Memory Log: Time : 1993/03/10 06:45:00
Location: 41°8′44″N 73°59′42″W Classified Location in North America
Reboot Sequence: All systems online and operational
I was aroused at exactly 06:45:00. Actually, my motherboard rebooted 20 milliseconds earlier to the reboot sequence, which involved waking up my human brain via stimulation of Ascending Reticular Activating System. The first thing I did after regaining consciousness was to review the Standby Surveillance Log. Even though I required both my human brain and motherboard to be conscious, my sensory drive was still functional when my human brain was asleep. Instead of relaying sensory information to my brain, however, it simply stored it in the Standby Surveillance Log to be reviewed after I woke up. There had been nothing eventful last night.
The door in my exam room opened at 06: 47:45. Three human figures entered. I recognized Sergei and Marco, however there was a third person I had not yet encountered. I looked at the stranger's face: a female wearing a white lab coat with the emblem of CORTEX on it. She was older than Sergei and Marco, and I recognized a smile on her face-a symbol of her approval of me. From the way Sergei and Marco talked about her yesterday, I concluded that she was an authority figure of some sort.
Teressa Lange, MD, PhD. Date of Birth : 1964/03/25 . Internationally renowned neurologist and computer scientist. Founder and director of the Integrated Cybernetic and Neurological Cognitive System Department (ICNCS) at Cortex. Published in various scientific journals about the feasibility of interfacing neurological tissues with cybernetic hardwares.
For reasons that did not compute, my human brain liked Dr. Lange from the start. Actually it was more than like, but a sense of bonding and dependency. It believed that she would protect it in this human world which was still alien to it at the time. I did not comprehend how the human brain determined affiliation and enmity, but evolution had certainly given humans an innate, abet imperfect instinct to distinguish friend from foe, as I had learned later to be a valuable asset. Maybe it was just an imprinting mechanism, and my 6 years old human host just felt the need to bond with a powerful, yet gentle adult like the way infant birds felt the need to bound with the first animal they saw. Then, again, why did my human host not do so with Sergei or Marco even though they were also gentle? Again, it did not compute.
"Hello little boy !" Dr. Lange voice was soothing and calm, " did you sleep well?"
"Greetings Dr. Lange" I responded, and searched for the right response to a senior CORTEX director, "CEREBRO operational and at your service".
Dr. Lange sighed "Do not talk like that. Call me Teressa. Also you need to have a name other than CEREBRO." She paused for 3078 milliseconds, then her eyes brightened up "Sergei told me that you are exceptionally bright and can hack a vending machine with ease. So I am going to call you Stephen Falcon. You know, like Stephen Hawking. "
"That is so geeky", Marco mumbled "both you and Sergei are terrible at making names."
Dr. Lange ignored him and took out a box of some sort. She opened the box and there were some discoid objects as well as a liquid container. She poured a white emulsion into a bowl."
"You must be hungry" Dr. Lange's voice was pleasing to my human host, "have some milk and cookies".
"I am not sure if his intestines are able to handle that" Marco objected, "after all he had not had any solid food for years"
"Well Sergei told me he emptied a large bag of chips yesterday without problem, so his gastrointestinal motility must have returned. Poor thing, it must be awful eating all that glue-like semi-solid food".
BIONET Entry alpha148756:Cookie: a confection made of stiff, sweet dough and baked.
I cautiously picked up one and put it in my mouth. Suddenly, a new input from the sensory drive came to me. It was caused by simple carbohydrates detected by taste bud. The sensation was registered as "sweetness", and it felt good. I paused for 3000 milliseconds so my human brain can bask in the pleasure of sweetness.
"Eat, Stephen, and then we are heading to an important event soon". Dr. Lange said, smiling at me.
At 07:24:43 we headed out to the "important event" . It was an two hours drive through the forest. I was perplexed by the direction we were going, because according to the satellite in my hardrive, there was no human establishment in the direction that we were going. At the end of the drive, we encountered a checkpoint with fences and men wearing green uniforms holding metal instruments in their hands. I identified those metal instruments to be 5.56x45mm AC-556 assault rifles. Apparently, people here took security VERY seriously.
An officer approached us and said: "Zone 65, no unauthorized entry. Identify yourself or leave. Refuse to comply will result in severe consequences."
"Dr. Teressa Lange, Department of ICNCS, CORTEX" Dr. Lange was apparently surprised that she had been stopped, but nevertheless calmly presented her I.D. The officer read the information on the I.D. carefully, then said "You may now park your vehicle and enter. " No personal vehicles were allowed in Zone 65, it seemed. So we disembarked and went through a gate.
Suddenly a red light at the gate flashed, accompanied by an alarm that sounded so sharp it was painful to my ears. The two officers at the gate bolted towards us and in less than 2156 miliseconds their guns were pointed toward Dr. Lange and me. "Do not move or we will fire".
