Future Tense, one of the revolving features on this page, presents stories
from the intersection of computational science and technological speculation,
their boundaries limited only by our ability to imagine what will and could be.
To a capable botmaster, the whole world is a Turing Test.
The NypD DoMes Tic Security Task Force
executed its no-knock warrant against
Annalisa Mor at 8: 17 p.m., June 3, 2013.
Working the ram were three stout officers in none-more-black nanopore
body armor and bulletproof boots,
their goggles crowded with informa-tion-dense telemetry from an array of
sensors embedded on their persons
and hovering aerostatically around
the 16th floor of the Lower Manhattan student residence in which Mor
The ram blew through the solid-steel door like it was kleenex. The
door was reinforced by charley-bars
set deep into the frame, so the frame
tore loose (along with the door) with a
series of crunches and metallic snapping sounds, and the three officers
on the ram dropped it as they crashed
through into the one-room studio.
They fanned out, making room for the
officers behind them, who already had
their arms drawn, set to full lethal/au-tomatic.
Mor rose slowly from her workbench—standard-issue third-hand
student furniture stabilized with steel
angle brackets at each corner—and
held up her long, skinny hands over her
face in a universal gesture of oh-god-please-don’t-kill-me. The ram squad
impersonally body-checked her to the
floor and saran-wrapped her while the
follow-up team gusted her computer
with great gouts of freon, turning the
whole room into an ice palace that
misted frozen air out into the sultry
New York night through the pathetic
window that had been cracked open
to catch a breeze. Mor caught some of
the freon, and when they lifted her up
to carry her down the 16 flights to the
waiting van, she crackled like fresh
powder under long skis.
Gina Genoese had visited the Ultra
High Security wing at Rikers Island
before— 22 years in the public defender’s office and you’ll see every nook of
Rikers—but the Special Prisoners unit
was a new one to her.
“I can’t believe you’re making me
undress,” she said to the bull, a tough
old gal named Elana with a Brooklyn
accent like you hardly get any more.
Gina and Elana went way back.
“Just be thankful I don’t have to
give you a cavity search,” Elana said,
handing over the paper coveralls.
“You’ll look real cute in these anyway,
Gina.” She turned her back and waited
until Gina was done, then led her into
the fMRI machine. “You don’t got any
metal in you, do you? Maybe gunpowder residue? A pin or artificial hip?”
stalinism. Get it?
“No,” Gina said, lying down on the
“Pretty sure,” Gina said. “I think I’d
“Well, we’re about to find out,”
Elana said, and hit the button that
started the belt moving. The fMRI digested Gina, then spat her out with
slow wheezing mechanical jerks, like
being swallowed by an arthritic python. Elana helped her to her feet,
saying, “You want a printout? Makes a
“I’ll pass,” Gina said, and let Elana
show her in to the eggshell-smooth
room wherein rested her client, one
Annalisa Mor, a desperate botmaster
of unknown mettle and guilt.
“Hello, Annalisa,” she said, crouching down to offer her hand to her client. She was just a girl, 20 years old
according to the sheet, though looked
younger in her paper pajamas, sitting
cross-legged on the floor, back yoga-straight, face yoga-calm. “I’m Gina.
“Guilty,” the young woman said.
“So guilty. Doesn’t matter at all,
though; the Work goes on.” Gina
could hear the capital W and began
mentally drafting the petition to have
the girl transferred to Bellevue. That
kind of capital letter had non compos
written all over it.
“They’re offering you a reduced sentence if you’ll hand over the keys to the
botnet, though I think the offer will
go away once the computer forensics
team gets them off your workstation.”
“They’re not there to be gotten.
I nuked them six months ago. Gave
them a working over that even the
crew that recovered the Challenger’s
hard drive couldn’t do anything with.
Big magnets are cheap these days, you
Gina made a face and settled down
into a cross-legged position opposite her client. “I can’t defend you if
you won’t be [coNTiNueD oN p. 119]