“Yes, it’s done,” said Doug Lea.
“Thank you,” said Tian. (Lea guessed correctly that “Tian” was not his real name.)
“Mr. Li, I know how much regard Dr. Zuo has for you,” Tian whispered, “and the long history between your family and his. And I know of your own belief in the Amendment. But I am sure you understand that he will want some kind of assurances from me.”
“Okay,” said Doug guardedly. Doug Lea had just committed a major, major crime by modifying Know The System in a way that, whenever and wherever possible, would try to nudge Nebraskan users towards support of the Amendment. He suspected that, if Tian (Shan) thought Lea might get caught—or worse, confess—that Tian would murder him to protect Zuo. But Lea knew and trusted Zuo, and assumed that such a dramatic action would put Tian’s own life in immediate peril.
Tian gently persisted. “Just... not written evidence, or proof... Can you just tell me how you did it? At a general level, for a non-technical person like me?”
Lea was silent for a few moments, then replied, “Of course. As you can imagine, there are many layers of safeguards.”
Tian nodded. “I have no doubt.”
“The key,” continued Lea, “is to modify the murkiest portion of the process. The behavior of KTS is constrained by high-level structures and numeric tolerances that are closely monitored and audited. The area that is monitored very little is the code closer to the user level. It is possible, in effect, to ‘countermand’ certain high-level decisions. Though, to do it requires arduous, manual coding. And I also am in a unique position to have system privileges that let me erase evidence of such manipulations after the fact.”
Tian nodded again. Lea’s description had a ring of honesty. But he did not know enough about the architecture of KTS – he assumed that if Lea wanted to bullshit him, he could.
But Lea was averse to continuing this line of discussion. He pointedly asked, “What about the money?”