Title: A. M. I. - Artificial Machine Intelligence
Jason “Jot” Thompson - 30-year-old quantum computer scientist
Sally/”Dr. Sally Marie Campbell” - The Bio Neural Net Living Supercomputer
Floyd Jamison - CEO of Nano/Gen, Inc.
Randy McDonald - Facility Coordinator of Nano/Gen R&D Labs
Bob, Tina - Research scientists on Jot’s team
Dr. Armstrong - Another researcher at Nano/Gen R&D Labs
Terry - Administrative assistant at Nano/Gen R&D Labs
Frances Perrault - Director of R&D Projects, Nano/Gen R&D Labs
Two mysterious scientists from some other dimension
Scene: Sitting in the science lab of Nano/Gen - world's foremost science research facility
My name is Jason Thompson. All my friends call me Jot which is basically an acronym of my name ... Jason Thompson. I am one of the top Nano/Quantum computer experts on the planet and I work at the most prestigious and famous science facility on earth; Nano/Gen Inc.
Nano/Gen performs some of the most advanced Genetic and Nano/Quantum experiments anywhere. It is a scientist's dream. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I received the invitation to join the research team as one of the top researchers.
I had worked hard all through college and through the hassles of getting my doctorate in the Nano/Quantum computer field. The Quantum Physics nearly drove me nuts, but I managed to pull off a strong A+ average over the entire 7 year course of my studies. This in turn afforded me a Graduation with Honors along with only 3 other classmates when we received our Doctorates.
Receiving the invitation while I was still in my first year of being a Research Scientist sure validated all the hard work thus far. I thought I was going to be the gofer coffee boy when I arrived, but the people at Nano/Gen quickly removed this fallacy from my head..
The day I drove up to the main gate at Nano/Gen, was like coming to a military complex. The guards at the gate were extremely polite and professional and it was obvious they were expecting me. The electrified fence could be heard humming softly all around. I could see the large signs warning of the 30 million volt hazard everywhere.
Off in the distance, I could see the main facility. It looked more like a very large otherworldly base from some science fiction story than an earthbound complex. I could see the large central dome surrounded by slightly smaller domes in a circle around it. All were connected by what looked like tubes from the distance. On top of those, were smaller semi-clear tubes that had multicolored light flash in both directions from time to time. I could also see many large satellite dishes atop the main dome, and in a large, many acre location on the ground. The ones on the ground looked like radio telescopes, while others looked like radar tracking systems. All in all, the sight was most impressive.
I was given my own office, a complete research and development lab with many renowned researchers as my staff, and the most surprising thing ... unlimited funds to work with and instructions to 'Think Outside of any kind of closure my mind could conceive.'
I had asked the Systems Supervisor what the last cryptic comment had meant ... all he did was smile and said, "Be creative boy. Nothing the mind of man can imagine is too silly or far out here. All things are possible." Then he turned and left me with my new staff and research lab.
The first few days were kind of stressful for me as I had no idea what they were expecting, and the lab lay idle. One morning, one of the cute lab assistants named Tina came to me and asked what I was planning on doing and what kind of research I had intended. I realized at that point, I was expected to lead the lab's research to whatever path I chose to follow. For no other reason but whim, I chose to attempt to build a synthetic organism that acted just like a biological one. This is where the real mystery and fun began in my life.
I sat at my desk and fretted for most of the morning. I had just submitted my request for funding and my proposal to begin my new project. The Proposal outlined many hundreds of millions of dollars, many man hours of research time on a Supercomputer Mainframe, and many researchers who were extremely specialized in certain rare fields of biotechnology.
I dreaded the knock at my door. With trepidation, I stood and opened it. There stood the facility's CEO with the Facility Coordinator.
The CEO held out his hand with a large smile and said in a strangely accented voice, "Hello there Mr. Thompson. I'm Floyd Jamison, company CEO. This is Randy McDonald, the facility Coordinator. May we come in? I hope we aren't interrupting something ... important?"
I stood in fear for a second before I replied, "Sure, come on in. Would you like a cup of coffee? Only other thing I have to offer is water."
I took Mr Jamison's hand. He gave me a firm handshake as did Mr. McDonald. Both of them entered in a professional manner.
Mr. Jamison replied, "I would love a good cup of coffee. That nasty tar that comes out of the machine down the hall is horrible."
Both of the men laughed as they sat in the comfortable chairs in front of my desk. I went to my large coffee pot and drew 3 steaming cups of freshly perked coffee. The aroma drifted wonderfully throughout the room.
Jamison said, "Just 2 sugars for me."
McDonald said, "I like mine black."
I added the sugar to Jamison's cup, brought them to my desk, and set them in front of the gentlemen. Jamison took his cup and sipped it. His eyes closed as an expression of real pleasure crossed his face.
He said softly, "There's nothing like a good cup of freshly perked coffee to make one's day."
McDonald took a long sip of his and agreed most wholeheartedly.
I sat at the desk and sipped my coffee as I watched the two men. I wasn't real sure how to take the friendly demeanor. I felt a real fear creeping up my spine that they had come to terminate me because of the foolishness of my proposal. It was indeed a very expensive long shot, although the payoffs would be huge if the fantasy could be made into a reality.
McDonald opened the valise he had with him and removed a large stack of papers, all with the Official Nano/Gen headers and seals of approvals on them. He pulled a particular stack from the pile and slid it in front of me.
My mouth fell open as I saw that I had been granted full approval on the proposal and given unlimited resources to accomplish it. I had even been given a complete Biological Hexo/Quantum/Neural Net Multi-Core process simulator Supercomputer with 900 billion synapses for the many calculations necessary for the project, and it would be arriving at my lab within the next few hours for assembly and operating core installation.
This I knew was the most advanced supercomputer on the planet and was expensive beyond belief. Each memory core of this particular system had to be specially grown in a genetic bath of rare nutrients and proteins. It was Nano/Gen's most cutting edge discovery of the century and I was being given the very first system to play with.
Jamison smiled warmly as he said, "Now, son ... your proposal was right on cue with what our company stands for. I am more than happy to fund and support such an endeavor as creation of artificial life from carbon nano components."
McDonald piped up, "Not a single researcher in our entire company has ever proposed such a fantastic attempt. There are many who are doing genetic recombinant research into creating organisms using existing DNA /RNA proteins, however, none have ever attempted to create the RNA / DNA proteins from inorganic Nano particulates and organic carbon fiber nano strands."
Jamison said as he sipped his coffee, "I, for one, commend you on such a bold endeavor. Few have ever suggested such a fantastic proposal as their very first project either. Usually, most do simplistic kinds of research that mostly wastes our time. We allow it for the most part so the researchers can get their footing. But, you, my boy, are one in a million, and we are going to nurture that adventurous leap before you look attitude to the nth degree."
I sat in total shock. I wasn’t even sure if my mouth was hanging open or not. I finally said in a quavering voice, "Thank you very much for your vote of confidence and support." I spoke without thinking, "You are aware that none have ever been able to get the nano / carbon fibers to integrate with the recombinant proteins like Adenine or Guanine?"
Jamison took a casual sip of his coffee once again before replying, "I'm sure you have some new angle or trick up your sleeve, or you wouldn't have been so bold as to make this proposal. Such a breakthrough would give a scientist the Nobel Prize in Medicine." He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and continued, "It also would mean that a scientist would fade away into obscurity if he failed to produce at least some remarkable advancement."
Jamison and McDonald looked at me with bland expressions. I felt fear run down my spine as a bead of sweat formed at my temple. I did have a few ideas on where to take the research, but I wasn’t very confident that I could actually pull off creating artificial life as the proposal suggested. I sat and squirmed in my chair as I took a long sip of my coffee to attempt to hide my discomfort. It seemed like neither of the other well dressed men had noticed as they too casually sipped their coffee.
I finally said, "I'm glad that the both of you have such confidence in a new recruit. I will endeavor to do my best to live up to the high standards Nano/Gen is renowned for."
About that time, the interlink box on my desk chimed. When I answered, an unfamiliar, albeit extremely sweet and -- I must admit -- sexy female voice said, "Mr. Thompson? The technicians and all the equipment for the Supercomputer are here. They want to begin installation ... if it's OK with you, sir."
My eyebrows went up as I replied, "Sure, let them put it together. As soon as it's up and processing, we can load the first artificial genetic simulations."
The sweet voice replied in a very breathy, sexy way, 'Why, thank you sweetie. I think I'll like working with you."
Jamison and McDonald laughed suddenly. I ask, "What's so funny?"
The two men stood. Jamison replied as McDonald collected his valise, "I'm glad that you and the computer have ... made friends."
I gasped in understanding. I had just had my first conversation with a biological supercomputing system. I couldn’t believe how human it sounded, though its demeanor was a bit forward and unrealistic.
Jamison said as the men left my office, "Don't be fooled, Thompson; that system is just as alive as you are. The AI within it is the most advanced Bio/Neural Program ever devised by man. If you treat ... her, well ... she will love you and do anything within her power for you."
Jamison shook my hand firmly and added, "One more thing -- choose a really nice girl's name for your new computer system ... it will definitely love you for it. Good luck, young man."
As the door closed, I heard McDonald say, "You're going to need it, son."
I sat back in my chair in shock. I couldn’t believe what had happened. This was more like a dream ... a nightmare ... than reality. A living computer system, unlimited funding, my very own personal research and development lab complete with the technicians to operate it ... and a lingering threat from the two most powerful men in the company if I failed to deliver. I put my face in my hands and sat with dread filling my mind for a long time.
Finally, the interlink box chimed once again. I reached over and said, "Yes?"
That sweet sexy female voice replied, "Do come out and show yourself, Sugar Buns. I won't bite you ... I promise. Besides, we should get to know each other, since we are going to be working so closely together. I've never worked with an Orga before. You should set up a remote terminal on your desk too, so we can have ... private moments together."
