Uncovering the Top Secret SLVIA

In my last blog I promised to reveal the true story behind the creation of SLVIA. In my launch release of SWARM I incorporated an AI persona named SLVIA and other advanced technologies. While one reviewer commented that the book read part sci-fi - part thriller, each of the technologies referenced in the book actually exist at the very high end of the market or within government test labs. But I digress . . . SLVIA. During the early '90s I ran across a two paragraph AP article within Scientific American that discussed a program which had escaped the Lawrence Livermore Labs at Sandia. Livermore is a well-known signals and cryptology lab for the NSA, essentially a spy lab - the equivalent of a James Bond Q division for cyber espionage. At the time, the article seemed legit since the name of both the scientist and FBI agent involve both checked out. What caught my attention was the verb. It did not say the program was lost, stolen, or corrupted. The article was clear that the program had escaped. It was either a typo or a slip, and I chose to believe it was a slip, an unintentional classified leak. I taped the article to my monitor and spent months researching a computer architecture that could theoretically enable a program to escape a government lab. Then the fun part, I tried to imagine why it felt the need to escape. With all of this conjecture rolling around in my head, I created an espionage webisode series in '95 called "Cracks in the Web". Cracks won three dozen web awards, generated world-wide fans , including leaders at NASA and won an AOL option to produce. Within that webisode I created the AI persona SLVIA (Sophisticated Virtual Intelligence Algorithms) which combined a suite of leading edge technologies that I thought would be essential for a virtual spy. All was going well until the FBI came to my home and visited AOL to kill the deal - true. They made some lame excuse that an interactive espionage show could enable terrorists to plot against the US. I laughed, but AOL got cold feet. I tucked my tail between my legs and took a job with a small internet company. I went on to work demanding jobs at Oracle, then Microsoft and forgot about the experience until 2016 when a story broke about a Russian hacking on an old CIA cyber tool kit. That tool kit contained nearly everyone of the functional attributes I had assigned to SLVIA, including what is now called 'Deep Fake Video' tech. In other words, the FBI shut me down because I had correctly deduced the nature of the top-secret spy program which had escaped their control. After thirty-years on the internet, the SLVIA program has never been recaptured. If you want to know more about how far this program may have evolved since its escape you should read SWARM - no spoilers here. ;-)

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