Physwall (Science Fiction Short Story)
The new, barely-elected president was celebrating her victory. She felt she was born to win this, and nothing could take this from her. All her staff were cheering and applauding. Some were crying — they couldn’t believe they had won. Everyone was ecstatic and excited beyond words. This was a long time coming. They felt they deserved what they had won. There were many tears of joy, and a sense of awe for the first woman president of the USA.
That was until a few minutes later, when everybody at the celebration fell to the ground silently all at once.
In the future, it’s nigh impossible to die. Everyone has their own personal AttoWall. Everyone just calls it a “PhysWall” though. In essence, it’s a physical firewall made out of quantum attobots. You may recall their predecessors, called nanobots. Nanobots were the the stepping stones and precursors into much smaller scale quantum robotics and artificial intelligence. The physwall was several generations later after years of research which included the highly praised picobots and subsequent femtobots.
As AI advanced in the tech industry, it was also integrated with these little microscopic wonders—for better or for worse.
It’s a bit hard to describe, but essentially a translucent smart sub-microscopic amoeba-like array that surrounded a person. You couldn’t really see them but an occasional glimmer out of the corner of your eye. Sometimes, you could see it deflect things; like rain or snow, but it would solidify and deflect many things including rocks, fists, and yes — even bullets.
Of course it would open up and allow you to eat, use the bathroom and so forth. It could also modify the space in front of your eyes to correct vision problems, and amplify hearing. It was a smart machine that sensed everything before you did. It would sample/clarify the air. It could analyze your food and ensure it was fit for consumption. Suicide was nearly impossible. It could sense your emotions, and could start predicting thought to action patterns. It would maintain your optimal health for you with little thought. Analyze your blood, stool, blood pressure, heart rate, nag you to get the exercise you needed. You could put it into force mode where it would inhibit you from overeating or not eating enough.
It could pull oxygen and hydrogen from the air…It would enter your body sub-atomically, and provide your body what it needed. If you weren’t getting the right nutrients through food, It would assemble nutrients atomically as you walked around picking up Iron here, and potassium there. Atom by atom, and molecule by molecule.
As a natural progression, It was also a whole VR suit, and could simulate movement and project anything into your field of vision with any level of realism…from 2D to full hi def 360 degree 3D. It Introduced what were called VR coma’s. People would never leave their VR world, and their minds were completely altered from doing this.
The “health” culture stated that everyone needs to unplug at least 3 hours a day for safety reasons. But it was the same industry that also created the “health” apps to track everything while you were tethered too. But unplugging was more true than most knew. The human body wasn’t meant to be in stasis for long periods of time, without severe detriments. So of course the health and nutrition nuts came out of the woodwork, and each had their own spin and various offerings.
It wasn’t hard for me. I’d unplug for at least one day a week and retreat to the nearby mountains, and occasionally spend the night. Nature’s affect on the body is incalculable, and the longer you stayed, the better. Sometimes I’d go for weeks at a time to relax and recover.
The banners, buttons and other schwag was littered everywhere, but then again, so were the people. They all dropped to the ground at once — unquestionably dead. The eternal screen saver of the eyes. In the days that followed, the media and Government blamed Russia, and the opposing political parties, but I was pretty certain this wasn’t the case. It never ceases to amaze me how the media spins every last thing to their narrative.
The majority of a political party wiped out because of their beliefs. What an insane time to be alive! and it was my job to bring them to justice. I was on a special cyber security task force, that worked with all branches of the government, only working on the most high-profile cases. When this one came in, we dropped everything else.
The way I found out what happened was going doing some deep log analytics. It took forever to find any signs. It looked like the hackers had been inside for close to a year, just listening and watching.. before running the exploit. I kept going further and further back in the logs, working with different AI, federal agencies and my ingenuity, I iterated over various search options with my physwall integrated with some cloud-clustered-AI until I accidentally found something. I thought it was nothing at first, and dismissed it for a time. I kept getting this nagging feeling to go back and look at it. Once I did, I saw the problem.
The hackers found a way to interact with the attobots and subverted a small unknown maintenance port. Of course it was an unpublished port and API that only the vendor knew existed, and even a smaller number of the employees at the company knew what it could do.
It wasn’t easy to spot, but there was a slight irregularity to how the logs started showing after that, each trace was trimmed ever so slightly to exlude the full details.
I caught it, and this was the issue. From there our team was able to trace back logs and see things being sent subtly to a remote URL.
When the FBI investigated, the hosting company where the URL routed to did a series of redirects touching nearly every continent.., we ultimately found the company where the last hop ended, but it was a dead end. The billing info for the company in question was paid in untraceable cryptocurrency with a made-up name. The hosting company had already closed the cloud account and had wiped everything. The virtual space had long since been swallowed back up and reprovisioned 10 different ways.
No group claimed credit. Usually an unidentifiable hacking group of some sort would usually claim responsibility for high-profile hacks. But there had been nothing like this before that killed thousands of people at once.