The social media giants of the early decades in the 21st century have died and been replaced by ‘CHAT’, a new artificial intelligence network built on a powerful quantum computer, affectionately called the ‘Engine’.
Avoiding the failings of its predecessors and free from the misuse of data, CHAT has become ubiquitous. A key feature, powered by the Engine, is the network’s ability to translate any language to the language of the user, in real time; meaning that everyone around the world can speak to each other as if they are all speaking the same language.
CHAT’s artificial intelligence was developed at a remote campus of Cambridge University in Warwick, England. The academics at Warwick, led by Professor Nick Caine, continue to search for new languages, both human and non-human, to extend the capabilities of the Engine. CHAT’s public relations executive, Tiffany Hope, spreads the word on all the latest news from Warwick to the entire global network of CHAT users.
Under the management of Professor Caine and his team at Warwick, the Engine polls the internet for signals to translate around the entire planet and even beyond, by connecting to a wide range of equipment ranging from wildlife monitors to space stations. But one such ‘signal’ that initially eludes the translation abilities of the Engine gets the attention of one of the university department’s sponsors, the US military intelligence agency.
As the mysterious signal, code-named, Alpha285, gradually reveals more about its origins, Nick is subjected to increasing pressure from his sponsors to allow the agency to take control.
Set in a future where the legacy of past generations’ environmental abuse has come home to roost, and human ingenuity has created innovative solutions that attempt to arrest the damage, the pursuit of knowledge about Alpha285 becomes fraught with danger and intrigue.