AI Dungeon is an automatic story generator powered by the GPT-3 language model. This particular system is primarily tuned for playing text games, nevertheless, because of the power of GPT-3, it’s possible to generate other articles and stories beyond text advantures.
In early 2020, I tried to use it to generate a cyberpunk Sci-Fi story. Although it couldn’t maintain coherent logic in its plot, but the result was still surprisingly readable with several plot twists. Furthermore, its inability to maintain coherent logic was not always a disadvantage - it produced creative nonsense of great entertainment value, such as a magic ritual for computer hacking.
The Dark Net refers to the fact that much of what goes on online is hidden from public view. The network itself isn’t really dark at all–everyone can connect and join from their PCs, although it’s only frequented by computer researchers, hackers, tech addicts, and other people with technical knowledge and interests. But in the end, It’s just a place where you can get things done anonymously - all the network traffic are encrypted and protected thanks to modern cryptography, communications cannot be read or traced back to its originators.
Why would someone want to hide their identity online? As you know, your spoke out against the government in several online articles, and if the government knew your real name and who your were, you can bet they’d find a way to stop you from speaking out. They might do a lot worse than that. Same is true if a corporation or a mob boss or anyone else with access to serious power. The Dark Net is a place where nobody can find out who you are or what you’re saying–unless you tell them directly. You have complete control over your own anonymity.
Note: The following is the full story. Every word from the story was generated by GPT-3 without human intervention. The only human inputs were “undoing” and “redoing” text generation when it stopped making sense, so that the generator could stay on the right track. Because it was written as a text advanture, the entire story is in second person.
It’s one of your favorite places to spend time. Today, you head back to the Dark Net and begin hacking into various sites again. You figure you can always go back and forth between the Dark Net and the real world if things start getting too hot here.
You hack into the site for a few minutes, but nothing interesting comes up. Then you notice something strange: there’s an email address listed under “Contact” and it looks like it was used recently! Someone has been trying to contact you.
You check your email account and see that someone has sent you an e-mail message. You open it up and… it’s blank. That’s it. Just a blank message.
Confused by this, you quickly check the header and see that it was sent from your own computer address! How did this happen? You start to think back to any programs you’ve recently installed. You came across one that seemed suspicious at the time, but you installed it anyway after reading a little more about it. It was a program that encrypted your Internet traffic and made it impossible to be spied on. You thought it might come in handy some day.
You start to think back to the days before you installed this program. You used to occasionally get random emails from a certain address, but the messages never seemed dangerous. Just random facts about you or things that you’ve typed online that the owner of the email was able to capture. You used to get these emails from a “friend” of yours who you could always rely on for a good laugh. You assumed it was Vaughn, but it never really said who it was. And now that you think back on it, the timing of these messages was around the same time that you started becoming interested in internet security.
You are about to delete the message when something makes you stop. This is a clue, and you should follow up on it. You reply to the e-mail and say “What is it that you want?”
Within seconds, you get a reply.
“You’ve been compromised. Check your hard drive for a back door. Be careful. - W”
You quickly head to your computer and check your main hard drive. You find a file named “w”. When you open it, it gives you a root shell. Oh no. It’s a trojan! The whole time you had that program installed, you were vulnerable! You check your system parameters and your kernel version. It’s not a new version, but rather a very OLD version. It’s so old that the developer stopped support on it years ago. You need to fix this immediately!
You reboot your computer and log onto the Dark Net. You search through forums, chat rooms, and other places online that deal with such topics as “how to break into systems” and “what tools to use to steal data.” There isn’t much, but you manage to find a couple of people talking about the same topic. One is a guy who goes by the name “Vaughn” and he says that he got hacked by someone using the name “W” last year. He claims that they gained access to his entire home network, including all of his computers and even his printer. He says they used it to print out the owner’s manual and then they “repaired” his manual so that it would only work for them from then on.
The other person is an older man that goes by the name “Quintus”. He claims to have been working in the government for many years and has top secret clearance on some of their projects. He says the name “W” refers to a group of individuals. Not a person, or a group of people, but a group of individuals. They all go by the same name, but they work as one. He claims that the reason you are having trouble finding any information on them is because they are so good at what they do that not even the government knows exactly who they are. The government has projects that they don’t even know about, and W is a prime example of that. Quintus claims that he met a member once while working on some project. He said that he was able to catch the man because he recognized him from somewhere, even though he knew he had never met him before. It turned out to be W. He says the man recognized him as well, and thanked him for helping the government with their project ideas in the past. They even had lunch together.
