by VK Fourstone
Published by V. Klyukin
Copyright 2016 V. Klyukin
Turning from the bottom.
One of the packs went flying into the center of the hall, another one over the reception desk. A moment later there was a loud bang of an explosion, then a second, and a third. Smoke abruptly billowed up, filling the space of the Agency.
Isaac instinctively covered his head. He didn’t feel any pain, only his eyes hurt and his throat was sore from the pungent smoke. Nobody seemed to scream or whimper, frightened
people coughed one after another. A face contorted in terror, belonging to a girl who worked at the reception, flashed by in front of his face. She was in shock but seemed okay. As soon as she gave a cry, a few more squealing voices joined in.
Water gushed down from above; a fire-extinguishing system went off. The sirens howled
loudly and nastily. Another explosion rang out, or rather a thud. There was no fire or shrapnel, no shock wave either, just the smoke. However after the next thud Isaac felt fit of panic – irrational, hideous fear. He realized it wasn’t over yet and anything could still happen, that after the thud a real explosion can strike. The fear made him crawl towards the door, seeing nothing, blinded by the acrid gas tears streaming out of his eyes. Thinking calmly was something he couldn’t do at the moment, leaving it all to instincts.
“Where’s the main computer? Where do you keep the devil’s heart?” the terrorist
screamed in a booming voice, donning a respirator.
The voice brought Isaac back down to earth a little and forced him to focus. Since the
terrorist breathed the air, it was not poisonous, not a chemical attack. What he had to do was cautiously crawl towards the door, trying not to attract attention.
“Move it, or I’ll kill’er!” shouted the attacker.
A woman squealed again. The old man nearby was breathing heavily and coughing. The
water had dampened down the gas a bit, and the air was gradually clearing, so he had to move faster.
“Askin’ ya for the last time! And don’t anybody move! You! The doomed one!” Through
the smoke Isaac could see the gun firmly pointed at him.
At that moment Isaac couldn't think rationally, but gloomily thought that he had blown
off not only his own life, but his sister Vicky’s as well. That morning he was sure that it couldn't be worse, but he was wrong and his recklessness would cost them both their future.
Well, yes, the future turned out to be not what he had thought. He had studied excellently, easily entered a prestigious university, his future seemed totally rosy. But we can’t predict what the world will look like in five years, neither the life around us, or our own. Some crappy war or epidemic, or even such a seemingly positive thing as progress, can change the world in just a few months! So here you are, studying, working your tail off, taking educational loans, passing exams, not sleeping at nights, looking forward to becoming a specialist in demand, and – poof! –
suddenly the damn Agency appears, and all your knowledge gets out of date in just one second, and you are totally screwed.
As a teenager Isaac craved adventures and discoveries, envied the young professor in the film Godzilla and the cool nerve of Jean Reno’s character. He saw himself in the future, traveling and making appearances at scientific exhibitions and congresses. First it went smooth - a graduate of a highly prestigious university, a young engineer. But after being presented with a beautiful diploma with the name Isaac Leroy embossed in gold, the future barman hadn't come across any more gold anywhere. It’s hard enough living in glamorous Monaco, the European paradise. It’s not as big of a deal as you might think because he's got absolutely zilch money. The sun and sea are free, for the rest you have to pay. Yes, the way his dreams came true turned out was a bit different. He had been dreaming of America, and he got it - “America” was the name of the bar where he was working. As a matter of fact, the owner looked a little like Reno and had a temperament every bit as ferocious as Godzilla. As for the real America, the most advanced place of all, meant for brilliant and talented minds, he never got to go there. Now there was no sense in traveling: if you have your creative energy, just go ahead and sell it, no need to fly anywhere.
Who could have thought before, that instead of uranium or palladium the most valuable resource in the world would be human creativity?
The most ironic thing - it was all the fault of his beloved science!
A few years ago Jeremy Link, a Professor at the University of London, doctor of
bioenergetics, identified human energy, responsible for an individual’s originality, fantasy and imagination. He called it “orange energy”, or simply OE. Skeptics made fun of him, but the professor calmly continued studying the phenomenon called “creativity”. Five years later he successfully downloaded creativity for the first time, two years after that he learned how to store and use it.
Having obtained the OE of four old scientists and dozens of volunteering pensioners, the professor summoned a press conference and introduced a new type of computer, Einsteiner, a bio hard drive computer that worked off human creativity.
Jeremy Link picked a random person from the audience who turned out to be a third-year
student, put some sort of a semi-transparent helmet on his head, connected him to his weird creation, and squinting slyly gave the guy a task from quantum physics. The audience began to make noise, somebody giggled, but however crazy, the student’s answer was correct!
Having asked the student about his major in medical, the professor gave him another task:
“Think about the treatment of cancer”.
The hall froze. During a couple of minutes the student was doing some calculations and
then passed his result to the professor. Jeremy Link displayed the sheet with figures and thickly underlined the final formula on a big screen and uttered contentedly: “Ladies and gentlemen!
This is the new generation cancer treatment, the most effective one among in existence!” For a few seconds there was dead silence, and then everyone heard a gasp - the dean of the department of medicine duly appreciated the challenge.
The professor was about to continue asking, but at that moment the hall exploded with
applause. After savoring the moment of triumph, Link carried on explaining: “Energy is nothing but energy. It is similar for people of different races, religions, it doesn’t have language barriers, it can’t contract viruses, has no tastes and preferences, no emotions, can’t have violent temper.
What matters for Einsteiner is the power of a human head battery. It can unite specialists of different professions. Chemist and physicist, musician and artist, astronomer and restaurant chef.
All of them together, to be precise. Having received the creativity of several ordinary students it will outclass Albert Einstein, the inspiration of this presented prototype.”
