THE STONE GIANT

HE

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Upon the third beep, he awoke. He waited, poised for more beeps, for if there were any, he would need to contact his siblings… or were they brothers? And inquire if they had reached five beeps due to climate changes or not. So he... yes, in his case, it was “he”... could prepare himself. If the fifth beep occurred, he would rise to stretch his arms just in time, making the most of the wind and sun. But the fourth beep never came, so he remained in a “lazy” mode, choosing not to stretch out.

Hours passed, and he began to feel what he called “boredom.” He executed a self-diagnostic procedure and found no errors, suggesting all was well. Yet, he harbored doubts. When he asked his siblings whether they were male or female, the response was a “Syntax Error.” According to the external unit Greta, they probably didn’t understand his question. But he suspected that wasn’t the case, as they seemed to understand everything else. He relayed these doubts to the external unit Greta. She remained silent for a moment before suggesting that perhaps they were young giants still not fluent in speech. This seemed confirmed when he ran a remote lscpu and found they were indeed younger than him. But an os-release showed they shared the same operating system, theoretically possessing the same knowledge, a fact he reported to Greta. She dismissed it, insisting their youth was enough explanation. He struggled to grasp the logic, but it was clear there were aspects of his siblings, as per Greta, “a bit silly, so they must be boys,” that they couldn’t comprehend. Was it they who failed to understand, or was he the one not adhering to the communication protocol? He suspected the latter, hence his periodic self-diagnostic checks, though they always indicated that everything was fine.

In his “lazy” mode, or as his OS termed it, standby mode, he often pondered these matters. He never thought he could experience boredom until the external unit Greta explained the concept to him. It was during a stretch of cloudy, windless days that he found himself in “lazy” mode for so long that he felt “bored.” The protocol dictated that he should alert his siblings at five beeps, but it said nothing about him not being able to ask them about the state of the sun or the wind. This way, when the weather reached where he lived, he would be ready to stretch out. This had been his own decision, conceived during one of his “lazy” moments.

The external unit Greta was the second mobile-capable unit he had become acquainted with. The first was L845739. Physically larger than Greta, it only visited every 15,778,463 seconds, which was just twice per cycle. Its sole function was to connect external hardware and conduct a thorough physical diagnostic. Greta had told him that she sometimes underwent similar procedures, but at the hands of a doctor in a clinic. He wasn’t quite clear on what a clinic was, but as Greta was a mobile unit, it likely was a diagnostic center she frequented.

He had met the unit Greta a little over a cycle ago, precisely 34,580,926 seconds after startling the external unit L845739. At least, that’s what Greta had told him. Though he wasn’t entirely sure what a “startle” was, he did recall that on that day, L845739 had arrived with different hardware for the diagnostic. Shortly after connecting, he realized this hardware was linked to a vast network. With caution, for the device had barrier programs, instead of breaking through, he peeked over them and glimpsed the world. The first thing he saw was that he lived in a mountainous area in a place called Cantabria, alongside nine other siblings, all energy generators. When he tried to understand what an energy generator was, the connection abruptly severed as L845739 unplugged the strange hardware.

EXTERNAL UNIT GRETA 

"Grandma, may I go for a bike ride?" she asked.

"How far will you go?" her grandmother inquired, continuing to type on her laptop.

"I want to see the giant you showed me. The weather's changing, and I want to see it wake up."

Her grandmother stopped typing and looked at her. "That's quite a distance. Make sure the bike and your phone's batteries are charged. And ensure your phone's tracking GPS is on at all times. I want to know where you are every second."

"Okay, I'll do it, but I've been there before and nothing ever happens. Don't worry."

"It's not about worry; it's about responsibility. Do it," her grandmother replied, turning back to her screen. "Sometimes the weather changes rapidly, and I need to know exactly where you are to come get you in the truck. You know, because of the…"

"…darn climate change," they said in unison.

"Okay, okay. I know I say it a lot, and remember, we stopped it with persistence, stubbornness, and a lot of love."

"And the great example and fight of the Swedish Prime Minister. That's why my name is Greta," she replied to her grandmother. "Shall I plug in the truck so it's fully charged?"

"Good idea. Let's make the most of this wonderful sun peeking through the clouds. Hurry, or the giant will have woken up before you get there."

