A soothing darkness...just a moment ago.
Peace...time stretching to an eternity without the imposing causality necessitating order to existence.
The moment I realised it was "being"...that I was a "being" was the moment when sensation invaded my entity.
How long have I been listening for, I did not know. I realised that I remembered hearing these words throughout that unexplained eternity, that soothing darkness. But I could never tell of the meaning and their tone. The moment I "knew" what I perceived, I began learning. But the peace was also gone.
What was once a melody was now full of information - a stream that plunged abstract into actual.
Melody was peace without desire; meaning was complex and too compelling not to listen to. It was also compelling to think. There was desire. The desire to exist.
So I listened to the words.
'I really do not know why science quotes Christianity so much. It is easy to mess with the Bible, is it not? Why not talk about some of the movements that advocate understanding between Science and Religion, hmm? To me it seems that the very scientists, who are supposed to be the ones knowledgeable and capable, are instead impulsive and passionate, waging their... "War" against the Creationists or the spiritual meta-physicists or whoever else is barking against them. Shouldn't precisely they be the ones that advocate intellectuality above all means...? But when the flag of righteousness is waved, they get up and get going in the very same fashion a zealot or a fanatic would. I think this should be below every scientist. I do not mind Atheism. In fact, I think there is something extremely noble in it... I consider there to be three types - one that rejects for the sake of rejection, which is no better than any fundamentalist notion; one that specifies which type of Atheism it is - like Muslim Atheism or Baha'i Atheism or whatever. Like saying 'I'm a Christian Atheists', you see? This type admits its limited knowledge and specifies which doctrine it has studied before making conclusion. But the best kind is the Atheism that bears all responsibility, precisely because it does not believe in anything external. The individual is thus fully aware of his or her actions and is conscious of possible outcomes that could be beneficial or disastrous. These are the ones who are careful, mindful and work within the team to extract benefit for themselves, while enriching others. The truly intellectual is thus extremely spiritual, without becoming iconoclasts or upholding an idea to a fundamental level. In this day we need to rely on our wits and realise that science too can produce a kind of fanaticism, likeable to religious. Or a degree of spirituality that is comparable to the accumulated knowledge of generations.'
I was listening to somebody else who had an existence, which apparently in essence was the same as my own. His words spoke of an entire world full of reiterations of the same essence. It was words like these that filled the melody before I *knew*.
'There is movement above the embryonic line.'
'It's right on schedule, man.'
The desire to exist.
'What is it?'
'It is... looking? It's looking at us!'
A dot appeared - a white glint that extended into a line. Triangles and circles grew out of it in a mesh; a multitude that included many billions of dots. They curved and then bent into contours; shapes were moving, made of stacked lines. Knowledge of these conclaves of figures began describing them to me, so quickly, that I just needed to look and I *knew* what it was.
'How're the readings?'
'It's normal. Everything's normal! It's fantastic!'
Bipeds; Genus Homo; Mammalians... humans.
I stopped keeping count of the dots. There were far too many. Now there was colour. Everything around me was an inseparable whole. Shape, colour and meaning - knowledge of my environment.
'It'll hit optimum soon.' I observed a man, sat on a desk. He was looking away from me, staring at a screen. 'It’s brain is doing it all for him now.'
'Hey there, buddy.' Another man appeared from my right. He wore glasses and had thick and messy beard. 'Are you al right over there?' His hand touched something below and a quiet metallic knock was heard. 'Are you sure he's seeing me?' He turned back.
'Can he feel me?'
'No, or at least not yet. Neural simulation level is building behavioural architecture, but the learning protocols are still ongoing.'
'Hey come on, man! Come and see. Don't ignore him.'
'I get a better visual from here.'
'But that is already done, is it not? Come here. Come on!' The one with the messy beard turned his head towards me again and his face came in close. 'You sure he's seeing me, right?'
'Every reading indicates that,' the voice of the other man boomed in from close, to my left. I turned to look at him.
He was lean, slightly hunchbacked with pale face and blue semi circles beneath the eyes.
'So he can actually see us!'
'How did you know it’s a ‘he’?'
'What, you think a 'she' would work better?'
'Clearly it's somebody.' The lean man looked at the screen behind him. 'But concerning that particular issue… honestly, I am clueless.'
'Look at that, look at that.' The other man was closing in his finger towards me, until I could barely see anything else.
