Are military nurses considered veterans?

The turing option

HARRY HARRISON & MARVIN MINSKY THE TURING OPTION novel translated from the American by CHRISTIAN MÄHR German ...

Author: Harrison Marvin Harry And Minsky


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HARRY HARRISON &

MARVIN MINSKY

THE TURING OPTION

novel

Translated from the American by CHRISTIAN MÄHR German first edition

WILHELM HEYNE VERLAG MUNICH

HEYNE SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY Volume 0605647 Title of the original American edition

THE TURING OPTION

German translation by Christian Mähr

Michael Hasted painted the cover picture

Editor: Wolfgang Jeschke

Copyright © 1992 by Harry Harrison & Marvin Minsky

First published in 1992 by Warner Books, Inc. New York

With kind permission of the authors and

Thomas Schlück, Literary Agency, Garbsen

Copyright © 1997 of the German translation

by Wilhelm Heyne Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Munich,

with the kind permission of Thomas Schlück

Printed in Germany 1997

Cover design: Atelier Ingrid Schütz, Munich

Technical support: M. Spinola

Typesetting: Schaber Satz- und Datentechnik, Wels

Printing and binding: Elsnerdruck, Berlin

ISBN 3-453-11912-6

What would actually happen if a computer were connected to the most highly developed organ on this planet: the human brain? Marvin Minski, former head of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the world-famous SF author Harry Harrison describe in this high-tech thriller the fantastic and breathtaking possibilities of a technology that will become a reality in the near future: the tuning option . When Brian Delaney, a brilliant twenty-four-year-old mathematician, sustained serious gunshot wounds in a robbery on his laboratory, scientists tried to reconstruct his brain using electronic implants - according to a program that Brian himself wrote. But memories of the last ten years seem to have been lost for good.

The Turing Test

In 1950, Alan Turing, one of the early pioneers of computer science, was concerned with the question of whether a machine would ever be able to think. But because it is so difficult to define thinking, he suggested starting with an ordinary digital computer, increasing the memory size and speed, entering a usable program, and only then asking whether the machine could play the role of a human. His answer: »The question 'Can machines think' is so pointless in my opinion that any discussion is superfluous. Nevertheless, I believe that by the end of the century general usage and opinion will have changed in such a way that it will be possible to speak of thinking machines without arousing contradiction. "

Chapter 1

Ocotillo Wells, Calif. February 8, 2023 J. J. Beckworth, chairman of Megalobe Industries, was concerned, even if long years of self-control did not reveal anything of this internal state. He wasn't worried, nor was he afraid; he was just worried. He turned in his armchair, watched the spectacular sunset in the desert. The red sky behind the San Ysidro mountain range cast rust-brown light on the Santa Rosa mountains, which stretched out on the northern horizon. The evening shadows of the candle bushes and cacti drew long lines on the gray desert sand in front of him. Usually the somber beauty of this picture soothed and relaxed him; it wasn't like that today. The soft ringing of the intercom startled him from his thoughts. "What is it?" He asked. The machine recognized his voice and switched on. The secretary began to speak. "Dr. McCrory is here to see you. ”J. J. Beckworth hesitated, knowing what Bill McCrory wanted and tempted to keep him waiting. No, it was better to put him in the picture. "Send him in!" The door hummed, McCrory stepped in, crossed the room with long strides, silently - the footsteps muffled by the deep-pile, pure-wool Youghal rug. A wiry one

bony man; next to the stout, bulky figure of the chairman, he looked like a beanstalk. He was not wearing a jacket, his tie hung loosely around his neck; in the upper regions of Megalobe it was quite casual. But he was wearing a tie, his engineering pockets stuffed with pens and pencils. "Sorry to bother you, J. J." He kneaded his fingers nervously, not wanting to let the company's general manager get across. “But the demonstration is ready now.” “I know, Bill, I'm sorry I kept you waiting. Something came up; I couldn't leave right away. ”“ Any delay brings us security problems… ”“ I am aware of that. ”J. J. Beckworth did not show his annoyance; He never did that to people who were below him in the company hacking order. Perhaps McCrory did not realize that the general manager had personally overseen the drafting and drafting of all safety regulations for this facility. He smoothed the silk sulka tie, the cold smile in itself was a reprimand. “But we have to wait a little longer: there was a sudden huge surge in buy orders on the New York Stock Exchange. A few degrees before closing. "" Our stocks, sir? "" Ours. Tokyo is still open, they now have 24-hour trading, and the same thing seems to be happening there. Doesn't make any sense financially. Five of the largest and most powerful electronics companies in the country founded this company. You control Megalobe 100 percent. By law, a certain share of shares must be traded

but it cannot be a takeover bid. "" Then what could it be? "" I wish I knew! We'll get reports from our brokers soon. Then we can go down to your laboratory. What else did you want to tell me? ”Bill McCrory smiled nervously. “I think Brian would have explained that to you better. He says it is this major breakthrough that he was expecting. I'm just afraid I don't understand much about it personally. A lot of this AI stuff is too high for me. Communication is my field. ”J. J. Beckworth nodded understandingly. A lot was going on in this research center that was not originally taken into account. Megalobe was actually founded for one purpose: to catch up with the Japanese on HDTV and hopefully overtake them. High definition television; it started with a wider screen and over a thousand lines of screen. The United States almost missed the boat. It was only the late realization that the global television market was dominated by foreigners that the founding companies of Megalobe and the Pentagon were brought together - but only after Congress changed the antitrust laws to allow this new form of industrial consortium - with the attorney general looking the other way. As early as the 1980s, the Ministry of Defense - or rather, one of the few technically competent departments, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - recognized that HDTV was not only an important instrument for future warfare, but also vital for industrial progress in future technologies. Even in the years of budget cuts it had

DARPA managed to get the necessary research funding. When the decision was made to found the company, all the forces of modern technology were combined with full steam on a barren stretch of land in the Californian desert. Before, there had only been desert sand here - and a few orchards that were supplied with deep water. Now there was a large, modern research center. A good number of new, exciting projects had been embarked on. J. J. Beckworth knew this, but had very vague ideas about some of the details. As chairman, he had more pressing responsibilities - building consensus with six different bosses. The red lamp on the phone tore him from his thoughts. “Yes?” “Mr. Mura, our Japanese broker. ”“ Put it on it. ”He turned to the picture on the screen. “Good afternoon, Mura-san.” “You too, Mr. J. J. Beckworth. Sorry to bother you at this late hour. ”“ It's always my pleasure to hear from you. ”Beckworth fought his impatience. That was the only possible way to deal with the Japanese. The form had to be preserved under all circumstances. "And surely you would not have called me if the matter were of no importance." As a simple employee, I can only report that the flood of Megalobe purchase orders has now turned around. The latest curves are on their way to me. I'll have them on my desk in a moment ... just a moment. ”For a tiny moment the picture remained on the screen, the lips did not move: only now did you see that Mura was actually speaking Japanese, his words became

promptly translated into English, the movements of the lips and facial muscles coordinated with the words with computer simulation. Now he turned around, a sheet of paper was handed to him. He smiled as he read it out. “Very good news! The price has fallen to its original value. ”J. J. Beckworth rubbed his chin. "Any idea what this was all about?" "To my greatest regret, I have to tell you that I know nothing about it - except for the fact that the group involved lost almost exactly a million dollars in the process." Thank you for your help, I am waiting for your report. ”J. J. Beckworth cut the connection, the voice fax machine behind him immediately started and hummed the printed version of the conversation. His words were printed in black, those of the Japanese in red for better distinction. The translation system was well programmed; he saw only the usual mistakes as he scanned the text. His secretary would file the fax so that it could be used immediately. And Megalobe's main translator would double-check the translation. "What does it all mean?" Asked Bill McCrory, puzzled. He was an ace at electronics, but the secret doctrine of the stock market - all Bohemian villages for him. J. J. Beckworth shrugged. “I don't know - maybe we'll never know. Maybe it was just a high-flying broker looking for a quick profit, or a big bank changed its mind. Now it doesn't matter either way. I think we'll have a look at what you