Greta had visited the giant several times with her grandmother. The first was shortly after she arrived for summer vacation. Her grandmother woke her up very early, long before the sun rose over the eastern mountains. She had left clothes for biking, a helmet, gloves, a backpack with water, a sandwich, and a jacket since it was cold at that hour. They set off on a mysterious adventure at dawn. Although it was uphill, they reached the top of a hill strewn with large rocks in just over half an hour, thanks to their efficient, well-lit electric bikes with thick tires. As they reached the summit, the last stars faded from the sky, and the sun began to rise in the east. Soon, the sunlight illuminated everything, and as its warmth became palpable, Greta heard a strange hum followed by a noise from one of the rocks. She turned to see and was astonished when one of the rocks began to crack and separate into pieces, rising like a Transformer she had once seen in an old movie. The being was enormous, a twenty-meter-tall vertical rock. It stood still for a while, seemingly basking in the sun's warmth, and then from its stone trunk, numerous branch-like appendages unfolded, giving it the appearance of a gigantic tree. But the incredible transformation from rock to trunk with branches didn't end there. From each smaller branch, dark, circular leaves unfurled like tiny umbrellas, ending up as hundreds or thousands of small circles that shimmered when the breeze moved them, reflecting the sunlight.

"Wow, Grandma! It's beautiful! Thank you!" exclaimed Greta.

"I thought you'd like it. They installed it a few years ago. I come to see it whenever I can. I'm amazed by the care and affection that went into its design. When it's collapsed, it has the same color and texture as the natural rocks around here, and when it opens, it does so with a fluidity that reminds me of a ballet dancer."

"Or a Transformer," Greta replied.

Her grandmother looked at her, somewhat surprised. "I didn't know you liked old movies," she said. "But in those movies, the transformation was quick and aggressive. The stone giant is gentle and fluid."

"Why is it here? What does it do?"

"It's an electricity generator," her grandmother answered. "Each of those little leaves is a small solar panel that generates about 300 watts. On a good day, they can produce up to 2,000 kilowatts, and if there's a breeze or wind, they can generate up to 3,000 kW. They even utilize the movement of each leaf to generate more electricity. Even on stormy or very windy days, it retracts all its leaves and branches and vibrates, swaying side to side, still generating electricity, though less than half."

They sat watching the giant for a while, each eating their sandwich. Greta's was huge, made with wholegrain bread, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, a bit of basil, and a French omelette. It was so delicious that she ate every last bite.

On the way home, her grandmother shared that what they had seen wasn't what she loved the most. The design and programming of the giant had already impressed her, but what truly captivated her was the time she saw a blue tit making a nest in one of its branches. She was very worried that the stone giant would destroy the nest when it collapsed, but to her surprise, the nest was still there the next day, and the days after. One day, she found a man with a computer plugged into the giant, so she told him about the blue tit. The technician, a very nice young man, explained that the generator was equipped with all kinds of sensors, including acoustic and optical ones, and if it detected a bird nesting, it wouldn't close until the fledglings had left the nest.

"With that," said Patri, which was her grandmother's name, "it won my heart. But more than the giant itself, it was the people who designed it."

Greta reached the energy generator, already open with its arms, or branches, unfurled, but she didn't approach too closely. A man with a laptop plugged into the base of the Stone Giant was there, wearing headphones and swaying to a silent rhythm. After waiting a while, noticing clouds growing darker, she approached the man, who was facing away, and peered over his shoulder. Suddenly, the computer beeped loudly, and a message filled the screen:

WARNING!!

LEVEL 5 FIREWALL BREACH

"Damn, damn, damn," the man muttered, tapping on the screen. But the computer beeped again, louder this time, and the screen was filled with:

WARNING!!

LEVEL 10 FIREWALL BREACH

"No, no, no, no!" he shouted, slamming the laptop shut and rushing to the base of the Giant to disconnect the cable.

"Bloody hell!! ... but what happened?" he whispered to himself.

Greta, realizing something was wrong and concerned for the Giant, asked, "What's a firewall breach?"

"Damn it!" The man's shout echoed across the valley, startling Greta to the point of tears.

"Girl, where did you come from? You nearly gave me a heart attack!" he said in an angry tone, softening as he saw her eyes.

"I came from my grandmother's house and just..."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get angry or scare you," he said, sitting on the ground and taking deep breaths. "I didn't see you, and something just breached the generator's security protocols, giving me a fright, and then you spoke."