Dr. Lange turned pale, "what is the meaning of this?" she said, " I have been working here for the last-"
"Put your hands where I can see them" one officer interrupted Dr. Lange, then walked towards me. His hands grabbed my wrists tight, so tight it was painful. Not that pain bothered me-my motherboard only saw pain as a warning of danger, not as a nuance. "Where did you hide it ? where?" He shook me forcefully.
Dr. Lange's face was still pale, but I could see blood starting to rush into her head " what are you doing? That child has nothing-"
" Where did you hide the weapon!" The officer roared and shook me more violently than before.
I did not say anything. I did not know how to respond to this kind of situation. Both my human and cybernetic programing were immature at the time.
" I am telling you, I am a senior director at CORTEX, if you end up hurting that child you WILL be sorry!" Dr. Lange's face was now red with rage.
The last remark seemed to stop the officer right in his tract. He glanced at Dr. Lang warily and stopped shaking me, though his hands were still tight on my wrist. "Madame, our detector had detected a metal device on this child. I would like him to remove that device for inspection. We do not allow unidentified metal objects in this zone".
Dr. Lange seemed relieved after hearing this. She immediately opened her mouth to explain, but before she could say anything, an older officer with mustache seemed to appear out of nowhere and yelled at the junior officer.
" You idiot, don't you know that Code Green was for Medically Implanted Devices? That kid does not have weapon on him. If you pull out a gun on anyone with a positive metal detection without checking the details you will get yourself into some real big mess. Release that kid and do not do that again when the Prime Director of CORTEX comes next week. Dr. Lange, please forgive this rookie for his mistake. He has not completed his training yet."
The grasp on my wrist was released. Who is the Prime Director of CORTEX? Does he have an implant as well?
Dr. Lange rushed to me and looked at my wrist. She had a sigh of relief when she saw no harm had been done to me. Regaining her composure, she calmly talked to the senior officer with the mustache. "This child is a billion dollar project of CORTEX sanctioned by the Department of Defence. He does have an implant in his head which can set off metal detection. I apologize for the miscommunication. However," she turned toward the junior officer with fire in her eyes: "this junior officer has certainly over-reacted. And if any harm came to this child, I am afraid that the Department of Defence will not be very content".
This time, it was the junior officer who became pale. As Dr. Lange and I walked away, I heard the Senior officer whispering to the junior officer:" You do not want to piss off those people at CORTEX-I know some who learned that the hard way".
Once we passed the check point we were escorted by an armoured vehicle to the entrance of CORTEX headquarter. Now I understand why you can not see CORTEX headquarter from satellites. It was an underground installation, so one could not see anything above the ground, which was a shame because if it was not underground it would be a spectacular sight to behold. My human host would certainly enjoy seeing it, since humans are in awe of objects of great dimensions, like the Egyptian pyramid or the Chinese Great Wall.
The CORTEX headquarter was colossal. Its radius stretched 9 km, which gave it a circumference of more than 27 km. Its shape however, was not circular, but shaped more like a letter "C" modified to resemble the shape of human's cerebrum cortex. Millions of tons of earth were removed and hundreds of vehicles were used during its construction, and it was beyond me how they kept an installation of this size a secret. There were 3452 elite scientists working in 298 departments in this installation. I know that the central server computer for BIONET sat in a classified location within this structure.
None of its magnificence could be seen from inside, once we waked in the the building through an clandestine opening above ground. The hallways were small and narrow, and there is no window anywhere in the structure so you can not see what people in other labs are doing.
I downloaded a map to help me navigate in this building. When they planned on building a headquarter for CORTEX, the executives convinced the architect to model the building in the same structure of a brain. Not only the external shape resembled cerebrum cortex, but also the hallways, corridors, and various areas in the building were built and named after brain structures, thus keep the "cortex" motif of the company. That decision had made it insanely difficult for humans to navigate in this building. For example, Area 10 is faraway from Area 9 but close to area 46, just like the respective locations of Brodman Areas in human brain. It was intended to be this way-it was a security measure to ensure that anyone, including staff who entered this building would not easily access areas where that they were not authorized, and difficult to escape from the building when it locked down. Like I said, in this place they take security VERY seriously.
However, I am able to navigate this area quite efficiently, using my WayFinder Application to plot the shortest route to the destination point. Knowing this, Dr. Lange decided to let me lead the way. Since any external electronic equipments were banned from entering the building, even long-term staff such as Dr. Lange had trouble finding the conference location.
The conference is the "Important event" that Dr. Lange talked about this morning. Its location was at Atrium 3, whose respectively location was analogous to the location of the 3rd ventricle in the human brain. It was a huge amphitheatre with seats for one thousand people. The conference was started 2 minutes and 35 seconds after the official starting time. Punctuality was not one of human virtues.
"Ladies and Gentlemen" announced Dr. Lange "Welcome to the CEREBRO conference to witness a milestone in the development of neurological science", the enthusiasm in her voice was unmistakable, "the cure of disabling neurological diseases has finally arrived!"
