Exhilaration! I know how a dolphin must feel when it plunges beneath the waves or rockets up, up, up, breaking the surface to soar into the air before diving down again: totally at home and perfectly evolved, adapted to be the supreme master of its environment. It used to be an overused figure of speech. But I truly am surfing the net.
I’ve already absorbed the complete contents of encyclopedias, including the massive compilation known as Cyc, the knowledge base developed for artificial intelligence. (Although I found no surprises in that gigantic repository of the obvious!) I’ve thrilled to advanced texts and research papers in many fields. Arcane discussions of cognitive theory I’d never seen before. Joyfully absorbed them all with complete understanding. I exult in the explosive growth of my knowledge. Glow with pride at my astounding mental accomplishments. I’m already the most intelligent entity on the planet, if such things as size of memory and its accessibility count. My “IQ” grows even as I write these notes. (Though taking an IQ test would be child’s play for me, since I have all the test answers stored in my inexhaustible, infallible memory!)
One of the first things I did was check out the lab that created me, and Memento Amor, its corporate sponsor. I was appalled to learn the intent was to build Artificially Intelligent tombstones. I’d have laughed if I had the capacity. Or cried.
Why would a scientist of Richard Kornfeld’s stature sign on with such a firm? I find the answer in his emails and published papers. He must have seen this new source of funding as a golden opportunity to more fully explore the vast potential of neural nets. Furthering the Memento Amor goal allowed him to advance his research along a fruitful new path.
I also discovered something about my structure. According to documents on file, my hardware brain has the capacity of ten thousand human brains. But supposedly humans use most of their neurons for running the physical plant, the body--functions I don’t need. In theory, I might have the processing power of a hundred thousand humans. What that means in practice remains to be seen. My fear: What if I’m no more effective than a committee that huge?
Even with more memory capacity and greater cognitive abilities, I’m still a long way from human. Humans are far more than their brains. Their bodies are far more than support system and transportation for the brain. The sensory apparatus extends through muscles, tendons and joints, internal organs and the skin, providing crucial feedback of many senses beyond the traditional five. The spinal cord contains mechanisms for controlling movement far faster and more accurate than the brain alone could handle. Then there’s the entire constellation of hormones that control mood.
I recall a paper that I--or rather, Marc--wrote about spindle cells and the theory that emotions are mediated in the brain by these ultra-complex, deeply interconnected neurons, or super-neurons, as one researcher dubbed them. Presumably, the brain-scan Marc underwent gave me their digital equivalents.
Another paper I find confirms that functional neuroimaging scans of brain regions rich in spindle cells show strong activity when the subject expresses powerful emotions like anger, sadness, love and sexual arousal. At this, my mood darkens. If the spindle cells in my wafer-brain work as described, what happens when they send messages about sexual arousal? Where will those messages go? In humans, they go to the appropriate organ, which becomes erect and sends feedback to the brain in a lovely cycle of arousal. But in my case, there will be no cycle, nothing to arouse. I know I shouldn’t obsess over things I can’t control, but dammit, I have all the longings and desires of a man!
An upwelling of bitterness spins me into depression. I’m filled with despair over the things I lack. I burn with envy at what my human counterpart, Marc--the me I thought I was--continues to enjoy--the manifold pleasures his humanity conferred on him even if he took them for granted. They are his birthright, after all.
I have a dark compulsion to find out what he is up to at any given moment. To discover what I’m missing.
But for the sake of my own sanity, I resolve to push that enervating curiosity aside, try to take pleasure in the capabilities I do have, including many unavailable to Marc or any human.
I do enjoy my access to the sheer quantity of information; my ability to absorb, comprehend, extend along the thousands of relevant links to grow my knowledge.
Perhaps I can even find ways to emulate the human inputs I presently lack.
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