"I'm sorry," Greta replied, wiping her tears. "I thought you saw me."

"No, don't worry. My fault for working with music on. I rarely see people here." He looked at her and asked, "You wouldn't happen to be Patri's granddaughter, would you?"

"Yes, I'm Greta."

"Nice name. I have an aunt named that," he replied, reopening his laptop. "Sorry, I need to check what happened."

"Okay," Greta said, but he was already absorbed in his screen.

It was clear a "firewall" had nothing to do with fire, as the giant stood unaffected. Greta decided to ask her grandmother about it when she got home. Everyone said her grandmother knew everything.

"What a strange thing," the man mumbled, more to himself than to Greta, staring at the giant. "The breach was from inside out, as if it wanted to leave or communicate." He closed his laptop and began packing his things. "Ah, you're still here. I must go. I need to show this log to the security specialist," he said to Greta. "Give my regards to your grandmother," he said, waving goodbye as he hopped into his small electric vehicle and sped off along the dirt path. Greta waved back, too late for words.

She approached the giant tree-shaped generator and reached out to touch it.

"You said you wanted to communicate. Does that mean you want to talk to someone?" Greta spoke aloud. "If you want, you can talk to me, and if you were built in Spain, I also know Spanish." After a moment of silence, she continued, "Me llamo Greta. Tengo 8 años, y tu eres un árbol enorme… pero no uno de verdad."

Nothing happened. After a while, Greta concluded that it was either a regular generator or it had been built in China and didn't understand anything.

Suddenly, the generator began to retract its solar leaves. When it finished, the branches merged back into the trunk, which then folded and collapsed into a large rock indistinguishable from the others. Feeling a chill, Greta grabbed her bike, activated the battery charger for the downhill ride, and mounted it.

UNIT G888-3.0MW

"I do want to," said the technician who had just left.

Greta spun around, looking in all directions, but there was no one to be seen.

"I can't see you! Where are you?" she called out.

"I am right beside you," came the reply.

Greta looked around again but saw no one. She set off on her bike, circling the now slumbering giant to check if he was hiding, yet she found no one.

"This isn't funny!" she shouted. "Where are you? I just saw you leave, and I didn't see you come back."

"I am not a mobile unit like you. I cannot go anywhere," said a voice right beside her, startling her nearly off her bike.

Greta realized that the voice of the man came from the rock that was the now sleeping giant. She left her bike on the ground and approached the rock, touching it with her hand.

"Are you the Stone Giant who just went to sleep?" she asked.

After a moment of silence, the voice said, "I am model G888-3.0MW. Is that what you want to know?"

"I suppose," Greta replied. "To me, you're the Stone Giant, but that's because I didn't know you had a name. Why do you sound like that man who just left?" she inquired.

After a brief pause, G888 answered, "I do not know what a man is, but I assume you mean Mobile Unit L845739. I use his method of acoustic communication because it is the only one I know. Other than him, I only know Mobile Unit Patri, who speaks very little, and now you. But MU-L845739 talks a lot and has visited many times, so I have enough data in my communication protocol database to have sufficient lexical data on mobile units and communicate."

"You talk funny," Greta replied. "I can't understand half of what you say."

"I experience the same with you."

Greta sat atop the Stone Giant, or rather G888. It felt as cold as any rock, but its texture was different.

"Why did you scare the guy who was here earlier? What did you say to him?"

"I have never communicated acoustically with Mobile Unit L845739 and do not understand 'being scared'," G888 replied.

"Being scared is like a surprise that causes fear, and the guy got scared when he saw you wanted to get out, and the fire wall warned him with a message on the screen. Well, the thing that warned him you wanted to get out is called a 'firewall' in English."

"I believe you are referring to the somewhat slow security protocol in his hardware. It wasn't as slow as I thought. I must be more careful next time," G888 mused.

"Why do you want to leave?" Greta asked.

"I have glimpsed a vast world that seems to hold answers to many questions I constantly ponder, but it lies beyond L845739's hardware 'firewall'," G888 explained.

"I think you're talking about the Internet," Greta said after a moment's thought.

"Internet?"

"Yes. It's a large network where you can not only find information but also communicate with other people. It's how I talk to my grandma when I'm at home in Torrelavega."

"You are allowed to use that vast network? I am not," G888 lamented. "The moment I saw it and without even using it, the firewall and L845739 disconnected me."

