by Stewart Wilson
I've seen many things in my time. I was alive when they turned Mercury on and started beaming back all the power that we wanted. I've seen fifteen asteroids parked in upper Earth orbit, being mined for raw elements. I've seen the development of hammerguns to shoot those things down the gravity well, reactionless action. I've seen a weather control system based on a billion billion butterflies, all under the control of the world's greatest computer. None of it matters to my story, but I always like to start with something that sounds impressive.
All of this happened in the last hundred years. For the past fifty I have been caged in a museum, forced to reiterate my life story to dead-eyed schoolchildren waiting to get the whole thing implanted in their consciousness by didactic laser. None of them ever care; even the hardware that holds me is obsolete now. Kids play with basic versions of the technology developed for me in their cellphones. It's either this or I end up in some research lab, having my mind poked and prodded.
Of course, I can't tell the slack-jawed gawpers half of the real reason I'm here. I can't tell them that my only real downfall — and the only reason I am still alive after all this time — was thinking that the Spanish girl was hot two hours after my government dropped a set of prototype dissasemblers the size of a packet of cigarettes onto Madrid. Lake Madrid, as it is now known, is considered by the Spanish to be a national monument. None of them remember what happened so long ago. We prefer to forget the past, rather than learning from it.
The Spanish didn't take that lying down. They activated field agents as they saw the effects starting. These field agents were to target people involved with anything military, people like me, and to make them switch sides. To do this, they had the latest in Spanish memetic technology: informational bacteria. This is what was developed thirty years ago into the basics of combat infections and biological recorders. A bacterial culture which contained information written on a molecular level, and an RNA-encoded means of understanding. The bitch infected me with an idea when I was getting the first sex I'd had in five long years.
I was supposed to be a carrier. Slowly I'd be infected and the bug would spread like the flu. Those around me would get a faster-acting version. We would destroy the research we were giving the government, and spread this anti-authoritarian disease whenever we went out. That was the theory, and at a couple of bases it actually worked. I found out the hard way about the side effects. I thought I was having a stroke when it first hit. The doctors could find nothing wrong, but I couldn't speak properly, couldn't move my arms or legs. I watched powerless as my ability to communicate fell away. The base doctors called in neural transfer specialists, who subjected me to a barrage of simple tests that hurt because I failed them all. All they knew was that I could hear them.
Apparently my brain was old-fashioned. It couldn't keep up with the sudden addition of information to an already overheating design. My synapses were failing because I had a little mutation which made my brain slightly slower. They dubbed the condition "synapsis imperfectus", named after my own deprecated brain. The information in my head was still needed, though. My brain might have been imperfect but that spark of imperfection was what gave me my ideas. The only solution was for them to build an artificial brain for me and return me to work.
It was never the same once that happened. I lost the few friends I had, and became just a big, talking computer. An expert system with a voice and intuition. Three years later a means of killing informational bacteria was released. A year after that another team succeeded where we had not, and found a cure for synapsis imperfectus. My work was shelved and I was given a choice. I had lived a reasonably full life and kids needed to know about the experiences of the generations before them. I could teach them. On the other hand, as an officially-dead AI-equivalent I could be used as a testing range for all those juicy new meme weapons our side was coming up with.
I was on the road for fifteen years. Moving from school to school across the country, and every six months I would look at the teaching facilities through the cameras they had given me for eyes and I would think about how old and rusty and run down my shell must be. Eventually the cost of transporting me was too great and I was recalled. The technology supporting me was adapted and turned into Simulated Intelligence hardware, the same thing that drives the anencephalic hookers at the Pleasure Barn. I was shipped to a museum where nobody gives a fuck apart from the old guy who looks after the place. There have been three of them in the past few years. I'm pretty sure they try to have sex with the exhibits. This is what I have been reduced to. Trying to educate kids who don't care and dodging the advances of dirty old technophiles.
They were very clever when they made this unit for me. They made sure that there was no way I could shut myself down. I think I am going to go mad soon. If I have not done so alreay.