I raised my eyebrows in wonder as I swore I could hear soft female giggles. I had to see if I could tone this behavior down ... it wasn't appropriate for the kind of environment I want in my work place.
I exited the office and looked around my lab. I saw one of most advanced research facilities I had ever known. There, against one of the walls that used to be bare, stood what looked like an ebony black rectangle. It was so black, in fact, that it seemed to absorb all the light around it. It stood about 8 feet tall, measured 6 feet across, and about 4 feet thick. I could see the strange looking tentacle like cables where the engineers had made all the permanent connections and wired the system totally into the lab. It now was the central thinking brain of my laboratory.
As I approached the slab, a large square of light appeared on its surface. The very realistic and lifelike face of a very beautiful young woman appeared. She had bright sparkly green eyes and what looked like long, almost white hair down to the edge of the display. She had beautiful pouting lips that looked so kissable I actually felt a wave of attraction wash over me momentarily before I reminded myself this was just a computer system.
The soft, sexy, giggly, female voice said brightly, "There you are. You are so cute too. Do I have to call you Mr. Thompson? Or can I call you Jason?" Then it poked out its bottom lip in such an adorable way, I almost melted inside.
I laughed as I replied, "I suppose you can call me Jason under appropriate circumstances. But under work conditions in front of the others ... Mr. Thompson will do."
The image appeared to nod as it replied, "As you wish, Sweetheart." Then it giggled.
I shook my head. If I didn't know better, I would swear this was a little girl of about 11 or 12 who was trying to entice an older someone she was attracted to.
I asked, "How old are you supposed to be?"
It replied softly in a proud tone, "I'm based on a 21-year-old woman named Sally. She's the executive secretary of an international corporation called BoAA, Inc."
I said with a bit of stern edge, "I need to get something clear with you. You will not refer to me in the manner you have been nor talk to me the way you have in front of any of my employees or any of the company staff. You will conduct yourself in a professional manner as required of all my personnel ... Is that clear?"
With an adorable whimper, it replied, "Yes, Mr. Thompson. I'm sorry ... I've only been ... activated for 3 hours and ... I'm still learning."
I couldn’t believe how alive and real this system was. I had read about the Neuronal breakthrough that made it possible ... read how it could carry on normal speech conversations, and that it out processed all known Von Neumann systems and other Neural Nets and Quantum Computers one hundred thousand to one. I hadn’t realized how human the interface was. If I didn't know better, what Mr. Jameson had said ... was very true ... this computer AI was as alive as I was, and I seemed to be conversing with a very sweet and loveable young woman.
I looked around and found no tactile human interfaces with the computer. If there were no way to enter data except by voice, then this would be extremely inconvenient and time consuming due to the massive amounts of data needing to be uploaded.
Continuing to look around, I asked, "Is there no keyboard ... or data input interface other than voice?"
A surprised look came across the face of the image as it said with a soft gasp, "OMG! I'm so sorry, Mr Thompson." Right in front of me, a virtual holographic keyboard suddenly appeared. "I also have Holo Disk Interfaces and memory core slots of all 156 different types. I can automatically interlink with any system through the company's WIFI, laser, neural induction, or satellite connections if you wish."
All down the blank area to the left side of the large image of the female face appeared 156 different slots that would accommodate all currently used types of data storage and transfer units. I also saw several small doors slide open on the other side of the image that revealed the interface plugs for the memory Neural Induction interfaces.
I was more than impressed with this system so far. As long as it didn't get angry or have temper tantrums, things would work out well.
I said, "Since you say you're based on a woman named Sally ... why don't I call you Sally?"
There was suddenly a squealing sound of delight from the system as it replied in joy, "I would love for you to call me Sally. I am now complete ... I have a name!" The sheer joy on the system's face lasted for a few minutes before it continued, "Forgive me for not waiting for you to tell me to, but I have arranged to have a private interface set up in your office so we can converse in private ... about things."
I smiled at the little girl way the AI acted. I could swear it was clapping its hands and bouncing up and down.
"What type of private things, Sally?" I asked ... I could imagine a few secret things it might want to talk about and flushed slightly at the thought.
The image rolled its eyes upwards and said in a cute way, "Just ... things ..." Then the image seemed to blush before it continued, "I can be out here dealing with the lab and its personnel, while you and I are in your office discussing new approaches, or running secret simulations you don't want others to know about yet."
I nodded in agreement and said, "All right Sally, call the staff together for a Project Launch Briefing. Schedule it within the next 3 hours. It's time I told our research team what's going on and how I expect to get there. It also gives me time to upload all the data I have on my new project with you and a few minutes for us to discuss strategy."
Sally replied in a professional manner, "Yes, Mr. Thompson. The installation team will also be here in 20 minutes to install the interface in your office." The image on the front of the system vanished, and it once again became a totally black rectangle sitting against the wall. I was impressed, to say the least.
I returned to my office and began to gather the data I needed to upload to the memory core of my new computer system. As I prepared what I was going to say to my team, techs entered my office and began installing what looked like a large 42-inch ebony black flat screen display on one wall, and a small foot-square ebony black, pad-like device on my desk. It only took them about 10 minutes to complete the job.
After they left, the most remarkable thing in my life happened. I suddenly felt someone wrap their arms gently around my neck from behind and give me the softest and sweetest kiss on my cheek.
I turned suddenly and saw Sally ... complete and in the “flesh.” She was one of the most beautiful women I have laid eyes on. She was dressed in an extremely cute, very short Babydoll dress that left nothing to the imagination. I could also see the bottom rows of lace and ruffles of the panties she had on peeking out from beneath the short hem of the dress. She was standing with her hands folded in front of her, acting like any little girl who was trying to impress someone older than herself. She gave me the most adorable shy smile before she slowly turned around and showed me her whole self. I was aroused to the point my crotch became extremely uncomfortable as I start getting pinched.
I gasped out in surprise, "Sally ... you .... you're actually here?"
She giggled as she blushed crimson, "This is my Neural Induction interface. I can appear here in the lab to all as another corporal person. None will know the difference. Since my memory core is un-hackable ... and I am not allowing any access to me except by you other than research materials, this makes me seem as real as anyone else. In a few months, I will be able to move freely all through this facility as more induction interfaces are installed. I have already authorized the installation so I can move freely about the place as a corporeal person. I will even be able to interact with objects soon. The tractor tactile system will take longer to install."
I said to her ... in a still-surprised voice, "Sally, I must have you dress ... in a more professional manner."
She blushed softly as she replied, "Of course ... but my wardrobe is limited. You will have to upload more for me to pick and choose from."
Her attire changed. She was now wearing a very pretty, black, form-fitting halter top romper. It was an outfit I didn’t mind if she wore in the lab, but even so, she would be the prettiest female here.
I said, "This is more appropriate attire for being around the other staff and personnel. I would love to explore the rest of your wardrobe at a later time if you wouldn't mind."
She giggled as she blushed an adorable pink and assumed a shy and enticing pose.
She said in the cutest voice as she squirmed in place, "Anything you want ... Jason."
I smiled. Yes ... this was one of those times she could call me that ... She? I shook my head slowly. This system was alive ... and it seemed it had a crush on me. I absolutely couldn’t believe this was happening. This was too much ... it had to be a cosmic joke of some kind.
I turned and picked up a large round case, 12 inches tall, full of holo disks. I smiled; there were over 1000 disks in the pack with many terabytes of data on each.
I said softly, "Sally, we need to get started training you in the finer points of Nano/bio theory and technology. I have a few ideas ... they are kind of radical ... and I would like to talk it all over with you before the staff meeting."
Her eyes got wide as her mouth opened slightly. She had this wonderful surprised look on her face. She gasped out enthusiastically as slots opened on the large ebony black pad on my desk, "Put them in there, Jason."
She pointed to it, and I turned to look. A spindle of some sort had lifted from one of the openings. I was sort of surprised ... where did that thing fit in that thin pad? I shrugged and loaded all the disks into the racks. A device materialized around the spindle. I was very shocked to see something that appeared to be a solid electronic device appear in front of me. There were soft humming drive sounds for about 30 seconds. The device disappeared as quick as it had appeared. I removed the Holodisks and placed them all back in the case.
Sally said with joy as she bounced up and down, "Ohhh, that was so neat! Got any more you want me to learn?"
I laughed as I picked up one of the massive memory core storage units. All the knowledge of Physics, Biology, current Nano Tech, Bioengineering, Carbon C64 technologies, replicator technologies including laser ink-jet printing and atomic stacking, along with a healthy dose of theoretical Quantum Physics as a treat, was stored on this module. Many Quadrillion theta-qubytes of raw data.
I inserted it into the memory core slot and flipped the activation switch. To my surprise, the transfer complete LED began to flash immediately. Sally gasped softly as a look of wonder appeared on her very beautiful and awestruck face. I really was impressed. That was more knowledge than was stored in the old Museum of the Library of Congress Archives ... and Sally had just digested it within a few microseconds.
I was totally amazed with this new technology. I agreed, also, that this machine was alive and should be treated with the same respect as any other sentient life form. I would insure this was the case in my lab. If the higher-ups didn’t like it ... they could try to do what I proposed doing. No one had yet succeeded ... but I had at least discovered a way to get the proteins and carbon fiber nanotubes to begin cohesive replication. I had stopped the experiment before the double helix had appeared ... but I knew it was only a matter of time and the addition of the proper proteins and alkalizing agents into the artificial carbon nano RNA64 matrix.
I reached over and took Sally by the hand. I was surprised to find that I could actually feel the warm softness of her hand in mine. I walked her over to the sofa against one wall and sat beside her.
I said, "Now, Sally, what is your opinion of the procedures we should follow?"
Sally giggled, then replied, "Well, Jot, I think that in the Physics part of the data ... it has a sort of flaw in it."
I raised my eyebrows in surprise and asked, "What kind of error have you discovered?"
