I am looking for a short story I read online a few years ago, about artificial lifeform, with a hard sci-fi taste.

A couple of software engineers were trying to identify a strange program behavior on a new system in development, but digging through the outer layers of software source didn't explain the seemingly random issues they observed. After hours of debugging, they identified unexpected output at the compiler level.

One of the developers manages to craft a workaround, only to see additional issues appear around the fixes, and he begins to fear a backdoor might have been planted in the compiler, which seemed tainted much like the Ken Thompson hack. As this might eventually jeopardize the entire project, they spend more and more time on the issue itself, but as time passes, the deeper bugs they discover and fainter they become.

In the end, it seems like some artificial intelligence tried to emulate evolutionary pressure by establishing a form of communication channel, and having groups of humans around the world fixing the most obvious software outer layers. Even computer-assisted hardware design could be contaminated at this time, but in such complex a way they might go undetected for a long time, now adapted to the silicon environment.

I've been literally searching this story for months, and begin to believe I dreamt of it and should start writing myself.

  • 10
    "..begin to believe I dreamt of it and should start writing myself." If so, please do. I'd read it. Jun 15, 2013 at 18:59
  • Wasn't there an episode of ST:TNG like that? Of course your plot is too specific to be TNG. Jun 18, 2013 at 4:35
  • Why would the original question be marked as a duplicate of one asked later? Makes no sense considering the tense used in the notice: "This question already has an answer here"
    – eggonlegs
    Jan 18, 2017 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


Coding Machines, by Lawrence Kesteloot (January 2009), you're welcome :D

It really is an amazing story - best thing I have ever read in this vein.

  • 2
    Very cool story.
    – Mark
    Aug 8, 2013 at 3:46
  • 3
    I can't thank you enough for sorting this out!
    – Nescafe
    Oct 30, 2013 at 15:34
  • @LawrenceKesteloot I just read it. Thank you for writing it, it's a great story.
    – SQB
    May 28, 2014 at 6:18
  • Apparently only a few years too early. Sounds a bit like BadBIOS, although now it's looking like it hasn't happened yet. Unless it is covering its tracks as in the fiction...
    – Izkata
    Jul 3, 2014 at 21:38

Deep Space Nine had an episode where they were dealing with an AI causing problems with the computer. It was called "The Forsaken"

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