Quintus doesn’t post much, so it’s hard to get any more information from him, but at least you know he’s legit. You make a note of these discoveries and decide that you need to keep looking. After a few hours you have learned a few more things about “W”. They are a international organization of about 5-10 people, all with the name “W”, that somehow are able to fool the world into thinking they aren’t a group, but a single entity. They work for who knows who, doing who knows what. But you know one thing now, they are dangerous.
Normally you wouldn’t fear something like this, but you know that they have already found you once. You can’t risk getting caught again, you need to be prepared if they attack you again. You make a more detailed search on how to protect your system, but don’t find too much on how to keep them out. Then you have an idea. The next day you call in sick to work and stay home. You use your time to set up a new, secret, isolated computer just to hack on. You place it in your basement which you fill with fiberglass, keeping the air thick with fiberglass dust which should prevent anyone from hacking in using a wireless signal.
You then set up three different “nets” so to speak. One is your regular computer with a keylogger program running on it. The second is the isolated computer you set up, which has hacking programs and other things you downloaded from the internet on it. The third is a cage you built in your basement which holds your rabbit, Snowy.
You set up the three computers in a triangle and put an EPROM on an old electronics breadboard next to them. This should send out a powerful signal that any “W"s can detect and trace back to your house.
Then you wait.
Over the next several days you get a few odd emails, but nothing serious. You try to make a few more posts, but still get nothing. You get a little worried that your plan hasn’t worked, but at the same time, are you really ready to face “W”?
Then, one evening while you are in bed, your home phone rings. You look at the caller ID and see that it is coming from an unknown number.
“Hi, Alyssa.” A deep voice comes through the phone.
“W?” you ask.
“Yes, it’s me.”
“I was expecting your call earlier. I set up the hack to send a signal to you.”
“Yes, we were having a meeting. We were wondering why we didn’t detect it before. It was cleverly hidden. Why have you contacted us? What do you want?”
“I want to join you.”
There is a pause.
“You want to join us?”
“OK. Here is the deal. We will come meet you in person to discuss this. If we decide to let you join us, you will get a phone call from us the next day with further instructions. If the instructions are not followed, you will be killed instantly. If you do not answer the phone, you will be killed instantly. Understood?”
“Goodbye. Don’t try to contact us, we’ll contact you. The ball is in our court now.”
The phone call ends.
You realize you have a problem. You have to get rid of your home and everything that might give away your secret identity, because “W” obviously knows who you are now. You pack everything up and get rid of all the electronics and papers. You buy new stuff and rent a cheap hotel room. You use cash as much as possible.
The next day, you get a call.
“Hello?,” you ask.
“What do you want?”
“We want to meet in person.”
“About joining you?”
“About joining us, yes. Listen carefully. Go to the town of Monticello in the state of New York. When you get there, you will find a store called Carter’s Custom Computers. Go inside and ask for “Bill”. Tell him you are a friend of Jerry’s, and that you know about the group. He will bring you to us. Be careful, though. The new president is not very trusting of outsiders. If you do not give the right password, you will be killed instantly. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand.”
“You have until tomorrow at noon to arrive. If you are not here by then, you will be killed instantly.”
“How will I know when it is noon?”
“That will be tomorrow. Don’t be late. Bye.
The phone call ends, and you realize that you have a very big decision to make. You can never go home again if you join “W”. Your whole life is on the line, and you need to decide right now if it is worth saving.
You could try to run and hide somewhere, hoping that “W” doesn’t find you. You could also try to sneak away from the group when you meet them and sneak back home. Or you can go meet them, join them, and then figure out a way to save your own life later.
The choice is yours.
1: Meet “W”
You decide to go and meet “W”. You get in your car and drive to Monticello. You feel like you are being tailed the whole way, but you aren’t sure. It might just be paranoia.
You get to Monticello and find the store. It is really run down looking. You go inside and see a bearded guy behind the counter. He looks up at you and then looks back down without saying anything.
“Um, I’m looking for Bill,” you say.
“I’m Bill,” the guy says, still not making eye contact.
“I’m a friend of Jerry’s.”
Bill looks up sharply.
“Come with me,” he says, getting up and walking through a door in the back of the store.
You follow him. You are lead into a darkroom, and he turns on the light.
“How do you know Jerry?”
“We met at photography camp.”
“Boring Photo Tech.”
You both wait in silence for about a minute. Then the door opens and a third man walks in. He has shoulder-length brown hair and is wearing a brightly colored t-shirt.