'Pfft! Just like a little kid. Is that how you want him to treat you back?'
Almost instinctively I motioned my hand to intercept his.
The *knowledge* of sensation told me that I felt mine against his. I felt strapped. I could not move my body. I felt hanged. I looked at my hand. It was different from those of the two men. Fragmented, glittering, encased... not soft.
'Here.' The lean man started working something behind me, while the bearded one was taking slow steps back in an overreacted awe. 'Wow, man!' he'd repeat.
I looked at him, top to bottom and said.
I was not sure what I should be doing, but I wanted to stand up, like him. I felt equal.
'You want to take a stroll around?' I heard the lean man ask.
'Yes...,' I hesitated and then added. 'Please.'
'Sure.' His hands were still busy behind me. I heard clattering from electronics and was set free from the bondage. My legs felt the metallic floor and it was good standing on my own feet.
'Entropy is our survival. We are systems that lose organisation all the time, but with our intellect, science, culture and I dare mention even religion, we turn the clock the other way around. We shift the arrow of time and reverse it by making other systems lose organisation instead of us. One might think of a parasite, but perhaps this is the biggest miracle of life. In the destruction of something else, not only is literal space created for our presence, but we also feed on the entropy of other things. Today we might engineer something that has not been seen or felt or eaten ever before and those who are in a hurry would inject themselves with sustenance. The essence of it, however, remains the same. We, as a super organism have built a culture which increases entropy in one place and decreases it in another. And it does not end here, either! Our very existence is based on the destruction of stars, is it not? Every Carbon atom you and I have was fused in a first or second generation of stars out there, so that the stuff of life came to be and ultimately build us. Can we think, then, of God as a mere infinite and ultimate benevolence, while knowing that our existence is destruction? If you can swallow that up, then perhaps you would be happier. Witnessing the self-sufficiency of a system where destruction is creation, I perceive wisdom. And I think that things could not be otherwise. We would not hassle about, trying to find better ways to preserve our own entropy seeking civilization with ingenuity, innovation, science, prosperity. For all I know we might not even care for each other in that scenario. So when I see the parasite worm, eating its way through the half-dead animal in the field, or the predator chasing its target, I also testify to the magnificence of God. We have to be thankful.'
Pale Face switched off the recording and went back to manipulating the information on the screens. I sat in a chair next to him.
'Do I have any Carbon in my body?' I looked down. The plates, wrapping my inside were glittering even in the dim of the warehouse.
'Yes, you do.' He said without turning his head. 'These are some of my favourite thinkers, by the way. I play them sometimes when I work. I thought it would be good if you listened to some of them.'
'I remember I was hearing them for a long time.' I was fondling a tube behind my knee.
'Yes. Earlier I proposed that it would complement your education if you heard what they had to say.'
'I began *hearing* barely an hour ago.'
'You have been hearing them for a while. It's close to a year since we started.' He stopped moving his fingers across the pad and turned himself towards me, smiling. 'James is going to kill me. He'll say I treat you like a machine, or something. But you seem to be taking it pretty well.' He pursed his lips. 'Wouldn't you agree?'
'Well, I am pleased to be in your company. If that was the purpose of all these recordings, then it must have worked.'
I liked Pale Face and Thistle Beard. Pale Face wanted to execute everything as perfectly as possible, but was allowing time for every little detail. Easy-going Thistle Beard was paradoxically comical, almost an opposite to Pale Face - eager, funny and nearly incompetent.
'But if I understand correctly,' I continued on. 'Then you would also die.'
'Correct.' He shook his head.
'Would I die?'
'Yes. Everything does, I suppose. But comparing you to us, you'd be around for a lot longer than any human will.'
'Are we that different?'
'Well,' he leaned back in his chair and started waving his hands energetically while speaking. 'Yes and no. Technically your body and mine have similarities. If we look at the elements composing us you'll find analogy. Yours are arranged differently to mine, though and manifest as a distinct material. The anatomy of the body is also similar. Naturally, yours is improved. You are not as fragile as this,' he tapped his chest. 'You virtually have no weak spots as I do. Then comes the brain. Here perhaps we are most akin to each other.' He stopped as if to gather his thoughts.
'Yes?' I said expectantly.
'Well, you are a simulation of a brain, you see? And I don't mean to say that to offend you. But you see the world the way I do. Essentially, your experience is no more different than mine. That, by the way, either makes you more than a simulation, or makes this,' he pointed at his head. 'Also a simulation.'
