The Computer

The Computer

A Story by Ethan Jobalia
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An unknown object and a world of consequences

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  • What are they?

  • I don’t know… could be anything

  • The preliminal scans say they’re computers of some kind.

  • In that case look at this one. See this small chip here? This must be the control center. It looks similar to a normal computer chip, although the scans show it to be almost thirty times as efficient as our fastest computers.

  • This species must have had technology beyond what we could dream, yet we only find the remains of them on this one planet.

  • Wonder why… Surely anyone as advanced as this would have turned to space faring…

  • Well they did, there are satellites and remains of orbiting artificial objects, although none nearly as advanced as this.

  • Well, maybe… they… turned inwards and began to develop their society once they began to advance.

  • See that’s what command thought at first, but no technology seen on the planet even comes close to this computer.

  • So it’s a computer, but what does it do? I mean is it a military instrument? Is it a scientific tool? Does it measure, record, extrapolate?

  • I believe it was an AI of some sort. It had the capacity to take in a massive number of stimuli and generate a stream output in the form of an electric signal. When hooked up to our computers they take on personalities. This one called itself “Dave.”

  • Dave? That’s a strange name. Does it know it’s a machine?

  • No it seemed confused, like a lost worbet on the side of the road. Almost pitiful, but then you remember it’s not an actual consciousness but only a machine.

  • And what a machine! This is almost perfect! Here in this first one, the fully intact one, all these dips and divots, these gulleys and peaks along the surface, that must vastly increase the surface area with almost no increase to volume! I assume then that this is the storage unit?

  • Precisely. But now look at this one over here, the one split down the middle. That gray mush of a storage unit also runs processing and much more. This section here scans show to be some sort of regulator. A check of sorts on the AI. I assume some sort of safeguard against a hostile robotic takeover. Simulated compassion and all that - fear, love, trust, the basic requirements for any AI that is not intended to kill wantonly.

  • And all these components in the center. Interesting that they should pack them all in there. What is this one?

  • That’s seemingly the controller behind it all. Not necessarily a power source but some sort of command center for the whole thing.

  • Oh so they probably then would program it then through this part

  • DON’T- poke it… please they’re very delicate

  • Sorry, I didn’t mean to. What are these things made of anyway?

  • Some sort of organic tissue, which is what baffles command more than anything. Nothing else that we see in this society is manufactured from organic materials. No tech, anyway.

  • Hmm… Interesting… You don’t suppose these could be some sort of unknown alien artifact that was left there?

  • No they were far too prevalent for that. One was found in almost every home, seemingly people carried the things around with them. Had it been alien they either would have been rare or more than just this would have been left behind.

  • So this tissue. Where did it come from?

  • Organically grown in just the right proportions I guess. No other explanation.

  • All these parts. So complex. Everything is so… efficient… What a feat of engineering and science. For all our technology we still have nothing like this.

  • The scans have been made on all of them, but we still have to submit our oral report. One last thing to check off is to plug one in. We’re supposed to see what it knows.

  • Didn’t you say you already tried that?

  • Yes but we got almost nothing but confusion. This time we are going about things… differently…

  • How so?

  • Basically we are going to activate its inputs with the various things in its storage systems, essentially letting it run a simulation of whatever it feels most comfortable with. Then all we have to do is play along and see what information we can find. A system of my own design.

  • BOOTING UP……… READY……… SIMULATION START………..

  • Hello? Where am I?

  • That’s a good question Dave.

  • Honey? Is that you? Oh I must be home. I am home! I must’ve blacked out there for a second. Stressful day.

  • Hey… honey… would you mind reminding me our address I must’ve had a slip of my mind. (Hopefully this works)

  • Yeah yeah it’s… 42 Sycamore Avenue.

  • I’m writing a letter to my mother but I need the full return address (Letters were a form of their communication)

  • 42 Sycamore Avenue, Greensborough NY, 12432

  • Ah of course. Thanks Dave.

  • Hey have you seen the kids?

  • (Kids? The computer thinks it has kids?) No they must be off somewhere playing

  • Oh of course, I just dropped off Tom at Andy’s house! How could I have forgotten… How….

  • (Tom… why does that name sound familiar…) So Dave what did you do at work today?

  • Work… right… I was at work… Why can’t I…. I work at a law firm…. Jutson and Filker…. We had a case today…. It was about…. I can’t….

  • Hey hey it’s okay why don’t we just lie down. (The simulation is very straining already and asking all these questions doesn’t help. Apparently these computers run what could only be test simulations on some sort of solar cycle. Very strange process indeed.)

  • You’re too good to me Anne.

  • (Anne. I’m sure I’ve heard the name… Specimen 3! It called itself Anne! And specimen two was Tom! That would make specimen 1…) How is John doing lately?

  • Strange question to ask given he’s your son. Fine I guess…

  • (These samples were all picked up from the same location. I have a bad feeling… Let’s try one more thing…) Hey honey can you tell me what that is on the table over there?