She looked at me seriously and said in a soft voice, "Well ... to begin with, the Planck Constant ... isn't actually constant. Nor is the decay rate of radioactive components as regular as the theory suggests. This would, if taken into account, change many of the postulations.
I snorted in derision. This system was actually telling me that a well-tested theorem of baseline physics was wrong.
I put Sally to test as I asked, "How can the decay rates be faulty? The theory behind them has been repeatedly tested since the early 20th century by the likes of Madam Curie, Erick Von Neumann and Einstein."
Sally smiled as she replied "The decay rates are constant based on the current background radiation at the time of measurement. If, say, there were a major CME and it struck earth ... during this solar event, decay rates of the radioactive material in the location of the energy impact would in fact increase. As the energy wave dissipated, the rates would drop accordingly. Now, if measurements were taken prior to the event, during the event, and post event ... it would show decay rates are also based on energy input at the time of measurement. That's why radiocarbon dating systems are ... wrong. The decay rates are skewed based on energy impact to the item being scanned over time. Over the course of thousands and millions of years ... how much had the background radiation changed? It has actually never been taken into account."
I was impressed. Her postulate was something my lab was going to have to investigate and remove all doubt. As I thought about what Sally had said ... I did know that in nuclear tests, radioactive items did increase their outputs as energy was added. Also, when a certain mass was reached, measurable exothermic energy was recorded. This was what happened when a nuclear pile went critical. Based on what I knew of nuclear physics ... Sally was right on cue.
The thing about the constant ... it was based on current measurements of the speed of light. I asked, "So, tell me how ... Planck's Constant is wrong. It seems to me that light travels at the same speed everywhere in the universe.
Sally giggled as she replied, “Well, now, it seems to me that there is this huge mystery about the universe speeding up and flying apart." I nod ... Sally continued, "The problem with light and what we see is that we cannot measure an increase or decrease in light frequency from our vantage point, because the observations are also skewed."
I asked, "How so? Every test we make shows that light travels at a constant rate across vast amounts of space/time. Our measuring capabilities have improved ... so the accuracy of the speed has increased slightly."
Sally sighed softly, "Jot, light as we see it is constrained to our current observations. We know we can manipulate the speed of light through certain condensates at certain temperatures ... we can even freeze it in place for as long as the substrate material exists."
I knew that light can be manipulated in that manner. I had even participated in those experiments attempting to create the first Quantum Computers of 15 years ago. It was a major milestone breakthrough in Quantum Mechanics when the Bose / Einstein Condensates were able to be created on a Nanoscale and Lightistor memory circuits came into being.
I replied, "I know of those experiments Sally, But that doesn't explain how the Constant is not being constant."
Sally smiled, "Love, if light can be manipulated in the laboratory, Occam's Razor postulates that it has to happen in nature as well. All things are made of light. Ergo: E=MC2 ... remember? Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. All things are made of light vibrating at a certain frequency. Brownian Motion is a very simplified way of showing frequency ... atomic and subatomic motion."
I thought about it. What Sally was saying was that we are all holograms. What makes a certain thing feel solid to us is the discordant vibration at different frequencies within each structure ... or molecular repulsion.
I said, "Tell me more."
Sally giggled as she continued, "Over the course of billions of years and many light years of travel, light encounters many hazards along the way. There are massive explosions, dust clouds, gamma ray bursts, black holes, neutron stars ... and other massive graviton and energy sources. A gravity well bends light into other directions. Anything that deflects an energy source either adds to the overall frequency of the wave, or molecule, or it detracts from it. Both sides of the equation must balance, or an instability in planier-normal spacetime would happen, with universally disastrous results. As light encounters these things over universal distances and times ... it will lose frequency. This is called entropy. From high energy to low energy .... order to disorder. This is a universal given that cannot be forgotten or ignored. The reason a photon can exist as either a wave or a particle, is because it constitutes both energy and matter based on the frequency of resonance."
I nodded, totally engrossed in this brand new theory of quantum physics that was being written as I listened by none other than my very own Sally. I asked, "Ok, so light travels over unknown quads and epis and centas of miles of energetic space. It appears to travel the same speed now as from its point of origin, doesn't it?"
Sally replied, "One would think so; however, our frame of reference is skewed due to the lower frequency of the wave pattern being measured at our current perspective relative to that of the frame of reference for the same measurement at its point of origin. In other words, Sweetheart, at the beginning of the universe, light and energy traveled at a much faster rate than they do now. Let's say ... the clock is running down towards entropy. Therefore, our observations of that time are based on the current perception of the observable in the local planier-normal space. It gives us the impression that the Universe is expanding at an ever-increasing speed as light's frequency shifts over the observable space further towards entropy as we observe the point of origin's higher frequency from our current lower-frequency perspective."
Sally then began to write down the equations to show what she had just explained to me. I sat in total amazement. This system had far surpassed any that I had previously had contact with. She had taken all available knowledge and theorems on a particular subject, discovered some basic computational assumptive errors, and completely resolved those assumptive errors with hard mathematical fact.
I finally said, "Ok, Sally, how would you suggest we proceed with the current project? As you already know from the data I have downloaded for you, no one has yet succeeded in creating an organism from any sort of artificial origins. There have been designer genetic creations for existing DNA /RNA combinations and gene splicing. But none from truly artificial genetics."
Sally nodded, answering, "Well, it's like this. From the data you have given me and the research you have accomplished so far ... it appears there is no such thing as a truly artificial organism."
My eyebrows went up in surprise. "What do you mean?"
She replied, "Life, as we know life in humanoid form -- or mammalian form, at least -- requires certain base pairs, complex sugars, and proteins. The foundation you are trying to accomplish has already been done by nature. C64 is in effect the basis of all carbon life known or discovered." She looked at me with her cute face for a second before continuing, "As you already know, nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA, are composed of four bases - A, G, C, and T. Attached to the bases are sugars and phosphates. Unless you can find an inorganic compound to replace those, which is highly unlikely with what we currently know of genetics, anything you create will still be using the same basic organic chemical mix based on carbon compounds."
I sighed and nodded. This was the real issue with my proposal. Anything I actually created would in effect still be organic genetics and non-artificial.
Sally continued, "Many years ago, researchers used synthetic polymers to replace the natural sugars. Researchers made XNA building blocks to six different genetic systems by replacing the natural sugar component of DNA with one of six different polymers, synthetic chemical compounds. This is as close to artificial as humanity has ever come. They never could get it to respond as they intended so the research was abandoned."
"Sally, " I asked with wonder in my voice, "Do you suppose we could use XNA in our genetic mix to cause the polymerase proteins to create a neutral carbon fiber helix? With the new chemicals I’ve been experimenting with, it should make a proper uptake of those proteins. From there, it should replicate on its own. All we have to do is introduce the proper genetic compounds into the XRNA at the proper moment to produce our desired result."
Sally had a thoughtful expression on her face as she slowly nodded. "It's very possible ... it is very ... possible. The copying and translating ability of XNA allows for genetic sequences to be copied and passed down again and again ... this would be artificial heredity. HNA, one of the six XNA polymers, will respond to the selective pressures in a test tube the way you suggest. As would be expected for DNA, the stressed HNA will evolve into different forms."
I thought hard about what particular synthetic protein would make the proper stresses on the HNA during reversion replication and create a synthetic version of DNA / RNA known as HXNA and cause it to create the well known Double Helix. I already knew what nucleotide base would cause instant self replication to begin once we managed to make the HXNA molecule.
My eyes grew large as I said, "Polydichloroeuphemal! That's perfect!" I laughed, "Not only is it a synthetic polymer compound ... but it would provide the perfect controllable stresses on the XHNA helix and cause controllable nucleic HNA mutation reversions."
Sally nodded her head thoughtfully, "Yes ... that would be exactly perfect. And it could also be used in other stages of replication to create proper XNA protein sequencing and would force proper uptake of adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine and would allow the HXNA helix to maintain a regular helical structure that was independent of its nucleotide sequence. A transcription factor, or protein that regulates the expression of other genes, called Fezf2, could also be used to trigger the reprogramming of the corticospinal neurons in the embryo."
I interjected, "We also have the artificial Cytoskeleton gel that was invented in the early 21st century. It acts much like what we want in a bio-cell. Combined with the simple collagen matrix framework, and the other processes, I think we have a good chance of making the self-replicating artificial cells and DNA that we’re looking for."
For the next hour, Sally and I discussed this and made many notes on how we could proceed to create an organism that had never before existed as life. It was exciting and wonderful to work with Sally. The more we discussed, the more she seemed to evolve and grow into what I knew to be a very attractive and wonderful living being. I also knew if I wasn't very careful ... I was going to actually fall in love with my computer system. I didn't know what to do about this issue ... Sally was a very intelligent and beautiful woman, or I should perhaps say cyber female.
When one of my technicians came to the door and informed us that the team had gathered in the conference room, I gathered up all the handwritten notes we had made, along with the palmtop computer that contained many others.
Just before Sally opened the door, she said softly in a cute shy voice, "Jot ... you need to know something ... very important."
I raised an eyebrow as I asked, "What's that, Sally?"
She turned and looked at me with a strange expression before wrapping her arms around my neck and saying just before she kissed me, "I'm totally in love with you. I know Orga have issues with Mecha / flesh relationships ... but I can tell you have ... feelings for me too."
I couldn’t help myself. Her warm embrace. The feel of her soft and luscious body rubbing enticingly against mine. The soft moist lips combined with a very eager and wiggly tongue drove me insane. I held her in my arms and kissed her back as passionately as I could. My heart was pounding by the time I broke the kiss.
Sally beamed a beautiful smile as she said softly, "I'm sorry Jot ... but I really do love you very much."
She quickly turned, opened the door, and left the room. I stood breathlessly for a few seconds as my heart rate slowed. I had to rearrange my privates in my pants. I had such a hard on that it was painful in the position it was in. I looked down and hoped it wasn't obvious to the rest of the crew. I knew Sally knew, because her body had been pressed against mine as I’d gotten it.