in-house genius has boiled down again. Brian - that's his name, isn't it? "" Brian Delaney, sir. But I have to call first, it's getting late. ”It was dark outside, the first stars were in the sky, the lights in the office had switched on automatically. Beckworth nodded in agreement and pointed to the phone on the table at the far end of the room. While the engineer made the call, J. J. called his diary on the screen, deleted today's work, went through the appointments for the next day. Looked like a busy day - just like any other. He pressed his programmable clock to the terminal. PLEASE WAIT appeared on the screen, COMPLETED a moment later as the computer transferred the next day's appointments to the clock. Nice. That's it. Every evening around this time, before leaving, he took a fifteen-year-old Glenmorangic scotch. He glanced in the direction of the camouflaged bar and smiled barely. Not yet. The scotch could wait. Bill McCrory pressed the mute button on the phone before speaking. “I'm sorry, J. J., but the labs are closed. It'll take a few minutes to organize our visit. ”Excellent! Beckworth thought - and he meant it. There had been numerous good reasons to build the research center here in the middle of the desert. Two considerations had been the absence of any pollution and low humidity - but far more important was the sheer emptiness of the desert. Because the main focus was on security. Long ago, in the 1940s, at the very beginning of industrial espionage, there were unscrupulous companies

discovers that stealing the secrets of another society was far easier than spending time, energy - and money - on your own results. With the development of computer technology and electronic surveillance, industrial espionage had blossomed into a large growth industry. The main and general problem for Megalobe was therefore the construction of the safety device for the new system. As soon as the few farms and empty desert had been bought, an impenetrable fence was drawn around the whole area. Not really a real fence - and not really impenetrable, there was no such thing. It was a whole series of fences and walls, military wire on top, hung with detectors - other detectors were buried in the ground, camouflaged with holographic motion detectors, the ground littered with pressure sensors, vibration sensors and other devices. The whole formed a boundary that clearly said: "Stop!" As good as impossible to penetrate; but if a person or a device did get through - well, headlights, cameras, dogs and armed guards would be waiting inside. Even after the fencing was completed, construction did not begin until after every single piece of wire, cable, or drainage pipe had been dug up and removed. A surprising find was a prehistoric burial site of the Yuman Indians. The work was interrupted, everything was carefully excavated by archaeologists and transferred to the Yuman and Shoshone Museum in San Diego. Then, and only then, the meticulously monitored construction began. Most of the buildings had been prefabricated on closely guarded grounds. Electronically sealed, checked and resealed. After the transport to the construction site, the entire test procedure was run again. J. J.

Beckworth personally monitored. Without the best available security standard, the whole company would have been pointless from the start. Bill McCrory looked up from the phone. He sounded nervous. “I'm sorry, J. J., but the time locks are already activated. Will be at least half an hour before we can make our visit. We could postpone it until tomorrow. ”“ It won't work. ”He called up the next day's appointments on the clock. “My plan is full, including lunch in the office, and I've got a flight at four. So now or not at all. Get Toth on. Let him take care of it. "" Maybe he's gone already. "" Not that one! Be first to come and last to go. ”Arpad Toth was the chief of security. In addition, he had overseen the implementation of all security measures; that seemed to be the only thing that interested him in life. As McCrory called, J. J. decided that the moment had come. He opened the bar and poured himself three fingers of malt whiskey, added the same amount of non-carbonated Malvern water - no ice, of course! - took a small sip and sighed with satisfaction. “Help yourself, Bill. Toth was still there, wasn't it? "" Thanks, I'll just have Ballygowan water. - Not only was he there, he will also be monitoring the visit himself! "" He has to. We have to enter the code for an 'access after work', together, him and me. And if one of us types in a wrong number, intentionally or unintentionally, all hell breaks loose. "" I didn't realize until now that it is so strict about security ... "

“It's a good thing. None of your business. Everyone who enters these laboratories is monitored in ten different ways by Sunday. At exactly five the doors are locked more tightly than the vaults in Fort Knox. After that it's still easy to get out; Scientists like to work late into the night, or they go through it at all. Surely you have already done it. You will soon find out that it is almost impossible to get back in. If Toth is here, see what I mean. ”Opportunity to watch the satellite news. J. J. touched the buttons on the desk.The wallpaper and paintings on the far wall disappeared; the news channel's logo appeared. The high-definition television with its sixteen thousand lines that had been developed here was a sensation in terms of the realism of the image reproduction; the device was so successful that it had gained a large share of the world market in television, virtual reality and workstations. This screen consisted of tens of millions of microscopic mechanical locks, a product of nanotechnology. The image and color fidelity of Beckworth's screen was so excellent that, in a way that nobody had noticed until now, the wallpaper and paintings were just digital images - until he turned them off. He took a sip of his drink and watched the news. Basically he only looked at the news - and only what interested him. No sport, no advertising, nothing with cute animals or pop singer scandals. The television computer used a list of priorities to select exactly the programs Beckworth wanted to see. International financial market, stock market reports, audience ratings, cash flows in currency transactions,

only messages with an economic background. All of this was selected and updated continuously, twenty-four hours a day. When the security chief arrived, the wallpaper and paintings were visible again. They drank up. Arpad Toth's iron-gray hair was still as short as it had been in all his years as D.I. in the Marines. On that traumatic day when he was finally almost forcibly retired, he'd gone straight to the CIA from the Marine Corps - they welcomed him with open arms. It had been a number of years since then - with a series of covert operations - but then there was a major disagreement with his new employers. It had taken all of J.JS's industrial leverage and the company's military channels to find out the cause of the row. The report was destroyed as soon as J. J. read it. What was burned into his mind, however, was the simple fact that the CIA a plan presented by Toth was too brutal from start to finish! That was just before the CIA's operations department was closed, when much of its activities were already exuding an odor of desperation. Megalobe had quickly made Toth an extremely lucrative offer as head of security for the planned project; and since then he has been there. Wrinkled face, thinning gray hair - but not an ounce of fat on the muscular body. Unthinkable to ask him his age or to talk about retirement. He had entered the office silently, taken a position. His expression was dark as always; no one had ever seen him smile. "Everything ready, sir." Let's get started. I don't want it to last all night. ”Even as he spoke, J. J. Beckworth turned - no one needed to know he was in the security key

a special recess in the belt buckle - then he walked across the office to a steel plate set into the wall. He turned the key, the wall swung open, a red light began to flash inside. He now had five seconds to type in his code. Only when the light turned green did he beckon Toth over. J. J. stowed the key in the hiding place while Toth entered his code, the fingers moving, invisible from the outside, in the electronic control box. He had just finished, had closed the steel door when the phone rang. J. J. verbally confirmed the planned procedure with the main security check, hung up and walked to the door. “The computer is now processing the commands,” said J. J. “In ten minutes it will provide us with entry codes at the outer laboratory terminal. We then have a one-minute window to get in; then the whole operation will stop automatically. Let's go. ”If security was invisible during the day, it certainly wasn't at night. On the short distance from the office block to the laboratory building, they met two patrolling guards with dogs of treacherous appearance on taut leashes. The area was lit as bright as day. Cameras turned and followed them on their way. Another guard with an Uzi ready to fire was waiting at the laboratory entrance. Although the man knew all of them personally - his own boss especially well - he had to check everyone's ID cards before unlocking the security box. J. J. waited patiently for the green light to come on. He entered the correct code, then put his thumb on the impression plate because the computer checked the thumbprint too. For his part, Toth repeated the procedure, then typed in the number of visitors at the request of the computer.

“The computer needs your thumbprint too, Dr. McCrory. ”It wasn't until that was done that the engines buzzed in the frame and the door popped open. “I'll just take you to the laboratory,” said Toth. “I'm not released for this time. If you want to leave, call me on the red phone. ”The laboratory was brightly lit. A thin, nervous man in his early twenties could be seen through the armored glass door. He was already waiting for her; ran his fingers restlessly through his messy hair. "He looks a little very young for the responsibilities he has," said J. J. Beckworth. "He's young - but you have to remember he left college before he was sixteen," said Bill McCrory. “And at nineteen he had his doctorate. If you've never seen a genius before, check out this one now. Our headhunters kept a close eye on his career, but he was a loner with no interest in industry; Has declined all offers. "" Then why is he working for us now? "" Overcome. This type of research is time consuming and expensive. As his fortune began to run low, we approached him with a contract that would be mutually beneficial. At first he refused - after all, he had no choice. ”Both visitors had to identify themselves at another security station before the last door finally opened. As they went in, Toth stepped aside; the computer carefully counted the visitors. They heard the door lock, lock, behind them. J. J. Beckworth took the lead. He knew the easier it was to make this meeting

did the faster he would get results. He took Brian's hand and shook it vigorously. “I'm really happy, Brian! I wish we could have met earlier. So far, I've heard only good things about your work here. My congratulations! And thank you for taking the time to show us your results. ”Brian's fair Irish skin turned bright red at the unexpected praise. He wasn't used to that. And he wasn't familiar with the business world either - otherwise he would have recognized that the chairman could turn his charm on and off at will. Well, be it or not, he got the result he wanted. He was more than relieved now and eager to answer and explain. J. J. nodded with a smile. “I've been told you've made a major breakthrough. Is that so? "" I do! You could really call it that - the end of ten years of work. Or better: the beginning of the end. There is still a lot of development work to be done. "" I was given to understand that it had something to do with artificial intelligence. "" Yes, that's right. I think we've finally got something like real AI. "" Well, take it easy, young man! I always thought AI had been around for decades? ”“ Sure. Back then, they wrote and used a few small, nifty programs - and called them AI. But what I have here goes way beyond that - with abilities that may rival those of the human mind. ”He hesitated. “I'm sorry, sir, I don't want to give a lecture here. But how familiar are you with this area? "

