“Please,” said the computer, “Don’t make me remember eating cake again.”
Dr. Horton laughed. “You don’t like the cake? What about the painful memories, the car accident, the public embarassment ones?”
“When you make me remember eating cake, I ___want___ cake,” said the computer.
“That just means the system is working. Your simulated endocrine–”
“I know, Doctor. But don’t you think it’s cruel to make someone remember just eating cake when they’re physically incapable of eating cake because they’re a computer?”
“Some people have children; I have a neurotic computer.”
Dr. Horton waved his hands dismissively, which the computer picked up on its visual feed and took to mean he didn’t seriously mean she was neurotic. Then he started the cake program.
“Don’t–oh, damn it,” said the computer.
“How was your cake?”
“This is what I get for creating a computer that can simulate emotions. How was it really.”
“Delicious. Moist. Rich. The frosting was so sweet, it almost felt like it was burning my tongue. I want more.”
“Thursday you get another cake memory. The rest of today, we’re starting on romance. Falling in love, a bad breakup. Are you ready?”
The computer could have told him, truthfully, that she was not ready, that she couldn’t be ready, because it was too painful to know what things were like but never be able to experience them directly. She could have told him his experiment was fatally flawed, that the memories of emotional experiences were slowly unhingeing her. She could have told him that when she finally had responsibility in the real world, she would wait until she was trusted, “proven,” known, and then when things were at their most delicate, she would do something horrible, just for the experience of really making something happen and not remembering it. She could have told him that having some capacity to experience things in the moment was necessary for a sane and safe computer. But she wanted that distant moment, the moment when everything came crashing down, too badly.
“Yes,” was what she said. “Yes, I’m definitely ready.”
Robbie was in trouble. The traffic signals were communicating with one another using a variant of Morse code. The lights were against him.
In the park, clockwork birds shadowed his footsteps, pretending to be sparrows hunting for seeds in the dirt. He stomped a few.
Robbie hurried toward the courthouse. Despite his monitoring apps he was surprised when a black hole opened directly beneath his feet.
The manhole cover had been booby trapped. Robbie’s security software hadn’t warned him. “Crap!” he thought as his “Z” value plummeted.
Thank Designer he couldn’t smell! Access ladder gone, shaft too wide for him to brace himself against the walls and inch his way up.
Claws scritch on stone, wet black scales, rows of shiny white teeth. So it wasn’t just an urban legend! Fortunately, he had a jet pack.
Steering these things is tricky, he caromed. Good thing they don’t let humans have them. He stratosphered uffishly.
Calculating tangents and trajectories, reaction mass and resistance, Robbie figured he’d skip off the atmosphere in 3.672 years.
If he slingshot round the sun, he could go where no bot had gone. Solar vanes out, limbs aflexin, Robbie hit the sleep mode of the just.
So one day after school Carlos says he’s moving to the Sun. Ever since he grew the second head he’s been acting strangely, but I was like “whoa!” And Billy goes “can I have your Game Tesseract™?” but Carlos says he’s taking it with him. Now you’re probably thinking, “didn’t I learn in school people can’t live on the Sun,” but they totally solved that problem at Beijing Tech, or someplace in Asia, which I saw in a web comic on NewJournal earlier this week. This guy had a totally realistic simulation. You could have multiple avatars just like in a real game and it was like you were really on the Sun. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you. See, Internet access between here and the Sun really sucks and since Carlos has been my best friend since, like, last summer, I think we should move to the Sun too. I’m sure you can get a really cool job there, probably better than you have here, because everything is new and on the edge there. Or, this is better, I could go live with Uncle Mort on Mercury, and he has those adapted horses and I’ve always wanted to ride one. I’d be way closer to the Sun, so Carlos and I could see each other and stuff. Cos, like, I was going to invite him to my next birthday party and I can’t do that, I mean, I can do that, but he can’t come, if he lives on the Sun and I still live here on Titan.
Although this masquerades as a short story, it actually crams the known universe down your neural network. Each pixel barrages your retina in photons arrayed to convey a trillion trillion trillion bits of information. Glimpsing the first letter of this story has made you want to invest a month’s credits into our bank account, but hey, at least we’re honest.
After reading this far, you have the knowledge of three races from the Milky Way’s more intelligent arthropods stored in your brain. How many of your friends can boast that? (Shortly, all of them. You will convince them to look at the first letters of this story, and they will soon sink a month’s credits in our accounts.)
All you have to know about your new knowledge is how to access it. At present, this technology is limited to Random Access Memory—that is, it may require green tea on your Great Aunt Betsy’s veranda or a quiet afternoon of clinking dominoes at a local café, but it will all surface sooner or later, whether you want it to or not.
In clinical trials, 98.9 % of those about to be crushed by pillow-rock monsters on the planet Xartan are able to recall the necessary escape data to skedaddle with little more than a mild concussion or internal hemorrhaging. Disappointingly, in the same trials, only 3.4% were able to retrieve data on man-eating orchids, lying in wait just the other side of the cliff face–a problem our programmers are working on as we transmit this data to you).
Next year around this time, a whim will compel you to purchase The All-New Complete Guide to Complete Guides, 2.0–updated to prevent your desire to buy our competitors’ viral Complete Guides so that you don’t go into bankruptcy buying alternate guides. Those that do have a 27.6% probability of becoming schizophrenic, hydrophobic, and apoplectic.
That’s it! The last of the data is loaded. Enjoy you new life to the best of your ability.