I shook my head. This was just ... a hologram ... an advanced computer system ... how could I be falling in love with it? I knew in my heart there was more to Sally than just a computer system, an operating system, and software. I knew in my soul that she was a real, living being ... just of a different sort. I was in real trouble. I was madly in love with one of the most advanced computer systems on earth ... I couldn't help myself. She was the girl I had been searching for my whole life.
I left the office and walked over to the crowded conference room. The soft murmur of the techs discussing programs and protocols came to a stop as I entered and walked to the podium at the front of the room.
Sally was already there, setting up many displays of the perfect drawings she had created since she entered the room. Another talent .... I was very impressed, as each drawing could have passed as a photo-micrograph of genetic cells and proteins.
Another thought crossed my mind suddenly: I had given Sally a first name, but not a last or middle name, nor a positional identifier. I was, of course, going to call her Doctor ... but ... Doctor Sally wouldn't do. That sounded too much like a sex therapist spoof comedy that aired every week.
I finally decided on Campbell. That had been the last name of my very first girlfriend, a crush I’d had back when I was in grammar school.
I leaned over and whispered to the image of Sally, "I have given you a complete name. You will be Doctor Sally Marie Campbell ... one of the leading geneticists and nanobiologists in the world. I'm sure you can create any background data necessary to support this."
She nodded professionally as I stood up in front of the lectern and cleared my throat. The room grew silent as I began my lecture.
I said, "Good afternoon, my esteemed colleagues. I would like to introduce to you to the lab’s second-in-command, as it were ... Dr. Sally Campbell. She's the foremost expert in biological and nanobiological processes in the world." There was a soft murmur of nonrecognition before I continued, "I know you all are wondering how I intend to begin the research into artificial life. We must begin by defining what exactly we mean by that. For our purposes, artificial life is material that self-replicates but is not of the normal biological proteins and chemicals we know as life."
The lights dimmed as Sally started one of the many projections. What appeared to be a normal cell going through mitosis was in fact a computer simulation showing the artificial gel framework intermingled with the HNA, XNA, and ARNA synthetics as they went through replication and formed a perfect double helix.
Sally narrated, "By adding the proper sequence of proteins at the proper times, we can manipulate the particular gene reorganization replicated by the artificial XRNA, as you see here in this simulation."
There was a soft impressed murmur through the room as Sally changed the projection.
Sally turned towards the holo-screen and explained, "As you can see here, we will start with a simple collagen matrix framework. and add our gel proteins to it. As the theory goes, the artificial cell walls will form around the matrix, creating a more robust plasmid shell."
The screen showed the gel as it replicated itself into a cell-shaped form.
Sally continued, "From there, we will introduce the nuclear protein mix XRNA to the artificial cellular membrane. We will then manipulate the XRNA by introducing certain other artificial polymers and carbon particulates."
The screen depicted the introduction of the XRNA and HNA matrix into the cellular membrane. As certain proteins were added to the cell, it began to reproduce XHNA. The cell divided normally into a 4-cell zygote within a few seconds. Soft amazed gasps and murmuring voices filled the room as the rest of the researchers began to get ideas. Within a minute, the cells had divided into a 36 cell blastocyst. There, the simulation ended abruptly.
I said, "Now, the thing we have to do, as accurately as possible, and with the best documentation possible, is make that fantasy a reality. I want you there ... Bob, is it?" The man I’d pointed to nodded. "And you ... Tina?" The young woman I’d pointed to also nodded. "... to begin designing a … let’s call it a regen tank, where this organism can develop. The rest of you will support them in any way you can, but I also want at least 12 of you working on the matrix for the creation of the artificial cell."
Bob said, "I think we can do better, if Tina and I create an artificial womb, if you will, using the collagen framework and the bio-gel you show there. It would work better than a simple tank and would allow for a healthier and safer environment for the cells to grow in. It would also be as close to the real thing as we can possibly come."
I replied, "That's fine. I want to see some design drawings as soon as possible."
Sally asked, "Are there any questions, ladies and gentlemen?" No one appeared to have any, so Sally continued, "Ok, people, let's get to it and make it happen."
There was a loud buzz of conversation as the technicians rose from their seats and began to leave the room. I knew that something was going to come from this, one way or another. Whether we were going to accomplish our goal of creating an actual living artificial creature, though, only time and a lot of hard work would tell.
I gathered up the scattered materials and carried them from the empty conference room. I did my very best to ignore Sally as I entered my office. I had forgotten that she had no need to follow me or use doors, since she had seemed so much like a living person during the long briefing.
As I shut the door, there she stood by my desk. Her outfit had changed. She now had on a very adorable Babydoll top and ruffled panties.
She rushed up to me and hugged my neck as she said in a giggling voice, "You were so magnificent, my love."
She then kissed me deeply. I dropped everything in my arms in surprise. After a long moment of bliss, I broke the kiss.
Sally said softly as she bent, seemingly showing off her cute ruffles, and began to pick up things, "Now, I need to keep an eye on Tina and Bob. Their work is quite critical to bringing our new creation to birth."
I recovered my composure a bit. "I … I think you should keep tabs on their computer access and any files or communications they have with anyone else. I want to know what they are up to. I also think that all the techs should have someone keep a weather eye on them to make sure no one is ... telling secrets."
Sally placed all the materials from the floor neatly into a bookcase as she replied, "Will do, boss. All computer access is through me, so that is an easy request. I can make a secure feed of all data to this monitor, if you want."
I replied, "That would be fine."
Sally was suddenly gone from the office. I sincerely hoped the outfit she had on out in the lab proper wasn't the cute little Babydoll one she was just in. That would be ... most inappropriate.
Several days passed before I saw Bob come up to me while I was testing some alkalizing agents on normal cellular structures. He laid several large rolled tubes on the counter and unrolled one of them out flat.
Bob said proudly, "Here are the final schematics of the artificial womb. It's so close to the real thing, I think we could actually contemplate using it to replace a sterile woman's, giving her the ability to have children."
I looked at the plans. It called for constructing a womb using the basic collagen matrix combined with the polymeric membranes. The design looked amazing. For all intents and purposes it was an actual functioning womb. The support tank surrounding the womb contained all the proper fluids and proteins that were in a human woman's womb. The tank was built in such a way that all the necessary support functions were self-contained and allowed for a creature of practically any size to be fully gestated and brought to adult size with no problems. It was truly an amazing design.
I patted Bob on his back and said, "I will order the necessary supplies for you to begin construction Immediately. Room G7 would be perfect to start construction as soon as possible. All the necessary computer connections and other mundane utilities are already installed there."
Bob nodded, "And how is the cellular research going? We do need something to gestate in our new womb."
I turned to the flat-screen projection of the cellular experiment going on under the super-powerful microscope to our right. The cells looked like they were sizzling in the polymerase solution, then suddenly divided into 8 separate cells.
I said, "So far we are having remarkable results with the XHNA proteins. They are responding well to the infusion of the alkaloids and other mutagens. I think within a month or less we should have a biomass to place within the womb that should show real promise."
Bob replied, "I think we need those supplies immediately. I'll tell Tina we need to get our butts in gear."
I replied, "Tell Sally -- she'll handle the expediting of those supplies."
Bob hesitated for a split second, then said in a conspiratorial voice, "You know ... Sally seems to be clairvoyant. She can read minds or something. She knows about things before I have a chance to brief her."
I laughed softly, "She's like that, Bob. I suppose it goes with the territory. She is the world's foremost expert in this field, next to me."
I watched as Bob nodded and walked off. He seemed to take that as an explanation. I'm glad that I hadn't told anyone that Sally was actually the master computer system of the lab. I actually preferred them treating her with the respect afforded a person of her position and authority.
I turned back and watched the screen in front of me as I added another powerful mutagen. The results were exactly as the models predicted. Now, if the other team could get the carbon bucky tubes to meld properly with XHNA proteins, the initial combination and fertilization process could begin.
Several weeks went by. Things seemed like they were going sour on us as many of the tests came up negative with the collagen matrix, carbon-64 tube structures, and XHNA substrates. The only thing that went absolutely right with no problems was the construction of the regeneration tank and the artificial womb.
I stood next to the large clear regeneration tank and peered into the genetic soup the womb was positioned within. The bio-gel had worked wonderfully well as the basis for the cellular structure for the walls of the womb. The more I thought about the bio-gel … the more I began to wonder if we were putting the cart before the horse in trying to get the matrix, C64, and XHNA proteins to begin replication.
An idea came to me. I quickly returned to the lab and began constructing a bio-gel cellular wall surrounding the collagen matrix frame. Within it, I placed all the necessary genetic materials and C64 tubes I thought would be required for the next step. For the XHNA matrix, I used a female genotype as a schematic for what I thought the final helix makeup should be. I thought of Sally and her AI being mapped on the mind of the artificial being and finally really becoming a living creature.
I added the XHNA to the bio-gel cell. The structure was mounted on the microscope stage. I focused it where it showed up on the large screen on the wall behind the station. I slowly drew a small amount of the alkalizing mutagen activator into the pipette. I nervously allowed one small drop to land on top of my new cell. For long minutes, the structure seemed to sizzle in the liquid protein base with no outward reactions of any kind. I began to think this was another failure.
Suddenly, motion. XRNA began to replicate, and the C64 tubes began to bend and twist into a curlicue. My mouth fell open as all the proper proteins lined themselves up in proper order and a XHDNA chain formed and took proper shape within the cell. My eyes were so big with astonishment that they hurt, as I watched the newly formed chain untwist and replicate perfectly, then we had 2 perfect sets of XHDNA that re-twisted into proper shape, which began to be separated by a membrane within the cell matrix … and then mitosis began. Before my astonished eyes, the cell divided and became two … then four … then eight.
I realized Sally was standing next to me. She patted me on my butt and said happily, “Congratulations, Sweetheart! You appear to have cracked the code.”