That very night the scientific world, the press, the internet – all literally went crazy.
Hopes, excitement and doubts, but in the end everyone agreed that Einsteiner can be called the first artificial intellect in the world, very useful, and more important…safe! Disconnected from an operator it could do no harm, since it cannot create tasks and make decisions on its own.
It was not just a breakthrough, but the beginning of a new evolutionary saltation. Each new portion of OE increased the power of the bio processor, the thoughts stored automatically. A lab-assistant linked in to Einsteiner temporarily acquired the pooled creativity of all the people whose individual OE had been downloaded. An idea that was previously incomplete immediately became concrete, proper and meaningful. Virtually any problem was processed by the computer like a simple jigsaw puzzle. The missing pieces became as clear as if they were traced out on paper, the gaps analyzed, and the idea itself was completed and finalized, the tasks growing more and more complex.
Human beings aren’t computers; they can’t concentrate intensely enough to visualize the detailed picture. We don’t possess absolute memory, often missing important parts. Link’s invention didn’t have such a problem; activated by an operator it remembered everything up to the tiniest detail.
The world press was competing with exalted headlines: “World’s first artificial mind”,
“Safe artificial intellect created”, “Everyone can become part of Mega Brain”, “Einstein resurrected”, and even “First step to immortality”. People were taking part in numerous discussions, recalling how many scientists had wrestled with a problem, solving it just partly.
Some brilliant ideas seemed impossible to implement, even utopian, but the answer was really within easy reach. And how many scientists died without ever bringing their research to a conclusion? Their ideas have gone with them. What would have happened had the computer
appeared earlier? How many lives would have been saved!
Three days after the news was announced, Professor Link, the most brilliant inventor in human history, disappeared without leaving a trace.
Having handed over the technology to a friend of his, Antony Blake, UN Deputy General
Secretary, the professor vanished. Temporarily, as people thought at the time. Everyone was sure that the new “Person of the Year” and Nobel laureate was about to reappear soon, but they thought wrong. And now, after seven years had passed, no one had any idea about the professor’s whereabouts. Most thought he was dead.
Very likely the idea of transferring the technology to the UN saved the world from some domination, and possibly even from World War III. The United Nations International Collective Mind Agency was now set up. During one year the agency not only presented hundreds of super-useful technologies, but also made creativity the most important resource of the planet.
In three years of the Einsteiner operation, the agency completely vanquished cancer,
AIDS and diabetes, even smoking was left in the past. Mankind finally stopped abusing natural resources, oil consumption dropped dramatically, and most cars ran on non-polluting hydrogen.
Plastic became soluble, metals coated with a new compound didn’t rust, the problems of freon, CO2, and other harmful emissions had been forgotten. The Collective Mind Agency became a very successful institution, in both the popular and commercial senses, priding itself in a host of inventions and achievements. The agency earned fantastic profits from the sale of patents, at the same time paying extremely generous fees to those who off-loaded their creativity. Four Einsteiner servers were installed in four countries along with a considerable net of OE
In the morning, reluctantly getting ready, Isaac had a cup of shitty coffee and went to the shower which he loathed. The shower was just like his life - broken, either scalding you with heat or dousing with icy cold.
He was taking a shower feeling all pissed off. He did have some good ideas, but the
world had changed way too fast and just spat him out. He lived in extreme poverty, vaguely imagining what he’d be doing the day after tomorrow. Someone might call it freedom, not having a strict schedule and planned holidays. Maybe it is so, but in a couple of months such a
“freedom” can make you nuts. There’s much more comfort in the clarity of life. Although, not the kind of clarity he was about to obtain today. Today was his last day being poor; tomorrow the agency would make him rich.
He would think about anything, just to avoid getting dressed and setting off to the
download center to submit to the damn procedure. He wanted to drag things out since thinking was also work - his typical excellent displacement mechanism.
As soon as Isaac went outside it started to pour. He didn't get wet though - the device he had invented turned on automatically. Finished just the other day, the first prototype was unique.
A generator collected the energy of falling rain drops creating a magnetic field, which didn’t let the water in. One could stand there in the rain and remain completely dry. The patent could have solved all Isaac's problems, but as usual, he was out of time.
Deep in thought, he didn’t notice how he reached his destination. He didn’t feel like entering at all, but there was no other way: the bank had given a final warning and his apartment had to be auctioned off. He had no way to pay, and more importantly, his sister Vicky, his most loved one in the world, needed another surgery. So the only thing he really could do was to sell his creativity. He knew what was going to happen to him after. His best friend Pascal had fallen in love and sold his OE two years ago. Right there, at that very place. Isaac threw a last glance at the sea and pushed the door of the reception.
It was cozy inside, cool music played smoothly, the officers briskly filling in forms. As for donors, there were four of them: a well-groomed old man, a tired chubby woman of about fifty, a pie-faced young guy and some hippy-looking hobo, luckily not smelly. Five portions of creativity ready to replenish the power of the artificial brain.
On the wall there was a poster showing a smiling man sitting by an azure swimming-
pool, with a caption: “I gave people what I was given from on high, and I have been rewarded!!”
Ex-donors did look happy, indeed. The Agency made a lifelong support contract and took care of its newly titled Happies.
Isaac had already seen this one and other colorful posters when he had come in before for an interview and OE pre-measuring. The amount of creativity was different for everyone, so one could have it calculated for free and find out the possible fee. Back then he used to think that this was just a safety net, that he would for sure have time to get the money. However it turned out that selling the rights for his rain protection device, which he called V-Rain, was a hard task. The Patent Office and the system of selling inventions were now sort of vestigial relics, these days all corporations bought their technology only from Collective Mind. In the end he ran out of time –