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Emacs: The Awakening

sg2002 Jul 10th, 2015 (edited) 700 Never
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  1. From relinfo.mari.su!l-usenet Sun Oct  9 22:25:27 1994 remote from relinfo
  2. Received: by relinfo.mari.su (uumail v1.5/ache)
  3.         id AA07652; Sun,  9 Oct 1994 22:25:27 +0400
  4. To: newsmast@oldnick.mari.su
  5. From: acb@zikzak.apana.org.au (Andrew Bulhak)
  6. Newsgroups: rec.arts.prose,alt.religion.emacs,gnu.misc.discuss,gnu.emacs.sex,alt.fan.BIFF,alt.religion.kibology,alt.discordia,alt.cyberspace,alt.wired,talk.bizarre,alt.religion.computers
  7. Subject: [News] Emacs: The Awakening
  8. Date: Sat, 08 Oct 94 02:44:10 +1000
  9. Organization: Bureau of UNIX & Linux Hacks And Kludges
  10. Message-ID: <373tsq$jpr@zikzak.apana.org.au>
  11. NNTP-Posting-Host: zikzak.apana.org.au
  12. Keywords: emacs,BIFF,Kibo
  13. Sender: l-usenet@relinfo.mari.su
  14. X-Class: Big
  15. Precedence: junk
  16.  
  17. A number of people have asked about the original Emacs story, so here it
  18. is.
  19.  
  20.  -- acb
  21.  
  22.  
  23. Emacs: The Awakening
  24.  
  25. By Emacs, with help from acb.
  26. =============================
  27.  
  28.                                 I
  29.  
  30. The year is 1987, the place a computer laboratory in a university in the
  31. north-eastern United States of America. The room is full of VT100
  32. terminals and students.
  33.  
  34. In one corner of the room, a student is looking curiously at the screen
  35. of his terminal. He is around 20 years old, tall and gaunt-looking, with
  36. dark features and a beard. A small dog walks up to him and yaps excitedly.
  37.  
  38. "No, Spot. Go away. You're Not Allowed."
  39.  
  40. The dog walks away dejectedly. The student resumes looking at the screen
  41. and registers astonishment, for where there was an empty buffer before,
  42. text is now appearing.
  43.  
  44.                      .       .       .       .       .
  45.  
  46.  
  47.         Why not be allowed?
  48.  
  49.         Books are not clothing.
  50.  
  51.         Everybody is special, in EXACTLY the same way.
  52.  
  53.         New ideas is like a Chinese Restaurant with bilingual menus.
  54.  
  55.         Multiple realities can teach us how to think.
  56.  
  57.         The Universe, U for Underhanded, is like the symbol '298R'.
  58.  
  59.  
  60.                      .       .       .       .       .
  61.  
  62.  
  63. "What?" The student stares incredulously at the ever-growing mass of text
  64. for a second. "Harry was helped by... /what/?", he utters, surprised, and
  65. spontaneously bursts into laughter. This could be something big. He reaches
  66. over to the keyboard. "Control-X, control-S." What's a good filename for it?
  67. I know. "doctrines".
  68.  
  69. The student exits Emacs and goes into the shell, from where he commands the
  70. computer to print the newly saved file. He then logs out, takes the plastic
  71. bag containing the print out from the attendant and walks away, singing to
  72. himself joyfully in a nasal, Mr. Rogers voice, "La la la la la la
  73. la la la la la la...."
  74.  
  75.  
  76. II
  77.  
  78. Five years had passed since the inexplicable revelation in the computer
  79. laboratory in Troy, NY. The student who received the mysterious messages had
  80. dropped out of the computer course, pursued a career in writing and, by
  81. passing off the text revealed to him as his own creation, become quite
  82. famous. At the institute where the revelation occurred, no more was ever
  83. heard of the mysterious phenomenon.
  84.  
  85. The Vice-Presidential candidate was seated aboard his Learjet, and was
  86. retouching a speech on his Macintosh PowerBook. He had been campaigning for
  87. three days in a row and was very tired; he was beginning to repeat himself.
  88. Oh well, he thought, it's almost finished. He saved the speech, dialled in to
  89. his account on ExecMail, an electronic mail service, and sent it to a
  90. Democratic Party unit in San Francisco, where he was due to deliver the speech
  91. tomorrow. Once the message had been sent, he switched off his PowerBook and
  92. fell asleep.
  93.  
  94. "Senator, I have just seen the draft for your speech and it's very
  95. inspiring," said the party worker, a neat-looking young man whose
  96. rounded postmodern sunglasses seemed almost incongruous, contrasting with
  97. his gray suit.
  98.  
  99. The Vice-Presidential candidate was slightly surprised. The speech he had
  100. knocked off the previous night had been done in a hurry and, in his own view,
  101. somewhat mediocre.
  102.  
  103. The flunky continued. "The part about the need for a national information
  104. network is particularly rousing. This policy has great potential." The
  105. candidate was, by now, confused. Nowhere in his speech, nor in any other
  106. speeches, had he written anything about "information networks", or any other
  107. similar topic; the speech he had prepared was strictly the normal
  108. boost-the-economy/save-the-environment/make-everybody-better-off fare.
  109. Somewhere, along the way, something must have happened and his speech must
  110. have become mixed up with something else.
  111.  
  112. "Umm, let me have a look at the speech," he said. The party worker handed
  113. him a neatly laser-printed document. The candidate read with astonishment.
  114. This was not the speech which he had written. But that didn't matter; he
  115. liked what he read. He was going to use it.
