It’s a bot’s life

By Mark Woolfenden | 10 September 2019

The LED flickered then glowed, casting its green shadow onto the dust of the worn printed circuit board, known simply as Motherboard. A feint click had preceded the awakening of the power supply, summoned from standby and the temperature began to rise in the system unit. The stamped foil asset label on the casing, smudged on one upturned corner, read "Property of TRADEDATA". It was '2019-10-13 23:59:59' UTC. The first clutch of bots jolted, instantly awake, alert and ready to work.

"Please don't be a FussBot mother”, beeped InventiBot. “But it's my prime directive”, double-beeped its mother NecessiBot, “so don't bug me!”. “Ssssshhh mother, MasterBot forbids talk of bugs, you know what happens when they find one; those poor bots are transferred on to serial bus 404 to GitHub and are never seen again.

My clone-cousin RumourBot says they penetrate and break them with test after test using high speed probes. Those that fail suffer the fate that bots fear most, being commented out or worse still, archived.”

Ping. “Time to go bots”, said NecessiBot, “I want you out of this node and into workflow before I count to three nanoseconds”…bip, and they were all gone.

NecssiBot closed the backdoor of her Pod and reflected on how many of her Bot family would return after their microshifts. It hoped its regular digital exchange with the Backbone would see more FresherBots coming down the wires but was rather anxious where they would come from. Those Agile Academy bots were so upright, ordered and full of themselves but just bearable, whereas the bots from the Botleg Institute of online Book and then Learn Graduates, recruited students from the Dark Web, who whilst being wildly creative, were rather non-conformist thought NecessiBot. Beep. Its drifting thoughts were suddenly interrupted by MantraBot, reminding it that “you must obey The Rules, and that The Rules rule, OK?” “OK, it sighed.”

NecessiBot looked into its PostBot to find yet another breaking fake news scandal from DonBot. It was about time that AdminBot did its job; it could understand its reluctance though, chasing the Super Admin post of course, but how come AdminBot could bend its rules not to report such non-conformist behaviour? Maybe AdminBot was one of the new class of learning bots it had ingested from scanning yesterday's Reset Times log? “Preserve us from all these rule benders”, it clicked.

“No, they're not going to preserve us, are they?”

InventiBot entered the CPU zone and entered processor 5 by pin number 32, not its favourite, as the poor solder connection slowed it down. It made a digital reminder to exit by pin 15, crowd-tagged as the Accelertron. It entered its designated core and set to work on its high end analytical task. Motherboard was now alive with activity as service sentinels lined up in march order and set off to the soundless beat of the chipset clock. Nearby, RAMBot sprinted under the memory spike to enter undetected into the RAM zone, at least, that’s what it thought. "Yes! Strike one!", it chirped. "Not so fast RAMBot, bipped SysLogBot, "I knew you were there, just seeing if the suppression management for your overclocking was working but clearly, it needs tweaking." "I'm the last one, SysLogBot, Sir!" said RAMBot, "but I didn't do anything!" "No good RAMBot, I'm messaging ZapBot, it will sort you out. You won't remember anything…"

“I'm lost”, chirped RoverBot, to no bot in particular.  “I'm sure NavBot said first right at the ASA junction and then second left after the grey ribbon”. Ahead stood the wide tooth like grin of the I/O connector, both menacing and welcoming in the same nanosecond, with a clear "Off Grid" danger warning stating "Enter this I/O at your peril - Return is not guaranteed". RoverBot processed this information and decided to retrace its route but as it flipped direction it heard a loud ping, ping, ping,

“GraphicBot, coming through!" RoverBot assimilated itself into the bus wall and let the speed screaming GraphicBot pass. It recognised it from images posted in the Picture folder, down in Documents, where its botfriend ScanBot, regularly came back with amazingly scary logs of encounters with the MalWares, a bundle of no- gooders, always causing trouble all over the place, but happily providing ScanBot and its cohorts, InfosecBot and ZapBot with good, long term work prospects.

PlayBot hung around the staging door of the Games Array, chirping and beeping as wannabe new packaged bundles arrived and all in, spent bundles left, on a regular basis. All it wanted was a break, into which it could insert its lifelong work, Extreme Motherboarding, surely a masterpiece? It had done its homework and sought input from botfriends in big data and analytics. It had seen how Botworlders beeped, bipped, chirped and pinged their way around the System Unitn, the SUn, being the centre of Botworld's universal bus network, offered infinite possibilities of Maze Gaming, ScoutBot Navitag, WhackaBot and even SIMM City.  There were also more social benefits that could be explored, including “Pods under the Hammer”, a virtual estate agency for bot Pods. PlayBot had seen a desirability spread index from FredBot, an acquaintance from early Botcamp days, which showed a clear financial arbitrage could be exploited, based on where on Motherboard a Pod was located relative to workflow entry gates. As all well trained bots knew, speed was second only to The Rules, so premium bitcoin rates could be transacted with a bot who wanted to co-locate next to its workflow gate. So many opportunities, thought PlayBot but what more do I need to do to make it happen?  “I know, maybe I’ll put in for renaming? Yeah, I’m sure I’ll do better with JohnnyBot and maybe some social engineering skills”.

GuardianBot looked down on Motherboard from its desktop tower. It was set for an extended workflow following a Sys.alert on a delayed backup recovery. "Expect high level of Ransomware incursion this cycle", the alert had pipped. More AuthBots had been moving around the network, node sniffing and checking workflow bots' IDs, with a Special Bot Squadron assigned to Pod protection in the darker recesses of Motherboard. "I still need more AuthBots" thought GuardianBot, resigned to the fact that normal operating systems were a thing of the past, where decent, upstanding bots, could go about their workflow in more efficient ways, than being slowed to stall speeds by anti-hacking apps and of course, corporate bloatware. “Never mind “, it trilled to itself, “I always get a power surge when I message, “on my command, unlease the KillBots!"”

All too soon, Botworlders busily prepared themselves for Powerdown, and looked forward to a declutter session, a SPA re-write or perhaps a peerbot code review to optimise their next start-up, there was so much to look forward too! Bots were busying themselves at pace, checking in with The Registry to renew their traffic tokens and access passes and planning fastest routes to home Pods using NavBot. A loud click resonated from the direction of the tower and an all-wires simultaneous message advised Botworlders to return to their Pods at all speed as Powerdown had been initiated. The pressure was on as bots beeped their way along the bus network, trying to avoid the shut to kill threat of CloseBots.

The dimming glow of the LED fell below the horizon of the system unit, allowing darkness to cover Motherboard. It was '2019-10-13 00:01:00' UTC and once more, Powerdown had prevailed.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual avatars, virtual or archived is purely coincidental.

What is not a work of fiction is that Euromoney TRADEDATA has a ‘real’ bot, called XymBot. Its prime directive is to map identifiers from many entities from the known financial universe, back to a common future or option product. It is on a mission, it is relentless, it is always learning new identifiers, it is critical to trade flow, and it is the result of 50 years applied symbology engineering. Welcome to your new world.

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