Table of Contents Perry Portly and the Fake DNA Results, by Gary Gocek

[INITIATION II-e ] - Atonement with the Father

Perry dug into the DNA project. Artificial neural networks describe a large set of questions (possibly hundreds or more) related to a desired prediction. For example, weather forecastng: if the temperature outside is 40 and the wind is blowing at 10 and the humidity is 80, then the AI uses past weather events to predict today's chance of precipitation. Add a hundred other measurements, and you can see why it's hard for a person to do the calculations. The Pittsford AI Center programmers had concocted an elaborate hack to capture DNA test results being delivered to customers.

A DNA lab can't actually tell you where your great-grandfather was born, but based on testing of large numbers of people, the hundreds of measurements in a specific DNA test can be used to make a pretty good guess about the geographic area. The Pittsford programmers used their massive Jacob's Ladder device to capture data in transmission and insert fake measurements to skew the final predictions9. In particular, they hacked the results of Fairport residents by tweaking some DNA markers. Then, depending on wind direction, the results would bounce through the Pittsford library's mega-terabit network connection and continue to the customer accounts.

Perry was asked to fix an error in this hack that was misidentifying Fairport DNA specimens. It turned out to be a simple typo that treated the Brockport zip code of 14420 as if it were the Fairport zip code of 14450. For fixing this, Perry was provided with an additional ad in his blog, at a couple bucks per click. Furthermore, his own DNA results suddenly showed he was a descendant of most of the emperors of Rome. If he added that to his online dating profile, well, woo hoo!

But, what of those hacked results? Yes, they showed Fairport-ers as descendants of Pittsofrd-ites. What would Minerva DeLand think? She is revered in Fairport history for her contributions to the area. But, just as Perry began to consider the ramifications of making the AI center's hack more successful, the other object of his daydreams, Carrie Ann Blugold entered the room. She sashayed by. Back in Fairport, she might have misspoken his name, but here in Pittsford she didn't make a connection with Perry at all.

"Hey guys, did someone borrow all the Javascript books again?" Carrie Ann asked. "The other patrons are complaining."

One of the other programmers pulled a pile of books out of a drawer and ran out the door, saying he was just returning them. Carrie Ann also departed, as quickly as she had appeared.

Perry relaxed with a cup of coffee and reviewed his blog monetization status every couple of minutes. The bottom of a trench coat could be seen through the window up near the ceiling of the basement office. Della was pacing in the shadows outside.

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©2020, Gary Gocek, http://gary.gocek.org/, @garygocek, gary@gocek.org