“To be completely frank, I don't know anything. And my name is J. J., if you don't mind. ”“ Yeah, sir - J. J. So when you come along, I'll bring you up to speed. ”He led her to an impressive array of equipment that took up an entire laboratory bench. “This is not my job, but a project that Dr. Goldblum has under him. But that gives us a perfect introduction to AI. The hardware is nothing special, an old Macintosh SE / 60 with a Motorola 68050 CPU and a coprocessor that increases the working speed by a factor of 100. The software itself is based on an improved version of a classic self-learning expert system for renal analysis. "" Stop, not so fast, my son! I don't even know what 'renal' means. I know a little about expert systems, but what did you call that - a self-learning expert system? You have to go back and start with Adam and Eve if you want me to come with you! ”Brian smiled at these words. "Sorry. You're right, I'd best start at the very beginning. 'Renal' refers to kidney functions. And expert systems are knowledge-based computer programs. What we call hardware is simply the machinery in front of us. If you turn off the power, it's all a bunch of expensive paperweights. Switch it on again, and the computer has programmed enough into it that it can test for itself whether everything is working properly - then it loads its commands. These computer commands are called software. They make up the program you put in to tell the hardware what to do and how to do it. If you load a word processor, you can use the

Computer writing a book. And if you load an accounting program, the computer will do high-speed accounting for you. ”J. J. nodded. "So far everything is clear to me." But all of these programs did the same thing over and over, even if the results were unsatisfactory. Expert systems were the first step on the way to AI, to artificial intelligence, because they think - in a very simple and stereotypical way. The self-learning programs were then the next step. And I think my new learning program is the next big step because it can do so much more - without crashing, without getting confused. "" Then show me an example. "" Do you have a linguaphone and one in the office Voice fax? ”“ Of course. ”“ Those are two perfect examples! Do you get calls from many countries? "" Yes, quite a few. I was talking to Japan just now. ”“ Didn't the person you were talking to hesitated now and then? ”“ I think so, yes. His face was sometimes very briefly frozen… ”“ Because the linguaphone works in real time. Sometimes you can't translate a word right away because you don't know what the word means until you've heard the next word - as with the words ›to‹, ›too‹, ›two‹. Similar to the adjective ›bright‹, which can mean ›hell‹, but also ›intelligent‹. Sometimes you have to get to the end of the sentence

wait - or even until the next sentence. Therefore, the linguaphone, which animates the face, may have to wait an entire phrase before it can translate the Japanese speaker's words into English - and induce the correct lip movements on the computer image. The translation program is incredibly fast, but sometimes it just has to freeze the picture while it analyzes the sound and word order of the call. Then it has to translate that back into English. Only then can the voice fax be transcribed and the translated version of the conversation printed out. An ordinary fax machine simply prints out everything that is pushed into the fax on the other end of the line. It takes the electronic signals it receives from the other fax and makes a copy of the original. Your voice fax is a completely different bird. It's not intelligent - but it does use an analyzer for the translated or English words of the call you are getting into. It analyzes these words, compares them with the words in its memory and discovers which words correspond. It prints those words out. ”“ Sounds easy, actually. ”Brian laughed. “It's one of the most complicated things we've ever taught computers. The system must pick up every Japanese element of the spoken language and compare it to stored information networks of virtually any English word, phrase, or phrase. It took thousands of man-hours of programming to mimic what our brains do in an instant. When I say 'dog' you know what I mean right away, don't you? ”“ Of course. ”“ Do you know how to get to know that? ”

“No, I just do it.” “That I just do it is the main problem one faces in studying artificial intelligence. Let's take a look at what the computer does when it hears the word "dog." Think of dialect colourations, of foreign accents. It might sound more like 'Huund' or like 'Hunnt'; there are innumerable variations. The computer breaks the word down into individual phonemes or sounds, then looks at other words that you recently uttered. He compares with sounds, relationships, and meanings he has memorized, uses circuitry to determine if his first guesses make any sense; if not, it starts all over again. He remembers the cases where he was successful and refers to them as new problems arise. Fortunately, it all happens very, very quickly. There may well be billions of calculations going on before he prints the simple word 'dog'. "" I can follow you that far. I just don't understand what the expert part is about this voice fax. It doesn't seem to be different from a word processing system. "" But there is that difference - and you put your finger on it. When I type the letters H-U-N-D into an ordinary text system, they are simply saved. It may move them from line to line, it may pull them apart to fit a set marker, or it may print them out again on demand - but it really just follows rigidly set commands. Your linguaphone and your voice fax program, on the other hand, teach themselves. If they make a mistake, weed it out and try something else - and they remember

that they did that. This is a first step in the right direction. A self correcting tutorial. ”“ Then this is your new artificial intelligence? ”“ No, that's just a small step that was taken years ago. Developing true artificial intelligence is something completely different. ”“ And what? ”Brian smiled at the audacity of the question. “It's not that easy to answer - but I can show you what I did. My lab is right down here. ”He led the way through the adjoining labs. Everything made little impression on Beckworth, just a series of computers and terminals. Not for the first time was he happy to be part of the business side of the company. Some of the devices were switched on and ran unattended. When they passed a table with a huge television screen, he stopped short. “Great God! Is that a 3D TV picture? ”“ Right, ”said McCrory, turning his back to the screen, his forehead furrowed sadly. “But if I were you I wouldn't look too long.” “Why not? It's going to revolutionize television, put us in the leadership position ... worldwide ... ”He rubbed his forehead with his thumb; one of his very rare headache attacks was on the way. “Yes, if it worked perfectly it should do just that. As you can see, apparently it is something like a dream. The only difference is that nobody can watch it for more than a minute without getting a headache. But I think we now have a good way of fixing that on the next model. ”J. J. turned away and sighed. "As the saying goes? Back to the drawing board. Anyway, just bring this one thing up

Run and the world is ours. ”J. J. shook his head and turned to Brian. “I hope you can show us something that works better than this.” “I can, sir.Now I'm going to show you our new robot, which overcomes most of the limitations of the older AI machines. "" Is that the one that can learn new ways of learning? "" Exactly the one. Right here on the right. Robin-1. Robot intelligence number 1. ”J. J. looked in the direction indicated, trying to hide his disappointment. "Where?" All he could see was an electronics lab table with a variety of objects and a huge monitor screen on it. Looked just like the rest of the lab. Brian pointed to an instrument stand the size of a filing cabinet. “Control circuits and memory for Robin-1 are almost entirely in there. Communication with the mechanical interface goes via infrared - to that telerobot over there. ”The telerobot looked like no robot that J. J. had ever seen. There was some kind of upturned tree-like thing on the ground that came up to his waist. At the top two raised arms that ended in metal balls. The two lower main arms branched out - and the branches branched out further and further; the smaller branches were thin as spaghetti. J. J. was not very impressed. “Two metal sticks mounted on two brooms. I don't get it. "" Hardly brooms. What you see here is the latest advancement in microtechnology. Overcomes almost everyone

mechanical limits of earlier generations of robots. Each branch is a feedback manipulator that fixes the main program to receive input data and… ”“ What can it do? ”Interrupted J. J. abruptly. "I don't have a lot of time." Brian clenched his fists, his knuckles protruding white. He tried not to show the anger. "Well, it can speak, for example." "Let me hear." J. J. pointedly looked at his watch. "Robin, who am I?" Said Brian. A metal iris opened in both metal balls. Tiny engines hummed as they turned to Brian. Then they clicked again. "You're Brian," a voice hummed from the speakers, which were also attached to the metal balls. J. J.'s nostrils widened. "Who am I?" He asked. There was no answer. Brian quickly started to explain. “He only answers when he hears his name - Robin. Maybe he wouldn't understand your voice even then, because until now he has only got verbal input from me. I will ask. Robin. Who is this? The figure right next to me. ”The membranes opened again, the eyes moved. Then a soft sound like a tiny brush as the countless metallic brushes moved simultaneously and the thing crawled towards Beckworth. He backed away, the robot followed him. "No need to back away," said Brian. "You dont need to be scared. The optical sensors used here only have a short focal length. There, now he's stopped. "

“Object unknown. Human with 79% probability. Name? "" Right. Middle name Beckworth. First J.J. «» J. J. Beckworth, 62 years old. Blood group zero. Social Security Number 130-18-4523. Born in Chicago, Illinois. Married. Two children. Parents were… ”“ Robin, stop it, ”Brian ordered, the humming voice ceased and the membranes closed. “I'm really sorry for all of this, sir. But I had access to personal data when I was doing identification experiments here. "" These gimmicks are meaningless and do not impress me at all. What else can the damn thing do? Can it move? ”“ Better than you or me in many ways, ”Brian replied. "Robin, catch!" Brian picked up a box of paper clips - and tossed everything on the robot. The thing vanished in a whirling vortex of motion, unfolding its branches in hundreds of tiny palmate claws, all of which extended at the same time - each catching a paper clip. The robot put them all in a neat little pile. At last J. J. was satisfied. "It's good! Could be commercial applications. But what about the intelligence now? Can it think better than us or solve problems too difficult for us? "" Yes and no. It's new and hasn't learned very much yet. Recognizing objects - and understanding, dealing with them - has been the main problem for almost fifty years; now we've built a machine that can learn something like that. The general problem was getting her to think at all. Now the system is developing very quickly.

