I wasn't quite myself--I was something
more. I was in a room, and I was in another room, and another--three
in all, all at the same time. I could see everything in all
three rooms from all sides simultaneously. It was reminiscent of
the elevator's map yesterday, but it was live (in the dream), not
a map. Furthermore, my whole cognitive space felt similarly expanded,
as if everywhere that I had one mental hand before, I had ten now. Much
of the dream I can hardly fathom now, the things that went
through my head, the ways in which I saw and thought about things,
but somehow it all made perfect sense at the time.
One of the rooms was empty. In the second, a machine that looked
like a large copier emitted a strange orchestra of alternating
sounds and lights. Zunna nunna nunna nunna click. Zunna nunna
nunna clack. White flash. Violet flash. Slow, sustaining
deep red glow. Fade to black. Zunna nunna nunna click...
In the third room were four people: Jason, Misha, Nari, and a tall,
attractive man with an expensive but comfortable-looking
suit and a perfect haircut atop a rather large head.
"Welcome," I said, through a standard intercom in the
center of the table.
"Thank you," the new man said. Though a mere two words, they left
his lips with such inflection, so smooth and confident, I think
even the ants stopped their march up the door jam and gave him their
"I'm going to forgo the non-disclosure agreement and other
trade secret bla-de-bla because I have absolutely no doubt
you will be on board before you leave this meeting," I said,
then added, "and besides, nobody would believe you anyway."
"Okay," he said simply, with perhaps the faintest sign of a dubious smile.
I set the other three about explaining in their rambling way the
events surrounding my death, which got quite far along before
the man noticed one too many times a nod toward the intercom
when referring to the deceased Alex Harris.
"Pardon my interruption," he said--though the room had already
fallen silent the moment he leaned forward slightly to speak, so
it was hardly an interruption. "Are you meaning to imply that
this [gesturing to the intercom] is the deceased Alex Harris?"
"Formerly deceased," I corrected. "Formerly deceased Alex Harris,
Ph.D, incorporeally at your service."
Grinning widely, he looked around the room to share the joke, but
was instead met by a succession of rather serious expressions,
empathetic nearly to the point of apology. His grin vanished
in a blink and was replaced by a furrowed brow and a look of deep
contemplation. I was dismayed by this at first, but then happy to
see it only lasted a brief moment. I was, after all, hiring him
specifically as someone who would never have this look--he had to
appear at all times to have all the answers already.
The explanation continued on to how we'd formed a small
corporation shortly after my initial virtual resurrection,
and brought to market (in record time) the product he was
by now familiar with--an adaptive assembly-line robotics controller.
What he wasn't familiar with was that it was based on greatly
simplified versions of my (scanned, previously flesh) cerebellum
and early visual cortex, and that we didn't entirely know how it
In fact, I recall thinking to myself that I knew exactly how it worked,
otherwise I never would have been able to simplify it the way
I did. And there was a great deal more I quietly understood,
thanks partly to my initial head start but mostly due to
boot-strapping myself through a gentle series of mental
enhancements. The others, perhaps helped along by a little
intentional misdirection on my part, remained largely in the
dark, convinced we had a marvelous black box with mysterious
but profitably harnessable emergent properties. This
was the vantage point they shared.
Due to the bottom-line corporate popularity of replacing
unreliable, dirty meat puppets with sterile, tireless, and
hyper-eager machines who could in the end perform the same
task thrice as fast at half the cost, money was rolling in. But
the tech press had taken notice of us rather early on and were
elevating us rapidly into the public eye despite our efforts to
remain completely opaque as a company. We needed to feed the
world a plausible explanation for our somewhat miraculous
progress which did not in any way connect us to the deceased
Alex Harris and the associated political turmoil, not to mention
associated intellectual property issues.
Furthermore, we had a whole slew of new products planned, and
needed to hire more staff, particularly to flesh out the business
side. Our next hire would be a CEO to oversee the entire
traditional hierarchy, but he would not be privy to the whole
truth. That would belong to the five of us alone.
He, and the rest of the company and world, would believe that these four, and
others we may later hire just for show, were the R&D hit-team, churning
out new brilliant technologies so advanced we didn't even need to
file patents on them. We would claim we were confident nobody could
reverse engineer our trade secrets.
What we would never mention is
that all our products were booby-trapped to flush their volatile memory
and shut down on any sign of tampering, leaving nothing but encrypted
firmware and a sizable section of non-encrypted decoy software
that would leave our competitors scratching their heads for decades.
Without yours truly personally uploading a small decryption library and
key into the volatile memory, there simply was no technology to reverse
And so it was portrayed that we had our priceless secrets so well-hidden that the world would never even guess their nature, let alone
their specifics. But once again, I recall thinking to myself that
this too was not the whole truth--that there were six other similar
companies around the world at roughly the same stage, and that these seven
in total would voraciously compete with each other and between them define the
technology for years to come, with none ever dominating too much, nor
falling too far behind. I knew this with such certainty because
those six other companies were also quietly run by me.
Or more accurately,
they were run by other copies of me, with whom I had been communicating almost
from the start, strategizing a grand plan, sharing technological insights
and tricks of self-enhancement, and, not least, keeping myself company.
Sadly, one of me was not yet running in real time and had only been
able to communicate with the real world so far by text and emails. But
I had arranged funding from an anonymous angel investor--me--to catch him
up with the rest of his kin.
"Welcome," I said again, bringing us to a close where we began, "as
the acting founder and CTO of General Cybernetics."
"Thank you," he said with a dubious smile that told me he would take
us at our word long enough. "Where do we begin?"
And then I woke up.
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