When I finished my thriller, DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM (DEOS), two years ago I never imagined that some of it would come true!
With the reported release of the Wolfram/Alpha search engine this month (May 2009) by its creator Stephen Wolfram, a significant plot element of DEOS will come true.
Like the chip that I imagined in my novel, the Wolfram/Alpha program “draws on the knowledge on the internet, as well as private databases,” according to a May 3 report in London’s The Independent online edition.
“Instead of searching the web for info, Alpha is built around a vast repository of curated data from public and licensed sources. Alpha then organizes and computes this knowledge with the help of sophisticated Natural Language Processing algorithms. Users can ask Alpha any kind of question, which can be constructed just like a Google search (think: ‘hurricane bob’ or ‘carbon steel strength’),” explained a post on April 25 from the blog ReadWriteWeb.
The imaginary chip/program in my novel runs spiders all over the Internet recording and logging the location of specific information. When you ask the chip a question it locates the relevant information and uses algorithms to produce the most correct answer. Only this imaginary chip becomes sentient as it gains more knowledge and within two weeks of its launch has the IQ of a teenager in the novel.
Much of the technology I mention in my novel is based on existing or developing technology that I stretch a bit with literary license to create a dramatic plot and rich characters. Some of the plot elements are based on actual events and plausible scenarios that I uncovered in my research into the hacker culture and its players.
I wrote the book hoping to raise awareness of the real and looming threats in cyberspace. And now, some of those threats are coming to fruition.
One such event was the Conficker Worm attack in April which is also similar to a plot element in DEOS. (See my press release on the Conficker Worm.) The DEOS plot is about an Internet worm that takes over the US power grid and cell phone network, and it cannot be stopped. Does that sound like the Conficker Worm?
I just hope the rest of DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM never comes true.
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