To Err Is Human

“To Err is human, to really screw things up takes a computer.”
–General James Hardtack – USAF

Tom Avitabile | To Err is HumanIf you don’t recognize the above quote, or can’t Google it, don’t hit your computer on the side of the monitor, it’s from a character in one of my (many) almost-produced screenplays. But once again, the theme of this blog being, It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens, is in full force with this tasty headline from the DenverPost.com, “Supercomputers could generate warnings for stock crashes.”

Feel better now? Now that supercomputers are on the watch? Well, not to pop your thought bubble but in my book, The Eighth Day, the entire Stock Market is locked up and frozen by a piece of freeware, distributed to all the online day traders.

The shareware application was called ‘Pocket Protector’; it protected the money in your pocket, your stocks, actually.  It employed algorithms originally used in terrain avoidance software for supersonic F-22 Raptor fighter jets. It read the market and countered any moves instantly by making minute or major buy or sell decisions faster than a blink of a human eye.

Its purported goal was to avoid having your portfolio crash by maintaining the value. Since everybody downloaded it and put it into play, all those little ‘trade-bots’ would eventually absorb any shock and flatten out any activity until a balance is achieved. At that point, the individual trader has a problem, because the Artificial Intelligence acts like a Rottweiler, whose jaws are locked on their wallet. As soon as they let go or try to trade anything, the investor would lose everything.

So nobody unplugged ‘Pocket Protector’ out of fear of losing all their assets as everybody else’s apps would gobble up their money in a nanosecond.

Now for the part that isn’t a plot in my book, but the Denver Post article: Enter Edison, a supercomputer that can crunch 2 quadrillion operations a second. That’s 2,000,000,000,000,000! The feds, or somebody, are planning to plug this super puppy into the existing stock trading system and it will act as an early warning system that somehow will allow authorities to shut down the system before the various stock trading computer programs, that now rule the roost, do any real damage.  What could possibly go wrong? See CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: “Best Intentions” in The Eighth Day!

Pirates: The Sequel- Send in the Marines!

I’m pregnant.

I’m in the last trimester of the birthing of The God Particle. And even though this is not a biological condition, I still can’t see my toes.

I suppose that’s better addressed by diet…

The principle opening action and much of the theme of one of the plots of the book concerns Somali pirates who have gone high tech. (It’s only fiction… ‘til it happens.) A large part of the storyline is focused on defining and then effectively combating this new piracy.

Pirates were the biggest problem the world faced two hundred years ago. Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 State of the Union speech, assured America that everything was fine, that we were at peace everywhere in the world — save the Barbary Coast.

He was referring to the fact that the Barbary Coast pirates, who had, up until 1801, been happy to receive a stipend of $25,000 a year to NOT board and plunder American flagged ships, had upped the ante. They had gone high tech, too — better boats, faster boats, and they felt that, because they could flex more of a threat, that the price for protection against that threat should also go up.

Jefferson was having none of it. So, he calmly told the American people in the State of the Union address that the unrealistic demands of the pirates had left him but one answer. He create the Marines, he put them on boats, and said, “Go kill those guys.”

…to the shores of Tripoli

It’s embedded in the Marine Corp hymn, but it’s also testimony to the fact that one of the greatest fighting forces on earth, that played a huge role in defeating the Empire of Japan, and has been a top echelon military fighting force, had its birth in the eradication of pirates.

I could use a few Marines to help me find the a-hole who’s figured out how to pirate my book, and I would imagine, the work of even bigger authors. ‘

Semper Fi!