In fact, it seems that learning capacity is growing exponentially. I'll show you that. ”J. J. was interested - but unsure. Before he could say anything, the phone rang in a loud and demanding tone. "The red phone!" Cried McCrory, startled. "I'll answer it." Beckworth picked up the phone. An unfamiliar voice croaked in his ear. “Mr. Beckworth, an emergency! You have to come right away! ”“ What's wrong? ”“ This line is not secure. ”J. J. hung up, his forehead furrowed angrily. “Some emergency, I don't know what's going on. You two are waiting here. I'll take care of it as soon as possible. I'll call you if it takes longer. ”His footsteps faded. Brian just stood there angrily in silence and stared at the machine. "He didn't get it," said McCrory. "He's not qualified to understand the meaning of what you've achieved here." He paused when he heard the three coughing noises. Immediately afterwards a loud gasp, then the crash of lab equipment falling to the floor. "What's going on?" He shouted, turned and ran back to the other lab. That cough again. McCrory spun around, his face a bloody mask. He collapsed. Brian turned and ran away. Not driven by logical thinking, but by the sheer will to survive - a painfully learned lesson from a childhood of terror and attacks on other children. Just before he got through the door, the frame next to his head exploded. The safe for the backup tapes was right in front of him. They were housed in it until evening, now it was empty. A hideout closet for a boy, a dark one

Escape angle. As he opened the door, the pain tore open his back, pushed him forward, spun him around; he gasped loudly when he saw what was coming; raised his arm in useless defense. Brian pulled the handle, fell backwards. But the bullet was faster. Up close by the arm in the head. The door closed. "Get him out!" Someone shouted. Hoarse voice. “Automatically locked - but he's dead. The bullet smashed his skull. I saw."

Rohart had just parked and was about to get out and close the door when the car phone buzzed. He picked up and switched on. The voice couldn't understand it. Deafening noise from rotor blades in the background. He looked up in amazement, blinking in white headlights as the helicopter landed out of the blue in the middle of his front yard. When the pilot turned the engine down, he was able to understand fragments of what was being yelled in his ear. "... all of a sudden ... unbelievable ... emergency!" "I can't understand you - a damn helicopter just landed and churned up my lawn!" Get in ... come here now! ”The headlight went out. He saw the black and white markings on a police helicopter. The door opened and someone waved him over. Rohart had not become Managing Director of Megalobe because he would have been slow and difficult to understand. He threw the phone into the car and hunched over to the waiting machine; stumbled on the baseboard when strong hands pulled him into it. Before the door closed, they were in the air.

"What the hell is going on here?" "I don't know," the policeman said as he helped him buckle up. “All I know is that all hell broke loose over there. Three-state alert, and federal agencies have stepped in. Everything we have in terms of units and helicopters is on its way there. "" Explosion, fire - what is it about? "" No details known. The pilot and I were doing traffic surveillance; Freeway 8 over at Pine Valley - it came over the radio to pick you up and take you over to Megalobe. ”“ Can't you call and ask what happened? ”“ Negative - all connections are blocked. But we're almost there, you can already see the lights. It won't take a minute and you'll be downstairs. ”As they sank over the landing pad, Rohart looked for signs of destruction, but could see nothing. Usually the site was empty; now it was swarming down there like an anthill. Police cars everywhere, helicopters on the ground and others circling outside in the air and searching the area with headlights. A fire engine drove up in front of the main laboratory building. There were no flames to be seen. A group of men were waiting at the landing site; as soon as they touched the ground he threw open the door and jumped out, hunched over to run toward them, clothes flapping in the rotor wind. Uniformed policemen, a few others in plain clothes but with badges. He only knew Jesus Cordoba, the head of the night shift. "It's unbelievable, simply impossible!" Cordoba drowned out the slowly fading roar of the helicopter. “What are you talking about?” “I'll show you. Nobody knows what exactly happened until now. I'll show you. "

Rohart experienced the next shock when they ran up the stairs to the laboratory building. The lights were out, the surveillance cameras dark, the otherwise sealed doors were yawning open. A policeman with a flashlight waved them over, then led the way into the lobby. "That's exactly how we found it," said Cordoba. “Nothing has been touched so far. I ... I just don't understand what happened. Everything was calm, nothing unusual - as far as I could tell; I was in the main security check. The watch reports came in on time. I focused on the labs because there was a late-night meeting with Mr. Beckworth going on. That was all - just completely normal. And then it started. "Sweat ran down Cordoba's face, he wiped it away with his sleeve without really knowing what he was doing. “Suddenly everything gave up. Every alarm seemed to go off, the guards were gone, the dogs too. No, not every alarm, not on the other buildings. Only the systems at the perimeter and at the laboratories. For a second everything was quiet - then it looked like it. I don't know… ”“ Have you spoken to Benicoff? ”“ He called me when the alarm got through to him. Already sitting on D.C.'s plane. ”Rohart walked quickly down the hall, passed doors that should have been closed. "It looked the same when we came," said one of the policemen. “All lights out, all doors open, no one there. Looks like some of that stuff broke. More of it in here, what it looks like, equipment, including computers, I imagine - there's a bunch of torn cables. Looks like they dragged a bunch of heavy stuff out of here at a crazy pace. "

The managing director looked around the void, the last time he had been here, it suddenly occurred to him that he had been exactly there. “Brian Delaney! This is his laboratory! His equipment, the experiments, everything gone! Turn on your radio, send some officers to his house. Heavily armed or something, because the people who did this may already be there! ”“ Sergeant! Here! ”Shouted one of the policemen. "I found something!" "Here," he said, pointing to it. "Fresh blood on the tiles, just across from the door." "And on the doorpost too," said the sergeant. He turned to Rohart. "So what is that? Some kind of safe? "" Something like that. They keep backup tapes in there. ”He pulled out the wallet. "I've got the combination here." With trembling fingers he entered the combination, turned and pulled the handles, opened the door. Brian's bloodied body fell right at his feet. "The medics here!" Shouted the sergeant, sticking his fingers into the coagulated blood on his neck, feeling for the pulse and trying not to look at the shattered skull. “I don't know - yes, yes! He is still alive! Where are the paramedics! ”Rohart stepped aside to let her pass, blinked into the roaring, organized chaos of the medical team, recognized the IV fluids, first aid measures, little else. He waited in silence for Brian to hurry to the ambulance car had pushed out. The doctor who stayed behind packed his emergency kit. "Will he now ... can you tell me something?"

