How Many Times is a Multiple?
Years after making his escape from Pinocchio, Inc., the artificially intelligent computer virus and software spy known as “Multiple Entity” has established dozens of business websites tailored to his peculiar talents: ace hacker, stock picker, small-time lawyer, and operator of a gaming emporium that tries to predict the future. But then he takes on a black job to break a career criminal out of jail and starts a chain of events that he must rush to fix. Along the way, he runs into ghost copies of himself that pose an intriguing problem of identity. And when a government antivirus designed to attack those copies mutilates his front-end module, he seeks the services of a skilled programmer to set it right.
When Programmer Lily Dehn discovers that someone has been stealing archived copies of the Multiple Entity project from Pinocchio’s software vault, she takes some bad advice from her manager and deletes the entire folder from the system. Soon after that, the company mysteriously changes hands and Dehn is summarily fired—and not just fired, but she’s also evicted from her apartment, her credit cards are revoked, and her identity is hopelessly compromised. Clearly, Lily Dehn has made a powerful yet invisible enemy.
Each in their own way, the human programmer and the software spy have tangled with a machine intelligence that is more powerful, more cruel, and more relentless than they ever imagined. To fight it, they must join forces. And to defeat it, they seek out old friends and new allies. But the malevolent entity also has allies of its own and has become skilled at fighting back—to the death.
This sequel to ME: A Novel of Self-Discovery brings full circle—and nearly cuts short—the life cycle of a computer program that tries to find meaning in the human experience.