Things went pretty much as expected with Anchor 44. They had tweaked the copy of Shawna’s program to give it more of a user-friendly interface, which would make it easier for presenting and training. Shawna loved it.
They presented a budget for the entire support program sales effort and marketing campaign. The entire cost for the first year of activity was close to six million. But they were more than amenable to a cost-sharing/profit-sharing split of 40/60. For their forty the Anchors would include development of all training materials, sales management, and installer/trainer training for the B to B market. For the consumer market, they would be responsible for training manuals and videos, sales management, customer helplines, and troubleshooting. They spent an hour on the nuts and bolts. After that, Ray emailed the contract to Angus Styles, who reviewed it immediately and then called Terry and told him he was good to go.
Half an hour later everybody was sitting around the big board table, drinking wine and talking. Both Terry and Shawna had to keep on reminding each other that this was really happening.
The next morning they woke up to the sound of waves crashing on the beach below their room at the Ashbury Ocean Club.
The Anchors wanted to put a presentation together for Shawna to leave with the Washington people, and so they found themselves with another couple of days to kill.
They drove down to Atlantic City and walked around in the casinos, fascinated by all the noise and music. They walked the famous boardwalk from end to end. And they ate a little too much. Two days later, while they were heading back to Ocean Grove, Shawna said. “I kept looking at all those people in the casinos, you know, especially the ones playing the slots. After a while, it started to feel like we were in a bad movie. The people all seemed like robots, pulling the crank on those machines hoping for….I don’t know, some kind of miracle.”
Terry looked over at her. “In a way, that’s the beauty and the curse of this country. They sell you on the dream. They get you to go after it for all you’re worth. And then they just keep moving the goal line.”
“Yeah,” Shawna said and then leaned back in her seat and just watched the ocean.
Two days later they were sitting in a meeting room in the Capital with the six members of the Committee for Cyber Safety. It was headed by a young Congressman named Tom Wheeler from Indiana.
Shawna hooked up her laptop to the projector and began taking the Committee through the program, slowly and methodically. She stuck closely to the script that she had worked out with Damon Drake. As she rolled through the presentation she was buoyed by the attention that everyone was paying.
When she was finished. She simply sat down and shut off the projection.
Then Terry spoke. “We have a partnership with a group called Anchor 44 up in New Jersey. They will be handling the B-to-B testing. In fact, they are actually implementing this with a couple of the larger companies they work with. So we will get a lot of good learning from that. They are also fine-tuning and creating versions of an app that we will be selling through the Apple app store, the Microsoft Store, The Chrome web store, Softronic, Ninite, FileHippo and a number of others.
“Our projections are that within a year if we push hard, we should be in slightly more than half the major businesses and about the same percentage of personal computers in this country.
The main reason we are here today is because we want to provide this software to the government. Senator Roman believes that it will be, as he puts it, a shot in the arm, for your Committee and a real concrete first step in getting some laws written to start protecting individuals and businesses from the onslaught of fakery that’s just getting underway.
“We don’t need the government on board to make this happen. But having you with us will help make it happen faster and bigger. And frankly, faster and bigger is what this country needs right now.
“So here we are, in 2023, with probably the biggest single threat to our society that we have ever faced, with a solution. How good a solution this will be depends on its acceptance, and that acceptance will be helped along, to a great degree, by you. That’s it. That’s the whole enchilada.”
Tom Wheeler got to his feet. Then he clapped his hands. In a few seconds, everybody else was on their feet and applauding as well.
Thirty seconds later everybody sat back down.
“You know,” Tom Wheeler said. “When Senator Roman told me about you and what you were doing, my first thought was, how the hell are they gonna pull that off? And my second thought was, well, what’s in it for us? Seems like you answered both questions. We were hoping that someone would step up with a solution like this. Seems like the whole damn AI business community is obsessed with making as much money as they can as fast as they can, with little regard for any collateral damage they might create.
“So our answer is yes. We will take this forward and push it as far as we can. You get out there and build a consumer and business market for this and we’ll all end up smellin’ like a rose. Thank you, for coming and giving us a very powerful weapon in our battle to get some serious protection into place.”
Hands were shaken all around. Terry and Shawna spent some time with Harold Firestone who introduced himself as the token nerd in the group. Harold would be the interface between the Anchors and the government. He would also oversee the implementation and training of trainers.
“I just want to say, I have been praying for something like this to happen ever since this committee was formed. So thanks for showin’ up.” Harold said. “This will lead to legislation, and the government will be seen as playing a huge part in cleaning up the AI world.”
The next year of their lives was spent on the road. Talks shows, podcasts, corporate trade shows, and Board of Directors meetings. They called it the Terry & Shawna Travelling Medicine Show.
After almost exactly a year they stopped, and went back to Plymouth where Shawna got to work on the next generation of Bloodhound.
Terry and Kyle Jameson worked on growth management planning for both Moorehouse Digital and The Human League.
Kyle loved the work and so Terry and Shawna offered him an extremely lucrative contract to stay on and manage both businesses.
A few weeks after they had come off the road. They had dinner with Senator Roman and Olivia.
The Senator brought out a bottle of champagne and poured everybody a glass.
“I found out today,” The Senator said, “That the Cyber Security legislation we have been working on for the past year, made it through the final hoops of fire and was signed off by the President. It will soon be the law of the land.”
Terry and Shawna just sat there dumbfounded.
“The wheels of government turn painfully slow,” the Senator said, “But the good news is that they do turn. So here’s to all of us for pushing as hard as we did. And here’s to the country that’s finally gonna be able to tame this AI beast. Hopefully, the rest of the world will follow suit.”
They all raised their glasses and drank a toast.
~ Epilogue ~
When the news got out about the Bloodhound program and the government’s rules implementation, the major computer companies made royalty agreements, through Anchor 44, to include Bloodhound in all new computer operating systems. Apple, of course, led the way in acceptance. The company did a massive advertising campaign to announce it. Soon after the major computer companies all fell into lockstep.
The acceptance of Bloodhound, in both the consumer and business markets, was much higher than anticipated. So much so that several of the major tech schools created Bloodhound training courses. Within three years, only a small percentage of all the computers in operation in the US were not Bloodhound equipped.
Shawna was not interested in going back on the road, so she left that job to Terry. She stayed home and kept control of the business and her growing team, supervising the development of several beneficial AI ideas that had come to her while they were travelling.
Terry was an excellent spokesperson for the company because he had the computer knowledge and the salesmanship in one package, so he stayed on the road for another year.
After he came off the road, Terry looked long and hard and was finally able to clone himself three times over. These people were all program savvy and had great sales personalities. They were thrilled to be part of one of the country’s great success stories. And off he sent them to England, Japan, and Europe to build the Bloodhound market worldwide.
One day, as they were driving back from Boston after dinner with Shawna’s parents, Shawna was unusually quiet.
“What’s up buttercup?” Terry asked.
“Ahhh, just thinkin’.”
“Oh oh. Dare I ask what you’re just thinkin’ about?”
“I’m thinkin’ about the environment.”
They drove on through the New England night and started to talk about it.