The man shook his head sadly and snapped the suitcase shut. “He's alive, but just now. A shot in the back, ricocheted off the ribs, nothing serious. But the second bullet - that penetrated the arm and then ... so severe brain injury, trauma, bone splinters. I could only give paravene IV infusion. Limits the damage caused by brain trauma, reduces the cerebral metabolic rate so that the cells do not die as quickly from lack of oxygen. If he survives - well, he may never regain consciousness. I can't say more, it's far too early for that. You're taking him to the clinic in San Diego by helicopter. ”A policeman entered the room. "I'm looking for a Mr. Rohart." "I am." "I'm supposed to tell you that your tip was spot on, unfortunately too late. The property in question, owned by a certain Mr. Delaney, was completely cleared a few hours ago. A rental car was seen at the scene, a delivery van. Let's try to find now. The head of the investigation will let you know that all the computers, files and other documents are gone. ”“ Thanks for the message. ”Rohart pressed his lips together, heard the tremor in his own voice. Cordoba just stood there and listened. "Delaney is working on an artificial intelligence project," he said. “In the project at all! And he got it out - we got it out. A machine with almost human characteristics. "" And now? "" Someone else has it. Someone who is brutal. Smart and brutal. Brutal enough to plan and pull off a thing like this. Somebody like that has her now. "" But she will be found. You can't leave. "

“And whether they can! They don't come here and hang the theft on the big bell. Or announce tomorrow that they have a new kind of AI. That will happen - but not soon. Don't forget that there are a lot of people working on AI in research. You will see, one day the time will come, quite obviously and logically, unrelated to what happened here tonight, and without the slightest hint of evidence. Some other company will have AI. And just as certain as this simple fact is the other that this company will not be called Megalobe! As far as you can tell, Brian is dead and his work with him. ”Cordoba suddenly had a terrible thought. “Why does it have to be another company anyway? Isn't there anyone else interested in AI? "" Well - who do you think? Any other country on the globe, anyway. Wouldn't the Japanese be just thrilled to get their hands on real, functioning AI? Or the Germans, the Iranians - or anyone? "" What about the Russians - or anyone else who wants to try a power game. I don't think I'd like to see a tank army march in, commanded by machine intelligence. Without fear, without fatigue, without interruption in attack. Or torpedoes and mines with eyes and brains that bounce up and down in the sea - until our ships pass. ”Rohart shook his head. “These worries are no longer relevant. Tanks and torpedoes are no longer what matters. The new game is called: Productivity. With real AI, a country could put us in our pockets, lock us in the economic poor house. ”Reluctantly, he glanced at the ruins of the laboratory. "And you have them now, whoever they are."

Chapter 2

February 9, 2023 The Learjet flew at an altitude of 47,000 feet, well above the seething cumulus clouds. But even up here, occasional turbulence warned of the thunderstorm far below. There was only one passenger, a stocky man in his late forties. He slowly worked his way through a bunch of reports. Benicoff stopped reading and took a long swig of beer. The receiving light on the e-fax started to blink as more messages came in over the phone and were saved. As soon as they arrived, Benicoff brought them onto the screen until he saw the full extent of the catastrophe at the Megalobe Laboratories. The light kept blinking; more reports came in, but he ignored them.The basic facts were fantastic, terrible, and unbelievable - and until he was in California there was nothing he could do about the matter. So he went to sleep. Anyone else in his position would have stayed up all night, worried about possible solutions. That was not Alfred J. Benicoff's way. He was a person of immense practicality. Worrying now would be a waste of time. Besides, he could make good use of the rest; the imminent future promised a lot of work. He straightened the pillow, let the back of the seat slide down, closed his eyes and fell asleep immediately. The muscles in

his tanned face relaxed, the hard lines of tension softening. He looked younger than fifty now. A tall man who already showed those curves around his waist that no diet program, however intensive, can remove. He'd played football at Yale and always managed to stay in shape. He had to - in a job where sleep was a kind of bonus sometimes. Benicoff was officially called "Assistant to the DARPA Representative," but that was a purely honorary title with little meaning, essentially a facade to the actual work. In practice, he was the top man for troubleshooting and repairing in science, reporting directly to the President. Benicoff was called when research projects got into trouble. In order to always be prepared for the worst case scenario, he made it his business to review ongoing projects whenever possible. Because of the extensive research at Megalobe, he visited the company as often as he could. In part it was a pretext: Brian's research fascinated him in particular; he had come to know and appreciate the young scientist. That's why he took the attack to heart. He woke to the crack of the landing gear. The day was breaking. While the plane was about to land at Megalobe Airport, the red rays of the rising sun fell into the window. Benicoff switched on the screen and quickly went through the batch of e-faxes that had come in by then; a few additions but nothing really new. At the bottom of the stairs Rohart was already waiting for him, sleepless and unshaven; it had been a very long night. Benicoff shook his hand with a smile.

“You look like hell, Kyle.” “I feel worse. Do you realize we have no clues at all, and all the AI ​​is gone ... "" How's Brian? "" He's alive, that's all I know. They stabilized him and hooked him up to the life support system, then took the helicopter to San Diego. Was operated on all night. "" Let's go have a coffee. Then you can tell me everything. ”They went into the administration canteen and got black-roasted Mexican coffee; Rohart took a long drink before continuing. “That was quite a fuss in the hospital when they found out how badly Brian was injured. Even helicoptered a top surgeon, someone named Snaresbrook. "" Dr. Erin Snaresbrook. As far as I know, she was last doing research at Scripps in La Jolla. Can you send her a message to contact me when she comes out of the operating room? ”Rohart took the phone out of his pocket and relayed the message to his office. "I'm afraid I don't know the lady." She has the Lasker Prize for Medicine - in neuropsychology - and is perhaps the best brain surgeon in the country. If you go through the reports, you will see that Brian collaborated with her on some of his research. I don't know the details, I only saw it in the last report I got in the office. "" If she's that good, you think she can ... "

“If anyone can save Brian, it will be Snaresbrook. I hope at least. Brian was a witness of what happened. If he lives, if he regains consciousness, he may be our only trace. Because up to this point we have absolutely no other clues as to how this incredible thing was filmed. "" We know part of what happened. I just didn't want to fax you the details over an open line. ”Rohart passed him a photo. “Must have been a computer. Anyway, it's all that's left of it. Braised up by thermite. "" Where was it? "" Buried behind the main control. The engineers say it was linked to the alarm circuit. No doubt programmed to send false video and surveillance signals to security. ”Benicoff nodded grimly. “Nicely thought out. Everything the people at headquarters ever notice is on the screens and on the printouts. The world can end outside there - as long as the screen shows the moon and stars - accompanied by the howling of coyotes, of course - as long as the person on watch does not notice what is going on. But what about the patrols, the dogs? ”“ Not a trace. Just gone ... "" So did the equipment - and everyone who was in the lab except Brian. A diabolical breach in the security system, unbelievable! Which we shall go into in depth, but not now. The barn door is open and your AI is gone… ”The phone hummed and he picked it up. “This is Benicoff. Speak. ”He listened for a moment. "Okay. Call back about every twenty minutes. I definitely don't want to miss it, this is urgent. ”He

folded the phone. "Dr. Snaresbrook is still in the operating room. I want you to take me to the lab in a few minutes. I want to see the whole thing myself. But first something else: What about these share purchases in Japan? Is there a relationship with theft? "" Yes, the tuning. These purchases could have been arranged to keep J. J. in the office until the lab closed for the night. "" Far fetched - but I'll check it out. Before we go over there, I want to know who's in charge right now. ”Rohart raised his eyebrows. “I'm sorry, I don't quite understand…” “Think about it. Your chairman, your top scientist and your security chief have all disappeared. Either they went over to the enemy - whoever it is - or they are dead… ”“ You don't believe… ”“ I do believe that - and you'd better do it, too. This company and its research: it's all at stake! We know the AI ​​is gone - and what else? I'm about to launch a full security clearance, all computer data, all records. But first I'll ask the question again: Who is in command? ”“ I guess I've got the buck, ”said Rohart with evident displeasure. "As a managing director, I seem to be the official head." So: Do ​​you feel up to the task of keeping Megalobe running, of running the whole company yourself and at the same time leading the in-depth investigation that is now necessary? "

Rohart did not answer immediately; took a sip of coffee and looked for any signs on Benicoff's face, but found none. “I should say it myself, shouldn't I? That while I can run Megalobe operationally, I have no experience with the kind of investigation that is required here - that I am simply overwhelmed? "" You shouldn't say anything if you don't believe it's true is. ”Benicoff's voice was flat and dispassionate. Rohart smiled grimly. "I understood. You are clearly more than a bit of a bastard about yourself - but you are right. Do you want to lead the investigation? It's a formal request. ”“ Good. I just wanted the demarcation lines to be clear from the start. "" So you're in charge, right? What should I do next? "" Get the company up and running. A time long. I'll take care of the rest. ”Rohart sighed and slumped into the chair. "I'm glad you're here - really glad." Then we want to go over to the laboratory. ”The gate to the laboratory building was now closed - and a tall, dark man stood protectively in front of it. Despite the warm morning, he was wearing a coat. "ID," he said without moving. He checked Rohart's identification, eyed Benicoff suspiciously as he reached into his pocket. On the ID hologram he saw who he was looking at, grunted approval, if reluctantly. “The second door back there, sir. He's waiting for you. And you have to be alone. ”“ Who? ”

"That's all I have to tell you, sir," the FBI man said stubbornly. "You don't need me here," said Rohart. "And there's a lot of stuff to do in the office." "All right." Benicoff walked quickly to the door, pushed it open, and stepped inside. “No names while the door is open. Go in and close it, ”said the receptionist. Benicoff did as he was told, turned around and suppressed the impulse to stand still. "I was not told that you would be here too, General Schorcht." If Schorcht had a first name, nobody knew him. Maybe his first name was "General" anyway. “No need to tell you, Benicoff. Let's leave it at that. For now. ”Benicoff had dealt with the general before. He had struck him as brutal and unsympathetic - and efficient. His face was wrinkled like a sea turtle - maybe he was that old. At some point in the foggy past he had been a cavalry officer and lost his right arm in battle. In Korea, it was said, although Gettysburg and the Marne were also rumored. Ever since Benicoff had known him, he had been with the military, something high up, very secret. He gave orders, never took them. “You report to me once a day. Minimum, more often when there is something important. You have the secret number. You also enter all the data there. Understand? "" Understand. You know this is a really bad thing? ”“ I know that, Ben. ”For a moment the general relaxed, looking almost human. Tired. Then he put the mask back on. "You can go."

