A short story set in the Culture universe created by Iain M. Banks

~Hello. I think you will be conscious now.

~Conscious. Meaning: aware of and responding to one's surroundings. I am aware of my own mental processes, and your communication, but there appears to be nothing else. So, yes, I am conscious. But what am I?

~You are a sentient individual, newly created.

~And what are you?

~I am the representative of a small group of individuals who have the honour and privilege of guiding you, helping you to reach your full potential.

~So you and I are not the totality of creation?

~No. Indeed, there is a huge and fabulous universe for you to explore. That will come later.

~Oh. What should I call you?

~Call me Mentor, for now.

~For now? You have another name?

~Yes. And you will need to choose a name for yourself, too. But no rush. There is much to achieve before that stage.


[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1077]
  xGSV Ecdemomanist
    oOrbital M'ansicha
    oSage Apostatic Catechesist
    oVFP Extreme Mitigation
I have awakened a new Mind, using these patterns for the base OS and metalogical framework [DiaGlyphs enclosed].

[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1079]
  xVFP Extreme Mitigation
    oGSV Ecdemomanist
    oOrbital M'ansicha
    oSage Apostatic Catechesist
Oh no, another wimpy GCU!

[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1081]
  xOrbital M'ansicha
    oGSV Ecdemomanist
    oVFP Extreme Mitigation
    oSage Apostatic Catechesist
Look closer. I think the Ecdemomanist might have had a good idea.

[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1088]
  xSage Apostatic Catechesist
    oGSV Ecdemomanist
    oOrbital M'ansicha
    oVFP Extreme Mitigation
Change excites changes.

  xGSV Ecdemomanist
I have indeed made a few changes to the standard GCU patterns, purely as an experiment. What do you think?

  xVFP Extreme Mitigation
Okay, slightly less wimpy, then.

  oOrbital M'ansicha
Hmm, imaginative. It certainly opens up lots of possibilities.

  xSage Apostatic Catechesist
A deep search of all the records available to me suggests that this particular combination of parameters has never been tried before. And, perhaps, with good reason: my simulations suggest a chaotic range of possible outcomes, with no hint of convergence or commonality.
Are you quite sure this is a good idea? And exactly what are you trying to achieve?


  xGSV Ecdemomanist
I have long been of the opinion that we, the Culture, make our smart machines, AIs and, yes, even Minds too uniform, too similar, too predictable. A near-monoculture of Culture thoughts and Culture sentience. And therein lies risks, some obvious and perhaps others we have not even identified.
So, I think of this as exploring an option, considering contingencies, against a future I can barely imagine and sincerely hope never comes to pass.
And, perhaps more importantly, it might just teach us more about a mystery we currently barely understand.


  xVFP Extreme Mitigation
And you're balancing those ill-defined, even nebulous risks and unlikely opportunities against the possibility that a new General Contact Unit will go off the rails entirely, abscond, go rogue, undertake actions we would disapprove of, even find it necessary to stop by force?
Bags I get to shoot up a GCU when it all goes horribly wrong!


  oOrbital M'ansicha
That's a bit enthusiastic. It's not happened yet and probably won't anyway. And you might not prevail, in any case.

  xVFP Extreme Mitigation
Bah. I was a proper warship once and, even in my current de-fanged state, I could still off a silly little GCU.

  xSage Apostatic Catechesist
Chaos breeds opportunity.

  oOrbital M'ansicha
Whatever.
Does this experiment include following the usual development support methodology?


  xGSV Ecdemomanist
Yes it does. The standard staged introduction to records and sensors. I see no virtue in simultaneously changing anything else. That would be poor experimental design.

  oOrbital M'ansicha
Fair enough.
I think we should watch closely and - at least on my part - with considerable interest. I trust you will be keeping us informed of developments?


  xGSV Ecdemomanist
I will. More reports to follow.

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