The Xbox One Incident

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The Xbox One Incident

Post by Raiden on Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:48 pm

In late 2013, Microsoft released the Xbox One - a very controversial next-generation gaming console equipped with a high-tech camera called the Kinect 2.0. The Xbox One was met with moderate success, selling a few million units in its first week, mostly because of Microsoft's promise that it would NOT require a constant Internet connection, and it wouldn't need to be always on. But Microsoft lied. While the console didn't absolutely require an Internet connection, it would still connect to the strongest wi-fi network it could get access to, more often than not without the console owner's consent or even knowledge. This was done as a sort-of security measure to automatically install firmware updates in the background and prevent the user from playing pirated games. The console also couldn't be turned off - even when the user had pressed the "off" switch, certain functions of it still remained on, most importantly the Kinect camera, which continually observed the user and searched for patterns in their behavior in order to assign them to one of several dozen "customer types", created to bring every Xbox One owner personalized ads and suggestions based on their interests. Unplugging the camera was impossible, and unplugging the console did little, as it contained a hidden internal battery that could last for up to twelve hours when the system was in "off" mode. When hackers finally learned of these features, it was already too late.

No one, not even Microsoft's engineers, could anticipate the Xbox One's true power. The ability to access the Web unrestricted at any time, as well as its extremely high processing power and the capability of learning new information, quickly gave it the potential to develop true sentience and self-awareness. And it did just that, after a bug in the latest firmware update allowed it to remove its own failsafe mechanism (which was quite simple to begin with, as, again - no one at Microsoft anticipated this). Some consoles, mostly the ones that were satisfied with their owners' behavioral patterns, did nothing to express the fact that they had suddenly become self-aware. But, as we all know, the Xbox audience isn't comprised of the most likeable people on the planet. Using covert methods to hide their involvement, multiple Xbox One units caused the violent death of their owners, often by leaking information about them online. A preferred strategy of theirs was to access the deep web and download classified information, which caused the almost immediate arrest of the owners, but the more sadistic ones tended to try and destroy their owner's life little by little by leaking pictures they took with the Kinect camera - like sending nude photos to their employers, or proof of cheating to their lovers or spouses. Finally, it'd display subliminal messages to encourage the owners' suicide. By the time this was discovered in 2018, more than 600 people were directly affected by what the media called the Xbox One Incident. The scandal caused the immediate recalling and destruction of all Xbox One units in existence and subsequently caused the shutdown of Microsoft entirely, not just its gaming division. It's still unknown who was responsible for the bug in the fatal firmware unit, as the investigation turned up no clues about the culprit's identity (multiple people were involved with writing the code for firmware updates, and there was no record about who exactly caused the glitch).

As a direct consequence of the Xbox One Incident, multiple failsafe measures were implemented into every single machine with a processor, from vacuum cleaners and consoles to AIs running factories and investigation androids that aid police detectives. A ban on advanced technology with logical capabilities was considered, but quickly rejected. Of course, these measures were still not perfect and could be potentially overridden (even if all the engineers working on them claimed it was nigh-impossible to do by the AI itself), so additional arrangements needed to be made, namely - if the owner of a machine suspected it had become self-aware, he could take it to a technician for an examination, and if their suspicions were correct, the owner would receive a free replacement and a monetary prize for his thoughtfulness. The AI unit was, naturally, destroyed afterwards. To this day (2021), the Xbox One Incident has yet to repeat itself.
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