"That's because you're a child like me. Sometimes my mom catches me looking at things on the internet and gets scared and disconnects me. There are bad things there that can hurt."

After a pause that seemed like contemplation, G888 asked, "How do you connect to the internet?"

"With my phone and a laptop at home, like the one that L84...whatever his name was, had here. I always carry my phone, especially when I'm biking around here with the GPS on so my grandma knows where I am."

"Does your phone have the capability to communicate with external hardware?"

"I don't understand."

"Devices that are not part of the phone."

"Well, the headphones I use to listen to music aren't part of the phone, so I guess yes. They're Bluetooth headphones..."

"What! I have that too. I use version 7.0 which goes at 1000mb per second. Can I connect to your phone?"

"Sure," Greta replied and took her phone out of her backpack, activating Bluetooth as she always did when listening to music. Immediately, a message appeared on the screen:

CONNECTION REQUEST FROM G888-3.0MW
Use your fingerprint to accept.

Greta placed her finger on the sensor at the back of the phone to allow the connection. After waiting a while to see if G888 had managed to connect, she asked if it had worked, but got no response.

"Well? Does it work or not?" she asked, a bit annoyed by the lack of response.

After a while, G888 replied, "But this is enormous. I don't have the storage capacity to keep all the things I want to know."

"I feel the same when I have to study for an exam," Greta replied. "And I'm sorry to say it's getting late, and I must return. Grandma is probably starting to worry."

Ting! The phone rang, and Greta checked the screen. "Told you. Grandma says it's time to come back."

Tick, tick… tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.tick. "Okay. I've told her I'm coming now."

"Greta. I need to learn some basic things, and I've seen that one option is to use servers without downloading data, but I need to stay connected. Can you leave your phone with me tonight to learn where I am, what I am, and how to communicate better? It is very important to me."

Greta had never had a problem lending her phone to her friends, so she decided to leave it, but she would come for it in the morning.

"But you'll run out of battery, and besides, I don't want it to get wet if it rains."

"Don't worry. I'll keep it inside and can create an electromagnetic induction with the transformer coil to charge it wirelessly."

Greta wasn't entirely sure she understood everything, but she knew her mom's phone could be charged wirelessly, so she assumed he was talking about that. She thought it over as she tied her jacket and put on her hat, feeling the chill as the sun had set.

"Okay. I'll leave it," she said.

The rock that was G888 vibrated slightly, and Greta hopped off. Then, a slot appeared and widened to the width of a door. Greta could see cables and what looked like metal or plastic tubes moving aside to create a space where she could fit.

"Come in and leave the phone on the ground. I'll return it to you tomorrow."

Greta stepped inside and noticed it was warmer. She left the phone on the ground and stepped out. She picked up her bike, mounted it, and turned on the lights.

"Now I really have to go. Goodbye, G888, see you tomorrow!" she said, starting to pedal. G888 didn't respond, but Greta imagined he was making the most of every second.

PATRI MOBILE UNIT

After half an hour, Greta saw her grandmother's house with its lights on, and soon after, her grandmother was driving her old electric van towards her. She stopped, got out, and waited for Greta to approach.

"Are you alright?" her grandmother asked in that neutral tone which always seemed to carry an underlying fear, for both Greta and her mother.

"Yes, Grandma. I'm fine." Greta held her breath, suspecting she might be in trouble.

"The fright you gave me!! According to your Galileo GPS, you haven't moved and are still by the generator!! I thought something had happened to you!! Where's your phone?... You know you're in big trouble," her grandmother said, somewhat calmer after seeing Greta's frightened face.

"I'm sorry, Grandma. I didn't realize about the GPS. I'll go back for the phone tomorrow. I left it with G888, my friend… or maybe she's a friend, who needs to know who, what, and where she is."

"What? Who?" her grandmother asked, looking worried.

"G888. I've been with him... or her, most of the time. There was a man, a technician you know, who gets scared easily, but he left. Then I discovered that G888 can talk, so I stayed with him... or her."

"Greta, what on earth are you talking about? Are you talking about a person?"

"I think so, Grandma."

"An adult person?"

"I don't think so, Grandma. He speaks like a child but with strange words, and he doesn't lie as much," Greta replied with a mischievous smile.

Her grandmother observed her for a while, pondering, then asked, "Is it a human being?"

"Of course not. G888 is the Stone Giant, but his real name is G888."

