1119/Birth of an AI

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Birth of an AI
Date of Scene: 12 April 2020
Location: Stark Tower: Lambda Lab
Synopsis: Caitlin and Riri successfully generate a new AI.
Cast of Characters: Caitlin Fairchild, Riri Williams

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
Caitlin Fairchild and Riri Williams have been pursuing a unique side project for several weeks. It's the sort of brainwave that comes along once in a persons' career, usually; an innovative concept that might change the industry forever.

For Riri, it's perhaps an interesting intellectual exercise. For Caitlin, it's a ticket out of Stark Engineering and into the legendary 'Ironworks'-- prototype R&D development.

"Test results back on Iteration 37A," Caitlin says to Riri inside a Stark Tech lab. She analysis the graphs on her display then throws them towards Riri's digital workstation with a grimace. "Same problem as before. Not enough ambivalence in the neuropeptides. The chemical paths keep burning themselves in place and won't unlock."

She rests her elbows on her desk and rubs her face, pushing up the blue-tinted glasses she wears to cut down on eyestrain. Her labcoat's somewhat at odds with the jeans and a t-shirt worn under it; in most labs the dress code tends to be informal given safety requirements, and for this project, it's not like Caitlin has a supervisor to report to aside from herself.

The subject of their work sits in a protective housing, glimering with blue lights-- a walnut-sized synthetic brain comprised of blue neuragel, interfaced with a number of sensors and circuits. An attempt at a synthetic-organic cerebellum, the first such attempt in a long time.

"Why do these transfer paths keep scorching only one solution line?" Caitlin mumbles to herself, and looks over at a glass whiteboard covered in abstract doodles and organic chemical formulae.

Riri Williams has posed:
     Riri herself is currently a few steps away from the workstation, herself clad in usual jeans and T-shirt given she's not the one working directly with the chemicals. The bulky AR goggles over her eyes provide a better interface than the monitors anyway, plus splash and eye protection. Currently, she's looking at an expanded diagram of the brain blown up to the size of a beachball. "Hmmm. Maybe there's too much power going through it? The path does look kind of fractal, and I know that's what high voltage marks look like. ..>Wait, voltage wouldn't be that high. But it could be a memory effect. Like what happens with batteries or old hard drives. The synapses are staying flipped?"

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
Caitlin frowns thoughtfully at the readouts and leans back in her chair with one arm folded across her belly. "You might be onto something there," she says, finally, and activates a flood of chemicals designed to 'reset' the engaged neuroreceptors. The process has been a laborious one; every one of these synthetic brains a unique snowflake requiring a delicate and constant amount of adjustment and refinement to bring online. Not to mention the insanely expensive equipment and investment of resources needed to build them.

"Okay. One of the reasons we got away from microprocessors was that binary voltage states limit decision making," she says aloud. More to remind herself than Riri, speaking through the process. "It can't possibly be -that- simple...'

She turns around and runs a simulated brain in a virtual construct, and her jaw slacks.

"Point-oh-four percent voltage variation across the cerebellum," she confirms, shaking her head. "Holy smokes. I never would have guessed that. It's... either static from the microprocessors or some latent electron accumulation, but it's preventing the filopdoa from recieveing the kinease compounds. They're overreacting."

"So... we need an electrochemical insulator. Something that will buffer the brain and help with heat dissolution. What would work in place of a saline suspension..."

Riri Williams has posed:
     "You'd need an impermeable membrane of some kind to keep all the electrolytes from osmosing out, or contamination from coming in, but you might be able to try something like ethylene glycol or other alcohols. I had to use something similar for the liquid cooling in AISHA's server. Really don't want anything growing in there and potentially obstructing the coolant flow." Riri gives a one shouldered shrug. She's really more of an engineer than a biologist, but if she can help she's happy.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
"But we -do- want things growing in there," Caitlin says, fingers flying over the computer. "But only the right things. I mean, the human brain is mostly just fatty tissue," she reminds Riri, focusing on the work. "So we need a polar hydrocarbon suspension that'll promote cell development of the biosynthetic pathways without breaking down the lipid cell structures. It's denser, too, so it'll help with shock absorption. C'mon, let's do some cooking," Caitlin prompts Riri.