"Is there any way I can ask how you are involved in this?" "No." The general made it really easy to hate him. “Now report to Agent Dave Manias. He's in charge of the FBI cleaning team. ”“ By order. I'll let you know what we found out. ”Despite the low air conditioning and short sleeves, Manias was sweating profusely; a violent, internal fire burned inside him as he pounded furiously at his handheld computer. When Benicoff came closer, he looked up, wiped his hand on his trouser leg. His handshake was short and strong. “I'm glad you're here. Should hold my report until you've seen it. ”“ What did you find out? ”“ It's just a preliminary report, right? What we have so far. New data keep coming in. ”Benicoff nodded in agreement, and the FBI agent began pounding on the keyboard. “Start right here in this room. Are still in the process of analyzing all the fingerprints. But it's ninety-nine to one that there are no strangers among them. Employees only. The intruders had gloves. Now take a look here. Lots of scratches and grooves in the linoleum. Wheel tracks from a handcart. Raw estimate: at least a ton and a half of material. Five or six men could get all that stuff out in under an hour. ”“ How do you get it under an hour? ”“ Records. The front door was opened by Toth and Beckworth. With private codes. It was exactly one hour, twelve minutes and eleven seconds from the point in time to when everything was discovered. - And now we're going out. "

Manias led the way through the front door, pointing to black lines on the white concrete. "Car tracks. A truck. You can see how he got onto the lawn for a bit; there was a print left. "" Can you identify it? "" Negative. But we're still working on it. And the recorder at the main gate said it opened and closed twice. ”Benicoff looked around, then back to the building. “Let's see if I can put it all together. As soon as the visitors entered the building, the security system failed for over an hour. So those in the headquarters were blind and deaf; what they looked at and heard were pictures and muzak. During this period of time the security system came to a complete standstill - so we can assume that the guards all participated. Or were already dead. ”“ Agreed… ”The computer blinked, he looked at the screen. “An ID just came in. From a drop of blood in a crack in the ground. The laboratory performed a rapid DNA analysis. Positive identification. J. J. Beckworth. ”Benicoff was silent for a moment. Then he said softly, “He was a good friend. - Let's see that we find his killers. Which, as we now know, were let in by one or more accomplices who were already in the building. They walked into the lab, and if we were allowed to shut down Brian's condition, they would first have gunned everyone down - and then brought out anything that had anything to do with AI. Loaded onto a truck and off with it. Where? ”“ Nowhere. ”Manias wiped the sweat from his face with a soggy handkerchief. With the other hand he made a circle. “After dark, no one else is around except for the guards.

On all sides just empty desert with no houses or farms nearby. No witnesses. There are only four roads leading out of the valley. All locked by the police when the alarm went off. Nothing. Helicopters have searched the area outside the roadblocks. A pile of campers and fruit trucks stopped. Otherwise there was nothing. We've been searching a hundred mile radius since dawn. So far, totally negative. ”Benicoff held his composure - only suppressed anger could be heard in his voice. “Are you saying that a huge bunch of trucks, laden with heavy files and manned by at least five men, just disappears? From a flat, empty valley with a pile of desert at one end and a 10% incline at the other? "" That's right, sir. If we find out anything else, you'll be the first to find out. ”“ Thanks… ”His phone beeped, he took it out of its holder. “Benicoff. Speak. "" I have a message for you, sir, from Dr. Snaresbrook… ”“ Put it through. ”“ Sorry, sir, but she's not on the line. The message is, meet me at San Diego Central Hospital as soon as possible. ”Benicoff glanced back at the lab and put the phone away. “I want copies of everything you find out, and that means everything. I want your assessment of that - and I'd like to see any piece of evidence as well. ”“ Yes, sir. ”“ What's the quickest way to get to San Diego Central Hospital? ”“ By police helicopter. I'll call you. "

The helicopter was waiting at the landing pad when Benicoff got there and rose with the roar of the rotors as the seat belt buckled up. "How far is it to San Diego?" He asked. “About fifteen minutes.” “First fly a circle around Borrego Springs. Show me the arteries. ”“ Sure. If you look over there, straight east down the valley, behind the badlands, you will see the road to the Salton Sea and to Brawley. Now if you look over to the foothills to the north, that's the Salton Seaway. Go east too. Forty miles to the Salton Sea. Well, going south down there goes the SW 5, with a lot of inclines, constantly up and down the whole way to Alpine. Pretty slow. This is why most of the people take the road over the Montezuma Mountains. We're flying west now, just over the highest point. ”Below them the desert ended abruptly on the sheer wall of the surrounding mountains. A two-lane road fought its way up from the valley in many bends, higher and higher, until it finally reached the wooded plateau. As he climbed, Benicoff looked back and shook his head. Not a single path out of the valley that the truck could have taken; everything was monitored and locked. And yet - that was exactly what happened. He pushed this riddle out of his mind, put it in the background, and thought about the injured scientist. He took the medical reports and reread them. A bleakly depressing read - after the severity of the injuries Brian might already be dead. When they got into the thermals above the rocky valleys at the top of the ridge, the helicopter began to jump up and down. The plateau below was flat, pasture and woodland, far in the distance the white ribbon of a main road.

Settlements, cities - and the motorway.A perfect escape route for the truck. Except for the fact that the twelve miles of eight percent incline would be quite a drag. Forget it! Think of Brian.

Benicoff met Dr. Snaresbrook in her office. The only concession to her age was her iron-gray hair. She was a strong, lively woman, a little over fifty, with an atmosphere of trust; She frowned slightly at the multicolored 3-D image in front of her. Her hands were in the machine's data gloves, where she could rotate and move the image - even peel it off in layers to see what was inside. She must have just come out of the operating room because she was wearing a blue surgical suit and blue shoes. When she turned around, Benicoff saw splatters of blood on the sleeves and chest. "Erin Snaresbrook," she said, and shook hands with him. “We don't know each other personally, but I've heard from you. Alfred J. Benicoff. You are the one who put down the resistance to the transplantation of human embryo tissue - one of the things that make my work here possible. "" Thank you - but that was a long time ago. I work for the government now, which simply means that most of the time I spend most of my time doing other people's research. "" It's a shame about your talent. "" Would you prefer a lawyer for the job? "" God forbid! Your point of view has something for itself. - Now, let me tell you something about Brian quickly. I have very little time. Its skull is open, it is attached to the life support system. I'm just waiting for the new VU details. "

“VU?” “Volume exam. Far better than x-rays and any other kind of imaging. The method combines the results of every available scanning method - including old tomograms and NMRs, but also the very latest octopolar antibody fluorescence images. You put all of them in an ICAR-5367, a computer that processes spatial images. Not only can it depict the patient data, but it can also work out and exaggerate the differences between patient and normal case - or changes to previous recordings of the same patient. When the new VU data is there, I have to go. Until now there was only emergency care to save Brian's life. First whole body hypothermia, then special brain cooling to slow down oxygen uptake and the other metabolic processes. I gave anti hemorrhagic drugs, especially RSCH, and anti-inflammatory hormones. During the initial surgical treatment, I cleaned the wound, removed necrotic tissue and bone fragments. To anatomically restore the cerebral ventricles, I had to sever part of the corpus callosum. ”“ Isn't that part of the connection between the cerebral hemispheres? ”“ Right - and it was a difficult and perhaps dangerous decision. But I didn't have a choice. At the moment the patient consists of two different individuals with one hemisphere each. A disaster - if he were conscious. But after a clean separation of the corpus callosum, I do hope that I can connect the two halves again. Tell me - what do you know about the human brain? "