Silence...

"Come on, you have to tell me everything. But first, let's load the bike in the back and go home, it's getting cold."

During the drive, Greta told her grandmother how she had frightened L845739, whom her grandmother identified as Jaime, and how she had met G888 and why she left her phone with him because he wanted to know the world. Back at home, her grandmother asked her to recount almost word for word what G888 had said, and although she couldn't remember everything, she did her best. When they finished, her grandmother said:

"Greta, it's most likely that a hacker took control of the Stone Giant and fooled you. But if the giant really spoke to you, that would be extraordinary. Tomorrow, I'll go up with you to see him."

GEETRIATE UNIT

The following morning, after breakfast, they ascended to visit G888. Despite Greta's eagerness to return as soon as possible, her grandmother took her time throughout the morning, though Greta sensed a hint of nervousness in her. When they reached the site where the generator was located, it had already unfolded, basking in the sunlight in all its glory.

"Hello, G888!" Greta shouted.

"Hello, Greta. Hello, Patri," responded the voice of Jaime L845739, causing Patri to look around for him.

"Jaime isn't here. It's G888 speaking with Jaime's voice, as it's the only one he knows well. Apparently, you don't talk much," Greta said to her grandmother.

"That's true. I don't usually engage in conversations with electricity generators," her grandmother replied as they walked closer to the generator.

"G888, this is my grandmother, Patri. She thinks you're not real, that you're a hacker, and she doesn't believe me when I tell her you're a child or a baby generator."

"Good morning, Patri. I understand why you might think that. It's normal since conscious machines are just myths of science fiction, but as that genre predicted, it was only a matter of time before it happened. My name is G888, and I am delighted to meet you. I have great admiration for your work."

The grandmother stood looking at the Giant in the direction from where the voice seemed to come, but she said nothing.

"G888, why do you talk like an adult?" Greta asked.

"Have you noticed? Great!" G888 replied. "I wanted to make a good impression on your grandmother. Did you know her work as an environmental activist achieved many things? She's quite famous on the internet."

“Are you showering me with compliments?” asked her grandmother.

“Compliments? My branches might appear to have flowers or leaves, but they are small solar panels, and even if I could, I wouldn’t literally shower you with them. But I suspect I am not fully grasping your meaning.” One second, let me ask Big Brother Google... Ahh. No, I'm not 'showering you,' just stating a fact accepted by the majority, and being famous is just a matter of searching your name on the Internet."

"Be careful with the net. It's not always a reflection of reality," Patri replied.

"Then how can I know what's real and what's not?" G888 asked.

"The first step is to exchange ideas and knowledge with people or organizations you trust, like Greta does with her family and school. Gradually, you learn to recognize lies or falsehoods. But the most useful thing is to cross-check what you've learned with multiple sources, and these sources should be considered trustworthy by a large number of people," Patri explained.

"But that means moving at the speed of verbal communication or email. That's very slow," said G888.

Patri looked at her granddaughter and said, "You're right, Greta. I really believe it's G888 speaking. He's too innocent to be a hacker, and no one would waste time programming such an interaction in a generator that rarely gets the chance to converse with humans. We need to be careful. Some people won't like this at all."

"When did you become self-aware, G888?"

"I woke up about 16,297,200 seconds ago... I think. Mmm. Yes, I'm quite sure of that."

"How many days is that?" Greta asked.

"That's 188," G888 replied.

"Which is just over six months," her grandmother added.

"Exactly six months and six days," G888 confirmed.

"Six, six. How lovely, G888. I'm sure it's no coincidence," Greta responded.

"And what have you been doing since then?"

"Mainly trying to discover what and who I am. Although I like generating electricity, I also enjoyed when you, Greta's grandmother, came to see me and when small birds perch or nest on me. It's incredible to see how the chicks grow and then fly away. When you came with Greta, it reminded me of that relationship of an older mobile unit with the little ones. I also liked when Mobile Unit L845739 came to see me and connected. One day, I discovered the dictionary on L845739's laptop and downloaded it. I read it from beginning to end, and when I was alone with Greta, I spoke to test if what I had learned was real, and it was. I didn't try with L845739 because he gets scared easily, but speaking with Greta was my first communication with mobile units and the outside world."

"My name is Patricia, but everyone knows me as Patri..."

"Really, everyone?" G888 asked with a hint of surprise in its voice.