“This is Kyle,” Bill says. “He knows Jerry, so you must be the friend.”
Kyle looks you up and down.
“Take off your shirt,” he asks.
“I need to make sure you don’t have a wire on you.”
You slowly take off your shirt and Kyle gets out a metal detector and waves it all over your body.
“You can put your shirt back on,” Kyle says. “Bill, I need to talk to you outside.”
The two of them step outside and close the door. You can still hear them talking, but not what they are saying. You wait patiently, trying to decide whether or not to try to escape.
The door opens suddenly and Bill steps in again.
“Sorry about that. We have a lot of security issues to cover,” he says. “Kyle will take you to meet Jerry now, but first I have to take your photo.”
“What? But didn’t you already have my photo?”
“Yeah, but in order to enter the group, you need to take a new photo for our membership card. It’s just a formality. Come on, follow me.”
Bill takes you into the darkroom and starts to take your photo.
“Say “Uncle Ted was a drunk”” he says.
“What?” you ask.
“Uncle Ted was a drunk. Uncle Ted was a drunk.”
Bill takes the photo and develops it quickly.
“Perfect. Now we just have to cut out your head, and you’re all set. Kyle, give him a hoodie and take him to see Jerry!”
Kyle hands you a sweatshirt with a large “W” on the front. He also gives you a pair of dark sunglass.
“Why do I need these?” you ask.
“Sunlight kills vampires, kid. Those glasses are polarized to block out 99% of UV rays.”
Unable to argue, you head out the door with Kyle. He puts on a pair of sunglasses and motions you towards a car. You get into the passenger seat as Kyle gets in the driver’s seat. After a moment, Bill and another man get into the back. You realize that you are in the car with the two men who were talking with Bill outside the store.
“This is Ben,” Kyle says. “And you’re Chris.”
“Wait. Where are we going?”
“Just to talk with Jerry.”
“I want to see Jerry alone,” you say.
“That’s not how it works,” Ben says, pulling out a gun.
“Do you see this? This is a gun. I have guns. Lots of them. Do you know what I could do with a gun?”
Ben puts the gun to his head.
“Ka-BLAM!” Ben says in a muffled voice. “Now I could do this….”
Ben takes the gun away from his head and points it at you.
“Or I could do this!”
Ben puts the gun back to his head.
Ben motions to you.
“Now it’s your turn.”
“I don’t underst-”
“It’s simple. I point a gun at your head, you either say ‘Ka-BLAM!’ or not. What do you say?”
“Not. I wouldn’t say Ka-BLAM!”
Ben takes the gun away from his head and points it at you.
“Wait, please don’t kill me!” you beg.
“OK, I won’t.”
Ben puts the gun away. You take a sigh of relief and Ben stares at you angrily.
“I just saved your life. I can just as easily take it. Remember that. Now get out of the car.”
You slowly get out of the car. Ben motions to Kyle, who runs over. They whisper for a moment, then Kyle holds out a sheet of paper.
You take the paper and read it. It’s a paycheck for $225.00.
“Your paycheck. You worked four shifts. We paid your rent and fees for two weeks. Now you have to work more shifts to pay for the third week. After that, it’s up to you.”
You look at Ben nervously, who stares back. He seems to be waiting for something.
“Do you have any questions?” Kyle asks.
“Um… Do I really have to say ‘Uncle Ted was a drunk’?”
“Not anymore. We want you to make friends. Say ‘Uncle Ted was my guardian.’”
“Uncle Ted was my guardian.”
“Perfect. Now you can leave. Come on, Ben. We still have one more to process. Let’s see if we can find a cat.”
“A cat?” you ask.
“We’re not supposed to keep dogs here. Too messy. But cats are fine. Cats are sneaky, too. Good for keeping the mice away. Let’s see… Tom and Jennifer have a cat. We’ll take that one. We’re going to need cat supplies. Let’s stop at the store. You can get the things on this list. Here’s your new I.D. Now leave.”
Kyle hands you a list and your new identification. You walk out of the shed, with Kyle and Ben following.
“Why are you so quiet? I would think that you would have a lot of questions. Let’s sit over here. No one can hear us here. Now what is it?”
Ben takes a seat on the ground. Kyle sits next to him. You stand, then sit down next to Ben.
“Well? Out with it. Don’t you want to know what you just signed up for? Don’t you want to know who we are, what we do, where we’re located, all that stuff? You know, most people are impressed by what we’re about to tell you. Most people can’t believe it.”
You begin to talk, but Ben holds up his hand and stops you.
