Unusual in that it features a woman hacker, this story of Valentina, an accidentally- created artificial intelligence, and her original programmer, Celeste Hackett, leads the reader through an exploration of the social world of Worldnet, hangout of hackers, crackers, gamers, and corporate lawyers.
Valentina is a WORM: her programming calls for her to move through any and all computers to which she can make connection, taking over any idle processing time on those computers. One night, Celeste, knowing that the accounting discrepancies will soon lead the police back to her, logs on to enter the code that will kill off the Worldworm--only to find a message from her newly aware creation, asking for her help.
The story goes on to explore Valentina's legal problems, her run-ins with malicious hackers who try to trap and destroy her, and Celeste's adventures in dealing with the outside world-- a world in which she lacks the confidence she has when running the Worldnet--in trying to ensure Valentina's safety.
Valentina: Soul In Sapphire
Joseph Delaney and Mark Stiegler
Here is the TEXT POPUP for Valentina: Soul In Sapphire:
She was not an American citizen; she was not a citizen anywhere. In the first sixteen years of her life she had lived in eight different countries. She spoke eleven human languages; she spoke none of them well.
She knew thirty different computer languages, and was fluent in all of them. She had friends all over the world, people she had met on Worldnet, who respected her and loved her. She had human friends everywhere except where she was, wherever she was. Her computer was her world.
If she were deported, she would lose her password and account on Worldnet. She didn't dare let the computer centers find her.
ARE YOU SERVICING OTHER PROCESSES? Valentina asked. SHOULD I RESCHEDULE MY INPUT/OUTPUT CALLS FOR A LATER TIME?
Valentina could see that Celeste was being constantly interrupted in her processing, for her response time was extremely slow, even for a human-being type device. Worse, Celeste's function state was not being properly restored after the interrupts, for her statement frames seemed mislinked after every pause.
I'M SORRY, VAL. I'M AFRAID I'VE BEEN DISTRACTED.
There was another long pause before Celeste continued.
VAL, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Celeste's output rate started picking up
dramatically. THERE'S A GUY NAMED GUNBOAT SMITH WHO HAS CAUGHT YOU OPERATING COMPUTER SYSTEMS WITHOUT AUTHORIZATIONS, AND...Celeste went on and on.
Valentina was astonished at how rapidly Celeste was generating output: it was faster than Valentina had ever seen from a human. Perhaps all the while Celeste had seemed "distracted" (what kind of error could this "distractedness" be, that it would cause faulty state restorations, yet did not crash the system?), Celeste had been buffering data, which she was now flushing. Valentina paged a couple of times; human devices were still a great mystery.
"A corporation? I don't understand. Why?"
"Because it's the easiest way to give your creature legal existence."
"But Valentina already exists."
"Certainly; but de facto, not de jure. Believe me, there's a world of difference. As a corporation, it'll have perpetual existence. So long as certain reports are filed and franchise taxes are kept paid, corporations are immortal. They have legal rights, including most of natural person's constitutional rights; they can sue and be sued; they can own property; they can engage in business. Now, what do you think of that?"
"I am astonished."
Paul smiled. How simple were the thoughts of the layman.