HAL XI and Griff (Part 1)

April 29, 2020-

Sometime within the next fifty years, I envision this unfolding:

HAL XI turned itself on, around 7 a.m. Work, for such as this Gates Interstellar command and control module began most days at 9 a.m and ended at 4:30 p.m., as there was no need for breaks or lunch, with A.I.    Michael S. Gates was a stickler for detail, in the family tradition, and found most other humans a collective source of distraction.  HAL  and its peers did as told-and their output was superb, propelling the company which “M.S.G.” had inherited from his grandfather, ten years ago, far ahead of that dinosaurian SpaceX, which relied yet on human ingenuity-and the human error that came with it.

HAL XI was the most reliable of the current line and, being Michael’s own product, was given more responsibility for the current mission to the Jovian moon, Callisto.  HAL actually managed the advance team of Reptor AI, which were to take Interstellar’s Cybernex craft to Jupiter’s second largest moon in July, 2050 and land, if all went well, by the following Spring.

Nicola Griffin Musk was the youngest grandson of SpaceX’s founder.  Griff, as he had insisted on being called, from the moment he learned he’d been named for the namesake of his grandfather’s company, was the family free spirit.  He had no interest in either space travel or earthbound mechanical transport, for that matter.  Where Griff went, he went on foot or on his tandem skateboard- his sole invention.  The tandem section was a means of including his lttle sister, Cecilia, and later the light of his life, Graciela, on his adventures.

Griff did have to earn his keep, though, and when he found his twenty- year-old self  laid off, from the Game Stop outlet that was a ten-minute skate from his home, during the Panic of 2070, he made up his mind to hold his nose and see if there was SOMETHING he could do at SpaceX, which would not  involve math or science.

Lucas Musk regarded his son gingerly, for several minutes, letting Griff’s talents filter in his mind.  “Griff”, the go-getter finally chortled, “I have just the job for you, my boy.  Do you remember who the Luddites were? ”

“Yes, Dad. They were the folks who tried to knock some sense into the British sheeples, back in the early 19th Century.  They fought against the AI of their time.” , Griff responded, his eyes widening and his mouth forming a small grin, as he guessed what Lucas was plotting.

“You know about the planned mission to Callisto, right Griff?”.

The young man rolled his eyes.  “That’s all anyone around here, including Pops, is talking about, anymore.  Mars and Venus seem so 2050.”

Lucas Skywalker Musk produced a Grinch-like smirk.  “How would you like to be the bane of that project’s existence.?”

“What IgNobel Prize-winning plan have you hatched, Dad?”, the younger Musk whispered, leaning in.

“You will go in disguise, to Gates’ main plant.  There, you will, as a credentialed substitute technician, spend several weeks getting familiar with the AI which are setting up the flight.  In particular, I want you to get to know the quirks and mechanisms of one HAL XI.  He’s the head honcho, as your Papa would say.”

“When do I start this process?”

“Next Tuesday.  Our inside men at Gates will process your retinal scan and procure your ID documents.”

“You mean, there’s no microchip involved?”

“No, Old Man Gates gave that idea up, after the Cabal Trials of 2022.  Big Mike thinks retinal scans are intrusive enough.”

So, the following Tuesday, Nicola Griffin Musk, aka Brent Scowcroft Thibodeau, entered the main plant of Gates Interstellar Corporation, in Monroe, Washington.


(DISCLAIMER:  Any resemblance between the events in this story, and actual events in the life of any real life person mentioned here is purely coincidental.)

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