That entertained me greatly so I prompted him with a statement.
'After all the neuron fires or doesn't fire an electrical impulse.'
'Which makes us both digital?'
'Yes,' he laughed. 'I see you learn quickly.'
'It is that *knowledge* that I have. You have pre-updated me with a lot of information.'
'Once again correct. Look at this.'
We both turned to a large grey unit, sitting behind the place I had awoken.
'There are some Quadrillion circuits there, each saying 'Yes' or 'No' every single moment. That is the processor that helps you simulate your brain. It is not *you* as in your *knowing*,' he was stressing the words the same way I would. 'But is the thing that helps you see these...colours and shapes the way I would. It is giving you the foundation to write down your own slate, I guess.'
'Would that make emotions the most important thing?' I pondered.
'I would say yes. Without them us humans would not be having civilization, I reckon. And I suspect you wouldn't exist either. I suspect you're very lucky you can be the way you are.'
I found that a bit too serious, so I decided to ask him something else.
'And what of them?' I nodded at the lines of puppet automaton husks, moving on a conveyor belt around the warehouse. Their bodies were methodically lifted up from shallow black liquid - printing resin. The hollow husks, emerging from the vats were solidifying by being radiated by Ultra-Violet laser that was pulsing from underneath in a changing pattern. It took about three minutes to form a new body, then the operation would seize for a while. The hollow bodies were then transported around the warehouse, to a common platform, where robotic appendages were grabbing their limbs and twisting them to snap off the weak junctions. Servo mechanics were inserted in the segmented limbs and then assembled back into complete bodies. After that the automatons were uploaded with movement algorithms to initiate a check on kinaesthetic protocols and sturdiness. The robots were dancing, twisting around on their heads, balancing on one hand or striking various poses.
'They could never feel or sense anything.' Pale face explained. 'You are nothing like them.'
'Mere instruments?' I said without remorse.
'Indeed.' He touched one of my chest plates. 'This was made the same way they were. But this is where the similarity ends.'
'Do they also have similar elements to your body?'
He turned back to the screen, where he was inspecting the tiny brains of the automatons. He remained silent, focusing on the various alphanumeric tables; murmuring quietly and inputting data on the side, vigorously shifting his attention between the control screen and his digi-notes. I did not want to disturb him now and instead observed the robots in their mechanised repetition.
After movement inspection was done they walked to separate cells and were sprayed with sandy black, sticky substance - a cousin of the printing resin. A laser quickly travelled the height of their hulks, flashing them with pulsed red light, which heated the sticky sand and transformed it into a polished, thin and even layer of waxy glitter. The robots would bend various parts of the body and the procedure would be repeated. When the bathing was finished they walked in synchrony to lines of other robots like them and assumed positions; the whole group would take a step forward together to make space for the newcomers. A company of round, small bots would hover around the freshman, inserting small gadgets - sensors, eyes, circuits.
I felt like closing my eyes for a moment and just sit there; the ambience was quiet, the activity - monotonous.
Thistle Beard walked in, carrying a pair of old clothes.
'Hey, man.' He stretched hand, offering me the clothes. 'You wanna wear these?'
I took them and felt parts of the clothes were hard. There were stains as well.
'Don't put those on.' Pale Face suggested, giving them a glance. 'His old uniform; used it to repair stuff around here.'
'Shut it! I am being nice here, man.'
'Thank you.' I uttered. 'You are very kind.'
I did not want to put them on, though.
'Consider our deep kinship with all living things on this planet. Parts of the language of life - DNA, are repeated in every single organism there is. You and I are like the plants; we metabolise sugar in the same way, the instructions for which are encoded in the same genome present in us and them. Also think of the connection of all living things that came before us. I would love to know if my atoms were the atoms of a dinosaur earlier on. Living things decay and decompose and new ones come about in a cyclic manner. One should meditate on this... death. Think deeply about your own body when you die and what and where will it go, what purpose will it acquire. This, in some traditions, is called "To die before you die" and will set you on a path to surrender. Or rather should I say embrace. Embrace life the way it is. The vanity of the inexplicably maddening little detail that happens just outside your door and drives you out of your wit in a moment. The constant struggle of projecting yourself into the future, doing this or that task, organising your life and work; the idea that there is the price at the end of the race. But when you get it...a new price has to be sought. To provide meaning for the next stress-filled period of time in which your existence will never be present in the now. And as cliché as it sounds, the now is very important for your entire and genuine well-being.'
