The computer worm that was committing industrial espionage throughout Hawking colony had stolen all the secrets it could. And for once, the nameless assistant in the Chen-Glücksbringer delegation felt at ease; he felt lucky; his mission was going well. It was not by accident, he began to think, that “Glücks­bringer” means “lucky charm”. 

During the delegation’s drive to the spaceport for their return trip to their home colony, the assistant had anxiously tapped an icon on his display screen and sent a high-priority message throughout the Hawking computer network. The message simply said, cryptically, “Home”. 

Before the message was sent, the millions of copies of the virus constantly compared their stolen secrets, deleted redundan­cies, and aggregated their results into a few bundles of compressed data waiting to be delivered to their point of origin, their “home”, the personal computing device belonging to the nameless assistant. When the millions of infected artificial intelligences received the message, they would interpret it as a high-priority intent, a goal that each AI would interpret in its own way and strive to fulfill. By design, the intent should be interpreted as, “Send your stolen intelligence back home now, to your point of origin.” 

The assistant expected to receive the stolen data just before he boarded his shuttle home. Shortly thereafter, at the witching hour, each copy of the computer virus would delete itself without a trace. No one would be able to prove that the Chen-Glücksbringer consortium had committed any skullduggery.

The nameless assistant knew the computer worm had been carefully crafted by his fellow spies to elude robust, well written professional code. What he didn’t know was that as chance would have it, the worm would also interact with fragile, badly written code produced by careless programmers in Wolf pack 4002. If he had known, he might have feared that such an inauspicious interaction would produce unpredictable behavior. And that thinking code would react in ways no human mind could imagine.

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