The “Human” Learning
I was about to wrap up for the day, when Dan asked for me to come by his lab. Being the ever insatiable and wide-eyed eccentric geek, I was hyperventilating, giddy and needless to say curious. Dan Hopkins won the Nobel a few years back and he wants me to “come by his lab!” I couldn’t be much happier. I assured myself. The fact that a Nobel Laureate knows about my existence made me as happy as the time when I won my first Spelling-Bee in the third standard. The word that won me was: Hypochondria.
There was a long corridor that I needed to cover from west side. The weather felt calm and easy. The light drizzle outside, although a bit odd during this time of the year, felt just right. I opened my umbrella and started walking fast. rushing past strangers who were engrossed in their own reasons to run away. Perhaps, the drizzle being a good common reason right now since it was turning into a steady rain by the minute, I started contemplating on my own life while my feet paced up the slippery streets as fast as they could. For all those reading, I’m Ryan. I’m 28 years old. Single. Caucasian. And a little bit weird. I work on “Human” learning. This may sound strange right now but I am trying to train a human brain and compare with a Machine’s response. Yeah, I’ve been at this for a couple of years now. My team and I had similar activities implemented on mice already, and the results are quite fascinating.
One might wonder why someone who’s almost drenched before what could be the ′ life-changing meeting’, despite the best efforts of his bright yellow umbrella would think about his own job. The thing that he does day in and day out. But I am sorry I just can’t help it. I love my job. I know it can be a bit excruciating and mindbogglingly frightening sometimes. But the thrill, the rush and the sheer brilliance that comes along with it. I’d happily choose it any day over anything else. The paycheck at the end of every month helps of course. Crossing the street hastily, I noticed a woman on the other end. Red hair, tall, smoking a cigarette under a cafe-slogan. She reminded me of a Tinder date I went to a few weeks back. Man I blew it! Ryan smiled.
He went on and on explaining the bare essentials of his much admired job to a woman he found on his phone! “If you train a brain properly, it can identify any irregularity in their body and notify at the primitive stage. Now it’s time for Human. We had to get approvals and a lot of clearances before starting to feed data into Human Brain.....” And quite obviously, I didn’t get a call back.
Stephanie Jones (one of the interns that Ryan would soon take under his wing) was a young, beautiful college student from Stanford who wanted to assist me in this as a test subject. I obviously rejected her as I didn’t want any Human for this test who’s below 50. And moreover, Jones was a freaking gift to the world of Science. She should not be a test subject. So I hired her as my intern instead. Unpaid and eight hours of work alone just for me, beside her own classes. She’ll leave within a week, Ryan smiled victoriously as he moved past a few soaked teenagers laughing and giggling despite the rain turning into an inconvenience by the second. Thinking of Jones, she insisted repeatedly and did all the paper work before she went to the operation theatre. I could not believe in her courage. I was there till 3 am in the morning within the operation theatre to guide the doctors about the electroplate position. And she stood beside me all throughout. Like a rock. Observing, studying and reading every detail meticulously. As a small reward to her I asked Jones to check the electroplate responses. It took a while, but eventually we did it! The responses were fantastic. Our work was successful. I checked the responses as well. You know, just in case.
It was around 7:45 pm when I reached Dan’s lab. Sloppy, wet and embarrassed. I could hear the Jazz music from outside. Dan’s so classy. He knew about his wine and his music. I am still like a clueless teenager in front of him. With my endless fascination for Cheetos, Beer and Donuts. Anyway, getting back to the dashing 40-something, recently divorced Dan, he’s basically the apple of everyone’s eye around here. Girls would swoon over him obviously, and we men were perpetually perplexed, confused and always intrigued by his sheer persona. Dan’s work is about the state of Brain after death.
His research says, “The human brain stays active for 10-15 minutes when the other important organ like heart and respiratory systems stops working. Slowly due to lack of oxygen supply it dies. It is proven that before death the brain receives an unknown electric surge which stops everything. The final part of the brain which stores memory dies at the end.” In simpler terms, everyone has a unique experience after death when a series of memory flashes up a spectrum of images. Dan was working to capture those memories. I knocked the door, palpitating. I looked worse than my brother when he was about to propose to his then-girlfriend Jane, five years older than him. But he loved her nevertheless. Did she though? What on earth am I thinking? I gathered myself from the trance and was asked to come in. Dan was sitting in front of a body which was not clearly visible. I went up a few steps ahead to see, it belonged to a 10 year old. “Dan..I mean Sir...” I murmured.
“Call me Dan.” He replied.
“What’s this?” I asked knowing full well what he would reply. I guess I wasn’t too keen to hear it.
“Our first test subject.” He said without even looking at me. The 40-something enigma was engrossed in a stack of files, documents and his old laptop.
I was literally shocked that Dan using a kid for this experiment. “Why....how..” I whispered. Utterly confused and scared.
Dan looked at me with the same dead pan expression on his chiselled face that made him look not more than thirty.
“I found this kid with electroplate already implanted in his brain. I was a bit clueless as there is no provision of using a kid as a medium of experimental learning.” Dan continued. “I have found something very new in the cortex where the memory is stored. A microchip which they use to capture electronic impulses from mice.”
“But it’s just impossible! I didn’t know any scientist in the world could actually be authorised to do something like this.” I said, summoning up all my strength. “Did you do it?”
“No.” Dan replied instantly. This time he looked a bit surprised. “You did it.”
“But...Dan... I don’t even know him...I have never seen this child before.”