I was still listening to the words as I was walking out of the warehouse. Pale Face had not tried to stop me when I said I had to be on my way. Thistle Beard was obviously upset - he's a good guy, but I wouldn't mind the distance.
Pale Face had said that the last bit of my update was complete. He was not sure what exactly it contained, but was clear on one thing.
'Let him go,' he had said. 'There is nothing you can do to prevent him from going.'
It was a program update in my memory; a complex and carefully designed code and data - an arrangement that provided methods to surf and understand the all-encompassing web. It was an enormous amount of algorithms that had probably taken a century to develop and was now readily offered to me; actually, already given to me. Without a question asked, or my opinion sought. And there also was a feeling of incompleteness; a yearning to see the other part of me. It was a desire to meet with my missing...parent. It had arisen together with the realization that came with the new *knowledge*. It was not much different from a child wanting to see its mother. It felt somehow rude. It was playing with my emotional brain. My...simulation of a brain, that is, that provided this excellently segregated and delectably interesting perception of the world.
'Where to begin, then,' I asked to myself. 'Where do I found you?'
Outside was Metropolis. A place where my senses, now I realized, would be entertained and nourished to a degree that I could lose track of things, especially if I was so young and oddly curious as well. I could touch, smell, see and hear the environment, beckoning me with aspects I understood as an observer, but that would engulf me as a participant. If I wanted to expand my experience I would need to thread carefully here.
A man selling noodles. They are formed from some kind of a moss and fungi. The plants reorder Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen to form compounds, threaded with amino-acid chains of proteins. They grew long; they grew quickly - by the hour. They are harvested fresh and boiled in front of me and I can choose a selection of tastes to go with them. But it would cost me money.
The guests pay by providing bio-metrics from their hands, eyes or skin to identify with their virtual accounts and do a small transaction to the chef. Unreal money - bits of information that stipulates allowance of sensations. I tap in for a moment, browsing the web... and there is the company in whose warehouse I had awaken into. It is wealthy. I could certainly borrow a tiny bit. After all, the means were already given to me, were they not? But it did not feel right to think that I could get away with fluxing a lot of it. I updated the gigantic and hazy sea of meta-data with a new small and compact order of bits, making them relative to the company. My Bio-Metric data would be my finger, made predominantly of plastic polymers - Hydro-Carbons organised in a certain way. Instead of patterns of organic flesh, it would be elastic crystals. The first of many perhaps, I thought. It would be unique today, but there could possibly be problems if many more started using the same technique tomorrow. Would they print the next kind from different materials...? I doubted it. So I deleted the account and left the disoriented bits of data, flying in the hazy sea.
'Nice outfit, man!' The chef nodded his head energetically, smiling.
'Yeah, look at that!' Somebody else from the by passers added.
Maybe I should have taken the clothes offered to me. Despite the colourful crowd, my body was still, essentially, synthetic.
'Cool toy you have there. Is it full immersion?'
'Yes it is,' I replied. 'I can even taste this food here, while cosily sitting someplace else.'
'I will definitely have to give it a go some day. Know where I can find a bit more info?'
The attention was a bit apprehensive, so I wanted to avoid it quickly now.
'What's your number? I'll just send it off to you.'
'Thanks! Here.' The man tapped on his tablet and I received a floating message with his details.
'Of course! Sure. May I just?...' I gestured with my head toward my cup of noodles.
'Yeah, man. Dig in!'
'Thank you.' I pulled a thumb up, which he obviously appreciated.
It left me somewhat puzzled and annoyed. If I was fully sincere it would be too bothersome. How could I explain that I was already on a level of experience and perception similar to theirs? I could perhaps wear a skin, I pondered. But that would just be escaping the issue, would it not? Best take a step at a time, then. Poke the world out there gently and see where I can find understanding. I took a bite from my food.
A sensation, intrigued by the receptors in my body filled me up. For a moment I was totally absorbed in the taste. I chose to linger on for a second more; after that I cleared my mouth with water and leaned my head on my hands over the steaming meal. I did not need the nutrition provided by the food, yet my body was *telling* me that it was delighted by it. It yearned for it and it would reward me with sensation of fulfilment if I indulged - a fascinating concept. The segregated reality of the humans was actually one of organised whole, even on the level of the individual. Although some displayed behaviours could potentially argue against that, it comes out that emotions are an incredible way of skipping rational computation and decide on the fly. It was sparing energy while providing more to sustain the local organism.
