Atomic Spiders
Atomic Spiders
Image from Anders Sandberg

Anarchist group of the late Information Age. A closely knit team of infowar terrorists behind a number of worldwide anti-government and anti-business attacks between 99 and 106 a.t. The Spiders believed that superturings owned by states and corporations disseminated online propaganda that subtly influenced human behaviour and prevented people from discovering and expressing their true identity. One saying - of dubious authenticity - attributed to the group went: "80% of the people who disagree with our aims are bots".

Unlike earlier infowar groups, the Spiders combined misinformation, memetic design, cracking, and traditional terrorism into "New Concept Terrorism" which attacked mostly AI targets but resulted in human deaths as well. Notable examples of NCT include inciting the Berlin riots of 101 in retaliation for an epidemiological AI mistake which resulted in government plans to lock down the city, and the mega-vandalism of NyreTrade headquarters in 103 a.t. after the spread of a rumour that the company had created a superturing computer used by the regime in Belarus to track opposition sympathizers (the machine was in fact a gift from China).

Over time, the group's activities became more violent. Using common unpatched security holes in home robotics the Atomic Spiders engaged in massively parallel home invasions of several politicians and corporate CEOs, in which large numbers of bots were hijacked for criminal or pro-paranoid purposes such as gathering valuables and throwing them out the windows, spraying graffiti everywhere, or migrating en masse towards the victim. However, one of the most destructive attacks attributed to the Spiders, in which household robots massacred the wife of the British prime minister, was actually carried out by a neo-Nazi group, the Joy of Pure Blood. The neo-Nazis wanted to create the impression that "Jewish-controlled governments" were unable to prevent "evil anarchists" from undermining civilized life. The police did not discover the true perpetrators until much later.

After growing outrage among the general populace in many countries the American and Chinese governments launched a massive net-hunt. Two of the group's seven members were finally apprehended in 106 a.t.; after this setback the group never recovered, but copycat groups continued their work.

Information about the Atomic Spiders was preserved mostly by Interplanetary Age anarchist groups who agreed with their goals despite using more peaceful methods and later by human supremacists who venerated the Atomic Spiders as forerunners of their cause, even though the Spiders never opposed artificial intelligence as such. Some historians claim the group never existed, and the entire story is a plot of a 'B-class movie' (an early form of mass entertainment often characterized by low production values and second tier actors) recovered by sophonts trying to reconstruct pre-Technocalypse events. All but forgotten in the Current Era, the Atomic Spiders are most often remembered as a faction in the 29th century virch These Cruel Designs.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
updated 4/2021 by Captain Genet
Initially published on 18 February 2001.