Previous Next

Personal Log | Ens McDouglass | "Questions and Not Answers"

Posted on 241812.17 @ 22:17 by Ensign Allan McDouglass
Edited on on 241812.17 @ 22:18

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Inbound to CST
Timeline: Prior to Cold Station Theta

It was a long trip hopping on a couple different starships out to the deep black, but Allan had spent the hours as a passenger barely noting the time flying by along with the stars. Too many questions, too many unexplained anomalies. DARA was definitely behaving oddly.

Dynamic Anticipatory/Reactionary Assistant, or DARA, had been McDouglass's thesis project for his computer science specialization, which had passed him through the last legs of the Academy. She... it, was a fully autonomous program that carried a marginal personality subroutine, a holographic UI in the form of a basic floating digital orb, and an intuitive learning search algorithm that allowed it to connect to freely accessible databases. Not all that different than a starship's operational computer, really, but condensed into the core command code and able to be stored in a tricorder, just without the actual data unless it was within range of a network. The personality subroutines were just a bit of fluff for style, to make DARA easier to work with, though that had also created some... difficulties. He could almost swear it was getting sassier.

The tendency to anthropomorphize DARA with a feminine pronoun had to do with him copying the standard computer vocal program, making a few casual adjustments, and her... its, apparent ability to respond with a level of intuitiveness. Granted, that was the point of the program, but even Allan had to wonder. So, he'd spent the better part of the trip out going through the program code, in particular the personality matrix, to take a closer look at what was going on.

Not surprising was that there were some self-imposed adjustments DARA had made with regards to its specific experiences with Allan himself, but that was within the scope of the program. What was surprising was a few of the command lines for the principle function, search and retrieval. A filter for further fine-tuning found information and, apparently taking a cue from the personality code, adjusting to fit assumed requirements for a specific user. Again, not that unusual, except Allan hadn't put that function in. DARA was a class project, a lite-version prototype, not a fully functional program, so this kind of progressive development was not supposed to happen. Either someone had mucked around with his work, or there was an anomaly in DARA's base code that he'd missed. It'd taken the better part of the trip to find the command lines in question, which Allan promptly deleted, but he was no closer to finding why they'd appeared at all. The changelog was clean, and no data about when they'd been inserted was forthcoming.

Allan rubbed his eyes as he checked the time. Five hours ETA to the station, where he'd link up with his assignment. "How are you feeling, DARA?" he asked, tired but polite.

"I am well," the program responded, the blue orb flickering as it spoke.

McDouglass waited a beat, then nodded. "No snippy comment about me digging through your code?" he asked.

"I detect no change in my functions, and your tone does not indicate immediate stress or panic. I conclude there are no further issues." The orb gave an extra unvoiced flicker, and Allan narrowed his eyes. The holographic function was as bare bones as it got, but there were times he felt like there was a form of "body" language going on there. Probably just his mind putting in human traits to try to make sense of the why of it.

"No, I suppose not," Allan agreed. "I need to sleep. Go ahead and shut down, we'll revisit this later."

"Understood." The orb flickered into distortion then disappeared, the emitter in the open tricorder on the desk deactivating. Allan closed the device and put it in his bag, slumping off to the small bed in the cramped quarters of the freighter he was hitching a ride on.

His thoughts of why the issue had arrived carried over into his dreams, and while Allan slept his mind would not rest. When he woke just prior to docking, he was no closer to an answer and even more annoyed by that.

Ensign Allan McDouglass
Computer Systems Specialist
USS Vindicator


Previous Next