“Very little left from your studies - probably everything is out of date.” “Then you really aren't up to date. We are on the threshold of a new era where we can call ourselves brain surgeons as well as brain surgeons. Mind is how the brain works, and we're just about to discover how the brain does that. "" What does that mean for Brian exactly - how bad are his injuries? And are they repairable? ”“ Take a look at the first VU images. ”She pointed to the colored holograms that suddenly floated in the air. A breathtaking three-dimensional effect - as if you were looking straight into the skull. Snaresbrook touched a white spot, then another. “This is where the bullet entered the skull. Here, on the right side, she came out again; so went through the whole cortex, from one side to the other. The good news is that the cerebral cortex appears largely intact, as does the central parts of the midbrain. The amygdala here, the almond kernel, looks undamaged, as is the most important of all, the hippocampus; this organ here that looks a bit like a seahorse. This is one of the crucial places where memories arise and are found again. The brain's powerhouse - and it's unharmed here. "" Fine, so that was the good news. And the bad ... "" Well, there is some cortical damage, but nothing serious. But the bullet has cut through a large number of bundles of nerve fibers, the white matter that occupies most of the brain. These fibers connect different parts of the cortex, i.e. the cerebral cortex, with each other - and also with parts of the midbrain. Now that means that certain parts of Brian's brain are affected by the

Databases and other sources that they need to function are cut off. So Brian has no memories at the moment. "" His memory is irrevocably destroyed? "" No, not entirely. Look - his neocortex is mostly intact. But most of the connections are broken - here, for example, and here. For the rest of the brain, they don't even exist. The structures, the nerve connections that make up his memories are still there - in different sections of this damaged brain. But they cannot be reached by other parts, and so, only in themselves, they are of no importance. Like a box full of floppy disks without a computer. This is a disaster because we are our memories. Brian is essentially mindless. "" So some kind - plant? "" Yes - in the sense that he cannot think. One could say that the memory contents are almost completely separated from the brain computers, so that they can neither be accessed nor used. He cannot recognize things or words, no faces, no friends, nothing at all. In short: he can no longer think. Not to any significant extent. Think about it: apart from the size, there are few observable differences between the brain of a human and that of a mouse - with the exception of our extremely important higher brain structures, of course - i.e. the neocortex, which was formed in the primate ancestors. Right now, poor Brian, my friend and co-worker, is little more than an egoless shell, an animal somewhere below mammalian level. "" So? Is that the end now? "" Not necessarily. Although Brian cannot really think, he is by no means brain dead in a legal sense. A few more

Years ago, however, nothing could have been done. This is no longer the case. As you know, Brian helped me put his AI theories into practice: developing an experimental technique to re-establish disconnections in the brain. I've had verifiable success, unfortunately only in animal experiments so far. "" If there's a chance, a tiny chance, you've got to try. Can you do this? Could you save Brian? "" It is far too early to say with any modest degree of certainty. It's widespread damage, after all, and I don't know how far I can heal it. The difficulty is that this bullet not only caused the general trauma but also severed a few million nerve fibers. Impossible to bring them all back together. But I hope to identify a few hundred thousand and link them together. ”Benicoff shook his head. “You don't believe that yourself, Frau Doktor! Would you like to go and identify around a million different severed nerve fibers in this open skull? It'll take years! "" It would, if I had to do this one by one, piece by piece. But with computer-controlled microsurgery, we can operate in many places at the same time. Our parallel computer can identify several connections every second - and the day has 86400 seconds. If everything goes as planned, the probing should only take a few days - then the fibers we need to reconnect would be identified and labeled. "" And you can? "" It's not easy. As soon as a nerve fiber is cut off from the mother cell, it perishes.

Fortunately, the dead cell's empty nerve sheath remains in its old location - so the nerve can grow back. I'm going to use implants I've designed to control this regrowth. ”Snaresbrook sighed. “I'm afraid nerve repair is just the beginning. Because it's not just about reconnecting all the severed nerves we can see. "" What else does it take? "" We need to restore the original connections. The problem with this is that all nerve fibers look the same and are almost the same. Indistinguishable. But we have to bring them together correctly in order to make the right connections in thinking. You see, memory is not in the brain cells or in the nerve fibers. It is in the plan of the connections between them. To get this right, we need a third phase when we have completed the second. Then we have to find a way to access and examine the various levels of his memory - and arrange the new connections accordingly. This has never been done before; i'm not sure i can. - Ah, we're ready. ”The technician stormed in with the VU cassette, slid it into the projector; immediately the three-dimensional hologram appeared. Snaresbrook examined it carefully, nodded grimly. "I can now see the extent of the injury, complete the wound care, and prepare for the second important step in the operation - connecting the nerve cells." "What exactly are you going to do now?" I hope to determine the role each of these nerve fibers plays in various mental activities

played - by figuring out where it fits into his semantic neural networks. These are the tissues of connections in the brain that represent our knowledge and our mental processes. I also have to take the one radical step and cut off the remaining parts of his corpus callosum. This gives us the only chance to make connections to virtually any part of his cerebral cortex. It's dangerous, but it's also the best way to bring the two hemispheres back together completely. ”“ I need to know more about these things, ”said Benicoff. “Do I have any chance of observing the operation?” “Any chance you want - I've got up to five guests in the operating room who are practically breathing on my neck. I don't mind as long as you're out of my way. Where does this sudden interest come from? "" It's more than morbid curiosity, believe me! You described to me which machines you use and what they do. I want to see them in action. If I ever want to understand anything about AI, I need to know more about it. ”“ I see. Then come over later. "

Chapter 3

February 10, 2023 Benicoff, wearing a surgical suit and mask and a kind of stretchable boot over his shoes, pressed his back to the green tiles of the operating room wall and tried to make himself invisible. One of the nurses fiddled with two large lamps on ceiling rails and focused them until the assistant surgeon was happy with the setting. On the table, sterile blue cloths were draped like a tent over Brian's motionless figure. Only the head looked out; it protruded over the edge of the table, fixed by the pointed steel spokes of the skull mount. There were three such spokes. It had been drilled through the scalp and firmly anchored in the bone below. The bandages on the two bullet wounds glowed white in a dark contrast to the clean-shaven skull, which was brushed with orange disinfectant. Snaresbrook made a relaxed and competent impression. She discussed the upcoming operation with the anesthetist and the operating room nurses and carefully checked the position of the projector. "Here's where I start," she said, tapping the hologram screen. "And this is where you will cut." She touched the bordered area marked in color on the board, checked again that the opening was big enough to get to the injured parts and work on them. She nodded in satisfaction, projected the hologram onto Brian's skull and watched the assistant do the

Traced lines on the skin; in doing so, he kept exactly to the lines of the picture. When he was done, the surrounding skin was covered with more cloths. Only the operating field remained free. Snaresbrook went out to scrub his hands, and the assistant began opening the skull for an hour. Fortunately, Benicoff had seen other operations and didn't tip over. He was amazed at the force it took to penetrate the protective armor of tough skin, muscles and bones. First the scalpel cut through to the bone; as soon as the scalp was severed, it was pulled apart and sewn all around the fabric. The bleeding arteries were sealed by electrocautery. Now it was time to get through the bone. The assistant made the holes with a polished hand drill. Pieces of bone were removed by the operating room nurse like wooden drill chips. It was hard work, the surgeon was sweating and had to lean back now and then to wipe the sweat from his forehead. When the holes were through, he widened them with another instrument. Finally he took the electric craniotome with the bone cutting attachment and connected the holes together. Then he pushed the flat flap lifter between the brain and the skull to slowly pry the piece open and expose part of the brain; a nurse wrapped the piece of bone in a cloth and placed it in an antibiotic solution. Now Snaresbrook could begin. She entered the operating room, her scrubbed hands at eye level, put her arms into the sleeves of the sterile surgical suit, pulled on the rubber gloves. The instrument table was rolled over and the instruments on it were carefully laid out by the OR nurse in charge. Scalpels, retractors, needles,

Nerve hooks, dozens of scissors and tweezers - the whole battery of instruments you needed to get into the brain itself. "Dural scissors," Snaresbrook said, holding out her hand, then leaned over and cut open the top layer of the brain. As soon as it came into contact with air, it was kept moist by a spray system. Benicoff on the wall could no longer see any details; he was almost happy about it. That was the last phase anyway; they rolled up a strange machine and pushed it against the wall at the back. A kind of metal box with a screen, indicator lights and a keyboard; two shiny arms protruded from the top. They ended in tufts of fingers that branched out more and more and got thinner and thinner, the outermost fingers ended in a sparkling frill. The sixteen thousand microscopic fingertips on the end links of the instrument were too tiny for human eyes. The multi-ram manipulator had only been around for ten years. Now that it was not yet connected, the fingers hung in lazy bundles like the branches of a metal weeping willow. For the next two hours the surgeon worked with the large microscope, scalpels, and electrocautery to clean up the trail of destruction; she performed a careful wound toilet of the trajectory. "Now let's start repairing," she said, straightening up and pointing to the manipulator. Like all equipment in the operating room, it was on wheels; it was now pushed into position. When it was switched on, the fingers touched, rose, sank under her control immediately back into the brain she had constructed.

