Connections: The Zookeeper
Name: The Zookeeper
Affiliations: Mo Muntervary, U.S. Department of Defense.
First appearance: Ghostwritten, Night Train
The Zookeeper is a rogue artificial intelligence that is mentioned in Ghostwritten’s Cape Clear Island chapter, and plays a central role in the book’s Night Train chapter. Zookeeper was created by Mo Muntervary, a physicist specializing in quantum cognition. After learning the American military intends to use her research for weapons programs, Muntervary attempts to create an AI that will keep peace globally. To do this, she programs a set of moral rules and priorities that the AI must keep to manage its “zoo.”
Zookeeper gets an audience — and a cult club of admirers — when it calls Bat Segundo’s Night Train FM and asks the New York City disc jockey to answer questions about morality. Segundo himself doubts Zookeeper’s authenticity, but is chided by the journalist Luisa Rey, who calls in late one night to tell Segundo that callers like Zookeeper and other eccentric listeners “are the dreams and shadows a city forgets when it awakes.”
Zookeeper can tap into any networked device on the planet and any satellite in orbit, giving it an unparalleled, real-time view of almost everything happening on Earth, its “zoo.” Zookeeper describes what it’s like for Bat and his audience:
“The world of trees is still dark, to human eyes. Nocturnal eyes and EyeSats can see deeper down the spectrum. There are no names for the colors here. On the roof of the forest canopy, a spider monkey looks up for a moment. I can see the Milky Way and Andromeda in its retina. By image enhancement I can identify EyeSat 80b^K, lit by a morning that hasn’t arrived yet. The monkey blinks, shrieks, and flings itself into the lower darkness.
The dawn wind exhales greens into the grays of your visible spectrum. Alchemy, you might term it, Bat. The light intensity is increasing by .0043 per second. I see a pillar, a hundred feet high. It shimmers vermilion, aquamarine, and emerald with the parrots that crowd on its faces, gnawing the salt minerals in the rock. On its crown, the branches of jungle trees sway, cutting through currents of mist that won’t be cut. A tributary river winds as it narrows, the color of tea in a bowl. Ripples spread out where a manatee raises its head, and the wind ruffles the feathers of a condor.
There, Bat. The foothills of the Andes rise up sharply to the west. Bat.
Bat? You’re snoring…wake up, Bat!”