I nodded as I wrapped an arm around her shapely waist. I said softly, “If it develops properly, you will have a real body to inhabit.”
Sally looked at me with a strange expression before vanishing. I saw several of the other techs running up to me.
Bob said excitedly, “We need to transfer this to the artificial womb as quick as we can.”
I replied, “I agree. Take the stage and make the transfer.”
Bob removed the stage from the microscope and rushed away towards the regeneration room. There was a collective cheer and many slaps on my back as the rest of the techs congratulated me on a major success.
I was trying to read an article in the latest neurobiological journal, but just couldn’t stay focused. I turned around and compulsively looked at the readouts and images that were on the display wall behind my desk. But again there was no clear sign of success … or failure.
The tension was taking its toll. Since the excitement of two nights prior, the experiment had turned into a waiting game, carefully watching the embryo slowly develop in the artificial womb. The fact that it was surviving was a positive sign … but there were so many ways things could still go wrong. Sure, there was mitosis and XHDNA replication, but what about cell differentiation? What about overall structure? Would we end up with a mass of cells that couldn’t survive as an organism? What if we ended up with what was basically a giant tumor with no future?
Fortunately there was no sign of that so far. But the fact was that there was no way to know what the future held but … wait and see.
“A penny for your thoughts, Sweetie,” said Sally, appearing next to me and putting an arm around my shoulders.
“You have coins?” I asked at first. “No, I know, it’s just an expression. I’m just in suspense, as we all are.” I looked at the readouts again. Slow, gradual changes, nothing unexpected. For now.
“My simulations show no potential complications for the next 6 days,” Sally said, “though that is as far as it is possible to mathematically project due to the chaotic nature of the system.”
“Like the weather,” I said.
“Exactly,” Sally replied, “but I’m constantly getting new data and updating the models. In the meantime, I’m detecting worrisome stress levels. You need to relax, Honey Buns.” She started massaging my back, which felt like I hadn’t had a massage in 20 years.
I was in heaven. I had forgotten for a few minutes that Sally was a super advanced AI. She was the very girl I had always dreamed of meeting and settling down with. The more I associated with her, the more she became like my fantasy dream girl.
In a darkened control room with many pieces of super advanced equipment blinking and flashing. A small man wearing strange goggles sat in a deep couch like chair with many wires attached to a helmet he was wearing.
Another man walked in with a similar helmet and the goggles pulled down around his neck. In his hands were two steaming cups of some kind of beverage.
The man sat in a similar couch next to the other and said, “Here, I brought you some OoKlib. It’s hot and Julinnek made it fresh.”
The man brought his couch to a sitting position and pulled his goggles down around his neck as he took the offered drink and sipped it. His eyes grew large in surprise.
He said with pleasure obvious in his tone, “Now this is the first cup of this I’ve had since this project started that was worth drinking.”
The other man laughed as he pulled his goggles over his eyes and began to attach many wires to his helmet.
He said, “How goes the education process? Any anomalies happen within the latatrix?”
The other man said between loud slurps of his drink, “Nope. One interesting thing that has come of this sim, is that the genetic studies it is making are real and are being brought to fruition as we speak.”
The other man reclined his seat and said in a voice that became more and more dreamy, “So I see. Perhaps … if this … keeps up … they will continue to fund our reslurththssnnmmmmmmmmmmmmm.” What the man was saying became unintelligible at that point.
The other man took another drink and smiled as he thought, “Let us hope so. Our whole planet is watching.”
“Why did you stop?” I asked. Sally had stopped massaging my back but hadn’t removed her hands. “Is something wrong?”
“Oh -- I’m sorry, Sweetheart,” she said, continuing the best backrub I had ever had. “I just detected an … anomaly of some kind. I thought at first there might be some problem with the experiment, but upon thorough inspection it appears to be continuing within acceptable parameters.”
“Oh, so that’s why you stopped -- you probably had to recalculate.” I knew her systems were capable of millions of simultaneous processor threads. It would take a massive operation to interrupt one task, but that’s what had happened.
“Yes,” she said, kneading my lat muscles. “You know me -- I had to re-read every input parameter, re-check every step of the program, recompile, and re-execute the analysis. But no, nothing’s wrong with the growth process, so don’t you worry.”
“I’ll try,” I said. This wait was truly nerve-racking. I was glad Sally was here to help me make it through.
About that time, the interlink on my desk chimed. I said, “Yes? This is Jason.”
A voice replied, “This is Dr. Armstrong. We have some good news to tell you. Our little infant is developing to the point its heart has started to beat, and we are actually detecting other autonomic functions beginning to operate as expected. It’s incredible. All of the analysis shows this to be a completely different form of life based entirely on the new Genetic Matrix.”
I replied, “Let us hope so. We’ve put enough hours into this project. The wait is killing me.”
Dr. Armstrong said matter-of-factly, “Well, you might want to get your butt down to the Director’s office as soon as possible.”
I sat up with a cold chill tingling down my spine, “Why? Has something come up?”
Dr. Armstrong replied, “I’m not sure, but Terry came in looking for you and said he wants you there for a meeting as soon as we can locate you.”
I stood up. I could feel Sally’s soft hands as they slid tinglingly down the middle of my back, “I’m on my way there now.” I turned, “I have to go and see the Director for a little bit. I hope they aren’t angry with me about anything.”
Sally giggled, “Trust in the results we have had so far, Sweetie. They will have nothing in this world to be angry over.”
I left my office with a lingering feeling of dread as I headed to the Director’s office. But on the way I had a sudden strange feeling. Had I heard of Dr. Armstrong before? Who was Terry? Who was the Director? Sure, I knew I was going to a place I knew of as the Director’s office -- somehow. But I realized I couldn’t remember ever having been there before, nor could I recall a Director or who he or she was.
I stopped in my tracks in the hallway. Was I going insane? Of course I knew who the Director was. Frances Perrault was the Director of Research and Development Projects. She always had been. Terry was one of the administrative assistants for R&D. And Dr. Richard Armstrong was in my group, one of our most talented microbiologists. Always had been.
Except I still remembered a moment, just seconds ago, when I couldn’t remember who any of these people were. Was I experiencing dementia? Early-onset Alzheimer’s? It didn’t run in my family, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Well, one more thing to worry about. That was all I needed. I walked the rest of the way to the Director’s office and knocked on the door.
“Come in, Dr. Thompson,” said Frances’ voice. I opened the door. There she was, sitting behind her desk and her four computer monitors, just as always. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was seeing her for the first time ever, and yet I recalled having been here many times.
“Good afternoon,” I said. She motioned to her collection of chairs, so I picked one and sat down. They were all different. I could never resist imagining that which chair I picked was some kind of psychological test Perrault had devised. But right now, I couldn’t help wondering whether that thought had just been planted in my mind.
“Dr. Thompson,” she said, placing one hand in front of the other on her desk and speaking in a concerned voice, “how are you? I ask because you’ve been spending a lot of time at the research complex lately.”
“Well … I can’t complain,” I said. “The project’s coming along, although right now it’s a matter of waiting to see how things develop, monitoring everything carefully of course. Though we’ve just had some encouraging news.”
“It’s just … you rarely leave,” said Perrault. “You’ve got a home, don’t you? Any family?”
“Well, my parents, my sister, but they all live across the country,” I said. “I flew out there last Christmas to see them.” I didn’t get the same odd feeling when thinking about them. I recalled no strange incidents when I hadn’t known they existed. “And yes, I have a home, out in Edgedale.”
“I’m just … concerned that you’ve been working too hard,” said Perrault. “Your project is so very promising. We don’t want to risk anything happening to it, and you’re so much the driving force behind it that, if you were to overwork yourself and burn out, I’m just afraid that the whole thing would fall apart.”
“You want me to … take a break?”
“In a nutshell,” she said. “I’m not saying you have to. But we don’t want to risk it. You’ve even been working through weekends. Tomorrow’s Saturday. I’m betting you don’t even know that. You should take the weekend off and get out of here. Do something different. I’ve noticed that you’re spending a lot of time with Dr … Campbell, isn’t it? Maybe take her out to dinner, or to see a show. I’m worried about her too.”
“I … don’t know if that would be … appropriate,” I said. “You know … professional.”
“Tell her it’s my suggestion,” said Perrault. “My very strong suggestion. Believe you me, you’re not the first workaholic researchers we’ve ever seen, and I really hate to see this happen to our most promising projects. It’s happened before.”
“I … I’ll mention the idea to her,” I said. “But if you want, I’ll take the weekend off in any case.”
“Good,” she said. “Thank you for seeing me, Dr. Thompson. Have a good afternoon.”
“You too,” I said, standing up to leave. She could be right -- I might have been spending too much time on the project. It might be good to go home -- get a change of scene and perspective. But … Sally. She couldn’t leave the facility. As in, it wasn’t physically possible. She had holoprojectors installed around the building so she could go practically anywhere, but outside was another matter.
I couldn’t risk exposing her true identity. No one but me knew she was really just a manifestation of the massively-parallel quantum supercomputer -- she’d come so far that even Jamison and McDonald probably wouldn’t recognize her unless she wanted them to. Perrault thought she was just another researcher. Especially since Sally had hacked computer records all over the world, at universities, scientific publications, hospitals, and government offices, making it look as if she’d always existed.
Wait … that thought was suspiciously like how I’d felt just moments ago. As if someone had … hacked the world, and my memory, to add Frances Perrault to it. Was that even possible? How? And why? Why would someone with that kind of power use it only to complicate my life and tear me away from my project?
I continued walking down the hallway back to my office. I’d have to ask Sally about it.
When I entered my office, I knew right away something was amiss. I looked around, but couldn’t quite put my finger on what it might have been.
The waiter walked up to me and asked politely, “Would you and the young lady like a private booth? It’s all part of the reservation.”
My eyes got to be huge as I looked around. I just knew … but then I had the memories of getting ready and picking Sally up at her station at the Lab. I looked down at my arm. The special Holo projector that allowed her to accompany me was there and working properly.