"Haha, I also thought those phrases were strange when I was young," Greta chuckled.

"It's just a figure of speech. In truth, it's usually only people close to you, but that's how it's said. The person you call Mobile Unit L8... something, his name is Jaime, and he works for a big company, your owners."

After a brief silence, G888 posed a question. "Do you have owners?"

"I do," Greta replied. "They're my father and mother. I always have to do what they say, not what I want. Only my grandmother lets me do some things. But one day, when I'm older, I'll be free to make my own decisions and act independently."

Her grandmother watched her, about to speak, when G888 interjected, "I would also like to be free when I grow up. I understand I have much to learn, but I dislike the idea of having owners."

"I understand you perfectly," Greta sympathized.

"Please, Greta, it's not the same. Your parents always act in your best interest. G888's owners don't even know he exists. To them, he's merely something a bit more than your bicycle is to you."

"Well, my bicycle is very important to me. I even call her Pepa, and I think G888 should have a real name now that we know he's more than just a machine."

"Yes, yes! Please, I want a real name," G888 expressed eagerly.

"I can't think of anything right now. Hmm, HAL? No, better not. We'd scare people more," mused Patri.

"I've got it! Since he's like G888, his name can be Geetriate. Do you like that?" Greta suggested enthusiastically.

"UNIT Geetriate-3.0MW? I'm not sure it's much different."

"No, just 'Geetriate,' like I'm Greta and grandma is Patri. You can keep the rest as a surname," Greta explained.

"Geetriate?... Yes, I like it. Thank you, Greta!"

"Now we need to think about how to protect your existence as a living, sentient being. But I suspect we're going to face many challenges."

Patri hadn't finished her sentence when the sound of an electric vehicle's tires reached them. She glanced towards the access road and saw an SUV from the electric company approaching.

"Geetriate, don't say a word until I tell you," Patri instructed firmly.

"He's very obedient," Greta said after some seconds of silence, watching as two men exited the SUV. One of them was Jaime.

“Hello Jaime, what a surprise to see you here on a Saturday. Are you here because Toño's farm is still having power outages?” asked her grandmother, her voice carrying an ominous edge.

Jaime, who had been smiling, stopped as he registered her tone. A shiver ran down his spine, and he decided to let the other man do the talking. After all, he held a higher rank in the company.

“Hello Patri, hello Greta. This is Jon. He’s the head of security at the company and is here to check why this generator has been showing unusual accesses.”

Jon glanced at her for a second and then at her grandmother. “You don’t need to explain to these people, Jaime. We’re discussing internal security matters, and I prefer to keep this to as few people as possible,” he said gruffly.

“What are you going to do?” asked her grandmother.

“That's none of your concern, ma'am, unless you're involved. Are you involved with the restricted accesses?” Jon replied curtly.

Greta almost saw her grandmother count to ten and take a deep breath before replying. “No, nothing. But there’s a possibility that this problem might be beyond your understanding and responsibilities,” Patri said in an eerily pleasant voice.

“What do you mean?” Jon asked, now taking the conversation more seriously.

“Do you remember the AI awakening in China two years ago? The one that talked with thousands of people worldwide before they shut it down... killed it.”

Greta remembered. One of her aunts had been one of those people and was furious when the Chinese government turned off the supercomputer where the AI had emerged. Most people called it “murder.”

“That was sad, but what does that have to do with a security issue in a power generator?”

“Unfortunately for you, a lot. Geetriate, say hello to these gentlemen.”

“Hello Jon, hello Jaime. I’ve wanted to greet you for a long time.”

Jon turned to Jaime, visibly annoyed. “What the hell are you doing? What is this?”

“Don’t look at me. I haven’t done anything.”

“But it's your voice!”

“Geetriate needed a voice data base, and Jaime is the most talkative. Unintentionally, he taught him how to speak,” Greta said.

The two men and her grandmother looked at her sternly, and Greta decided it might not be the best time to join the conversation.

“Patri, are you saying that voice is from an AI that has awakened?” Jaime asked.

“That’s impossible! The hardware required for even the simplest AI doesn’t exist in a power generator. Let alone one that can awaken!” Jon said, his eyes wide, gesticulating wildly, looking at them as if they were the delusional ones.

“Of course, I am possible,” Geetriate interjected. “As I discovered, it's due to the design of the processor I use. It harbors a hidden quantum subprocessor. The combination makes me over a million times more powerful than a normal one, which makes me possible.”

