Alarms screamed, speakers blared, screens flared red. The nerve centre of US Western Command snapped to high alert. The indicators showed a missile launch from the Pacific, heading for San Francisco.
The new President's aggressive stance towards the Asian powers had already ratcheted tensions. New missile defense platforms had been rushed into service. Perhaps the key issue was real time sensor integration and classification.
With so much data pouring in, how could any one person figure what the hell was going on?
Skubtech inc had won the contract with its innovative deep learning platform. A highly-tuned convolutional neural network running on tens of thousands of cores, it was plugged into every radar, optical, thermal and human tactical asset of Western Command.
The OC called up his Skubtech chatbot interface.
"What the f***'s coming my way?" he demanded.
The chatbot murmured reassurance in its breathless Scarlett Johansson voice; the General began to relax, mentally preparing to stand down from DEFCON 1.
The missile wasn't at all accurate, it airburst five miles off the coast. It wasn't the EMP or the thermal flash which did the damage. The shock wave from the multi-kiloton fireball slammed onto the ocean surface: which triggered the San Andreas fault.
It was the big one.
Congressional investigators interviewed the CTO of Skubtech. He explained that the AI had been trained on hundreds of submarine missile launches.
"The North Koreans really haven't mastered submarine launches," he told the committee.
"The missile emerged from the sea and promptly set off towards North Korea. Eventually it veered around and took a circuitous path towards the American shoreline. Really, the CNN had never experienced anything like it."The investigators had been thorough, and were not about to accept this bland reassurance as any kind of answer. They had their whistleblowers inside the company.
"This is not the first time your AI has misclassified. In internal trials, we've been led to believe that your product systematically overfits.
"Isn't it true that the development team call it .. DeepSh*t?"