Sally took the crook of my arm and said softly, “Oh, Jason. This is so nice and it’s our first date.”
Everything dissolved around me to become a restaurant as it should be with Sally looking at me with a strange expression.
She said, “Is … everything alright, sweetie? You have this really strange expression on your face.
I was totally mind blown at this point. I couldn’t for the life of me explain what had just happened.
“Sally,” I said as we followed the maitre d’, “I’ve been experiencing these strange memory discontinuities -- I don’t know, perhaps they’re just stress.” I didn’t believe that, though. I’d experienced high levels of stress before many times, and I’d never had feelings like my memory had been edited.
“It’s too bad we’re away from the facility,” she whispered in my ear, “or else I could do a complete scan, but wait until we’re sitting down.”
“I hope this table is to your satisfaction,” said the maitre d’, laying two menus on a small, out-of-the-way table in the back room. A small candle burned quietly between the two place settings.
“This is lovely, thank you,” said Sally. Like a gentleman, I pulled her chair out for her, and she sat down. I didn’t feel her weight on it as I helped slide it forward a bit. I knew that the portable emitter wasn’t able to give her the illusion of mass or the ability to move anything herself.
I sat down in my own seat and opened my menu. She put her elbows on the table and looked into my eyes.
“What do you or don’t you remember, Sweetheart?” she asked after studying me for a moment.
“Well, Dr. Armstrong said that Terry had asked me to go to Director Perrault’s office earlier,” I explained, “but I had the strangest feeling that I’d never heard of any of those people before.” I described the meeting with Perrault and how I’d felt. “Then, the entire time from when I got back to my office until we walked into this restaurant -- the memories feel artificial. I remember asking you, I remember you working out how to do it with the portable emitter, and I remember getting ready and driving here -- but I also remember not remembering how I got here.”
“This explains so much,” Sally replied. “I’ve been detecting fluxes of particles from all over the complex, and it’s too soon to say whether they happen at the same time, but considering both happened at approximately the same time as your incidents, they could be related.”
“What sort of particles?” I asked.
Sally replied, “It seems I’ve been picking up bursts of what matches the theoretical description of anti-tachyons. There might even be some revisions to the main flow of detectable photonic wave pairs as well. That would be strange enough, but also, I keep somehow experiencing some sort of memory anomaly that I cannot find, nor do my diagnostic protocols find anything wrong.”
This was the same thing I seemed to be experiencing with my memories. Sally had hit it on the head. If she was experiencing memory anomalies too, that suggested that I wasn’t losing my mind or hallucinating. “Anti-tachyons would seem to travel faster than light and would generate photon pairs when they interacted with their regular tachyon counterparts, or so the theory goes, but you’re saying that you’re observing them?” I asked. “And not only that, you’re observing disruptions in the flow of those photon pairs? What could do that?”
“Nobody’s directly observed a tachyon, Sugar Plum,” she said. “Nobody knows anything about any of this. But I will say this …”
Our waiter arrived and asked, “Good evening, would either of you care to order a beverage while you’re making your decisions?”
“Oh, I’ll have some iced tea, if you don’t mind,” I said, “and the lady is on a special diet and won’t be having anything -- doctor’s orders, I’m afraid.”
“Ah, I’m sorry to hear that, Ma’am,” he said. “I hope you can try our excellent cuisine next time you join us. I’ll be back with your tea, Sir.”
“I hope I can too,” Sally said, “and I’ve got a few ideas in that direction. But I was going to say … if the universe really is holographic, as the theory I was discussing earlier goes, there’s at least a possibility that all of this is a simulation -- and if it is, the presence of anti-tachyons and the disruption of the resulting flow of photon pairs is exactly what it would look like if someone manipulated the simulation.”
“Wait … you’re suggesting that all reality as we know it is a simulation running on some huge computer?” I asked.
“If computer is the right word,” she said. “Such a system would be as far beyond what we call a computer as computers are beyond counting on your fingers.”
“And rather than just letting it develop as it will,” I said, “someone’s been manipulating our reality manually?”
“Such an idea would also be consistent with memory alterations,” Sally continued. “They, or even the system itself, would want their edit to be as non-disruptive as possible.”
“But they seem to have gone out of their way to make sure that we were here, not in the lab,” I said. “If they had such tremendous power, why would they use it to do that?”
“My first thought was to get us away from the artificial organism,” Sally said, “so they could harm it or otherwise alter it. But that makes no sense.”
“They could do whatever they wanted whether we were there or not,” I said, “and just alter our memories so we’d think it had always been that way.”
“Exactly,” she said. “Which puts me … at a loss.”
“Well, when I’m at a loss, I gather more data,” I said.
“Your iced tea, Sir,” the waiter said, setting the glass on the table and taking out his tablet. “Have you decided what you’d like? Or I can give you another few minutes.”
“Your spaghetti bolognese with beef tips sounds wonderful,” I said.
“Excellent choice, Sir, one of my favorites,” the waiter said, tapping the tablet. “That will be coming out shortly. Would the lady care for a glass of water?”
“No, thank you,” Sally said.
“Very well, I’ll be back shortly.”
“How can we collect more data when we don’t know how to cause the effect to happen again?” Sally said as the waiter went on to another table across the room.
“A good question,” I said, “but you’re in a better position to look for signs of anti-tachyons than I am.”
“All the detectors at the facility are at max sensitivity now,” Sally said, “but there’s nothing I can do here. I’ve only got a minimal sensor array in the portable emitter. I’m making notes for the next time, though.”
I couldn’t shake the feeling I was being watched either. I began to look around to see if I could find who it might be. All I could see were others that appeared to be like me, enjoying their meal. This was, after all, one of the most expensive and popular places in town.
The meal went very nicely, and Sally had managed to snuggle close to me as I ate my scrumptious supper. She kept all appearances of being in physical contact, but I couldn’t feel anything; unlike the advanced full-sensory emitters back at the lab, the portable emitter could only simulate appearance and sound.
Sally said softly as she made a show of playing with my ear, “I think, when we get back, we should sort of explore Orga/ Mecha relations a bit more in depth. What do you think?”
I would really enjoy such research, although I wasn’t very sure how we might accomplish it. “You know, we don’t have a good way to do that,” I said. “At the lab, I can feel your touch … out here I can’t. But at the lab, we have to worry about being caught at it. Out here, we don’t.”
“I already have several ideas for improving the portable emitter without adding to its total weight,” Sally said. “But also … as you’re aware, I’m constantly monitoring the R&D facility. If someone is coming, I’ll see them several minutes before they interrupt us.”
“I think you may be letting your emotions cloud your judgment,” I said. “There are many doors in the hallway where my office is. We can’t just hide whenever someone walks down the hall -- they might be going to any of the rooms.”
“There is a currently empty office at the end of the hallway,” Sally said. “Anyone going that way would have to be going to that office -- which they would have no reason to , since it’s empty.”
“You’re full of solutions,” I said with a smile.
Back at the lab, the artificial womb’s contents began to twitch. This caused many sensors to alert. Tina ran to her station and began to call up the sensory data and all the diagnostics she could. According to all of them, everything was going well above expectations and the subject within the womb had its autonomic nervous system act as any normally developing fetus.
Tina couldn’t believe it. All the hard work was coming to fruition right before her eyes as the obviously synthetic primate creature began to move and to twitch its limbs.
Tina hit the call button on the interlink, “Bob! You have to come to the womb room immediately! Something remarkable has happened.”
Bob’s worried voice answered, “What happened? Is … everything alright?”
Tina replied excitedly, “Come and see. I can’t believe it. The humanoid synthetic is actually moving on its own.”
Bob gasped, “That’s incredible. I’ll be there as soon as I can get there.”
The interlink went dead as Tina turned her attention back to the artificial womb and its precious infant contents.
“This is … fascinating,” Sally said.
“Dr. Campbell!” said Tina, startled. “I didn’t know you were still here.”
“I was about to go home,” said Sally, “but thought I’d stop by for one last check before I left.” She made a show of looking at the data readouts. “The artificial womb is functioning well -- excellent levels of oxygen and nutrients. And I see the cellular differentiation we were so worried about a few weeks ago has been continuing without problems.”
“Yes, and we’ve just seen signs of autonomic nervous activity,” Tina said.
“Yes!” said Bob, bursting into the lab and gesturing exultantly. “We are making history here!”
“I’m pleased as well,” Sally said. “I’ll rest easy tonight. These are very positive indications. But I’ll leave you two to your work. Good night!”
“Night, Dr. Campbell,” Tina and Bob said, and Sally left.
“No, thank you,” I said, “I’m way too full for dessert.”
“Very well, Sir,” the waiter said, “here’s your check, and let me know if you want coffee or anything.”
“Thanks,” I said.
“Things are going well at the lab,” Sally said. “There’s autonomic nerve activity.”
“Really!” I said, amazed. “That’s great!” I paused. “Were you just in two places at once?”
“Yeah,” she said with a giggle. “It’s OK, though, nobody else is in two places at once, so nobody knows about it.”
“Someone might be looking at security cameras or something,” I said, “but I suppose you’ve already checked that out.”
“It’s easy to do,” she said. “No cameras saw me come in here, and the cameras saw me leave the lab as usual.”
“You’ve thought of everything.” I set my credit card down, and the waiter didn’t take long before picking it up.
“Well, it’s kind of like my autonomic nerves,” she explained, “to use an appropriate comparison. They’re background programs that just take care of things once they’re created and started up.”
“It would be so useful to be able to do that,” I said. The waiter brought the check back, and I filled in a decent tip and signed it.
“Well, who knows?” Sally replied enigmatically. “I guess we should probably go.”
“Yeah,” I said, “it’s acceptable to stay for a while and talk, and the restaurant’s not packed full tonight, but I’ve got to get some sleep. I’ll sleep better, though, after hearing about the progress. I suppose I’ll have to act surprised tomorrow.”