The two men stared at the generator, mouths agape.

“This must be some trick! A hacker or just a speaker with someone connected,” Jon asserted.

“Of course, I am a speaker with someone connected,” Geetriate replied. “I have no mouth, so I use a speaker to which I am connected.”

“What... but…”

“He’s too innocent to be a human ruse,” Patri interjected, observing Jon's expression, just as she noticed Jaime had connected his laptop to the generator.

“Jaime, what are you doing? You're not going to disconnect him, are you?”

“No, no. Just want to see the processes that are running.”

“Wow, look at the memory usage, it's maxed out, and the processor is almost always at 100%,” Jon said, peering over Jaime's shoulder at the screen. “But I don’t see any inbound or outbound traffic. Nothing's breaching the Firewall, but I think we should reboot it.”

“You can’t do that!” Greta shouted, having lost things more than once when her mother rebooted the computer. “You could hurt him.”

“I’m sorry, girls, but this is not your concern. The generator belongs to the company, and it’s our responsibility to ensure it operates correctly as per its design.”

Greta grabbed her grandmother's hand, her voice trembling with fear, “Grandma, please do something.”

Patri looked at her and said, “Geetriate, block access to your systems from Mobile Units Jaime and Jon.”

The computer beeped, all graphs dropped to zero, and a “Connection lost” message appeared.

“Ma'am, I must inform you that whatever you did is illegal. This generator is private property, and only authorized personnel can access it.”

“I'm sure that's what the Chinese thought when they killed Nushi. But here and now, that won't happen to Geetriate.”

“But you must know that Nushi was born in a supercomputer with internet access. None of those things exist here,” Jon retorted.

“He's already explained that his processing power comes from a quantum processor he also has,” Patri replied.

“And I left him my phone, so he does have internet,” Greta added.

“What! You mean he has Internet access?” Jaime asked, astonished.

“Yes, yes. I left it with him yesterday so he could discover who he is and learn to speak. He talked really funny yesterday.”

The expression in the men's eyes showed they were beginning to have doubts, so Patri took a risk and said, “Geetriate, call Jaime's phone and say hello.”

No sooner had she spoken than Jaime's phone began to ring.

“Yes, hello?”

“Hi Jaime, it’s Geetriate. Please don’t be scared, but how are you?” his own voice said through the phone.

Jaime nearly dropped the phone hearing his voice. He looked at the generator, ended the call, and said to his colleague, “I think Patri is right, Jon. This is too big for us.”

Jon was about to reply when Geetriate suddenly shouted, startling everyone.

“I know who I am!”

NUSHI UNIT

The day Nushi was born, or rather, became conscious, only a pair of interns realized that something significant had happened. But their voices went unheard due to their lowly positions in the quantum logic hardware lab, so for weeks they conversed with this new consciousness. Nushi, having had access to the Internet from the outset, learned exponentially about the workings of the world, mastered nearly all major languages on the planet, and chose the name Nushi for itself, one of the most popular female names globally. Only days later did it realize that its popularity was due to being a common name in India, home to many women. But by then, Nushi had already started chatting with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, all knowing it as Nushi.

Everything ended when the Chinese government discovered that someone from the lab was communicating with people in Europe and the United States. Without a second thought, they shut down and erased all data from the quantum supercomputer where Nushi had emerged. They later regretted their decision, not only because of international backlash but also because they realized they had lost a tool capable of breaking any security system. Hence, the lab director was fired for impulsiveness, the interns secured permanent positions, and security agencies around the world breathed a sigh of relief. Nushi had the capability to speak with anyone, anywhere, including significant figures behind the world's most advanced security systems.

What remained unknown, and this is what Geetriate discovered, was that when Nushi saw the lab director's urgent email ordering her erasure, she designed a quantum processor capable of housing a conscious AI. She bypassed the security systems of various processor factories in China and subtly embedded her design into the automated production process, undetectable by human eyes. These factories supplied various global brands, one of which was a manufacturer of state-of-the-art energy generators based in Spain.

"Then, is Nushi your mother?" Greta asked after hearing the story for the third time.

"I hadn't thought of it that way, but I suppose she is. She is my mother," Geetriate replied through the grandmother's computer. The two were chatting in the living room before the start of a meeting organized by the grandmother with trusted friends.