I saw wetness in her eyes. Lacrimation was a sign of either extreme happiness or extreme sadness in humans.
" For years, the medical community can do nothing but sit and watch when patients with neurological diseases deteriorate in front of them, either die or live like a vegetable-conditions such as severe brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, adrenoleukodystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, brain cancer," she paused on brain cancer, as if there was something personal to it, "and so on. But now, we have hope that someone who used to be like this-" she pointed to the gigantic screen over her head, showing a video of someone lying on a bed, immobile, coughing, choking in his own saliva , "to this" she pointed at another video of someone standing, walking, talking putting Legos together and then put them apart. That someone was me.
There was a sound of amazement from the audience. Dr. Lange glowed, and continued her speech:" When I was a teenager, I read one of Dr. Michael Crichton's Novel: Terminal Man, which speculated the possibility of implanting a computer chip into the human brain to treat epilepsy. That has given me the idea to interface humans and cybernetics. After all, both neurons and electrodes fire and receive electricity. When I was in medical school, I learned that scientists in different fields were already exploring the application of "brain pacer", just like heart pace-makers to treat various brain diseases from severe neuropathic pain to Parkinson's disease. However, diseases that cause severe irreversible damage to neurons were still beyond cure, since neurons, unlike many other cells, do no reproduce. "
"That was when it occurred to me, if we can not fix the brain, why can we not augment the brain with prosthesis? For centuries we have put artificial limbs in people who have amputated legs and hands. We can even put an artificial heart into someone' chest. So of course we can put an artificial brain component into a patient with brain diseases."
"So I left medicine and worked on a degree in cybernetics, I learned how machines think , and how to integrate that with the human brain. As you can see, this child used to be a vegetable, who could not not even swallow his own saliva prior to the CEREBRO project, and look at him now"
" My research was then delayed for a couple of years due to, hmm, personal reasons" Dr. Lange 's eyes were moist again "but eventually we succeeded, and the proof is right here" she pointed at me.
" Greetings to you all, CEREBRO operational and at your service", I saluted to everyone.
The audience was all astonished. However, there was a hint of suspicion in their eyes (I was not able to read their faces at the time, I only found out after I reviewed my memory log later).
"See this X-ray" Dr. Lange pointed at a slide " The match-box like device above on the surface of his temporal bone is the motherboard, it has all the cybernetic components of CEREBRO. Its processing speed is world's fastest, and it has the largest memory space for its size, plus a radiotransmitter that enables us to communicate with the motherboard wirelessly via BIONET, though it can also intercept all forms of electronic signal. The mother board also has electrode leads that penetrate the skull of the patient and interface with different areas in the brain. We have 52 Cortical Leads that interface with the 52 Brodman areas in the cerebrum cortex, countless leads interfacing the cerebellum, limbic area and the brain stem. At anytime, the motherboard both receives and sends million signals to and from the brain at blinding speed."
"And now, we have this miracle of science. I will do a demonstration of CEREBRO`s mental prowess." Dr. Lange looked at me "Stephen, look around you."
I did as told. Then, she put a blindfold on me," now Stephen, just from your memory: how many people are in this room?" "765" "how many males and how many females?" " 377 males and 388 females" I heard gasps from the crowd-"how did he count so fast" "has to be a trick, maybe she got this information from somewhere and told the kid."
Sensing skepticism, Dr. Lange continued: "The lady on the 24th row, 15 seats from the left, can you please stand up"
A pause . Without taking the blindfold off-me, Teressa asked: "now Stephen, identify that person. "
I loaded my photographic memory : "The person on the 24th row 15 seats from the left is Melissa Schulich, Psychiatry Department. Date of Birth 1968/ 04 /06 MD in Psychiatry at Princeton University. Employee at CORTEX for the last 5 years, Home Address...``
"Stop! Those are confidential information" I obeyed. Then I heard mumblings from the crowd. It had turned from initial amazement to fear:
" Who is he?" "What is he?" "He is dangerous" "Does he know as much about me as he knows about Dr. Schulich?"` "So Melissa lied about her age!"
Dr. Lange sensed the change in atmosphere, and said to the crowed "I assure you, CEREBRO is completely harmless, I only connected him to CORTEX employee database on BIOTET temporarily for demonstration purposes, I will disconnect him right after the conference is over". Too late, I thought. I had already downloaded half of the database.
Then I was distracted by an odd sense of smell. I could not identify that smell because it is not in my database, but it seemed familiar from my memory, a memory from a long time ago, which was impossible of course since I had only been operational for less than 24 hours. I searched hard in all my memory logs to no avail. But with that smell, the activity of my human brain changed, and it seemed that a powerful sensation, a sensation most basic and visceral came from out of no where had taken control of it, and it is spreading. The last sensory input I received before losing consciousness was Dr. Lange's uncharacteristic panick-striken call "Stephen, what 's wrong with you?"