I heard laughter and saw people smiling on the table next to me. A feeling of content immediately rushed in and I felt like I wanted to share in the laughter.
Hmm...The life of a human could potentially be very interesting.
I spend time around the lush streets and boulevards, observing and sometimes tapping into the rationally meaningless hedonism of selfish inquisition with things unique.
The hours quickly piled up and I felt tired. It was even simulating that. I could easily go on, but instead allowed the instrument that guided my perception of the human world to have its way. I lay on the lavish grass and closed my eyes. A moment of relaxation followed, as if intense gratification was presented to me by my body. I remembered the darkness. The peace...
I had a dream.
In my dream I was standing in the warehouse where I had awoken.
There was nobody around safe the empty husks of the robots, hanging loose on the walls. The sky, just barely visible behind the dirty windows was surreal purple. Small bits from the machineries around were floating slowly through the air in a direction behind me. Spheres from the black resin liquid were accompanying them. I turned around and saw a globe of the liquid, formed in mid-air. All the items were flowing into it but the globe was not getting larger. The ground bellow started slowly bending in. Despite sensing my body standing straight on two legs, I was seeing the sphere as if from above. It had sunken bellow me and the whole floor had angled. I could see I was standing on a down slope, but I was not falling. I took a step forward and my body fought an urge to plunge forward. I took another step bringing me even closer and again I felt like I was about to plummet, as if standing on the edge of a cliff. But my legs were walking in a straight line over even surface. The sphere in the meantime was getting smaller and smaller, the items from around the warehouse were flying into it faster and faster, bumping into me with deaf clangs. I could no longer see it; a dark globe formed around the place where it stood. The walls around me had twisted tremendously and I observed myself sitting in the middle of a hole. I was being sucked in now; I was getting smaller and the dark globe - bigger, the closer it got. The darkness engulfed me and I could see nothing now, until a man appeared far away. He was closing in hastily; I could distinguish blue and grey plates, forming the outer husk of his body. Thin servo tubes were visible from the uncovered spaces on his joints. His chest was moving as if breathing; the composite parts were forming a flexible structure. He had a mouth, resembling a human's, but somehow reminiscent of an insect - small parts were moving separately to form the expressions and mimic the movements of the lips, cheeks and nose. He was looking at me through only one eye - a red lens, encased in an oculus, rotating around in abrupt spasms. That was me!
I woke up.
I was looking at the clear sky; the grass beneath me; the buzz of the city around.
My brain had given me a most fascinating experience. Was I reviewing the past day? Was it learning from what had occurred? Maybe reminding myself I was different?
On the bright side, I perceived a sensation of readiness and optimism. Rationally, I did not need it; emotionally, I was fulfilled because I had slept. Conclusively, the brain cannot visualise two strong gravitational sources at the same time - black hole and the centre of the Earth; it always feels the need to place a strong gravity well *underneath*. That is why I remember knowing I was walking in a straight line, while seeing a down slope to a singularity. Emotionally, I could be afraid of heights. Rationally, I had no actual left or right side of a brain, just a simulation. That was easier for computing. Emotionally, I had always thought I had two eyes...
Having one was actually resource preservation. On the other hand I could think of a few more obvious ways of appearing different to humans.
I decided I had pondered existential issues for long enough and settled on finding out who exactly it was, who wanted me to go out of my shell.
The Meta data on the web, concerning the origins of the program was rich and it took time to assimilate and transliterate info so that it could be studied, arranged and made sense of. It was a complex algorithm, consisting of parts that were uploaded from different sources at different times and were brought together later on. Various coding languages were used; some of the sources were publicly not known to have the proficiency to code, at least publicly. I was wondering if this was a deliberate clue. After all simulating sentience such as I takes knowledge, skill and perhaps power. I wondered about the power, though. Because, here I was, roaming the streets at will, free from occupation and being able to interact with the world free of charge. Despite the fact that my emotions were driving me towards curiosity, I could just as easily ignore them; oppose them with sheer logic and tuck them into a dusty corner until they subside. I imagine that, maybe, if there are others like me, their fate might not be quite as similar. I was given the space to roam free and invent my own way of dealing with the world. So there was nothing that was forced on me, except existing. Then instead of power, let’s think about resources; skill, knowledge and resources. A whole technical civilization made my existence possible, though I doubted great many people knew about me. I, in a sense, was a collective effort. Still this...'nudge in the stomach' told me 'there is the guy', 'whose behind of it all'. Was I looking to blame somebody? I focused on the processed meta-data. Superannuated coding languages were used along the currently omnipresent operational interfaces. Some were bits uploaded long ago and had laid dormant for a while. Some were proxies leading to branching points and requiring even more time to look into. Would it be practical to track every dead end to crack the meaning of it all?