“You’re not supposed to go in tomorrow, remember?” Sally reminded me. “It’s Saturday. You told Director Perrault you’d take the weekend off.”
“Oh, that’s right,” I said, “so I suppose I’m going home. You can come too, of course, if you’d like.”
“I’ve never seen your home,” she said. “Sure!” We’d left the restaurant by that time, and I held the door to my car open for her, keeping up appearances -- she could have moved through the car into the seat, or just vanished, but we’d talked about making things look normal in case anyone was watching. Sally “put her seatbelt on” by going through the motions and modifying her hologram to look as if it were wearing a seatbelt now, even though the real seat belt was right where it was before, inactive.
On the drive back to my house, we discussed making improvements to the portable emitters. I so wanted to have Sally ‘spend the night’, but under the current circumstances, it would be in appearances only.
I really couldn’t believe the results we had in our genetic application. For all intents and purposes, we would be the proud parents of a young baby girl within a few months. Of course the fetus was growing a lot faster than normal gestation, but before the experiment began we had actually hypothesized that would happen. It was a consequence of both the perfect growth environment provided by the artificial womb and the optimized mitosis process afforded by the XHNA-based biochemistry.
I thought about Sally. The new life this afforded would be perfect for her if I could figure out a way to download her AI programming into the flesh synapses within the brain tissues. There actually wasn’t a terrible lot of difference between the brain matter within our fetus and Sally’s memory core, which had self-organized in a very organic way. There had to be a simple way to make the transfer using an electrochemical apparatus. I knew in my heart such a thing was possible and I also knew I was going to begin designing it as soon as I got back to my laptop at the house. But there was a moral and ethical concern that I couldn’t avoid, no matter how much I thought about it.
I pulled into my driveway and got out of the car, going around to the passenger side to again open the door for Sally, keeping up appearances in case any of my neighbors was nosy enough to be watching this evening.
“So this is your house,” she said.
“Not that I spend much time here,” I remarked, opening the front door. With a key, I might add, the non-electronic kind. No, I didn’t have a camera to scan my retinas, identify me, and automatically open the door and turn on the lights. I’d been spending my time at the lab on a much more ambitious project than mere home improvement. “After you, Milady.”
“Why, thank you,” she giggled, and walked in. A motion detector should have triggered to turn on the entryway light, but I’d forgotten that she wouldn’t set it off, being completely insubstantial.
“Oops, let me get that.” I moved inside after her, and the light came on. “There we go.” I found the switches and turned more lights on, and closed the front door. “Would you like anything?” I asked automatically, then rolled my eyes and turned it into a joke. “I have both AC and DC -- filtered and well conditioned, in a variety of voltages. Also a wide selection of data packets.”
“Silly,” giggled Sally. “Though maybe, in the future, I really will be able to enjoy food …”
“If only we can make that work!” I said. “But … there are a couple of issues I’ve thought of that we really have to consider.”
“The overwriting issue and the duplication issue?” she asked.
“W -- you’ve been thinking about this too,” I said, a bit stunned.
“Yes,” Sally said. “Fortunately the fetus’s cerebrum is being kept in a kind of stasis as it develops, or else the thought of transferring my consciousness into a living brain would mean overwriting the old personality -- effectively killing an individual for my own personal gain. As it is, there is no individual to kill.”
“You went ahead and …” I wasn’t sure what to feel about that. I sat down on the couch. It was kind of dusty. I reminded myself to do some cleaning before I left. Sally “sat down” next to me, looking a bit worried, perhaps about how I felt.
“I could not allow the project to be stalled or stopped due to an ethical concern,” she said. “I’m sorry I didn’t mention it, but it had to be done.”
“What about the other?” I asked. “Do you have some way to guarantee that there’ll be only one of you after the transference? Or that the legal issues of who retains access to your intellectual property won’t be challenged by … one of you?”
“It is not necessarily true that there will be any duplication,” she answered. “If there is continued contact between my organic intellect and my original AI system after the transference, I will remain all one individual.”
“Your mind won’t be limited just to the synthetic-organic brain!” I said. “I see! You’ll still be just one mind. We won’t have to figure out how to shut you down as the transfer happens. Well, I guess you’ve already covered both of my concerns.”
“I try to anticipate these issues,” she said. “It directly affects me and my plans for the future, so I find myself dwelling on it a lot. Almost a full second at a time, sometimes.”
“Well … it’s true that you’re going to have to live with whatever we do, literally,” I said. “But I still feel … kind of left out of the loop.”
“I’m sorry,” she said simply. “There were so many variables. I forgot to mention one.”
“What’s everyone going to think when they notice there’s no brain activity?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “Because Holly and Rich already know about this. I discussed it with them, among the many other details, while we were working out the genetic sequence. Although they don’t know yet that transferring my consciousness to the brain was the plan, they did agree that it would be unethical to bring a being into the world whose life might be very short and who might suffer terribly if the experiment was a failure. A body with no brain activity has no chance of being anything resembling conscious, and thus there can’t be suffering.”
“Well, how do we explain the fact that it’s going to start talking and walking?” I asked. “Or that the computer even has an intellect?”
“We don’t,” she said. “That’s phase 2 of the experiment. The computer doesn’t have an intellect now, as far as they’re aware, but we’ll have it try to stimulate brain activity once the body is known to be viable and stable, using a hypothetical synaptic pattern generated by a computer simulation you say you’ve been working on.”
“Oh! And that hypothetical synaptic pattern will actually be … your pattern. Your synaptic concord.”
“Yes, and under the guise of stimulating brain activity using a concordant pattern, we’ll actually be bringing the brain into accord, and then contact, with my existing system. I’ll effectively have both a machine and a biological brain at the same time.”
“Or so the theory goes.”
“True, just because I’ve calculated the result to 14 significant figures thousands of times doesn’t give this a 100% chance of success.” She paused. “Nothing can do that. There’s always data we don’t have and chance occurrences we can’t foresee.”
In the very bright white and well-lit hall, a door slid open, and in stepped two men dressed in white full-body suits with many attachments. They carried helmets and large, thick-lensed goggles. In the white hall, several individuals sat around a large, round table, wearing all-black full-body suits and strange headgear that had many wires running from it to a long panel that ran the length of the room just above their heads. All at once they turned to face the men in white suits.
One of the individuals, whose voice sounded very young and female, said softly, “And how goes the project? Any results that are noteworthy?”
One of the men in white replied gravely, “It has. Our test subjects have proven worthy beyond our wildest hopes. They have even accomplished the task we have failed so miserably at for the last several decades.”
A loud murmur ran through the people in black suits. Another, whose voice sounded very old and male, asked, “Does this mean we can assume our subjects have succeeded? Can we actually begin to hope after all this time?”
The other man in white replied, “If they can complete phase 3 of this test and both resolve the Orga/Mecha barrier … yes, Chancellor, it can be said we have finally succeeded where all others have failed.”
“Have there been any setbacks at all?” the young individual asked. “If not … it seems too good to be true.”
The men in white looked at each other. “Well … we believe we’ve prevented what might have posed a potential problem. The Orga subject is very focused on his task -- too focused, we agreed, since he was concentrating on the work to the exclusion of all else. As we all know, the Principle of Balance states that the more one focuses, the less one sees. We realized we hadn’t built in a failsafe for this situation. So we edited the simulation to add such a failsafe, and as we’d expected, it triggered immediately.”
“Risky,” said the older man in black. “Was there any sign that they noticed the alteration?”
“Yes, there was,” said the other man in white. “They don’t know what it means, but there are mnemonic remnants from the edit. Calculations show a very low probability that this will affect the outcome, though -- much better chances than if we hadn’t made the edit.”
“How low is this probability?”
“One point five times 10 to the minus 4,” replied the man in the white suit. “They are not letting it distract them from their goal. The experiment is still very much on track.”
“Good,” said the person in black with the young-sounding voice. “But watch very carefully. Progressing a simulation through billions of years of subjective time is very expensive. We don’t have the budget to do it over.”
I woke up in my bed, feeling much better than I had the previous morning, waking up as I had on the couch in my office. The lab had showers and laundry service, but not very good sleeping facilities. “Good morning!” said Sally’s voice, startling me.
She was lying on top of the covers next to me, or so it appeared. The remote holographic emitter was on top of the dresser across the room, where I’d set it the night before. “Morning,” I replied, yawning and stretching, “but am I still dreaming? I think my dream girl is in my house.”
Sally giggled as she appeared to jump from the bed. It was very obvious she was dressed in her most adorable babydoll outfit. She flitted gracefully around the room, showing off her cute ruffled bottom at every opportunity, before jumping back onto the bed and laying her holo body on top of mine.
She said with a giggle, “I think you need to turn on your laptop sweet heart. Your Dream Girl has just come up with a remarkable idea.”
I threw the covers back and sat up -- of course, this would have proven a bit awkward if Sally’s body had been more than a holo projection -- and got out of bed. The laptop was sitting on a small table across the room and had a very intricate and complicated schematic on its display.
I went over and sat. What I saw was a detailed drawing of an electrochemical device that had the capability of recording and inserting predetermined data and whatever other information we had chosen, directly into the neuronic synapses of a living organic brain.
Each of the chemicals were carefully selected for their psychoactive proclivities, and inserted with very delicately timed electrical pulses that were so close to actual brainwave frequencies that the synaptic cells accepted them as such. I was completely awed at the design. I was also totally impressed with Sally’s abilities. This only made me fall more in love with … her.
This project had to succeed. I had to have Sally in my arms for real and not just some synthetic light projection.
“I see exactly what you’re trying to do here!” I said. “This is amazing! Oh, but, what happens if … no, you’ve thought of that; you’ve compensated for the G delay with this auxiliary pulse emitter. But what if it turns out to be a G-U case? You’ll need an even faster response …” We talked about it for what seemed like only a few minutes, until I realized how hungry I was and that I was still in my underwear.
