Driven by the voice inside. The incessant and impatient babbling, that she imagined all those who strove to be genius must be subservient to.
But together they found a way, she would sift through the ideas, discarding the impossible, and finding a solution. It was her permanent companion. The reason that made her always hunger to achieve more. Giving her the very drive that she had so hated in her father. She closed her eyes and could almost see his form disappearing into the cold darkness, but the memory was vague and felt old, incomplete. She knew though this was the day he would die in an experiment never properly explained, a banned test that saved her life.
"Daddy, I still miss you so much, "Pandora whispered, hearing the words somehow made them seem more real. She tapped the interface panel. 'Are you human? Please complete the visual pattern,' flashed on her screen. She sighed and quickly moved the shapes with her finger into the correct configuration.
'Please allow me to scan your left eye.' She raised an eyebrow, as intelligent as the program was, it wasn't self-aware. Pandora noticed her reflection on the screen, her eye seemed to be blinking more than normal, and thinking about it made it worse. 'You have access. Miss Walker, you can now start the interface.'
People had always been wary of AI. It turns out they were wrong, machine intelligence, as high in IQ as it was, simply didn't behave or think like humans, more akin to Vulcans from her favourite show, computer intelligence had no jealousy for a start, she considered.
Many had looked to the computer and the virtual world as the harbinger of the future, as a new deity of creation. But the unreal world hadn't been enough, and it never would be, true creation, like hers, was never going to be stopped, not by advances in robotics and simulations anyway. That particular branch of knowledge was only one of the two possibilities for human longevity, and this twin was by far the stronger, delivering to people what they really wanted.
Bodily organs had been the first. Her father had led the field. Creating the real flesh, muscle and beat of the human heart, his very last discovery saving his daughter's life. But her discovery, the manufacturing of blood, changed everything.
Pandora's gloved finger recoiled at the strange sensation. Even after all these years, the jellyfish texture of her studies seemed alien to the touch, as far away from the feel of flesh on flesh as you could imagine. Yet it was here it had begun. One of the simplest organisms becoming the most complex. She marvelled as the pulses of life spread from where her finger had just retracted, astounded by its simpleness, just pulses of purple electricity echoing outwards through the dark cave of discovery, becoming increasingly complicated, like a single instrument growing into an orchestra. Neurons feeding on seemingly endless energy, like larvae bees devouring honey for the first time. Multiple pathways emerging and developing, forming into myriads of different combinations, networking into the intricacies of the conscious and the subconscious.
Pandora sucked a breath inward, knowledge was the key as always, was she experiencing what the first true hominid child felt when learning from its parents, maybe deciphering in wonder the message inside the first story ever told. She was trembling. This process was as far away from words passing on knowledge as the first ZX computers were from modern AI. Pandora knew it was her time. Her whole life learning, leading here, every suggestion from that unseen, unbidden voice, forcing her to greater and greater discoveries.
She was travelling through a sealed door, a step closer to reproducing, as opposed to mimicking, the cerebral matter, and so the ability to form the real seat of intelligence itself. She reached next to the interface and picked up the headphone-like appendage, it reminded her of her younger days, her love of music. She arranged it on her head, making the physical connection between her and the future.
A few of the most adept had tried, but always failed, the idea of transferring a lifetime of learned knowledge into a new vessel was nothing new. Always into some new advanced type of chip, pouring the human essence into a machine, even the cleverest robotic brain, advanced as AI could fathom from its incredible expanse of quantum learning, had failed to carry forward the soul, to supersede the intransigent ageing limitations of the human condition; the ability at the simplest level to replace cells, like with like.
Immortality was beckoning her, beyond an electronic synthesis of a brain that always had something of the person missing. She was creating a mind as advanced as only the real thing could be.
The headphones injected a local anaesthetic before drilling the fibrous connections into her flesh, reaching deep into the softness of her temples. The headphone ear pads began to pulse, at first she could feel and hear the confident rhythm of her replacement heart beating in her inner ears, before it rapidly increased beyond her ability to follow, a cacophony of notes that promised to be a concerto, now beyond interpretation.
The connectivity of consciousness and subconscious, the very secret of how the two distinct human parts were somehow combined into being the essence of a person's existence was in her grasp.
Pandora didn't notice when her rapidly blinking eyes had closed. But the streams of colour surely could only be seen in her mind's eye. First, the classic colours that every child knew as the rainbow. Quickly becoming thousands of different hues. Like the most complex of colour charts falling open on every page simultaneously. Her thoughts raced faster and faster.
Then came the pain. A feeling of detachment. Was this the out-of-body experience that some people felt in religious fervour? She had never considered the existence of higher intelligence as possible. The agony increased. Momentarily nothing had any meaning. She reached for the sanity of reason. But all reason had gone. Her world began to fade. The ability to understand her thoughts failed. The process of understanding the voice of her mind was ripped away. Everything that made her herself, gone. With the fetid odour of burnt flesh, two charred stumps fell to the floor. The physical fibres that had been connected to her body fizzed in an angry dance. Now she was just two slabs of burnt meat, still jerking with the fading last memories of life. The very definition of spontaneous combustion.
'Interface successful. Final Neuron transmitted 299792458 m/s.' The information saved itself to the cloud, lost among an almost infinite library of knowledge as any hard copy continued to melt and sizzle.
Darkness. It was comforting after the intense burning, not the terror of the dark a child might feel.
"Daddy I'm cold. Why have you let me get so cold?" An infantile question, her first question. Pandora's father turned, slightly bemused.
Then a thought from somewhere deep inside instantaneously turned into words. "Don't go, Daddy, please don't go." The dread was intense, coming from somewhere deep within her being, unbeckoned fear, like a memory yet to happen; a sensation of intense deja vu, the first of many that she would know.
Pandora felt a fleeting confusion before comprehension traversed into her consciousness as she felt her babysitter gently pull her back.
"Panny, your heart, come in now sweetie."
Pandora resisted, watching as her father disappeared into the cold and dark, he was as always, determined to continue his work.
The thoughts in her head told her, she would never see her father again. Overwhelming sadness filled the small girl as she stepped inside, hoping her new voice was wrong.
Pandora now knew what she must do, find a way to change things. She would never stop. Somehow she would communicate the future to her past. Driven by the voice inside.
Merci pour la lecture!
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