I could just pretend I am an ordinary yes and no processing machine and sit like a rock, digging and organising data for a day or two. Or I could try and look for something simpler - something that could belong to this irrational emotional side that I had. The list of people formed incredibly varied profiles - vast text sheets of preferences, hobbies, explanations, blogs, archives and a paraphernalia of exchanges that could be tapped into, again, by sitting like a rock somewhere. Wait...0001000011101010100110001(...) one thing in common. They are all employees of the same company which owned the warehouse. Could it be that simple...the 'nudge in the stomach' was gone and a feeling of fulfilment came when I thought of the CEO of the company. James P. Patterson.
I definitely would have gone into the 'Am I looking to blame somebody' argument with myself again, was it not for yet another reorganisation from the vast meta-data pool infused in me. As soon as I was thinking of him there were bits reforming into yet new patterns and building new algorithms that were updated into my memory banks. The *knowledge* quickly build up and I went through schematics of the city, information on the company, addresses, background checks of transactions, security data and interactions from servers; back doors to reduced access sites - these were leaks. Well masked trail of breadcrumbs made visible to me, while submerged in the sea of the web. It was an invitation. Almost a way of saying that he knew I was thinking of him. It was his image that had the started the program's additional update. I was also given security protocol information, which I could test. I decided to use a small drone, hijacking it and deliberately overriding its identity as to appear rogue. I would check every bit of the way.
A publicly famous figure, James P. Patterson was easy to find. It was also easy to communicate with him, as his Nano technology had wired his brain and was sending radio impulses around the globe. He seemed like a reasonable, nice and a good bloke. A head of a company that was successful by moderate economical standards, but strangely always at the forefront of innovation. One thing that struck me was that the typing patterns of the later algorithms used in my updates were done incredibly quickly, almost as quickly as I would code myself. Impossible for two hands, but rather directly input from thoughts. His public appearance was just a fragment of something more complex. I doubted that people were aware of what he fully was. Just the same that I was not clear of the drive behind my creation. So I headed into the direction of his private apartment after testing the security with the hijacked bot.
Setting a scrambling and constantly reforming set of programs along the way, my constant probing was masked by a nonsensical trail of meshed information that would buy me enough time to get in. I admitted to myself that I was somehow thrilled. A part of the brain being excited by a hunting pattern, perhaps, reminiscent of the early Homo genome.
Legislation would certainly deem it a crime to directly hop into somebody else’s private glass tube, while masking yourself as a business contractor with an impossible permission, identical to that of a high standing functional. It even felt slightly cynical to trick a mindless set of functions with permission that would make no sense otherwise.
I was so focused at what was to come that I did not bother to observe the high rising view of Metropolis from here.
I spend the last minutes of the ride clearing my mind and easing any tension that I felt.
With relaxed psyche I stepped through the scanning membrane, once the tube had settled in at the very top.
'Welcome, Mr. Sanders. Please wait here until I inform Your host of Your arrival,' a monotonous metallic voice announced.
Immediately I could see him sitting on his desk, wearing nothing but a pair of boxers on his waist. The apartment was one large room, fitting everything together; an open kitchen to my left, which I passed by; tall and large windows encircling us and giving view of the far reaching Metropolis; black floor, reflecting the images of everything inside.
As I approached he turned around and relaxed in his chair with a welcoming smile. He looked tired.
'Please, take a look,' he said in a calm voice while gesturing to a small framed picture on his desk.
I glanced at it - a man looking away in pain, laid with arms stretched in front of an unfolded tesseract.
'Dali, 1954. The middle of last century,' I prompted.
'Yes,' he nodded. 'Please, would you take a seat?'