Several hours of chemistry later and the two women have prepped a new neural simulator, and Caitlin's carefully lowering it into the prepared chemical bath. It's agitated at a low frequency to disrupt any unwelcome molecules and then she hooks the synthetic brain up to the computer systems.

"Okay." Caitlin's murmuring, a little un-necessarily. Like she doesn't want to spook it. "I'm going to initialize the chemical catalysts. Bring up the neural network map and start the EM agitation. Let's see if we can get her to wake up." The machinery hums as the two inventors start initializing the synthetic brain.

Riri Williams has posed:
     Riri had mostly been playing assistant, since she wasn't a chemistry specialist after all. AISHA was quite useful in mapping and real time analytics, though. "Not seeing any errors like last time yet. AISHA, alert me if there are any abnormal patterns." Riri's phone chimes softly in acknowledgement. "Let's hope this works..."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
It takes time. There's no way to rush science or engineering. Bit by bit they coax the neuragel structure into activation. Sensors return all variables in the green; the mapping of some basic learning patterns is done by hand, the tools by which the AI will learn how to learn. That is, the difference between a limited artificial intelligence and a true AI: the ability to learn and grow.

"Okay. Here we go. Basic positive reinforcement tests," Caitlin says, and starts feeding testing commands to the brain. At first it returns just random garbage; then, after a few minutes, it starts returning numbers. Then sequences. Caitlin's excitement grows as the two of them test the brain and it responds accordingly.

"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I think we did it," Caitlin whispers, marvelling. "She's learning. She's learning!" she squeals, excitedly. "Numbers matching, pattern recognition... I mean, we've got a ways to go yet integrating the sensor suites and mobility and... and.. but she's -learning-!"

Riri Williams has posed:
     "So it's like a neural net, but it's not a total black box. More like an actual brain, and more versatile." Riri grins, holding up one hand for a fistbump. "Nice job, Caitlin. Definitely not something I would have come up with. Mr. Stark will be pretty happy." ...Oh yeah, and the other thing. "He recruited someone new a couple days ago too... I should introduce you sometime."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
Caitlin daps Riri and matches that grin. "Would you believe that I came up with this because I was stuck on a size restriction issue on a drone project?" she inquires. "We were having heat issues, we couldn't do enough on-board storage for dynamic flight systems, there were weight restrictions... of course, I get sidetracked on -this- project, and I wake up two nights ago with a brainwave about replacing the drone chassis with ossified fungal structures." She snorts at herself. "Totally gonna win that DARPA contract now," she says with a satisfied expression.

There's still work to be done, but Caitlin can chat and labor at the same time. "So he headhunted someone personally? Are we getting a new department chair or something?" she inquires, curious. "It's not like Mr. Stark to go out and recruit people on his own. Least from what I've seen," she concedes.

Riri Williams has posed:
     "And contracts and patents pay out for us too." Riri nods, before tilting her head a little when Caitlin expresses ignorance. "...You haven't seen it? I saw a few people filming, and I think it was going around the intranet, but... I helped 86 Blevins in HR. Apparently he'd been burying the profiles on people who didn't suck up to him enough. Mr. Stark found out, was pissed, had him fired, and was going around scooping up the candidates he liked. Also apologizing somewhat."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
"Ohhh," Caitlin breathes. "I'd heard something about that, but... it sounded like office drama. I try to avoid that," she tells Riri. "Not that-- Not that I approve of people doing that kind of thing," she clarifies, hastily. "I'm just no good at dealing with it. I know my manager in Engineering doesn't like me. Neither does the HR supervisor. Give me a ten ton robot to punch, sure, I can handle that. Getting into an argument with a jerkface with an insecurity complex never seems to work out for me. I don't know how to play the politics games and deal with the people who do."

Riri Williams has posed:
     "...You punch ten ton robots?" Riri was entirely unaware of this. ...And is intrigued. "I don't do politics either. But Mr. Stark backed me up, and he thought it'd be funny for the dickhead who blackballed a genius teenager to get kicked out by another younger genius teenager. ...And people don't get very argumentative with Ironheart." She grins. It had been... fun.