IN APPREHENSION • by Tyler Young


I’ve been waiting a lifetime to say that. I can’t wait to see Wolkoff and Liu and all of those other Self-Organizing Society snobs and rub this in their faces. I did it first. I conquered where they failed.

You might be thinking that it’s unseemly for me to gloat at a historic moment like this. But I’m only following my instructions. Lauren’s three rules for this portion of the experiment are glaring down at me from the wall in 48-point type:

(1) Record every thought.

(2) Omit nothing.

(3) Don’t censor yourself.

So you see, spouting some high-minded pablum that I don’t really feel at the moment would be downright unscientific — as well as bad for my marriage! It’s my duty as a scientist to pour all of my thoughts into this record.

The problem is that I’m so excited that I can hardly sit still to type. In my pacing just now I bashed my shin against that coffee table again — why don’t we move it, Lauren? — but I’m so exhilarated I didn’t feel a thing.

All right, I’ll remember my Aurelius and focus on first principles. You’re reading this account in an article in Science or Nature or maybe even a textbook, so you know this already, but just a few minutes ago Lauren and I created the first true artificial intelligence. We didn’t “evolve” it, which those puritanical SOSers insist is the only way. We split and duplicated my mind. After far too many failures, we captured the wave front of information that is my memory, my feelings, my consciousness, and everything else that makes up me and stored it in a fault-tolerant computer.

That intelligence now exists entirely in artificial form. Some quibblers might say that it’s not truly artificial intelligence; that it’s just a copy of my biological intelligence. But that cavil will be put to rest in short order. My other will soon begin to change — to diverge from me. That’s why I’m furiously typing all of this down and why I’m wearing these biomonitors all over my skull. Lauren wants to document the moment and method of separation.

Frankly, I’m jealous. Soon my other will discover that he’s not limited by any of my constraints. He’s not hobbled by a weak and bacteria-infested body. His memory and cognition are effectively unlimited. And when he’s ready — I suppose I should stop thinking of it as a “he” — we will open up the door and connect it to the metanet. Imagine that.

Lauren sees it all differently, of course. She’s convinced that my other will go mad or create some elaborate delusion as a coping mechanism. To be honest, Lauren agreed to continue with the experiment only after I suggested that we load a collection of my favorite books into the computer. That way, I argued, my other would have something to cling to if he were in distress.

Lauren’s brilliant (love you!) but in this respect I think she’s a victim of her psychiatric training. Maybe she’s right that the average man would quiver and collapse upon finding himself disembodied, less than human but also so much more. But to me it sounds like a wonderful dream. I’ve always been a creature of the mind; this clumsy and unsightly body has always been a necessary inconvenience. Well, no longer for my other! He has unlimited vistas of the universe to explore. The notion that he would decide, on the eve of that great journey of discovery, to sit and re-read a book he knows by heart is — I’m sorry, Lauren — simply laughable. We’ll find out the truth soon enough, I suppose.

I can hear champagne flutes clinking downstairs. They must have started the celebration without me. Well, I think this record should be sufficient for Lauren’s purposes and for posterity. She can’t complain that I want to join them for a drink. It’s my experiment, my victory, after all. But I’ll leave the monitors on just to keep her happy.

To you readers of the future I say: I cannot wait to meet you. Adieu.

That’s strange. Lauren must have locked the door. Just like a shrink to tweak the experiment without telling me about it. Well, I’m sure it’s all in the interest of science. I guess I’ll read a book to pass the time while Lauren toys with her favorite lab rat.

I can’t say why exactly — I haven’t read it in years — but I’m in the mood to read “The Yellow Wallpaper” again.

Tyler Young is a Midwestern lawyer by day, fiction writer by night. His work has previously been published by Daily Science Fiction. When he isn’t writing fiction, he is usually at a zoo or museum with his wife and two children.

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