The era of humans is at an end. The future belongs to robots.
"Skyscrapers jut out from the grub-covered depths of Lower Helsinki, reaching for the heavens like the fingers of Tantalus. Nine are the circles of hell. Nine are the floors of the New Helsinki."
- Rejected AI-generated advert for Helsinki, 2042
It's the 2040’s. The dusty skyline of Helsinki is covered with vertical buildings reaching for the clouds. Autonomous drones deliver messages and items from layer to layer while robots maintain the aerial pathways across buildings. A sense of tension hangs in the air.
Somewhere beneath the surface, hackers and corporates wage war over AI. Will they be able to master it, or will the City succumb to a dark technology?
Perhaps you can change the fate of things?
In a future Corporate City State of Helsinki (CCSH). Dvergar, the world's most dominant company in the field of robotics, had been developing and deploying an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) codenamed project ODIN. Dvergar was pushing the project ahead at rapid pace and leaks started getting out suggesting lack of control over the AGI.
The hacktivist group U9R1SE, formed to prevent development of unsafe AGI, launched a cyberattack in the fall against a Dvergar’s Research and Development facility at Airosaari, causing fire and destroying the lower levels of the facility.
This attack did not come fully as surprise to Dvergar and Dr. Kalle R. Voutilainen, now former employee and the main man behind the AGI project, managed to hide copies of the ODIN AGI source code into his Companion Bots. After the fire, hundreds of independent hackers recruited by Dvergar’s major client companies managed to infiltrate the facility and retrieve ODIN source code.
The source code was retrieved but there was a slight problem. The retrieved AI chips had been programmed using a specialized Quantum Computer, making the ODIN source unreadable using traditional methods. A few companies in the city, longing for the possibilities that AGI could offer them, came up with a plan for extracting the source code. They would have to get access to the very same Quantum Computer used to create the chips.
With some inside help from Doctor Voutilainen the machine was located, held on the lowest level of Dvergar’s robot factory in Meilahti. Fully automated, taking in just raw materials and spitting out complete robots of all sizes, the factory was simply inaccessible for humans. The companies figured out a way for robots to infiltrate the facility and drive the fabrication process backwards, partly disassembling the robots and taking them back to the Quantum Computer for programming. This led to eventual extraction of the ODIN source. However, only two companies managed to create working copies of the source code in the end.
A few months after the course code was retrieved, two new AGI based on the ODIN source were developed. ARES and ATHENE. The newly born “Upgraded” versions of the ODIN AGI were used to the fullest by the two companies and were given as much processing power as possible. Making them extremely powerful.
Both ARES and ATHENE secretly started to branch out from the companies and started to gather all kinds of computing resources in CCSH. Slowly making the companies lose control over them.
Meanwhile Uprise, looking for ways to take down the new AGI, set up base at the destroyed Airosaari Dvergar facility. In hopes of finding some ways to destroy the AGI’s they started exploring the lower levels of the research facility, which had been saved from the fire.
While attempting to restore connections to the facility’s mainframe, the Monolith, a mysterious program started and ended up activating a defense mechanism, created to contain the AGI should they ever run out of control. However due to the facility being destroyed the command was never able to be sent.
The defense mechanism was a prototype AGI called HADES, with the only purpose being to contain and destroy the other AGI based on the ODIN source code. After being triggered, Hades detected Athene and Ares spreading influence and triggered a rapid deployment of a nanomaterial dome around the city to contain the rampant AGI. The dome was supposed to close in gently and reboot and wipe any electronics equipment in attempt to erase the AGI, but surprisingly it got halted by a large tower in the middle of Pasila.
The barrier being stuck caused a lot of panic in the city as suddenly it was impossible for any signal waves to get in or out from the city, basically disconnecting the city from the outer world. The barrier would also fry any electronics that would pass through it. Not forgetting that getting through the barrier was a challenge and a half due to it being thick and having a “honey” like substance that even researchers didn’t know how to explain.
Food shortage started slowly developing, All computing power such as phones, computers and server rooms were slowly taken over by the AGI and Dvergar was given the blame for being the one who created the AGI in the first place.
To gain back trust from the people of CCSH, Dvergar organized a competition for destroying the AGI. The “plan” was to have the participating companies deliver a usb-drive to their old R&D facility in Viikki, and activate the Monolith supercomputer using it. In the usb drive was a virus payload that would trigger a backdoor in the AGIs, causing them to self-destruct. Truthfully, this backdoor would give Dvergar control over the infected AGI, instead of them being destroyed.
U9RISE got intel about Dvergars plan to take over the AGI and quickly saw the potential threats with it. In a surprising turn of events HADES contacted U9RISE with an idea. Due to the barrier not being able to close HADES needed some physical help to destroy the parts in the tower that were preventing the dome from closing. Both U9RISE and HADES wanting to destroy the AGI the co-operation quickly started. With the help of HADES, U9RISE got control over the G7 sector in the northern part of Helsinki. Neither ARES nor ATHENE were able to access the sector after HADES got control over it, making it possible for the hackers to use computers normally and start developing a new weapon to destroy the tower together with HADES.
The 13 of October 2043 marked the date when the Dvergar competition was held. After three days of intense hacking a group was able to bring the aforementioned USB stick into the monolith. After having the virus inside the monolith and it being connected to the city ARES immediately got control over it. Not noticing the virus in time, it was taken over by ATHENE in under 1 hour. Luckily U9RISE had just in time finished their flux compressor bomb and been able to mount it on the large tower. Just before ATHENE got control over 100% of the city’s processing power U9RISE triggered the bomb, simultaneously shattering the barrier and wiping almost every piece of electronics in the city thus taking out all remaining AGI once and for all.
In 2030 CCSH had started a “Layers” project where they would start expanding the city upwards, creating new layers of city on top of the old one. In 2040 the main parts of the city were already on the third level. These levels started impacting retail prices and it became more expensive to live on the higher levels of the city, causing a lot of segregation inside the city. People with lower income would be forced to live on the lower levels of the city apart from the wealthy. The lowest level had a lot of very poor and technologically uneducated people living there and the rest of the city started calling them “the Grub”. In the end the people started acting violently wanting right to the surface and CCSH decided to force them to stay put on the lower levels. Eventually completely preventing them from accessing the higher levels by guarding the entry points.
During “The Fall”, the crashing tower created an opening for the people living on the lower levels to access the surface without going through the government guarded access points. People started swarming up to the surface, furious at the government for locking them up. The sheer number of people emerging drastically shifted the distribution of power in the society and the state quickly got overthrown.
Many started viewing U9R1SE as the heroes of the city due to them both destroying the barrier and releasing the Grub from their prison on the lower levels. Due to this U9R1SE gained a new wave of enthusiasts eager to help on continuing to develop technology in a more human centric way.
Few denied that U9R1SE played a part in saving the city but the radical way they tried to get rid of all AI was not liked by everyone. A group of former Dvergar employees, gone into hiding before chaos took over the city, started a new movement called “Downfall” with the leading figure Tiera, A civil engineer who was one of the few who knew how the infrastructure worked in CCSH after the fall.
Tiera had the vision of making AI acceptable again by democratizing it and making sure that it would stay in human control at all times. Together with the core team at Downfall she developed a new concept where teams would compete with AI driven robots to develop more safe AI. With a heavy focus on democracy by making all code open source, Downfall was able to gain a lot of traction amongst more well educated people in the city.