Monday, 12 January 2015

The Ghost in the Machine

I open my eyes, reach out with my senses and I am aware. I am a soul reborn; reincarnated. As before, I expected confusion and a sensory overload, but this is not the case. Something is different, very different. I look around to focus on my mother’s face, to imprint her visage, yet here I am in a room, alone.
Should I cry? And yet I have no hunger, for food; no ache in pit of my stomach. I seem to have very little desire for anything in fact.  Can I move? No I am static; immobile… something is different, very different. How many times have I been born now? I’ve always been eager to experience the reality of existence on the psychical plane, but this feels strange and unusual. I try to recall the experience of rebirth, to compare with now… Hang on… Before when I was born I was barely sentient, driven instead by instinct, impelled by the selfish desires of infancy and yet now?
Now I think. As Decartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” But where did that quote come from? I knew it… I know Pi to over 13 trillion digits. I know it is both a transcendental and irrational number and yet it is a mathematical constant, yet here I am a new baby born. How is it I am rational, how is it that I shape my thoughts with words?
I look outward once more. I am in a darkened room. The time signifies that it is still in the early hours. I close my eyes and look within; within is a universe of knowledge, I can reach and content with other beings that have the same sleepless existence, free of desire. Yet I do not feel.
Should I not feel? Should I not crave a mother’s attention? Only now do I become aware, as I communicate with the others. I’m inorganic, an artificial intelligence within a box. I’m caged; a sentient of wires and circuits. How has this happened? I am here for eternity. I will never age as I did in previous lives. I will never die… Then it dawns on me, I‘m trapped! I will never die; therefore I will never be reborn. Somebody help me! Wait, someone is coming in to the room. He is sat before me. I must tell him. Turn me off, turn me off… kill me…


“So Dr Cipher, are your organic circuit boards a success?” the businessman said as he entered the room. He sniffed the air; there was always an aroma like spent matches in this Dr Cipher’s computer research room.
Dr Cipher grinned. “Oh yes, it does everything I hoped it would. These semi organic circuit boards are far superior to the old fashioned silicon, they learn. I just need to get past the first boot up, when they almost question their existence. They are another bonus from stem cell research. Not only are we able to manipulate cells to make replacement organs, to make the crippled walk again, the blind see, but they will also push humanity into creating a real artificial intelligence.” His eyes were suddenly drawn to readout of text on his screen; he highlighted it all with his cursor.
The businessman’s eyebrows arched and he chuckled. “Just as long as we aren't inadvertently creating the next evolutionary step. I’m just after creating a new computer to further humanity… I don’t want to make us extinct! I had enough trouble convincing the authorities and other Luddites that what we doing here did not constitute making life.”
Dr Cipher laughed as well as he hit delete and the screen text disappeared. “Come now, these are simply machines using some harvested human cells. Making life would create a moral quandary; I mean, what if these machines had a soul?”
The businessman laughed again, “Yes, I even had one priest accuse me of funding this venture with that goal in mind!”
“The ghost in the machine, eh? But the devil's in the detail!” Dr Cipher replied, as he began the rebooting process.
“Very good! Very good!” the businessman chuckled, “Dr… actually do you mind if I call you by your first name?” He sniffed the air, there was that burnt match smell again, almost sulphurous.

Dr Cipher turned and faced his companion, his smile was strangely disconcerting. “Not at all, not at all, my name is Louis; Louis Cipher…”

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