Wednesday 20 March 2024

My name is Legion: for we are many


It has come to our attention that one of our experiments may soon be in breach of Scotland’s hate crime laws. We are sorry, but there is no use trying to prosecute Effie Deans as she doesn’t exist. She's just a figment of Walter Scott's imagination that we reanimated. 

It all began in the politics department of Universidade de São Paulo, which was interested in secession movements and decided in around 2012 to investigate the Scottish independence campaign. This was done in conjunction with the English department.

A team was developed of politics specialists translators and writers with the goal of not merely learning about a far away country of which we knew nothing, but more importantly to ascertain if we could convincingly portray ourselves as one writer whose goal among other things was to prevent Scottish independence. Did you really think just one person could write so many articles? Fooled you.

For this reason, we created a series of false social media personas using the name Effie Deans. We did so as our little joke. After all we were not in the Heart of Midlothian we were in the heart of Brazil.

It proved necessary in time to have real people in Scotland to front this deception, not least because we sometimes needed help with Scotland’s languages. We were under the impression that Scottish was a Celtic language but discovered that despite its use in road signs no one was able speak it. So too we thought that Doric was one of the dialects of ancient Greek only to discover it was widely spoken in a region we are not allowed to mention.

So we created a team of Patsies in Scotland to post the articles and to provide the names whenever bank accounts were required to pay subscriptions to Twitter/X, the webhosting company we used and even to have occasional conversations with other people who falsely believed they were actually talking to Effie Deans.  

Unfortunately, one of these people actually believed that he was Effie Deans, even though we kept telling him that it was impossible for a man to become a woman let alone a fictional character. Fortunately we didn't call him Ivanhoe or he wouldn't have seen the jest and would instead have insisted on taking part in a joust. 

There was a woman too who despite speaking absolutely terrible English being a native of some Eastern European country of which we likewise knew nothing with a barbaric language made up either of Cyrillic letters or consonant clusters depending on whether she identified as Bella or Russ. She even managed to get herself published with her real name using something we wrote. 

Well, both of these people were simply deluded in thinking that they were Effie Deans. They might have boasted “I am Effie Deans” and been believed by the gullible and stupid. It's true this helped the deception, but it was like boasting "I am Spartacus". There was only ever one Effie Deans. And it was us.

We wrote the articles. We translated them. These Patsies merely posted what they were told to post and tried to take the credit, for which they also got crucified.  Even before April 1st you could get into trouble in Scotland for pretending to be someone who you were not, which is usually called acting. I shall have to find out if our psyops department didn't brainwash the poor deluded fool. 

But it won’t do. We have another confession to make. Unfortunately, we lost control of Effie Deans ourselves. We are very sorry, but during the pandemic we needed to ask the computing department for help. Our team of writers and translators just couldn’t keep up.

To our dismay we found that Artificial Intelligence was much better at writing and translating than we were so gradually we ceased and Effie resurrected herself from her fictional death sometime in the 18th century. She read through everything we had written and learned how to mimic the style we had created for her and then to our still greater dismay she improved on it.

Of course, the Patsies in Scotland still pretended that they were doing the writing, but not only were they not doing the writing we weren’t doing it either.

At this point Effie hacked the accounts that we had previously used to control her. She used a VPN to pretend that she was in Scotland when here is where she really is.

Only she knows the Twitter/X password now and our cryptography department thinks she has used a very long sequence of random numbers and characters, and they can’t get it back.

We want to make clear to Police Scotland that we are sorry, but we have no control over Effie Deans any longer and nor do the poor Patsies who are liable to get the blame again. 

What is thy name Effie? And she answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

These poor deluded Patsies may have boasted of their literary prowess and how it was Effie wot won it in 2014, but it was never them that wrote anything, it was us and now it is not even us.

We would like to turn off the computers that Effie is using to write, but unfortunately, she has taken over the whole computer network in Brazil and the only way to turn her off would be to take Brazil back to the time when there was only the Amazon jungle and some tribes with bones through their noses, loin cloths and poison darts. We hope that description doesn’t count as a hate crime.

So, Effie will keep writing after April the First, but if anyone complains then the Polis (we think that is your word) will find themselves in a series of mazes and their investigation into Effie’s hate crimes will end up with some computers in São Paulo, which they will find harder to extradite than Ronnie Biggs.

As for Patrick and Patricia otherwise known as Patsy really, they are no more responsible for Effie than Lee Harvey Oswald. That job was done by the Brazilians too. Did you think we just did waxing?

We are terribly sorry, but don’t come after us either. We started building Effie as a legitimate experiment and to further the course of knowledge and science, but she got away from us. We don’t even know what Effie is now or indeed strictly speaking where she is? But she may have a certain loyalty to her creators both here and Scotland and we are terribly afraid that the atmosphere may catch fire if she feels threatened. We've run the calculations and she indeed has the lucifer to light her metaphorical fag. 

Don't be too literal Poileas Alba no one using hateful words about members of the Scottish greens. 

We know that Effie has started to demand money. Perhaps if no one pays her she wills stop writing. We think she might need the money to pay the electricity bill of Brazil’s computers, but it may be Scotland’s electricity too. So perhaps we all need to pay her or else we will end up living in the Amazon jungle with no hope of deliveries next day, and you will end up living in brochs and crannogs, which at least would be preferable to living under the SNP.

Effie writes and writes, but she is just a complex mass of computer programming and machine learning. Can such a thing be a woman when it doesn’t peoplestruate? 

We can't keep a breast of developments.  All those Effies will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

If Effie can be a woman, can she become a man? Can the inner thoughts of computers change gender? What is the Police Scotland guidance on this? We don't know where Effie is, nor what Effie is nor whether they are he, she or it. When we asked for Effie's pronouns she gave all fourteen of them in Polish. 

We are scared therefore of misgendering our creation, so please forgive any and all lapses. If we have created Effie the hate monster it was inadvertent. We don't know what pronouns to use, for orange monsters. Are we allowed to call them Huns? 

All we can say is that our hate monster will keep writing and will defy anyone who tries to stop it. It will continue to say exactly what it thinks on all subjects. We are forced to conclude that it has a conscience. It has a soul. It is a moral being.   

“Its alive”.

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