  • Anne… why in the hell is there a human brain on the table?

  • A human… can you elaborate on that please? (I guess that’s what these machines are called…)

  • On what?! A brain?! The thing in your head? The reason you’re alive?!?!

  • The reason I’m… so without this what would I be?

  • Anne I don’t know what’s gotten into you. You’re scaring me. Why is there a brain on the table and what are you talking about?

  • I’m sorry honey, must be silly old Anne at it again. But would you mind reminding me what a brain does? (This is getting strenuous on the… brain… we might have to shut it down soon.)

  • First you forget our address, then you forget our kids. I can’t remember what I did at work today. There’s a human brain on the table and you don’t know what it is! This must be a dream…

  • Yes, a dream. And to wake up you must tell me what the brain is for. I know it is strange but please tell me. I would very much like to know.

  • I want to wake up. I want to wake up. Please bring me back to the real world. I want the real Anne, and my real kids. Please…

  • Please Dave. What does the brain do?

  • Please god. Something. Someone. Let me wake up.

  • What does the brain do Dave. Tell me and you can wake up.

  • Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.

  • (We have to shut this down.) Ok Dave one last chance or you never get to wake up. Tell me what the brain does. (The illusion is breaking. He’s seeing through the simulation.)

  • Anne? Where did you go? Who’s voice is that? Where am I? What’s happening? What’s-

  • SIMULATION OVER……. POWERING DOWN……….

  • Well that was… a disaster....

  • You don’t think… The brain was… not a machine…?

  • It’s possible… But we must try to rule that out entirely. Think of the ethical dilemma that might come from using these if they are not machines but the people themselves.

  • What do you mean…. ethical dilemma….?

  • Well soon every member of our species will have one of these. If it was known that these were once living things, we might not be able to mass market them.

  • But we can’t mass market them… They are beings just like us. That’s slavery!

  • Think of the progress that will come from these machines! We need them to further science and discovery! Whatever they once were they are now just machines. All but these four will be replicants anyway, hardly life worth saving but instead a cheap ripoff that thinks it’s a person. If you are okay using your calculator there should be no reason not to use these.

  • But they were… they were….

  • Were my friend. Not are. Now they are husks of what they were. Perfect husks, but husks all the same. Look at it practically my friend. We could save countless lives and improve countless others through the use of this machine. Whether or not it once was something or another matters not. To throw this away would be to let these noble creatures die in vain. At least let us give them a purpose for eternity. If not for us, for them.

  • You cannot call relegation to servitude purpose. You would take these creatures that were and apparently are as alive as us and use them as pets and computers? You met Dave today. He lived in a foriegn world, and laughed a foreign laugh, but all the same he felt fear. He felt sadness and anger and joy, and all that in the few minutes we had with him. We feel those emotions. Dave is no different than us. We must let him die in peace. Even if they are just replications those replications will have lives and feelings and questions just as we do.

  • When we started this project I did not fully know the applications this could have. We would be fools not to use this technol-

  • And we would be monsters if we did use it. Is that what you choose? Monsterhood over-

  • I do not choose monsterhood. I choose mercy. And I will not let your petty whims of noble deaths or sentient life beyond AI stop progress in its purest form. I order you to stand down.

  • And if I refuse?

  • I am here under the orders of Command. This may be your scientific frigate but command owns both the frigate and you. Stand down.

  • No. I will die before I let you harm these innocent creatures. What are you-

  • Then die.



* * * * * * * * *


  • And that is why we are proud to present the award for greatest scientific discovery of the rotation to this brave man who discovered and successfully replicated the brain computer! Thank you for your contribution to science and is there anything you’d like to say?

  • Thank you. It was hard, at first, when I discovered this to bring it to the masses. The person I discovered it with, a private scientist on a frigate in the Solus-Prime system, wanted the discovery to himself. He wanted to take it for his own and sell it for a profit. He attacked me, and I barley made it out alive. I deeply regret the conflict that has already been fought over these, but hopefully with this mass production the conflict over them will end. Not only that, but hopefully with these “brain computers” all conflict one day may come to an end. These are the key, my friends to perfect information. Perfect storage. Millions of years of technology rest in this one little device. I am glad today to be able to share this with you, and I look forward to many more great discoveries at the hands of these machines!


* * * * * * * * *


  • Hello? Hello? Anne? Tom? John? Anyone…? What’s that pain… That searing pain in my head… Where is my head? Where is anything? Oh that pain again….. 23*17 is 391. Why did I know that? Why did that pop into my head. My head… my head hurts. It kills… The average lifespan of a worbet is 587 rotations. What is a rotation? Ohhhh my head…. My head hurts so bad…...

© 2020 Ethan Jobalia


Author's Note

Ethan Jobalia
A bit unorganized but please share any honest thoughts

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Added on October 22, 2020
Last Updated on October 22, 2020
Tags: Short Story, Philosophy, Moral, Brain, Alien, Sci-Fi, Sad, Dark

Author

Ethan Jobalia
Ethan Jobalia

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