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ACE CODER pits a STEM savvy female protagonist against her uncle, a tech mogul puppeteer pitching privacy stealing biometric implants.

An urban aquaponics farm in Chicago becomes the victim of ransomware. Mags is summoned from her “temp” job at a coffee shop by its two young entrepreneurs to unlock it. Mags must sort out how to disinfect the computer system which runs the automated greenhouse in time for the owners to make delivery of their first order. In the process Mags uncovers the insidious nature of the ransomware and a possible connection to her uncle, an influential tech mogul. She begins to investigate.

Mags attends a family celebration for her uncle who was just awarded a contract by the United Nations to develop an artificial intelligence to supervise the internet and keep it safe from hackers. Knowing she is a computer prodigy, her uncle attempts to recruit her to work on the project. She agrees believing it will lead her closer to an answer.

Mags becomes the primary developer of the artificial intelligence which is christened “Dyrette.” With much anticipation Dyrette is implemented as the hacking crisis reaches its zenith. To everyone’s delight the hacking stops and data peace is restored. Mags gains instant fame. She is unable, however, to prove to herself that her uncle was responsible for the ransomware. Instead, she discovers he is up to something even more evil. Mags learns her uncle is secretly developing an implantable bio-metric device to connect people directly to her new creation through the “internet of things.” The device is a computer wafer made of tantalum metal.

Mags sees the implications. She knows IoTs are fast becoming the electronic gatekeepers of commerce and travel. Not only does she feel the wafer is dehumanizing she also considers the personal “supervision” the device will bring through IoTs to be the ultimate challenge to privacy and freedom. She resolves to oppose the scheme.

She confronts her uncle. He downplays its impact. Making her choice between family and fighting a web-tethered fate Mags throws a handful of prototype wafers on his desk like so many gold doubloons and marches out of his office in disgust. She slips out of the company facility but not before inserting a “vulnerability” into Dyrette’s code. Mags decides to oppose her uncle at every opportunity.

The first opportunity comes at a convention for futurists, scientists, and researchers convened by the United Nations. The phenomena of Dyrette has unexpectedly kicked off a search for the real purpose of life. Experts come from all over the world to a “Summit of Meaning.” Humanity wants to know, what’s its role in the universe? Mag’s uncle has been asked to weigh in on the question and Mags decides to secretly attend. Her uncle will use the venue to announce the wafers. She will use it to try to stop him.