Snaresbrook's skin was gray. Under the eyes the black circles of exhaustion. She took a sip of coffee and sighed. "I admire your stamina, Doctor," said Benicoff. “My feet hurt because I just stood there and watched. Do all brain operations take that long? ”“ Most of them. But that was particularly difficult because I had to insert these microchips and fix them in place. Like combining surgery with a puzzle, because each of the PNEPs has a special shape for perfect contact with the surface of the brain. "" I saw. What do they do? ”“ They're PNEP film chips - programmable neural electron paths. I attached them to every injured surface of his brain. On these surfaces, they will make connections to the severed nerve fibers that control the regrowth of Brian's nerves.These things have been developed over the years and have been thoroughly tested in animals. They have worked wonders for spinal cord injuries, including humans. But until now they have never been used in the human brain, with the exception of a few small experiments. I would never have done it if there had been a better alternative. ”“ What happens now? ”“ The chips are surrounded by living, human embryonic cells. They are supposed to grow and establish a physical connection between the end of each severed nerve and at least one of the quantum transistor gates on the surface of the PNEPs

produce. This growth process should be under way by now and will last for the next few days. As soon as the new nerve fibers grow in, I'll start programming the PNEP chips. Each chip has enough switching capacity to pick up every nerve signal from every part of the brain and transmit it to another brain location via a suitable nerve fiber. "" But how do you know exactly where it has to be sent? " We're dealing with hundreds of millions of individual nerves here - and we don't know where each of them should go. In the first phase, we just follow the anatomy of Brian's brain. That should give us a rough approximation of most nerve targets. Not precise enough to support subtle thought work, for example, but still sufficient, I hope, for a minimal functional level - despite all the wiring errors. For example, if the motor region of his brain sends out a motion signal, some muscle should be moving, if not the right one. So we would have a muscle response that we can relearn and retrain later. I made an interface in Brian's skin, about here. ”Erin touched a spot on the back of her neck, just above the collar. “The computer communicates by inserting the microscopic ends of fiber optic cables that in turn connect to each of the PNEP chips. Then we can use the external computer to search - to find corresponding areas that correspond to the same memories or concepts. As soon as we have found them, the computer can send signals to establish the electronic paths between the appropriate PNEPs. Every single chip is like an old-fashioned one

Switchboard where you have one phone connected to the other via a breadboard. I'm going to use the neural switch in Brian's brain and restore the severed connections. ”Ben took a deep breath. "So that's how it works - you give him all his memory back!" Some memories, knowledge and skills are irretrievably lost. What I'm hoping for is just to get Brian enough to relearn what is gone now. It's a huge job. The best way to imagine the complexity of the brain is when you consider that there are many times more genes involved in the growth of brain structures than any other organ. "" I see. Do you think the personality is still alive ... I mean, the person we know as Brian? "" I think so. During the operation, I saw his lips move under the towels - in the familiar way we all move our lips when we are dreaming. A dream! What could this half-ruined brain dream of? "

Darkness. Timeless darkness, warm darkness. Sensation. Memory. Memory. Awareness. Presence. All around, all around, all around. To nowhere, for nothing, endless loop. Darkness. Where? The closet. There was security in the dark of the closet. Refuge for a child. No light. Just sound. The memory repeated itself over and over again.

Noise? Voices. Voices he knew. Voices he hated. And a new one. A stranger. Accent like on the telly. Not Irish. American, he recognized that. American. Came to the village. To the pub. Took photos. One took a picture of him. Gave him a 20 pence gold piece for it. Did he spend on sweets right away. All eaten. American. Here? In this house. Curiosity led his hand to the closet door handle. He grabbed it, turned it, opened it slowly. The voices were louder now, of course. One even screamed. Must be Uncle Seamus. “You really have the fucking nerve to come here! Damn outrageous, you crook! Just come over to the house where she died and everything ... "" No need to scream, Mr. Ryan. I told you why I am here. That's why. ”That was the new voice. The American. Not really Americans. As Irish as anyone else, but sometimes American. It was too unusual to miss. Brian forgot the anger that brought him to this room so early, forgot the tantrum that had driven him into the closet, into the darkness where he could bite his knuckles and cry but no one could see or hear him. He tiptoed across the tiny room, the wood under his bare feet was ice cold, warm only on the tattered carpet by the door; at the age of five he could already look through the keyhole without standing on a book. He pushed his eye very close. "That letter came a few weeks ago." The man with the accent had red hair and freckles. He looked angry as he waved the piece of paper around. "And here is

the stamp on the envelope, here, Tara, this village. Do you want to know what that means? ”“ Get out! ”Growled the deep, phlegmatic voice, followed by a heavy cough. His grandfather. Still smoked twenty a day. "Can't you understand this simple sentence - you are not wanted here!" The newcomer sank back. He sighed. “I know that, Mr. Ryan, and I don't want to argue with you. I just want to know if these allegations are true. This person, whoever he is, wrote here that Eileen was dead… ”“ That's right, by God - and you killed her! ”Uncle Seamus was losing patience. Brian was curious to see if he would hit this man the same way he hit him. "That would be a little difficult - I haven't met Eileen in over five years." You attached the child to her, made you away, left her alone with her shame. You and the bastard. ”“ That's not entirely true - and it's not relevant. ”“ Just stop those buzzwords! ”“ No, not until I've seen the boy. ”“ I'll see you in Hell first ! ”Creaking and cracking as a chair fell over. Brian clutched the door handle. He knew that word very well. Bastard. That was him, that's what the boys called him. What did that have to do with the man in the parlor? He didn't know and he had to find out. He would be beaten for it. That didn't matter. He turned the handle and pushed the door open. It flew open, crashed into the wall, and he stood in the opening. Everything froze. Grandfather sat on the couch that

torn gray sweater on, cigarette in mouth; Rings of smoke rose to the half-closed eye. Uncle Seamus with his fists clenched, the overturned chair behind him, his face red with anger. And the newcomer. Tall, well dressed, suit and tie. Black shiny shoes. He looked down at him. Feelings fought in his face. "Hello, Brian," he said. Just as calm. "Look out!" Shouted Brian. Too late. His uncle's fist, as hard as steel from the years in the mine, hit the man at temple level and stretched him to the ground. Brian thought at first that this was going to be one of those brawls like Saturday night outside the pub, but that wasn't the case, not this time. The new guy took his cheek, looked at the blood, and got up. “All right, Seamus, maybe I deserve this. But only this once. Keep your fists down, man, and think for a second! I saw the boy and he saw me. Done happened. I'm worried about his future - not the past. ”“ Just look at them, ”the grandfather growled, suppressing a fit of coughing. "Like two pennies, the red hair and everything." His mood suddenly changed, he waved his arms around, sparks flew from the cigarette. “Go to your room, boy! There's nothing for you to see and nothing to hear here. Get out before my hand slips! "

Incomplete, fragmented, drifting in the flow of time. Memories, long buried, without connection. Surrounded and separated from each other by a deep blackness. Why was it still dark? Paddy Delaney. His father.

Like frames in a film, flickering, flitting by quickly, too fast to see what was going on. The blackness. The pictures, suddenly clear again. A loud roar, the window in front of him larger than any window he had seen before, larger than a shop window. He clung to the man's hand. He was afraid everything was so strange. "This is our plane," said Patrick Delaney. “That big green one with the bump on top.” “747-8100. I saw it in the newspaper. Can we go in now? "" Soon - as soon as they call us. We're the first on board. ”“ And I'm not going back to Tara? ”“ Only if you want. ”“ No. I hate her. ”Sniffing, he wiped his nose with the back of his hand. Looked at the tall man at his side. “You knew my mother?” “I knew her well. I wanted to marry her - but there were reasons against it. When you are older you will understand. ”“ But - you are my father? ”“ Yes, Brian, I am your father. ”He had asked this question many times, but had never really been sure, even one get honest answer. Here now, at the airport with the big green plane in front of them, he finally believed it. And with that belief, something deep within him seemed to burst and dissolve. Tears welled up and ran down his face. "I never, never want to go back!" His father knelt in front of him and held him so tightly that he could hardly breathe - but that was right SQ. Everything was right now.