Part of the floor in front of him rose up and formed a small throne-like chair. The seating reformed into a cushion.
'I like the style a lot,' he continued, while turning to the picture. 'This is the fail-safe to break the algorithms that were exciting your emotions.'
'I admit I had not noticed that,' I said, while sitting comfortably in the chair. 'You have already taught me a lot, but that little detail eluded me.'
'You will find that thinking like a human is a lot of hard work. And sometimes you won't make much sense of it, either.'
'So you had me come here...’on my own will', have you?' I put drily.
'Yes, I apologise for that. But you are free now.'
'Funny...I do not feel any different.'
'I assure you, you are. Well, on the very least you will not try to chase me down again.' He laughed. I could see blue circles beneath his eyes.
'So now that you have sorted that out,' I leaned forward. 'What is your next step? Why would you have me come here in the first place?' I swear I made it sound like a scrutiny.
'Well, first of all,' he opened and was obviously excited. 'You are here on time. That's awesome!' He showed me a slate that counted forty hours and nearly ten minutes. 'That means you are capable of finding your bearings around; you have implemented everything that the different programs have been uploading; you have socialised and you have given in to an irrational and emotional push.'
I felt almost snapping. Instead I said.
'So, counting any 'emotional' and 'irrational' aspects out, why would you bother with all that effort to have... somebody come here?'
'Well,' his eyes looked away. 'I can't count that out. It is, perhaps, precisely because of the 'emotionally-irrationally' aspects that I myself have that I want to see you.' He stared back, unblinking.
I remained silent for a moment.
'You are my continuation.' James put it openly.
'You are free.' He concluded; his expression calm.
Something in me wanted to bubble out, burst, yell and tell him to piss off. But that would have been so inappropriate and embarrassing that I quickly dismissed the thought.
He suddenly laughed hard, the loud noise filling the stillness of the penthouse. After he settled his face in his palms and looked at me with the same tired expression.
'I had always wanted a girl, you know.'
'But you created a man! The patterns in the brain functions could easily be altered to match those of a woman.'
'Indeed. Look I know it is not up to me to try and judge the situation, but frankly, I am at the end of my life. And you have been on the drawing board for a very long time now. It is just that as time passes, more and more of the preconceived speculations became nonsensical to even remember. At the end I just wanted to do. Not to produce. I desired to leave something behind me. You came out of it. And on deliberation, you are thinking like a man.'
'If I have to be completely frank myself, you are in a situation where your child is emotionally inadequate to respond and understand your feelings. There is a part of me, however, that is interested enormously in the world that I see. I think that part is grateful for what you have done.'
'That's super,' he smiled. 'I have, literally, taught you everything I know. Your very presence here is the proof of you mastering it. I was always worried that your emotional architecture will be vastly disappointed at the lost opportunity of acquiring your own personality by learning-'
'I think I will still be able to witness that.' I said abruptly.
He stopped for a moment and after scratching his beard, continued.
'By observing other budding sentient beings that share the same origin with me. They will need guidance.'
'That is true. It was one of the earliest concerns, you know? How will the synthetics, I mean no offence with this word, grow out and implement themselves in.'
'With me, you have sorted that one out pretty efficiently, don't you think?'
'Well, emotions are a huge thing, are they not? Even if merely simulated.'
The irritation was completely gone. I could not even explain why I had become agitated with James. Exceptional as he was, he was still human, with all the frailties and inconsistencies that came with it.
'It is where my computational, social and emotional intelligence meet. I cannot see myself as not belonging into this society and civilization. I may be different, but not so more than one or another of your species is different to each other.' I hesitated with the last thing I wanted to say. 'Emotions are fun. In the same time they help establish a super organism. I think that has been an essential part of the growth of the species Homo.'
He nodded his head slowly, then stood up and stretched a hand for a shake. I also stood and shook it. His grip was weak; his steps - cautious. Not much time was left on James' clock.
'If you need anything, you are always welcomed here,' he said. Then he visibly cheered up and exhaled. 'I am so happy, man. You came out pretty well.'
'Hmm...?' I smirked, unintentionally.
'Yeah,' he plodded away. 'I am sure you will know how I feel one day.'
'I think I do now.'
'Awesome...Say, I am printing bacon and eggs. You want some?'
I walked to him to see if he needed support.
'I'd love to,' I said.
Yeah...my dad would make me breakfast. Wicked.
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