I think I read this on a telnet server, many years ago - so it may be quite obscure.

The story centers around a programmer, who's happily married to a doctor, and his friend who is a "hacker/Private Investigator". This friend uses his spare time to blackmail sysadmins to give him access to datacenters, and uses this access to plant software agents that collect data. This data is used "Machine Learning" style, to determine obscure connections between datasets. Through this 'hobby' he discovers a hedgefund, called 'Pentecostal Jihad', that consistently beats the market in everything they touch. He suspects insider trading, and tries to get a congresswoman (or senator) to start an investigation. As the story progresses, he becomes convinced that 'Pentecostal Jihad' is indeed an AI, and is using its powers to 'increase entropy' in society. Meaning that random, disrupting events occur more and more often, which in the end leads to something akin to the end of western civilisation. The programmer becomes jobless, then homeless, and in the end muses about 'knowing that something more advanced than humans has spoken'.

Sounds crazy - I know :) But it was really good, and I want to read it again! Please help me find it, if you can.

  • 4
    How sure are you about "pentecostal jihad". There are only three uses on the whole of google and none of them relate to fictional works.
    – Valorum
    Feb 14, 2017 at 21:00
  • 8
    You glorious bastard. I was SO sure, and frustrated that NO searches gave any useful results. But your questioning jogged something - and it was indeed "Episcopalian Jihad" instead! Which returns the story on the first result page when searching on google. The story is Message Contains No Recognizable Symbols by Bill Hibbard. Thank you!
    – freshnode
    Feb 14, 2017 at 21:06
  • 6
    Good stuff. Now write up a self-answer in the box below, there's a good chap
    – Valorum
    Feb 14, 2017 at 21:10
  • 2
    Not bad for a first question. Welcome!
    – SQB
    Feb 14, 2017 at 21:37
  • 1
    While it's not what you were looking for, this has similar themes: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fear_Index
    – armb
    Feb 16, 2017 at 12:38

1 Answer 1


Thanks to Valorum challenging my recollection, I managed to find the story, Message Contains No Recognizable Symbols by Bill Hibbard (2007).

I was wrong on several accounts. It was 'Episcopalian Jihad' instead of Pentecostal, and it wasn't as short as I remembered either. But I was very right about it being good.

A story about a technological singularity subject to the constraint that natural human authors are unable to depict the actions and dialog of super-intelligent minds. In particular, the languages of super-intelligent minds will be unintelligible to natural humans

Hibbard - The SSEC Machine Intelligence Project

The story (and series) is available to read online here

  • 9
    And now we know you are a spring chicken, since 2007 was "many years ago".
    – wberry
    Feb 15, 2017 at 3:06
  • 1
    @wberry ...what? At what age a human doesn't consider a decade ago as "many years ago"?
    – xDaizu
    Feb 15, 2017 at 8:02
  • 3
    @xDaizu at age 56 in my case :-) Feb 15, 2017 at 9:42
  • @xDaizu I hate to admit this, but I think I've crossed the point where 2007 seems like it could be maybe a couple years ago and 1985 seems like a long time ago. 2017? That's always been the future for me. Feb 15, 2017 at 16:27
  • 2
    @wberry Instead of joining the debate on what constitutes "many years", I'll just state that I'm old enough to be flattered when someone calls me a "spring chicken" ;)
    – freshnode
    Feb 15, 2017 at 21:25

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