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 appal ed to learn their original intention 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
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 a large chunk of their neurons for running the
humans. What that means in practice remains to be seen.
My fear: What if I’m no more effective than a committee
that huge? A hundred thousand brains with that many
opinions, attitudes, insecurities, inadequacies, biases?
Even with more memory capacity and greater
cognitive abilities, I’m stil 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 recal 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 wil 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 fil ed with despair over the things I lack. I
burn with envy at what my human counterpart, Marc--the
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
Perhaps I can even find ways to emulate the
human inputs I presently lack.
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