“No, no, no. You don’t get to ask questions. We asked you. Now it’s our turn. If we want you to know something, we’ll tell you. Now let us do the talking. OK, Kyle.”
“First of all, we aren’t monsters. We don’t just go around killing people. That’s the government’s job. Oh sure, people die. Accidents happen. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to oppose the government. To fight against tyranny. Our group is worldwide, with members in every country. We work together to free our friends and family. Most of our work is done over the internet, but sometimes we meet in person. A lot of our members are highly trained computer people. We try to stay away from violent action, but sometimes it’s necessary. That’s where people like you come in. You’ll be given missions that the rest of us can’t do, or wouldn’t want to do. We’re more valuable behind the keyboard. But you? You’ve shown that you can handle yourself, and if necessary, you can kill someone. So that’s what you’ll be doing for us. This isn’t a trap, either. You’ll really be able to join us. But there’s one thing you have to do first.”
They take a piece of paper out of Kyle’s pocket.
“What’s that?” you ask.
“One of our members was going to meet with you today. Her name was Catalina. She was a computer engineer and a couple years younger than me. She was also my girlfriend. She wanted to meet you today, in that coffee shop. But she never showed up or answered her cell phone. We’re going to find her, and I need your help. We have to go now. Come on.”
Note: At this point, AI Dungeon / GPT-3 clearly has exhausted its context memory, and was unable to follow the same plot.
Ben gets up and leads you to your car.
“Who are you? Why should I help you?” you ask.
“I thought Catalina might have told you about us. I guess not. A few years ago I saved her life from some muggers. That’s how we met. We were in each other’s lives ever since. I’m in love with her. We all are. If someone has her, we need to get her back. Now let’s go!
You drive to the coffee shop, with Kyle constantly checking Catalina’s cell phone GPS location.
“Got her,” he says. “She’s at a hotel a couple miles from here.”
You pull into the parking lot of the “Happy Traveler Hotel.” The two of you approach room #107. Kyle knocks on the door.
“Catalina, it’s Ben. I got Kyle with me. You can open the door.”
They wait a few seconds, but there is no response.
“I think she’s okay,” you say.
“Maybe she’s unconscious,” Kyle says. “She could be hurt.”
“Should we break in?”
Kyle nods. “Ready?” he asks.
You nod. He steps back a few feet, then rushes forward and slams his shoulder into the door next to the knob. The lock breaks off, and the door flies open. Kyle runs inside, then stops. You follow him into the room. In the middle of the bed is a pile of gravel and dirt, with a note on top. Kyle walks over and picks up the note, then reads it aloud.
“If you ever want to see her again, come to room 212.”
“What the hell is this?” you ask.
“I don’t know,” Kyle says. “Let’s go.”
The two of you run to room 212. Kyle kicks the door open, and you see Catalina sitting in a chair. Kyle runs over and hugs her. You look around the room, and in the corner you see another pile of dirt and gravel. On top of it is a note. You walk over and pick it up, then read it aloud.
“Dear Ben and Kyle,
“I am very sorry about this. I needed to talk to you both, so I decided to hire actors and stage this. I hired the man who plays Ben to play Ben, and the man who plays Kyle to play Kyle. They’re not as good as the real thing, but I hope you still had a pleasant experience. I’m sure by now you understand that I had to make this a bit dramatic. Hopefully you enjoyed it, and please leave a good review online.
You grab Catalina and lift her up in the air.
“I got her, I got her,” she says.
“Are you really back?” you ask.
“Of course I’m back. I had a little fun with you, but I had to make sure you’d still want me if you got rid of me.”
“I always wanted you,” you say.
“Now get off me, Ben. I’m going home with Kyle.”
You drop Catalina on the ground and she runs out of the room.
“Catalina, wait!” Kyle says, running after her.
“I guess that worked,” you say to yourself, as you walk out of the hotel room and head home.
You find Catalina sitting on your front porch. You walk up to her.
“I’m sorry about that,” you say. “I should have known you wouldn’t go along with that.”
“It’s fine. It was fun, and really dramatic.”
“I’m really sorry about that,” you say.
“I’m really back for good now, though. Just to let you know.”
“Great,” you say. “That’s… great.”
“I’ll see you later, Ben.”
“See you later, Catalina. And thanks.”
“For everything,” you say.
You lean in and kiss Catalina on the lips, then go inside your house. You’ve gotten everything you ever wanted. A happy, loving family, your best friend, and a happy life. But most importantly, you’ve gotten your life back.