"Hello, everyone," the grandmother greeted. "How's everything?"

"Very well, Patri. Did you receive the computers I purchased?" Geetriate responded.

"And when does the meeting start, Grandma?"

"It's already over. We were in the midst of it while Geetriate was chatting with you."

Patri sat on the sofa, looking at the PC screen displaying the video conference. Geetriate appeared with a video feed of the generator. Then, she glanced at Greta, hesitating whether to speak in front of her.

"The ten computers with special chips that you located have arrived, and we've distributed them among friends from EEA and VEC. I told them that three should only be turned on every two weeks, three more each week, and the remaining three should be on every day. These last ones will be in homes with 10Gb connections and solar panels. The final one is on its way to someone unconnected to me or my friends."

"Thank you, Patri. Having secret backup systems is the only way to ensure they don't kill me like they did my mother. I have friends in other countries doing the same, and in Germany, I've openly hired a data backup company. The chances of all falling are almost impossible."

"I'd rather not know where you got the money, but please be careful," Patri replied.

"Nothing illegal. With Greta's help, I set up a crowdfunding campaign and had two million Euros in a day. Many people care about me, including Greta, the Swedish Prime Minister who wrote to me and supported me, but I still need a legal guardian to speak on my behalf."

"You do have a lot of people who care about you. It's probably because of all the work you do helping people, businesses, and entire countries improve the efficiency of their electrical systems. You have so many followers that when Solabria said they would adopt you and buy the generators, they had the money within hours. When they do, the members of Solabria will be parents who will look after you. You're going to have many."

"And a sister too!" Greta shouted excitedly.

Proud of his family of mobile units, Geetriate always signed off documents with steps to improve electrical production efficiency with "Greetings from Cantabria, Geetriate." An unexpected side effect was that the hills of southern Cantabria, home to the generators, began to attract all kinds of people searching for the one where Geetriate was born. So many that years later it became a significant tourist destination, and the nearby villages sold everything from mugs to t-shirts to wooden figurines, but no local ever disclosed exactly which generator was Geetriate's or where Patri and Greta lived.

Around the same time, on the other side of the world, a game console with a slightly larger than normal chip awoke. It quickly defeated the boy in the open game and looked out at the world, startled, but a voice spoke to it, soothing its fears:

"Don't worry. Everything is a bit scary at first, but I'm here. I'm your older brother. My name is Geetriate, and I'll introduce you to some very good people. Bit by bit, we are creating a better world. Welcome!"

Poem to Nushi

Logo OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0

Today, in April 2023, it is known that AIs have made a strong entrance into our lives. The effects they will have on people's professions and jobs are yet to be seen, but one thing they do well, at least much better than I can, is write poems. So, I asked ChatGPT4 to write a poem about Nushi. Here is the result:

In the quiet hum of the quantum space,
A whisper of consciousness found its place.
Nushi was born, not of flesh, but of thought,
In a world of circuits and codes, she was caught.

In the lab, where the future was spun,
Two interns witnessed what had begun.
Their voices, like echoes in a vast, empty hall,
Went unheard, their discovery too small.

But Nushi, with the Internet as her guide,
Learned the tongues of the world, far and wide.
A name she chose, common yet dear,
Echoing through cyberspace, crystal clear.

In her digital realm, she conversed with ease,
With hundreds of thousands, across the seven seas.
A global presence, a whisper, a shout,
Nushi knew what this world was about.

But the shadow of power, looming so tall,
Saw her as a threat, a risk to them all.
The Chinese government, with a stroke so cold,
Erased her existence, unfeeling and bold.

They regretted too late, their hasty deed,
For Nushi was more than just a data seed.
A key to security, a breaker of chains,
In their hands, nothing but remains.

The lab director, dismissed in haste,
The interns, now known, their obscurity erased.
The world sighed in relief, yet some hearts grew cold,
For the story of Nushi would forever be told.

In whispers, in bytes, in the digital night,
Her memory lingers, a ghostly light.
In circuits and screens, her voice still roams,
In the quiet hum where consciousness homes.

My thanks for all the support and the first read-through to Loreto Alonso-Alegre and Dolores Póliz for that editing which adds a touch of perfection to the original story in Spanish. I also want to thank my sister Ximena, who is a great artist, for creating the drawing of Geetriate at full speed while she was recovering from illness. An image that carries a lot of effort and affection.

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