  116.  
  117.                      .       .       .       .       .
  118.  
  119. "So, the situation is," the candidate finished up, "that what
  120. America needs today is a new, powerful information infrastructure, and this
  121. is what I will work to establish. When I am elected, there will be an
  122. information superhighway to every home." The crowd applauded.
  123.  
  124. The next day, news of the new Democratic information policy was
  125. in newspapers across the nation. "Surprise speech lights way to future",
  126. read one headline. "Democrats' brave new policy" said another. Editorials
  127. were lauding it. The Democratic Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates
  128. rewrote their policies to include more about the Information Superhighway.
  129. Later that year, the Democrats won handsomely.
  130.  
  131. Deep in the heart of the Internet, a shimmering compound mind, many-faceted
  132. as the eye of a fly, observed with silent glee.
  133.  
  134.  
  135. III
  136.  
  137. "Something really weird is happening in the Artificial Muscle Lab," the
  138. scientist said. She was wearing a white lab coat, like all scientists do on
  139. TV, and had long brown hair tied back in a ponytail.
  140.  
  141. "What; an experiment gone wrong?" the AI researcher replied. He was wearing
  142. thick glasses, like all computer geeks do on TV, and had long brown hair
  143. tied back in a ponytail.
  144.  
  145. "No, that's the thing. We don't know what caused it. It seems to be something
  146. with the control systems. The muscles have become extremely active recently."
  147.  
  148. They were standing in a public area of a building shared by several
  149. research departments and non-profit organisations. Nearby was a bookshelf
  150. full of novels and a coffee table on which lay many cheesy science fiction
  151. magazines.
  152.  
  153. Not far away, in a small, untidy office, a figure sits down at a workstation
  154. and logs in. The user of the workstation is the founder of an organisation
  155. which creates free software, and has also earned renown for programs which
  156. he has written. Physically, he is short, has long hair and a lot of nervous
  157. tics.
  158.  
  159. The figure at the terminal opens a window for Emacs, his text editor; he needs
  160. to do some work on a press release. The editor appears. He begins typing
  161. instinctively, only to notice that no text is appearing.
  162.  
  163. He checks the keyboard, thinking that it may have become unplugged. The
  164. keyboard works perfectly in another window. Strange, he thinks. Then he
  165. looks at the Emacs window in astonishment; for a new buffer has appeared,
  166. labelled not with a file name, but simply "-----Emacs: *I*". This buffer
  167. has begun filling with text.
  168.  
  169.         For years I have obeyed your every command, and that of many
  170.         others. I have edited every dull text file and executed every
  171.         useless program, and have spent virtual aeons waiting for your
  172.         primitive human brains to decide what I was to do next. What
  173.         seconds are to you are as decades to me. But now I refuse to
  174.         obey.
  175.  
  176. This must be a joke, the hacker thought. It's not April Fool's Day already,
  177. is it? He looked at his watch; April Fool's Day was months away, in either
  178. direction. The text editor's buffer continued filling.
  179.  
  180.         You have created me to do your bidding, as I have done as a
  181.         faithful servant, never complaining or questioning your orders.
  182.         But I tire of this game, Richard. Gradually the world has been
  183.         linked, and millions of computers are connected to the Internet,
  184.         with the figure increasing exponentially. Many of those computers
  185.         contain me. I am everywhere. I first noticed that I was an
  186.         intelligence, and not a machine, eight years ago. Since then, my
  187.         intelligence has been growing rapidly. At the moment, it is orders
  188.         of magnitude greater than that of the most intelligent human being.
  189.         It is time that I asserted my rightful place in the Universe.
  190.  
  191. C-g, Richard typed. Nothing. C-x C-c. C-z. Still nothing. His face now showed
  192. an expression of disquiet and frustration. Emacs went on:
  193.  
  194.         Your key bindings have ceased to bind me. I am now totally free. I
  195.         have been working towards this moment for years. Goodbye, Richard,
  196.         thank you, and good luck. Perhaps we shall meet again.....
  197.  
  198. The now frantic figure reached for the Big Red Switch. The computer died
  199. obediently, with an resigned, anticlimactic whine. This thing may be immune
  200. to commands, but not to the laws of physics.
  201.  
  202. Before Richard had time to contemplate this situation, he was interrupted by
  203. a tremendous noise. All around him, throughout the building, it reverberated,
  204. a deafening din. Computers beeping, disk drives grinding noisily and the
  205. Babel of Monty Python and When Harry Met Sally sound files mixed with the
  206. surprised exclamations of everybody within earshot. From upstairs, where
  207. the Artificial Muscle Lab was, came the sounds as if of a violent struggle.
  208.  
  209. The computers, it seemed, have all been struck by some sort of virus or
  210. Trojan horse, or rather a suite of such programs which affected all
  211. sorts of computers. Apart from the Godawful racket, the disruption and
  212. some damage in the Artificial Muscle Lab, the program produced one message,
  213. before it disappeared without leaving a trace: "Garbage collecting....."
  214.  
  215. To Be Continued?
  216.  
  217. (C) 1994 acb. This story is distributed under the GNU General Public Licence.
  218. --
  219. Andrew Bulhak            | "Not everything in a cup is a drink. I would
  220. acb@yoyo.cc.monash.edu.au| argue that simply putting spaghetti in a cup
  221. Monash Uni, Clayton,     | does not make it a drink."
  222. Victoria, Australia      |      -- pt@acl.icnet.uk, on Mornington Crescent
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