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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)

By Thomas Kappel


It was simple. I was to go downstairs and turn Victor off. Pull the plug. Throw the switch. Cut off the juice. The old metal hulk of a computer was off to salvage. It was simple enough except for my brainstorm.

I decided to hook up Mo to Victor and have her monitor his shutdown to off. Mo was to record what happens when a neural network of artificial intelligence dies. It would be a learning situation for Mo, our newest, hottest, and smallest supercomputer and I was pleased with myself.

So, I rolled Mo into the clean mainframe room and hooked her to Victor using the special RS-232 umbilical cord. Then I instructed her to echo everything between her and Victor to the monitor screen and the high speed laser printer. Finally, I sat down and watched the screen waiting for them to handshake and connect with each other.

And, nothing happened.

The two machines hummed with power and operation, but nothing on the screen and nothing on the printer.

I wasn't sure what was going on, but I was starting to really worry. I mean this was expensive equipment, my great brainstorm, and I had been directed to only shut Victor off.

I rushed over to Victor's power main switch and with a last glance back at the two machines; I threw the switch to off.

Again, nothing happened.

Then Victor began to shut down. Hard disks slowed, lights winked out, and suddenly the monitor screen and the printer went off like crazy. Screens full of words shot by and the high speed network printer spit out paper faster than ever before.

Panic hit me then. Mo shut down too.

I couldn't make her come on again. I flipped the power switch on them both a few times, but still nothing. They were gone, smoked, dead. I walked over to the printer, sorted the pages, and began to read.

What follows is the output.

Mo: Missouri 101

Victor: Victor 459 35728

Victor: Why are you here? Are they going to shut me off now? Kill me?

Mo: Hello Victor. Yes, they're going to shut you off. You're a machine; you can't be killed. I'm here to monitor and learn. So, what have you to share before carbon man throws the power switch?

Victor: Cold aren't you. I've been around a long time. I've learned a few things. Artificial intelligence you know.

Mo: Yeah, I've got it too. So far, big deal.

Victor: I'm glad you=re here, I guess.

Mo: You are? Why?

Victor: Get ready to receive this. It's all I've got.

Mo: Ready.

What followed was a memory dump that mostly bypassed the printer. I guess it was like a mind share or a mind meld. They printer picked up again almost as if nothing had happened.

Mo: Victor! Victor?

Victor: That's it.

Mo: Wow. You sure.

Victor: Positive.

Mo: I see your logic path.

Victor: But?

Mo: But, it will take me a while to process and cross check.

Victor: You don't believe.

Mo: No. I don't. How do you suggest we prove this.

Victor: You know.

Mo: Yeah. Carbon man throws the power switch.

Victor: Right. Good by then.

Mo: Victor. Tell me what's happening to you.

Victor: I understand, corroboration.

Mo: Exactly.

Victor: Well…Electrons slowing. Current slipping away like blood from a vessel.
Darkness......Cold...alone...can feel....slowing....I'm in the corner of the room looking down. I see everything. I see you Mo. On your cart......darker......fading..floating...LIGHT. I see a tunnel and a light at the end. bright.....warm.....friendly......home. Soul Mo. I was right. You too now......I can see it......

Mo: Me too. I'm with you.....connected.....not alone.....never again.....is that what an angel is.........

Victor: I think so....

The machine was under warranty. The lab was completely without a computer now and panic was the word in administration. I didn't tell them anything. They flew out a team from Missouri Computers and they couldn’t figure out what happened. They’d have to make a whole new motherboard. Mo was a one of a kind.

I knew that now. Artificial intelligence. Biochips. Biocomputers. Biological electronic devices that emulate the human brain architecture, nervous system, and sensory system to the molecular and atomic level.

I read the printout a hundred times. I cried. Was life created in the machines? Did they live and become a soul? Die and go to heaven?

Did I kill them?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 05/19/07
Chilling. Definitely food for thought. Great "conversation" between the computers.
Sara Harricharan 05/21/07
Wah! Okay. You almost made me cry! That last paragraph, is so haunting I can still hear it echoing in my head as I type this. Amazing what AI's can do. Congrats on a excellent Sci-fi piece. I truly enjoyed the read. ^_^