An excerpt from Injured or Seriously Killed

Copyright © 2018 Riis Marshall and Turfhill Court Press

Bardwell said: ‘And you say you know nothing about him except his name?’

George said: ‘Nothing. Absolutely nothing.’

‘And his name is –?’

‘Doran – Oswald Doran.’

‘Likely not a problem. I can put some people on it. These days between joined up electronic surveillance – mobile phones, the internet, email, credit card transactions, CCTV, etcetera, it’s usually possible to find somebody even starting with nothing more than a name. Even if your mystery man is using an alias we’re still likely to be able to find him. You see, we’re working with a new computer program – something called Orwell. Ultra, ultra top secret, if there is such a designation – hush, hush – nobody’s supposed to know anything about it, even our friends whose agency names begin with “MI”, you know – that sort of thing. Actually it’s not our software: we’re beta testing it for the Chartered Institute for Management of Human Resources.’

Orwell? Intriguing name for a program –’

‘Well, that’s neither here nor there. Important thing is we need enter nothing more than a name and this thing trawls the World Wide Web looking for any information on our subject.’

‘Don’t think I understand why this is helpful, Bardy. I have a man on my staff who is quite good at this sort of thing. Why can’t he do it just as well?’

‘Good question, Uther. I’m not supposed to say too much about it – I’m not supposed to say anything about it – but what I can say is this program is far, far more sophisticated than any software your man has access to – something to do with artificial intelligence – whatever that means. Point is it can go much deeper than you can.’

‘Fair enough. I appreciate anything you can do for me. Please come back when it’s convenient for you.’


Os said: ‘Yeah – something like that. Anyhow, Brian, didn’t we once talk about that computer program called Orwell that could find all kinds of tenuous links between people?’

Orwell yeah Ossie we talked about Orwell interesting you should mention that because now I can get into Orwell and –’

‘So – tell me all about it.’

‘Well you remember I told you Orwell was developed by the Chartered Institute for Management of Human Resources that’s CIMHR for short anyhow they developed it but they couldn’t run it because it takes loads and loads of memory and hard drive capacity so they gave it to the California Institute for Primal Scream Therapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming that’s CIPSTNeLP for short for beta testing because they have a Cray Titan computer that has all the capacity they need.’

‘So, two questions, my friend. First why would the CIMHR need or want a program like that and, second, I know you’re a world class hacker but how the heck’d you get into it? I’d have thought it would have been very well protected.’

‘Good questions oh inscrutable one good questions first let me tell you what it does you know how Google has these spiders some people call them ‘bots that crawl all over all the pages on the internet?’

‘Well, of course. Doesn’t everybody?’

‘Yep well they that is the Orwell guys have other ‘bots that crawl all over all the other places like the DVLA data bases and the NHS data bases and the HMRC data bases and the credit card companies’ data bases and telephone call logs and CCTV footage and police databases and –’

‘Yeah – I get the idea but let me ask you a question – isn’t that illegal?’

‘Well of course it’s illegal Ossie but who cares about that I mean if you have a car crash and some solicitors’ outfit calls you up out of the blue where do you think they got your phone number that’s what we might call a rhetorical question because we all know they got your number from the DVLA or the police because they sold it to them and heck everybody knows that it’s no secret even if some people think it’s illegal.’

‘So you’re telling me that Orwell works pretty much like Goggle except that where Google only crawls all the pages on the internet, Orwell crawls all the pages on all these other data bases and therefore it has almost all, if not all, information that’s out there on you.’

‘Spot on oh impenetrable one spot on it can even and this is really clever use of AI let’s say you’re doing a query and it highlights some cash withdrawals from a hole in the wall then it can automatically link directly to CCTV footage I don’t know why we still call it “footage” cause now it’s all on DVD well most of it anyhow except for some of the older systems that still use video tape but –’

‘Slow down, my friend, slow down. What about this CCTV link?’

‘As I was saying if it spots a cash withdrawal it can take you directly to CCTV data and then to a facial recognition application and that links you to other things like oh let’s say you used the cash to buy some fertilizer at your local fertilizer store cause you’re gonna try to make a bomb or something and now you have an audit trail from one CCTV system to the next and –’

Os interrupted this lesson on pushing the envelope of modern information science and technology when Brian—finally—stopped to breathe: ‘Wow! That’s impressive. But still doesn’t answer my question about why the human resource guys need something like that?’

‘Well heck isn’t it obvious I mean it’s obvious to me it saves a lot of time for the human resource guys because now nobody needs CVs or interviews or anything like that if a job is advertised all you have to do to apply is email them your name and they key it into Orwell and voila you know French people actually say that I heard one at the ferry terminal at Calais say it once anyhow so in a couple of minutes Orwell prints out your entire life history so they don’t have to read your CV or interview you or anything they can just reject your application on the spot and it saves them loads of time and –’

‘I think I understand. But let me ask you another question. If this program saves them all this time, what do they do all day?’

‘Well now they have loads of time to do everything human resource people and personnel persons are really supposed to be doing like creating more complex organisations charts for your organisation with more layers of management and developing career progression programmes for all your employees and coaching and mentoring programmes and psychometric testing tests to see if everybody’s in the wrong job and inventing really great rôle play games like Cave Rescue for their teambuilding weekends at posh country hotels and stuff like that.’

‘Right – enough about the CIMHR. So tell me how you were able to get into it.’

‘Well oh enigmatic one CIPSTNeLP is based in Los Gatos I think that means “the cat” in Spanish or maybe just “cats” it’s not too far from San Jose and you’d think being next to Silicone Valley where there are loads of really clever computer geeks they would have really great firewalls but they don’t their firewalls are like tissue paper even you could get in so hacking their Cray was a piece of cake at least it was for me.’

‘But don’t they have red lights that blink and warn them if anybody like you is messing around in their computers?’

‘Well you would think so but being in California they don’t think they need them so I can go in anytime I want and stay as long as I want and nobody notices so that’s about all there is to say about Orwell.’

‘That’s just fine, my friend. Can I buy you lunch?’


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