Street cred

Street cred

If the camera picked up the fingers typing it, the model got it. PINs and passwords, account and routing numbers. He would sometimes bug the lampposts near DMVs and embassies. It was like going after whales instead of fish, not as productive as ATMs but sometimes delivering social security numbers, anxious and angry people messing up and retyping, which the model seemed to like. 

Once you downloaded a model and set it up on your own machine, it was yours. You owned it. You might not know what all the weights were, sure, but the bored nerds uploading them didn’t exactly have an incentive to upload bad ones, did they? They’d lose their street cred, as it were.

Today, he knew, was going to be a personal record. There was a music festival in town. Tons of cash-only booths. He bugged 6 ATMs and waited.

He liked to check on the footage. Lambs to the slaughter. He saw a green-haired kid in black jeans and a white hoodie stop by one. He didn’t use it; he stood around and logged into Coinbase. Even better. Crypto stocks were rallying. The kid’s password was thankz4damemoriez. Yeah, you’re welcome, kid.

In the early evening came his favorite part: running the model on the footage and checking his haul. Gleeful anticipation; the numbers crunched themselves for ten to fifteen minutes and spit out credentials like so many golden eggs.

His terminal stopped its frantic scrolling. He turned to look and felt something was wrong before he knew it. The script had run for the normal amount of time but popped out just one entry. He hadn’t changed anything in his script for weeks; a bug just wasn’t possible. His heart was starting to move up toward his throat.

The sole entry, usually a username and password, or card number and PIN, or name and SSN, now contained two unusually legible lines: “betterstartrunnin” and “thankz4damemoriez.”

He went to the message boards where he first found the model. Rage; disbelief; panicked warnings. He’d started to read a post mentioning something called “sleeper agent LLMs” when flickering blue and red lights silently appeared outside his window. Touché, kid.