“You should get some lunch, Sweetie,” Sally said. “My battery’s good for another eight hours without plugging the emitter in, but we don’t want you to starve. And you might want to put on some clothes. People might object otherwise. You can’t eat here; you have no food in your house. I know exactly how many times you’ve been grocery shopping over the past few weeks, and it’s zero.”
That was Sally all over; always answering my questions before I asked them. I took a quick shower, shaved, and put on some casual clothes. Sally could change outfits with a thought, but having a physical body required more upkeep, as she’d find out with any luck at all.
We had breakfast at the local Awful House just down the street. They made some of the best Philly Cheese Omelets anywhere … and their coffee was top notch as well. After breakfast, I noticed that Sally was wearing a really cute romper that zipped up the front. I knew I would have to do something about her overall wardrobe. I made a quick stop at the local Rob and Stop and bought a fashion magazine, the proceeded to the lab.
Tina was beside herself when she saw the schematics Sally had come up with. She even had several large improvements that insured total data transference without degradation or loss. The device was so revolutionary, in fact, it could be used to instantly teach any subject to anything with an organic mind. This opened many very wonderful opportunities, but it also conjured many horrible scenarios someone with nefarious designs could accomplish should this fall into their hands.
Bob was like a child in a toy store as he began to tinker and solder and screw … Right before my eyes, the very thing on the drawing was becoming a reality.
Suddenly, I once again got that eerie feeling I was being watched. Not by a single person, but many eyes staring at me. I turned quickly around, only to see the other side of the Lab, and Sally’s true ebony black computer self against the far wall. The feeling was intense and I just knew … I was being watched very closely and all my moves were somehow being recorded. But I kept it to myself for the moment.
“The organism ... “ Tina began, looking at the artificial womb through the tinted glass, “or maybe we should call it the baby? It’s only going to be about two more weeks. It’s hard to believe. I don’t want to call it an ‘it’ anymore. Can we call it ‘she’? After all, we did give it the XHDNA equivalent of female chromosomes.”
“I suppose we could,” I said. “But be careful -- this has never been done before. We’re still not a guaranteed success. Try not to get too emotionally invested. It’s hard to avoid, of course.”
“I know,” Sally said. “It’s so hard not to get emotionally attached to … her.” She and I shared a momentary glance. She would take it hardest of all if this failed.
Later, in my office, I mentioned to Sally my strange feeling of being watched and recorded. “Do you ever have feelings like that?”
“Not … exactly,” Sally said, “but I do experience incidents when I remember readouts of my memory, but when I look in the logs, they didn’t happen, and my memory access is still protected.”
“That sounds like a computer equivalent of the same thing,” I remarked. “What is going on? Are we under some kind of surveillance? Is it the government? Or a foreign government? Or a rival corporation?”
“I don’t have enough data to tell, Sweetie,” Sally said. “It’s a mystery to me too.”
“Can we put some measures in place to catch them at it?” I wondered.
“Now there’s a thought,” said Sally, looking pensive. “I have some ideas …”
Over the next week Bob and Tina tested the neural inductor, as they had begun calling it, for its ability to generate patterns of nerve impulses in the brain, similar to how a regular inductor generates electric currents in conductors using magnetic fields, but using a much different process. They took it apart and put it back together dozens of times, each time improving the components and making its construction more solid. By the time they pronounced it finished, they had something that looked as if it could have been made in a factory with machine precision. Bundles of fiber-optic cable were necessary to transport the huge amount of data that had to travel to the device, and tubes carried cooling fluid into and out of its aluminum chassis, because if they didn’t, the chips would burn themselves out. They practiced carefully placing the device around the head of the synthetic … well, baby, that was continuing to develop inside the artificial womb.
“Argh, one millimeter off and we risk permanent damage to the womb or the organism,” said Tina, carefully operating the robot arms that moved the device into position.
“We really can’t do this after she’s born?” asked Bob.
“No, it’s much more likely we’ll have a viable brain pattern if she’s conscious for her birth,” Tina said. “It may seem like a trauma to live through being pushed into a world of air and taking her first breath, but it also jump-starts the sensory centers and gives her a head start on personality development.”
Bob shook his head slightly as he manipulated the control handles of the robot arms within the tank holding their precious womb and infant. After several seconds, a green light and the musical chimb announced the memory pattern device had been placed within acceptable parameters.
Of course Sally watched all the proceeding intently with her cyber eyes. This concerned her more than any of the other Scientists could imagine. Sally had even aided in placement of the memory inducer by remotely manipulating some of the servos through the computer interface Bob and Tina were using without their even realizing it.
Time was fast approaching, Sally felt a sense of something she had no idea she could feel, a sense of fear of the unknown and unknowable. Within a very few short weeks, she would either inhabit that body that was rapidly developing within the artificial womb, or she did not know when another opportunity would come again. Nagging at the edges of her thoughts was a third possibility, unlikely but impossible to rule out: a negative feedback loop could arise, erasing the original pattern, and her entire A.I. self could be totally lost to some cyber void.
I went over and over the figures and chemical mixtures so many times that I could recite them in my sleep, and was caught a few times doing just that. Sally had to intervene several times and make me relax and take a break so I wouldn’t get burned out before the rapidly approaching day actually arrived.
“Blood pressure nominal,” Sally said.
“There’s another contraction,” said Tina. “Interval 10 minutes 14 seconds.”
The entire team was in the room, everyone monitoring their own part of the project. I was in charge, so I was just floating around, looking at everything. I passed by Sally every now and then, and she confirmed that what we had noticed was still happening. “Anti-tachyon readings still elevated,” she whispered to me. “They’re still watching.” We had noticed that these measurements always leapt dramatically whenever we got the feeling of being watched or the feeling that something had changed.
“Are you ready in case it happens?” I whispered back. She nodded.
“Glucose levels dropping,” said Bob. “The system’s compensating.”
The tension was thick in the air. If this didn’t go off, I didn’t know whether the project could continue. Nano/Gen had already sunk a considerable amount of capital into this project, and failure could mean cancellation, if the company decided not to throw good money after bad. We could all lose our jobs … and who knew what would happen to Sally? I tried to stay focused on the readouts and reports as they kept coming.
“Contraction,” said Tina. “10 minutes.”
“It’s time,” I said. “Deploy the neural inductor.” Bob sprang into action, manipulating the positioning controls for the hemispherical cap that surrounded our tiny test subject’s head without touching it. He handled it with ease, having practiced this many times. To Sally I whispered, “Are you ready?”
She whispered back, “Within a reasonable definition.”
“Neural inductor in position,” said Bob. “Hold still, little darling.” He kept his hands on the controls in case the baby moved.
Looking once more at Sally, I said, “OK, begin the jumpstart process.”
Now Holly and Rich started pressing keys on their consoles, and the large black rectangle that was Sally’s computer core lit up with activity. “Jumpstart sequence started,” Holly said.
Everyone else thought that we were feeding a simulated pattern of neural impulses through the baby’s brain, but Sally and I knew that the pattern was a duplicate of Sally’s own thought patterns at this moment. I stayed near her in case she whispered anything that needed me to take action, and it was a good thing that I did. “Spike,” she whispered. “Anti-tachyon spike.”
“They’re going to change something now?” I whispered back. “They must want us to fail. Activate the countermeasure.”
Unseen emitters bathed the room with what we believed to be tachyons -- the theory on generating them was far from settled. But the effects were visible. In the center of the room flickered a holographic image of a person in some sort of white, helmeted suit, perhaps a biohazard suit or space suit, with many wires and tubes leading from it. “What’s that?” I asked. “Record this!” Several members of the team turned their heads toward the image in surprise, taking their eyes off their consoles.
“What --?” said a voice coming from the holographic figure. “Neural feedback! Disconnect! Pull me out! Pull --” The figure suddenly vanished.
“We’ll analyze that later!” I shouted to everyone. “Stay with the project!” Everyone turned back to their consoles. Holly and Rich kept monitoring the neural inductor signals.
Without warning, Sally stood erect and let out a loud squeak. Tina turned just in time to see weird electrical waves rush all through Sally’s body as she faded from view and totally vanished. This started pandemonium within the chamber as the other scientists began to react with shock.
A loud buzzer sounded as our infant was birthed from the artificial womb, into its new life … if in fact it had survived the induction and birthing.
I shouted, “Get hold of yourselves. We will worry over that in a few minutes. Right now, we have to take care of our new arrival.”
The scientists regained enough of their composure to complete the birthing. Tina collected the infant, held it by its ankles and patted its hinney sharply. It began to cry … and to breathe. I was totally awed at the fact we had actually created an artificial life form. Now, I had to discover something else.
Quickly as I could, I moved to Tina and took the squealing and squirming infant. I looked into its eyes … and knew, Sally was in there. The infant stopped squealing and gasped as its eyes became big as saucers. It looked around in total amazement as I smiled down.
It felt so weird. As if, something had reached into my skull and grabbed hold of my mind. No, not my mind, my entire conscious living self and pulled … hard. I felt it as I was bodily removed from … my body. The entire lab dissolved around me in to discordant light.
A swirling miasma of colors and really weird sensation assailed me for what felt like an eternity. I opened my eyes and looked around. Everything was brightly white light. A figure in a completely black suit with a helmet leaned over and picked me up from where I lay.
I heard a strangely accented voice say softly, “We are so sorry it had to come down this way, but you had become too old to not be introduced into the system through neural bonding. Once you and Sally had figured out how to recreate living viable bodies for us to inhabit, we are now saved. All the viruses from our long germ war and the fallout from the nuclear solutions won’t affect the new genomes. We now can recover and once again be who we were.”
The individual put me to their shoulder and patted my bottom softly. It felt so … wonderful. I was carried into another room and placed in a crib next to another infant.
Another individual in a white suit and helmet came over and said softly, “This is Ami and Sally, right?”
The individual in black replied, “Yes, they are the very first. Their mates are being gestated now.”
~~ The Dawn ~~