MACHINE MISFIT – The Man in the Machine

Dr. Walson carefully examines his computer screen as small flashes of light briefly flicker and dance across the monitor. Sitting in a chair just a few feet away is his assistant, Dr. Ottlite. She is wearing a black hood with hundreds of monitors protruding from it, wired to Dr. Walson’s computer.

The little timer, sitting on Dr. Walson’s desk dings. “Okay,” he says to Dr. Ottlite. “That was our final session of mapping. You can take off the hood.”

She removes the hood, letting her long brown hair flow out of it.

“Thank goodness,” she said. “I was sitting in that chair for three hours!”

“It was worth it. We may have collected enough data to build a realistic simulation,” Dr. Walson stated hopefully.

He clicked his mouse a couple of times and tapped his keyboard. The screen went completely black and stayed that way until he typed in green letters, “Doctor Ottlite, do you read me?”

The cursor flickered a couple of times until on the screen appeared these words:

“Loud and clear, Doc!”

Dr. Walson smiled widely.  He knew that his vision of the future would finally come alive. The same vision he had in 1967 when he founded Braincast: using digital technology to help humans live forever. But in the following week, tragedy struck. Dr. Walson’s physician told him that due to his age, he only had a couple of weeks left to live.

News got out around the office quick. Things were not looking well for the company. A list was put together for possible future CEOs of the company but most of them believed Braincast’s mission was a joke. The ones who believed that Braincast would succeed were deemed unfit to run the company.

Dr. Walson noticed the troubles that had been going on, and he knew that if he died, Braincast would become history. But that was not what he wanted to see. So when he realized there was no other way, he proposed a plan.

“Dr. Ottlite, I need you to upload my brain. All of it, so that I can continue to run the company.”

Dr. Ottlite was reluctant.

“You’d have to sit in that chair for five days nonstop to collect that kind of data!” she said.

“Which is exactly what I plan on doing.”

Dr. Walson decided that he wanted to make his simulation as humanlike as possible and thus, wanted his head and face and to be in the simulation. He had his head scanned and then turned into a somewhat convincing digital model.

He then sat in the chair for five days, in a deep state of thought required for uploading the most data. Dr. Ottlite monitored the brain activity.

After Dr. Walson was finished, he cleared all of the data out of the Braincast supercomputer and sorted out all of the data collected from his brain.

He turned on the webcam and the microphone and launched the program. The digital model of Dr. Walson’s face came up on the screen. The real Dr. Walson said, “Can you hear me?”

The words, “Yes, yes I can.” came out of the speakers in a mediocre computer-generated replica of Dr. Walson’s actual voice.

The next few hours were spent testing the simulation. The end result was a ten out of ten for realism. Dr. Walson’s last few hours were spent happily.

He died on May 13, 2018 from old age, at 96 years old. Dr. Walson’s simulation was given access to the cloud so he could perform weekly data backups just in case he broke down.

Word got out of this breakthrough quickly. Many celebrated uploading a human being as the greatest technological achievement since humans discovered fire.

Others stated that they had destroyed everything that made him a human. All it was was his mind and nothing else. Maybe it was less than his mind. Maybe it was all machine and nothing else, just an incomprehensible pile of ones and zeroes.

This troubled Dr. Walson. He didn’t even know if he was a human anymore.

He spent days thinking it over, considering all of the factors. And then one day he had an epiphany. He really was just a machine. Just a pile of ones and zeroes. But he knew how to change that.

Braincast took a dive into developing a new technology: commercially available brain-computer interfaces. Dr. Walson led the way in this new charge, developing a plan as he went along.

After years, Braincast’s NeuraConnect was a hit. It was (relatively) affordable at a price of $100, and reliable. And after looking at the wait list to receive an implant, Dr. Walson smiled, the plan was falling into place.

A disabled man came to receive an implant to control a pair of robotic braces on his legs. They connected the implant to the man and wired it to a computer. As soon as the implant was in place, Dr. Walson uploaded himself into the man’s brain.

Dr. Walson took over this man’s brain and became the man. He had been trapped inside of a computer for three years now, and was not used to moving, especially in a disabled body. He figured that his life would be improved now that he was actually human, but it turned out to be worse. He could feel pain, and, as time went by, he realized that he would die. He didn’t want to die again. He consulted several different psychologists, none of whom helped much. And, as it seemed like there was no hope, he realized the one thing that would help. Braincast had shut down fairly recently, but he figured some of his employees may still be there, and he could be happy again. He sprinted towards the former corporate headquarters as fast as he could. He ran inside and saw the employees cleaning out their desks.

“Everyone!” he yelled.

They all looked over at him, slightly stunned.

“It’s me, Dr. Walson!”

Nobody believed him until he explained the whole story to them.

“I don’t want to feel pain!” he cried. “I don’t want to die again!”

They laid him down on a table, with the man’s implant wired to a computer. Dr. Walson entered the computer through the wire, and they thought they may be able to extract anything from the man’s brain that was from Dr. Walson’s simulation.

They quickly wrote a simple code they thought might do the trick.

The man’s body thrashed and shaked as Dr. Walson re-entered the computer. The man later described it as “the feeling of everything leaving your head.”

Extracting Dr. Walson’s mind took hours, but when they were done, mechanical cries of joy were coming out of the speaker. Braincast was eventually re-launched under the leadership of Dr. Walson. They are now one of the most valued companies in America, with a stock price of $450.35 per share.Dr. Walson has become one of the few men in history to win a Nobel Prize after they died. He has been in his simulation form for fifty years now, and Braincast is still running, under the care of a lump of metal and silicone, containing the soul of a good man.   

By: Brig Larson

Photo Credit: Discovery News

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