Tuesday, 28 May 2013

SILHOUETTES - Twenty-fifth instalment

SILHOUETTES - Twenty-fifth instalment - Chapter forty-three (b). For more information on this novel, click Here.

'Congratulations, Dave,' said Jon Evans, and held out a hand for shaking.

They drove straight to a small airfield on the edge of the city, a twin prop Cessna was waiting to take off. An hour and forty minutes later they were landing at the small strip attached to his barracks. Nothing of the exercise had been spoken yet, apart from that first word of congratulations.

After being given time for a shower and a meal, he made his way at two pm to the debriefing rooms. Placed in front of a computer he was given two hours to type up his report. He glossed over the part of the amount of money he had taken from the van. If he lied outright, he may get into more trouble than if they knew he had set up a safety deposit box, and had a stash of $180,000 there.

Exactly after the two hours he was taken to another larger debriefing room, he had never been in before. It was more like an operations centre. Eleven other Agents were in the room already.

Jon Evans entered and began by congratulating them all again for doing so well on the recent exercise. Dave had thought he had been the only one, how naive. Evans spoke about how proud the Agency was of such talented recruits, then he pulled down a screen, dimmed the lights, and played a video.

On the screen, the start of the film gave a run down on the CIA Global Network Database, how every computer was accessible, and instantly data could be added, edited, analysed, expanded. How most anyone in the planet, if they even knew of the existence of the Network, would be somewhat surprised to discover exactly how much was known about them. Their everyday life, family, friends, associations, job, salary, pension, bank loans, in fact anything they ever got up to that involved modern technology in the activity, was recorded. Even a list of library books taken out on loan over a period of years could be printed off and analysed.

A short documentary began about a family of four, father, mother, and two teenage kids, a boy and a girl. Every time some form of transaction, or form filling, or some activity that was brought to the attention of any of the civil authorities was done, a running list of entries in a Network Database ran down the side of the screen. Within the period of ten minutes on the screen, the family had undertaken the sort of activities routinely done by any normal family anywhere in America, or for that matter, most anywhere in the civilised world. The list of entries in the Network Database grew longer and longer, the information became far too in-depth and abundant that just picking out a detail or two would become a nightmare activity for anyone charged with doing a background check on that particular family.

After the film, they were given a sheet of paper with a list of questions pertaining to some of the activities the family had undergone in the short film. They were all impossible to answer, though the questions were quite basic and the information asked for should have been clearly apparent. No one in the room answered any of the questions correctly.

They were then given another sheet of paper, with a list of much more in-depth and enquiring questions, far too probing for any of them to be answered by watching the short video clip.

Asked to turn on the computer monitors on their desks though, they all logged in to the Network Database containing the relevant information about the family of four, and with a few key search words, and utilising the information contained within the results, they could easily answer all of the questions from both the first paper, and the far more inquisitive queries in the second.

After the exercise, Jon Evans began another lecture about information in society. How it's collation, storage, and the way it can be manipulated, can detect more easily the kind of activities the Agency should be routinely aware of. Because of the complexity involved in analysing so much data though, all kinds of subversive activities were hidden from apparent view, and allowed to fester and spread and multiply, until events such as 9-11, to use an extreme example, came to fruition. The magic behind the Network Database was the sheer depth of human knowledge it held, the power of the computers and the algorithms of the search queries.

During a coffee break, Jon Evans approached him.

'What do you think, about the subject?' he asked.

'Interesting,' said Dave, 'the problem is access though.'

'Tell me more?'

'This kind of information gathering and collation is alright when you are in an office in front of a computer, and can readily access it and run key searches. When you're in the field though, living by your wits perhaps, technology is as much use as soggy matches when you need a fire.'

'Exactly,' grinned Jon, and walked away.

The quiet chat was a precursor to the next video and talk they were given. On retaking their seats, another film was played. This was a man, obviously an Agency man, being given an operation. A small computer chip was inserted in the side of his head, the chip no more than a few millimetres square, a wire ran from the chip to a circular plate that was buried under the scalp higher up on the side of the head, and two wires ran from the front of the chip and seemed to stop at skin level near the outside of each eye.

The commentary along with the film described how routine the operation was, how painless, and how it was easily reversible, if and when necessary. The entire operation took around two hours, and consisted of implanting a computer chip, two fibre optics, each with a three strand wire, and a pad which drew heat from the head that powered the chip and the array, as well as doubling as an antennae that would covertly access the closest and strongest Wi-Fi (wireless internet network) in any area of operation to allow real time up and downloading of any information required by the operator, i.e., the one who had been given this implant.

The next short film gave a demonstration of the implanted Agent going through a short learning period, then a trial of the actual chip in operation, the screen splitting to show how the information would look to the operator, a small HUD (Heads Up Display) appearing just in front of their eyes, invisible to anyone else in the vicinity. The operator learned a few finger gestures that would control the chip, and was also informed how easily the brain adapted so as to access and control the chip, with impulses of the brain along the network of nerves, adjacent to where the chip had been situated. This was the exact reason why this particular part of the head was chosen to position the chip in the first place.

Within a few days the implanted Agent was accessing the database and displaying in front of his eyes a wide range of information on a number of topics, they then began also to upload information, this was done by way of a section of memory space in the implanted chip storing visual images of what the Agent viewed before him. Once stored, these images, or data, if it was information gleamed from a directory or publication viewed by the Agent, could be accessed and uploaded to the database. As the memory space in the chip was severely limited at the moment, till further advances in technology rectified this, the chip was forever storing, uploading, deleting, storing, uploading, deleting, so there would always be recording space available. A record of the Agents activities was also available to anyone who could access the information on the database.

By the end of the series of films every Agent in the room knew the implications of being shown these Agency home movies. They were all either expected to volunteer for this procedure, or perhaps they may not even have a choice about the decision. Dave though, was engrossed, and hadn't the slightest reservation, he wanted a chip.

Before they finished up for the day, they were all given a USB containing a report they had to analyse, using the database access each of them had in their room. A homework exercise, write a summary on how accurate the report was and if there were any inconsistencies, list them.

Back in his room, Dave saw when he plugged in the USB, that he had the report of one of the other Agents who had undergone the same type of exercise he had been on the last three days. There was no doubt in his mind that the report he had compiled this afternoon, was at this moment being analysed by one of the other Agents from the classroom today. On giving a brief once over to the file before him, he managed to, without much thought at all, find a few inaccuracies and discrepancies that put any exactness at all, contained in the text, in question. It was too late now though to worry him. If the money he had redirected was discovered, he would hand it back, though in his mind it belonged to the Agency no more than it belonged to him. If anyone had a claim on it, it was perhaps some charity that helped out in the field of drug addiction rehabilitation. There was no thought in his mind, that it would be an issue at all, that would affect his position with the Agency in any way. It was an organization of spooks, and this is what spooks did when an unexpected windfall blew across their lap.

Next instalment coming soon...
To read this novel from the start go here.

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved

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