so I began to look at my old evidence again. In my spare time, unconnected to Thousand Eyes, I began to search for what I called the Invisible Man. I made a profile, checked it against a high-ranking official of the city. Finding the man proved easier than I had ever hoped.
But I knew immediately that any hope of getting to him was illusory. Once he had been one of the designers of the Thousand Eyes AI, and during his career he had worked on nearly all the important systems of the city. He had made himself invisible to the law and to every other force I might invoke to get to him.
I sent him a e-mail, saying that I wanted to meet him and what I had discovered about him.
We met in the afternoon on a seldom used street of the city, where we were observed by the digital eyes of the security system of the traffic AI. There I told him what I had discovered, I accused him of his crimes.
He laughed in my face right there in the middle of the street. “Yes, it was me,” he said. “But you can’t stop me, no one can. I can make myself invisible to every system in the city. I’m beyond the law. What will you do, you miserable little officer? I’ll tell you what: you will go home, you will forget you ever met me and live out your little life. Because there is nothing you can do.”
“There is one thing,” I said. “Justice.”
I took one step back, and, as I had calculated, the automated truck came around the corner as it did every day at the same time. The rapist had enough time to turn his head, but that was all he could do. His mouth formed an O, before he was squelched under the wheels.
He had made himself invisible to the eyes of the AI; there would be no evidence of him talking to me. And because the traffic AI couldn’t see him, he died.
I went home, not feeling much better. The little girls’ minds had been harmed forever; my revenge wouldn’t help them.
Despite that, I had stopped the man with his own power.
Copyright © 2005 by Jörn Grote